April 25, 2008

Dogwoods and Violets

It is unbelievably beautiful here in Lancaster County right now. The weather is completely perfect, the leaves on the trees are emerging in that magnificent shade of bright green, and the flowering trees are at their peak. It's like living in paradise.

Dogwoods are in their glory. To paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of their demise have been exaggerated . While dogwood populations in the northeast suffer from dogwood decline, over time it seems to me that while the effects are real and apparent, they are not totally devastating. My landscape trees show signs of it, especially in stressful weather years, but this year they are looking grand and prosperous.

I used a photo of dogwood blossoms to make a cyanotype that I transformed into a page for an art book:

It's embellished with hand embroidery and beads. For the same book, I made a heliographic print of the leaves onto silk:

Years of benign encouragement have transformed a shady spot in the yard into a wild violet patch. I've never understood the classification of them as a "weed"; they are so beautiful in bloom, the leaves stay greener than the grass in a drought, and they provide food for butterflies. We hold off mowing this section of the yard until the first flush of blossoms are finished, and the whole area has a purple haze. It doesn't translate well into a photo, but here's a shot at it:

A neighborhood cat, who apparently either knows how good she looks, or is the feline equivalent of Fendinand the Bull, has been spending a lot of time posing in the violet patch:

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