Lychnis coronaria - in memory of my Rosemary
Saturday, June 24, 2023
|Lychnis coronaria 24 June 2023|
Between going to the National Convention of the American
Hosta Society at Ames, Iowa on June 8th and the Vancouver Rose
society having its huge rose show at VanDusen on June 18 this year marks the
first time that I have not opened my garden for the society as Rosemary and I did for so many
What this means is that when I see a nice rose in bloom I
have no compunction in cutting it to scan. Rosemary would have advised me not
to so that the garden would have been at its peak for visitors.
The fact that I am enjoying my garden by myself saddens me
lots. My three duplex neighbours are not in the least interested in gardens and
have never wanted to visit mine.
Not having visitors come to the garden does not mean that I
would not be making sure that it has to look perfect at all times.
Rosemary had many rare and lovely plants and we shared a
love for exotic old roses (OGRs – old garden roses). When we moved from our
large Kerrisdale garden to our small duplex garden we had to plant many of our
roses in large pots. We started looking for plants that could live with roses
in the pots happily. One of these plants is Lychnis coronaria. Rosemary
disliked the shocking pink one but liked the white one. Because it self-seeds
once you plant it you never have to buy it again. I would call this plant a noble one as it does its job without any fuss.
|24 June 2023|
One of our mutual tasks was to deadhead the Lychnis as
well as its rose companions. It is an almost relaxing activity. But today as I
was doing it I knew I would be writing this blog and scanning the cut seed
Doing it connects me immediately to a day in Austin, Texas
in 1958 when Brother Edwin Reggio, C.S.C. told us about giving a meaning to the
mundane task of brushing our teeth. He said something like this, “If you brush
your teeth thinking how nice and white your teeth will be for your girlfriends,
the mundane task will have a special and important purpose.” He then quoted the
lovely St. Luke Gospel where Christ tells his disciples at the Last Supper when
he is about to break bread, “Do this in remembrance of me.”
For me those words (the most beautiful version is from the
King James Bible) are the most lovely ones no matter what your beliefs may be
or not be.
Everything I do, since my Rosemary died on 9 December 2020,
is in some way my active dedication to her memory.
I cannot but think of Rosemary snipping her Lychnis with her
Swiss Feldcos (now used by our daughter Alexandra in Lillooet). In the scan you
can see my Feldcos which I purchased in 1987.
And so I enjoy my garden (formerly ours) and feel the
presence of Rosemary in it. It is not that I believe in ghosts. I
call it an absent presence.
In the glory of this garden I try very hard not to cry.
Friday, June 23, 2023
|Rosa 'Mrs. Oakley Fisher' and Rebecca 24 June 2023|
I once told
my granddaughters that if a fire were consuming my house with them as guests
that the first person I would save would be my Rosemary. I am not sure they
and after many years of many portraits of my family and photographs of numerous
people, the picture of my granddaughter Rebecca posing in her Mexican sailor dress and wearing a
single tea rose, Rosa ‘Mrs. Oakley Fisher’ is the one image that I would want
to save from a conflagration of my files and or the lovely 20x24 inch drummed
scanned inkjet from a 6x7cm Ektachrome transparency.
When I took
the photograph Rebecca (25) was 8. By then I had cemented my technique of never
asking children to smile for my camera.
days, and now, I believed in lighting my photographs. I took the photograph in
the back of our gazebo in our Kerrisdale garden. I used a venerable but most
efficient flash unit (inside a softbox) called a Norman 200B. The resulting
effect of having one side of the face darker is called Rembrandt lighting. With
the advent of using cell phones for portraits that method and idea is
loved blue and white and banished the warm colours from our garden. But it was
this rose that warmed her heart for yellows and then reds and oranges.
|Closeup 24 June 2023|
is not easy to grow and we have had many deaths of it in our rose family. Two
months before Rosemary died she told me that I needed to buy some large pots
and some soil. She did not explain why. On February 2021, two months after her
death, the doorbell rang. Outside was a box containing Mrs. Oakley Fisher and
two lookalikes. Rosemary had ordered the rose because our Mrs. Oakley Fisher
had succumbed to harsh winter weather. For me this was a posthumous gift.
rose subsequently died. I ordered three from Rogue Nursery in Oregon. Two
died but this third one has been happily blooming since the beginning of June.
I almost did not have the heart to cut this one bloom today. I knew exactly what I was
going to do with it. My recent obsessive technique is to use my scanner not
only to scan my plants but also as a tabletop camera. I put a print of Rebecca
with the rose and you can see the result.
While I did
the scan today 24 June 2023 I am putting it back to 22 June to fill the many
holes that I have because of my blog block caused by my grief for Rosemary that
just will not go away. All I want to do is to lie on my bed with my cats Niño and Niña on top of me. I have become a crazy cat lady as I communicate with them in my native Spanish.
