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.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.
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.
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.