Well to get right to the point, above is the photo I've chosen - also recommended by Town Mouse - for the GGW photo competition whose theme is "Awakening." It's western redbud, Cercis occidentalis. This bush lives in a neighbor's property.

And BTW, if you haven't seen them, you can go one post back for Town Mouse's entry and also-ran photos.

I love the tenderest new leaves, translucent like the redbud's, and the soft, fuzzy ones, like this hairy honeysuckle, Lonicera hispidula, which grows well and indigenously on our property ... The below photo is from a year ago, and I have it up on my wall at work:

I love how the leaves unfold like a butterfly's wings and reach skyward, like this buckeye leaf bud. I don't think it's strictly our native buckeye, Aesculus californica, though it is in a "native" landscape, now mostly weeds, at my place of work. But that's another story.

BTW just for some color - here are some more pictures of the redbud (one week later - but I think that is the same leaf in the background! not sure... )

And here is the whole bush:

Redbud grows slowly for me, and is munched on by deer. I sprayed mine with liquid fence for a couple of years and then gave up. If it survives it survives. I enjoy the neighbor's and hope my little one can pull through on its own - as the neighbor's bush certainly has.

I get almost anxiously happy in Spring. I don't want to miss a thing, but of course I do. Spring sends me to a special place.

I particularly love when the majestic oaks leaf out. Ancient beings pushing forth tender new green gives me hope and encouragement. Here is a valley oak (again at my place of work), Quercus lobata:

But the pictures I get never capture that achingly lovely state of unfolding. Nature's first green is gold indeed, as the Robert Frost poem says. I like the photo above because it has a heart in it, do you see? - and it does hint at the freshness of the green, the quality of the light on the trunks.

I liked how the tendrils of this California manroot aka wild cucumber aka Marah fabaceus, were reaching out and up, the energy of spring shooting through them. They grow all over here where I live. And when I looked at it on screen, indeed I did see a little man in there... his head turned to one side... Do you see it?

This next photo is of the Zigadenus fremontii, star lily or death camas. Very poisonous. It got infested with black aphids - I have to look em up - and I took a photo before I washed them off with the hose. To me this photo does symbolize the realities of life, that spring awakening is not always that simple perfection we might wish.

Or you could look at it from the aphids' POV: their spring awakening was put to an end by my murderous hose before they could blight the blossom. Or as William Blake put it, maybe to make a different point:
O Rose thou art sick.
The invisible worm,
That flies in the night
In the howling storm:

Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy:
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy.
And now to cheer us all up again, here is another favorite of mine - The unfurled fern. This is Dryopteris arguta, coastal wood fern, which grows on my property. I took the picture one year ago and I may have shown it before as I do love this image.

Here is an unfurling fern, another much loved sight hard to really capture. This is a western sword fern, Polystichum munitum, growing a mile or so from our home.

I liked the below shot of Smilacina racemosa, fat (or false) Solomon's seal [update: now called Maianthemum racemosum], and so did some others whose opinions I sought.

All along, this was my favorite but it has blown-out highlights:

Except for this one which definitely said "awakening" to me, but was overall a little dark. But I went with the tender translucency and pink color of the redbud.

Oh what fun - photography really brings me into the appreciation of the spring awakening time and helps me feel less anxious about losing a second of it - by capturing a few of its special moments to look back on.


Randy Emmitt said…
Enjoyed your Western Redbuds! I did not know deer liked to eat redbuds either.

Our road is lined with Eastern Redbud, in a week or two they will be in full bloom. Our little traffic island is filled with volunteer redbuds about chest high right now. The deer came through there last night and nipped off about half the crocus under them :(
Brad said…
A very poetic post and not just the quotations. I saw quite a bit of wild cucumber on my hike today. I didn't know it was also called manroot. Very nice pics. Your redbud looks like it's doing fine despite the deer. Good luck on the photo contest.
Christine said…
I think your wild cucumber man is fishing, no? Wonderful photos and a great little shot of Blake to start my day. Thanks!
Country Mouse said…
Randy they do say deer in different parts and individual deer even have different tastes.
Brad, thanks for reading my words :-) - I know when I read blogs I'm sometimes in too much of a hurry and don't slow down to appreciate the whole communication. There is wild cucumber ALL OVER this year. It's lovely at first, till it starts to smother everything it grows on - at least that was my experience of it last year. It's called manroot because it has big fat roots that look human-like they say. I've never dug one up but they do say the roots get enormous. BTW it's not my redbud in the pictures - mine is a 2 foot high bunch of twigs, unfortunately. A few leaves here and there.

Redbud is not native to our parts and that's my focus, restoration. So for me it's a beautiful garden ornamental. Or it would be if the darned deer would leave it alone!

Christine - I can totally see the fishing man! And I'm glad you liked the Blake quote - he's surely a unique presence among poets (and painters).
I love oaks. We don't have Q. lobata though I love its form. I also adore redbuds. I think the fact that your submitted photo focuses on the leaf and has the pinkness blurred in the background, is genius. I think the best photos show something common in a new way.
Country Mouse said…
Monica, thanks for noticing that aspect of the photo - rather than focus on the showy blooms, show one small, perfect new leaf - but give the lovely color in the background that was indeed my intent :-)
One of the things I love about carrying a camera around with me, is it does cause one to stop, and take note, of all the details of a plant, no matter how large or small.

The redbud photo is beautiful, and I wish you the best of luck in the GGW photo contest. Who knows, perhaps with so much forage to choose from this year, the deer will give your little redbud a break, and give it a better chance of surviving in your garden.
Noelle said…
Your photos are just lovely, but your entry is my favorite as well. I think that it is a beautiful form of 'art' seeing the shapes and textures on newly emerging foliage as your photos clearly show.
Christine B. said…
No Cercis here either. I think it's a bit chilly for them, but I'm willing to give it a shot (if the moose don't eat it first).

Christine in Alaska
Anonymous said…
Really love the soft pink background of the redbud with that fresh new leaf. And oh the oak, that photo really speaks to me. Those yellow greens of spring really are invigorating I think. Both you and Town Mouse seem to have captured many spring awakenings beautifully, the theme is abundant in all of the photos.