But I feel
good in doing this. Rosemary died as did 4 Mrs. Oakley Fishers. This one is a
sort of a resurrection.
Pleasure in Failure
Thursday, June 22, 2023
|Hosta 'Paul's Glory' 26 June 2023|
failure can be illuminating. Today I tried to make a chlorophyll image of
Rosemary and baby Alexandra using Hosta ‘Paul’s Glory’. I put the setup outside
for five hours. The variegation on the hosta obliterated Alexandra. I will try
again tomorrow using a hosta leaf with less centre variegation. I am placing this blog back a few days to fill blog holes.
pleasure to be had in not having instant satisfaction by the instant back
screen of the digital camera results. The process reminds me of taking photographs with film
(something that I do often) and having a latent image to be brought out in the
darkroom. With film and with digital cameras you can take a few exposures to
make sure. Since I only have one press
(lent to me by Ralph Rinke) it is going to be trial an error.
me a couple of his portraits on hosta leaves but did not tell me that the leaves
were still wet. To my horror fungus hid his face completely. Ralph knew about
this and I am sure that when I told him he must have smiled.
Roses, Moths but not Rebecca
Wednesday, June 21, 2023
|26 July 2023|
When I took
this iconic (for me) portrait of my older granddaughter Rebecca with Rosa ‘Mrs. Oakley Fisher’ and her
Mexican sailor dress, she was 8. Today 26 June 2023 (I will post this back a
few weeks to fill holes) I saw this Mrs. Oakley Fisher past her prime and Rebecca is a beautiful woman of 25.
thought that unlike we humans, moths, roses have short spans of beauty and
For Rebecca and like many of this 21st century generation, grandfathers
are a tad forgotten.
It is my
hope that someday she might gaze at the very large framed portrait with the
rose that I am sure she will want to inherit, and will remember fondly the
times she spent with my Rosemary and me. Sadly when that happens I will have
met my oblivion.
Marv Newland - Miri the Barber & a selfscanographer
Tuesday, June 20, 2023
|20 June 2023|
Today I had
a pleasant occurrence. I was called by my long-time friend, animator Marv
Newland. Both of us contributed for many years to Vancouver Magazine.
to tell me that he was going to get his hair cut by Miri, the Albanian barber
around the corner from my house that I go to also.
cut we went to JJBean for coffee and it occurred to me that we had to return so
as to have the three of us photographed. Before we left the coffee shop I
showed Newland some of my recent stuff. I then told him that for the rest of
the day, as usual I was going to do nothing.
quite a contrarian, to my pleasant surprise, telling me that he knew many people
who really did nothing. My stuff proved that I was doing stuff as he was. He
was going home to work on one of his animations in which he does the classic
method with no digital stuff involved.
We had our
portrait taken. I went home and within 15 minutes I was back to the barber shop
and I gave Miri a print of our session. I wish other photographers knew how
easy it is to print and how it beats showing people your photos on the phone
I ended my
day taking a self-portrait by placing my face on the scanner while smelling the
fine scent of the English Rose, Rosa ‘Princess Alexandra of Kent’.
|Yours truly & Rosa 'Princess Alexandra of Kent' 20 June 2023|
be a selfscanograph and am I a selfscanographer?
Rosemary - White (and a bit of yellow)
Monday, June 19, 2023
|Carpenteria californica & Rosa 'Mary Magdalene' 19 June 2023|
rarer uses yellow - Emily Dickinso
rarer uses yellow
she all of that for sunsets,—
scarlet like a woman,
scantly and selectly,
If a person
can be defined by a colour I would say that my Rosemary represented white. White and blue were her favourite colours.
When we were married in Coyoacán, Mexico she wore a Mexican white dress with
little blue birds. A few months before she died in 9 December 2020 she wore the
dress which was in perfect condition and fit her well.
But it was
my discovery of the single tea rose, Rosa ‘Mrs Oakley Fisher’ that opened her
eyes to the colour. Mrs. Oakley Fisher became our joint favourite rose
especially when Rebecca wore it with a white sailor dress I found in the Cancún
rainy day that has made me more melancholy, I brightened up when I noticed that
Rosemary’s Carpenteria californica was in full bloom with its yellow anthers.
Next to it was a lovely Rosa ‘Mary Magdalene’. This English Rose has a scent that the English call myrrh. Many who are rosarians say the scent is
medicinal. Rosemary and I loved it thinking that to enjoy that scent one has to
be a snob. And snobs we were.
Smelling Rosemary and myrrh
little bit of yellow gives me the opportunity to place here an Emily Dickinson
poem that I have used before.
Nature rarer uses yellow
More Emily Dickinson
Luck is not chance
T is iris sir
The white heat
I tried to be a rose
nature rarer uses yellow
Nor would I be a poet
November left then clambered up
You cannot make remembrance grow
the maple wears a gayer scarf