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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Yellow Rain Lily Blooms First

Last week sometime, I finally figured a place to try and arrange all the flower pots in a more presentable fashion downstairs, as opposed to the utter dumping they had been subjected to by those who were earlier entrusted with the task. My landlord is a former Divisional Forest Officer, and having an innate love for flora and fauna, he periodically entrusts me with gardening tasks that I use to try and learn as much as I can from. One such task that I took upon myself was the rearranging of these flowerpots, filled mostly with lily bulbs of various kinds, as you can see from the leaves. So, neat and tidy as you like it, I managed to figure out the best place to keep them so that they’ll get enough sunlight all year, and in this configuration it makes watering the pots a breeze too.

For me, the biggest advantage is having something to look at from my front door, and while there has been some attempt at planting a few lily bulbs that had managed to overcrowd some of my landlord’s upstairs pots, but so far, apart from the constant green of their long, slender leaves, they have yet to produce a flower and brighten up my world. I wasn’t feeling down about it, but the thought that I somehow was putting all this effort into nothing eventually did start to weasel its way towards the center of my constant attention a little bit more, with each passing day. So, it was with no little whoop that I jumped for joy when I happened to spot the first little yellow bud at the end of a long, green, blade-of-grass-like stalk. More will follow soon, and now the waiting that seemed endless, has effectively come to an end, for this year at least.

I tried to capture a couple of “poses” of this rain lily, because like many lily varieties, the flower tends to rest in the evenings, for one or a couple of evenings. Then, the flower falls, but a three-sphered pouch of seeds appears, and soon thereafter, the pouch bursts open and disperses its contents. As you can see from the pictures, there is a completely open form that the flower takes on, and at around 6pm in the evening, I also noticed that it had closed somewhat, giving it a more demure profile, so to speak. Again, I attempted to capture the best angle on that, but it wasn’t until I turned the flash on that something interesting happened.

As you can see, a combination of random tweaks led to the background being blacked out, giving the little yellow rain lily the appearance of being in a studio. There was one slight issue, and that was when using the flash, because I had to get in really close with the point-and-shoot, the flash only lit up part of the subject. After some consideration, and with light fading more rapidly, I grabbed a bit of white paper, held it up on the same side as the flash, and without getting it into the shot, managed to balance it so that it would serve as a reflector for the flash. The experiment seems to have worked, but never having tried it before myself, at least not on this scale, it now presents unique opportunities and possibilities for me to experiment with.

Things are in bloom all around, and although I am a little concerned that we have seen almost three whole days without rain in what is supposed to be some of the most intense parts of the Monsoon season, I remain optimistic about the other lilies and flowers revealing themselves in all their vibrant and vivacious glory, shortly enough.

As a novice gardener who still has a long way to go to be doing some of the things that I want to be able to do in a garden, I have to say that the entire experience of reaching into a pile of dirt and feeling it between your fingers is a sensual experience, one of our more intimate moments with our Planet, who we otherwise so heedlessly trample underfoot. And with that last aside, I leave you, looking forward to which color of rain lily will come up next. There are two remaining, white and pink. Any guesses? Or maybe you’re more familiar with rain lilies and know that there’s a particular order, or something…

CORRECTION: A combination of a really late night and just outrageous gaps in memory caused me to say, "...because like many lily varieties, the flower tends to rest in the evenings, for one or a couple of evenings." This is absolutely not the case in the case of rain lilies, or most other lilies because while they may strike poses, it's a one-way catwalk in that regard, starting with the "virginal-bud" pose, to the dessicated-in-death pose. The flower I was thinking of was the Portulaca Grandiflora or "10 o'clock flower" as it is otherwise known, and even then it wasn't an entirely accurate recollection. As it turns out, I grabbed a few small twigs of the same and put them in a  vacant pot, so once they are comfortable in their new home and start taking root, it promises to be a visual smorgasbord of color when I open the door every morning! :-)
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