The Luminous Lotus
Lotus plants (Nelumbo nucifera) fascinate me both as a landscape designer and a photographer. They start blooming in mid-summer just when you would give your right arm for something new to unfold in the garden. And they arise out of muck and mud, looking pristine and otherworldly at the same time. The Confucian scholar Zhou Duryi once said, “I love the lotus because while growing from mud, it is unstained.”
Did you know that a lotus’s flowers, seeds, young leaves and rhizomes are all edible? (Thank you, Wikipedia.) You may have seen the dried cups, below, used in flower arrangements.
The tightly-furled buds of the flowers are magnificent,
as are the backlit leaves when the photographer gets lucky.
Lotus flowers can range from 4 to 12 inches when open.
Once fully open, their seed heads are bright yellow with tiny hairs that attract bees and other insects almost constantly. To get a shot without insects crawling all over them takes patience (often in blazing sun).
These exotic, luscious flowers need a “bed” such as a pond or other water body and three months of temperatures averaging 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit to bloom. All of the photos above were taken at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in Washington DC during two field trips with my camera club in different summers. The other place I have seen them en masse is at Chanticleer, in the Pond Garden. But a couple of weeks ago, shooting a garden that will be on September’s Open Days tour here in Washington, I encountered a beautifully designed back yard setting where the lotus’ color and its leaf size and shape had been used perfectly.
Here, the huge leaves of the lotus provide a wonderful foil for the delicate foliage of the dissected maple behind it and the airy, spiky shapes of the other plants in the left of the composition. The garden’s owner is a landscape designer who is a partner in European Garden Design, and her garden is a marvel. Watch this space in early September for a further sneak peak at it, and in the meantime I hope you’ve enjoyed these views of the luminous lotus.Explore posts in the same categories: landscape, photography comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.