Brighten the corner

red lilies in empty lot

These brilliant lilies are brightening their little corner of the world which happens to be in a former location of a family home, now an empty lot. The neighborhood, so far, has seen and gone past its best years. Someone forgot to tell the lilies.

Few of us can  find fault with urban beautification projects and organizations. In this day and time there is an abundant amount of urban acreage which can benefit from the noble efforts these people put forth. Since the prospective areas to benefit far outweigh available resources, we are grateful to our Maker for any help we can get.

I was reminded of that when I spotted these lilies in an empty lot in what I suppose one would call a “transitional” neighborhood. You know the type: a few homes, a few empty businesses, a few operating businesses, a partially filled strip shopping center, a couple of churches, and a Sears store turned public building — the neighbor hood can’t decide what it is.

ground spider in tunnel

Click on the picture and see more of Ms. Spider

Normally at this point in our Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind epistles, we invite you to take a look at a related subject on the current Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot com.

This week, the invitation stands, but the subject is totally unrelated. Well maybe a little, these are Spider Lilies. Go to the Photo of the Week page and check out my visit with a ground spider in her home. She was reluctant about the whole thing but finally acquiesced to an up close and personal shoot on her premises.

Back to the lilies

red lilies in abandoned lot

Take a gander at the lilies up close. These are complex boogers that bear close examination. Each flower is akin to a free standing arts and sciences gallery.

Mother Nature has her own program of beautification, manifested in surviving plants, which for whatever fortunate reasons, are not molested by surviving humans. These lilies are propagating and bursting forth with beauty where we need it most. The tour buses will miss ’em but us serfs who ply the less-traveled public streets can benefit if we will take the time to notice. And further, to alert your friends.

Brighten the corner where you are

As I looked at the lilies, I harkened back to my “up-brangin’.” Giving the flowers a good once-or-twice-over, I found myself humming the old hymn, “Brighten the corner where you are.” Being one to share, I looked around and found a video with old church scenes and Burl Ives singing the hymn in his fine Southern Gospel mode, chased by Willie Nelson singing the “Unclouded day.” You will tap your feet.


red lilies in an old home place

Here are the lilies with a bit more of their environment. Mother Nature’s perfect balance of complimentary colors (remember what those are?)

The lilies and I appreciate you dropping by. Now brothers and sisters, let us go forth and brighten the respective corners where we are.


Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

The camellia returneth

Closeup of camellia bloom

Up close and personal with a camellia bloom on the bush outside our kitchen window. While most flowers are internally governed to bloom on time, this one has scrambled instructions. It has bloomed as early as December and as late as March. We never know for sure until we see the red tips on the buds.

I’d like to claim credit for the blooms on this magnificent plant, but such claims would trip the breakers and sound an alarm as the truth and veracity test notifies all that I prevaricate. The truth is — the former and first owner of our residence was a dedicated gardener and saw fit to plant the camellia outside the kitchen window.

Click on on the bloom for the original story

Click on the bloom for the original pix and story

The plant is apparently as tough as an anvil, because other than water in the summer and an occasional pruning, it does not get much attention. Despite this shabby treatment, it continues to hold forth with its dazzling display.

We originally extolled the virtues and aggravations of this budding flower factory on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com with a story and more pictures. We’ll wait here while you look.

Camellia blooms against the sky

On the way to this condition, the plant has been parched, covered with ice, pelted with hail and generally left to its own devices. This sucker has has to have Divine Intervention on its side. These blooms are at the top of the bush. Big bare oak limbs are blurred in the background.

See more camellia blooms in our Weekly Grist Gallery

That the plant survives at all is a miracle given the lack of attention it suffers. Not only does it survive, it is prolific. We make it known in our neighborhood that when this thing is blooming, help yourself. The same goes for the mail man and UPS lady. There will be plenty to take the place of those you pick.

The cantankerous plant tends to hide its best blooms behind foliage, making it difficult to get good shots without a little outside interference to its nefarious design. Big plastic background clamps to the rescue. To photographers, background clamps are right up there with duct tape and baling wire.

Camera and clamps on bush to hold foliage out of the way

Big ol' plastic background clamps hold foliage out of the way and do no harm to the plant. Once the clamps are removed, the twigs snap back in to place. One clamp is also holding a white balance card to the left of the bloom. The camera was much closer to the plant during the actual shots.

 Mind you, no plants were harmed in producing this story — other than well-documented callous neglect. Since it does so well on it’s own, I am not going to mess with it. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

Close up of camellia

Click on the pretty poesy for more pix

See more of the camellia

In our Weekly Grist Gallery. You’ll find six larger, high resolution pictures of the flowers and their redness. Guaranteed all natural, double your money back if not completely satisfied, no coupons needed.

Shoes and shirt not required for viewing.  Click and look.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey,
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

Well organized versus wild and wooly

cypress in creek

A growth of wild cypress on the east side of a stream crossing U.S. Highway 167 north of Hampton, Arkansas in late March, 2011. The glow of a setting sun bathes the scene in amber.

On the wild side, this creek full of roadside cypress growth  in south Arkansas, probably ignored by passengers and drivers in hundreds of vehicles passing daily, is a cacophony of color, shapes, angles, shadows, and shades. It is a macro universe supporting a cypress nursery, fish, turtles, snakes, lizards, frogs, and other cold-blooded critters who are probably looked upon as supper for the warm-blooded carnivores who are without a doubt members of the neighborhood as well.

On top of all that, it looks pretty cool and nary a soul has lifted his or her hands to manicure it or prepare it for public view. It just happened. And other than the price of gas (no small thing mind you), it is free for all to see.

Half Moon Bridge, Garvan Woodland Gardens

See Garvan Gardens at Corndancer dot-com

Compare our wild and wooly cypress to the well organized grounds of Garvan Woodland Gardens, near Hot Springs AR. Garvan Gardens is a world-class botanical garden bequeathed to the University of Arkansas School of Landscape Architecture by the late philanthropist Verna Cook Garvan. As opposed to the cypress growth, thousands gladly pay the modest entry fees to stroll through and observe the wonders of nature civilized by well manicured trails and bridges in Garvan Gardens.

With its unique woodland chapel and pavilion, Garvan Gardens is the site of dozens of weddings every year. You can see much more of Garvan Gardens on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com where this story started. Click on the link and take a look. We’ll wait here.

View from the Half Moon bridge at Garvan Gardens

The view from Half Moon bridge at Garvan Gardens in its brilliant early spring mode. A set of steps allows garden visitors acess to get up close and personal with the small stream running through the chasm. Up to and including getting your feet wet.

Some would say there’s no comparison between the well organized and tended Garvan Gardens and our wild and woolly cypress growth. I beg to disagree. The same Higher Power created locations. Both are prime examples of their local environments. In their own way, both are eye candy. One may be a tad threatening to human visitors and one has the welcome mat out. Until the Garvan Gardens landscape was tamed, it probably had its share of natural threats as well.

Full Moon bridge at Garvan Woodland Gardens

Full Moon bridge at Garvan Woodlands Garden goes over a small stream which empties into a Koi pond. The bridge is part of the well planned system of trails in Garvan Gardens.

My observation is that while one location is a touchy-feely and the other is an “I’d just as soon not,” both have value. Both have their place. And we can enjoy both for what they are. So in the final analysis, in my humble opinion, as to the “well organized versus wild and woolly” conundrum, there are no winners and no losers. Just two venues doing what they do best.


Tulips at Garvan Garden entrance

See more pictures in our Weekly Grist Gallery

See more Garvan Gardens and cypress pictures in our Weekly Grist Gallery. You’ll see the Garvan Gardens entrance and its guardian tulips.

And you can peruse and ruminate upon the images of more of the bridges and some other cool stuff.  There are 13 pictures waiting on you.

Still lo-cal, high in natural content and very addicting. Fully guaranteed and warranted to entertain even the most calloused of souls. Click here.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind