AZALEAS IN SEATTLE: The Grand Finale of Spring

The vivid display of azaleas in bloom marks the end of spring in Seattle.

Azaleas in bloom in the Washington Park Arboretum

Seattle’s Washington Park Arboretum began its transition to spring way back in January. It has been a long and lovely seasonal journey, but like any great fireworks show, there is a Grand Finale that provides an amazing end to the season, and that time is now. The azaleas along Azalea Way were absolutely stunning when I visited on May 6, with intense colors sprayed together in ways not otherwise found in nature.

The oak trees were also leafing out, with the Golden Oak, a garden variety of the English Oak, an unexpected highlight. When the oaks are entirely leafed out, I consider it the end of spring. So the end is near.

View to Azalea Way from the Golden Oak

Finally, the wisteria were in bloom around the Graham Visitors Center. With their vivid color and intense scents, they are always a fine show. But what caught my eye on this visit was how the shadows played on the rafters of the pergola–looking almost like ancient calligraphy.

Wisteria shadows speak an ancient language

Azaleas are a type of rhododendron

An impressionistic view of the azalea garden

Girly colors look wonderful in the garden

Wisteria blooming on the pergola

Walkway next to the Graham Visitors Center

Vivid color combinations, even in a single blossom

Bright colors of almost any shade

Azalea buds starting to open

Dogwood flowering against an achingly blue sky

Golden Oak, Quercus robur ‘Concordia,’ a variety of English Oak

Up close and personal

Oak leaves in a growth spurt

Emphatically defining the word ‘vivid’

A sophisticated shade of orange

Courtyard adjacent to the Graham Visitors Center

A garden is a great excuse to toss together a panoply of color

Painting with petals

For more information about Seattle’s Washington Park Arboretum, go to: http://depts.washington.edu/wpa/index.htm. For my two previous 2010 posts about the arboretum, go to SEATTLE’S ARBORETUM: Pretty in Pink and Spring in Seattle.

To see my web site, which includes photographic prints for sale, please go to LeeRentz.com

To see thousands of my photographs in large file sizes for use in magazines or other printed materials or electronic media, go to my PhotoShelter Website



EYE CANDY: The Natchez Trace Parkway

Redbuds and emerging spring leaves create a lovely pastel landscape along the Tennessee portion of the Natchez Trace Parkway.

Redbud and zig-zag fence along Natchez Trace Parkway

Stretching 444 miles from Natchez, Mississippi, to Nashville, Tennessee, the Natchez Trace Parkway follows the path of a centuries-old foot trail. Moccasins and boots trod this path for centuries, and it later became one of our first national scenic parkways. In the depths of the Great Depression, Congress authorized the parkway as a public works project. The National Park Service later became the agency in charge of the road, and they’ve done a fine job of maintaining one of the most beautiful roads in America.

The Redbuds in this photo essay burnish the Tennessee portion of the parkway. Here the road curves gracefully through the hills, as if destined to be there. During my brief mid-April visit, spring was at its peak; emerging oak leaves mingled with the Redbuds and Flowering Dogwoods to create a lovely pastel landscape … that would be described as “eye candy” by those who think themselves too sophisticated to enjoy the splendors of nature. As for me, I never tire of such sights.

Redbud at the edge of the forest

Traditional split rail fences zig-zag along the parkway

Redbud and Flowering Dogwood intermingle in a haze of blossoms

Is anything more beautiful than a Redbud in spring?

Backlit by the morning sun

Redbud is in the pea family, and is inconspicuous the rest of the year

Redbud is my favorite flowering tree, in case you hadn’t guessed!

For more information about driving the Natchez Trace Parkway, start with the National Park Service’s website: http://www.nps.gov/natr/index.htm.

To see my web site, which includes photographic prints for sale, please go to LeeRentz.com. To see thousands of my photographs in large file sizes for use in magazines or other printed materials or electronic media, go to my PhotoShelter Website.


Spring in Seattle

Spring during the 2010 El Niño year came early to Seattle, so I was thrilled to be able to photograph flowering trees and other plants in early February in the Washington Park Arboretum.

Azalea blooming in early February

2010 has brought Seattle the warmest January we have seen in over a hundred years of record-keeping, which might seem odd to those dealing with record-setting snowfall in more southerly parts of the east coast.  This is an El Niño year, which brings strange weather patterns to the whole Pacific basin and over much of North America.  Our warm temperatures and Vancouver’s trucking in snow for parts of the Winter Olympics are part of this El Niño effect.

As a result of the warm weather, our first sign of spring, the flowering of the hazelnut trees, occurred just about the first of January, and I heard frogs croaking on warm days.  While jogging in Bremerton, I saw the first miniature irises in bloom.

In early February I made two trips to Seattle’s Washington Park Arboretum, located along Lake Washington near the University of Washington campus.  The arboretum is beautiful any time, but I especially love the flowering trees in spring, and this was my first opportunity in 2010 to see early witch hazels and azaleas in bloom.  Within the arboretum, the J. A. Witt Winter Garden is the focus for early spring color, as well as bright winter twig and bark colors.

In this portfolio you can see traditional approaches to garden photography–as well as some more impressionistic images that have their own beautiful aesthetic.  Enjoy the spring through my photography, even if you are trapped in a snowstorm!

Persian Violet (Cyclamen coum) around base of Tall Stewartia

Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick (Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’)

Scotch Heather (Calluna vulgaris ‘Robert Chapman’)

Early Azalea Blooming

Purple Hazel (Corylus maxima ‘Atropurpurea Superba’)

Chinese Witch Hazel (Hamamelis mollis)

Paperbark Maple bark (Acer griseum)

Impressionistic view of Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick

Orange Beauty Witch Hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Orange Beauty’)

Muskogee Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia x ‘Muskogee’)

Plastic Fence and Azalea

Wilcox Footbridge, built in 1911

Paperbark Maple bark (Acer griseum)

Peeling bark, backlit by a low winter sun, of Paperbark Maple (Acer griseum)

Ruby Glow Witch Hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Ruby Glow’)

Impressionistic view of backlit bark of Paperbark Maple (Acer griseum)

Bark detail of Paperbark Maple (Acer griseum)

Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata) branches casting shadows

Green-barked Dogwood (Cornus stolonifera ‘Flaviramea’) with Black Mondo Grass (Ophiopogan planiscapus ‘Ebony Knight’)

Colorful coppiced shrub dogwood (Cornus sp.); coppicing means cutting back branches to the ground each spring, which encourages new twig growth, and new twigs have brighter color

A lavender early-blooming azalea (Rhododendron sp.)

Ruby Glow Witch Hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Ruby Glow’)

Another view of Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick

And still another view of Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick

Patterned bark of Hers’ Maple (Acer grosseri var. hersii)

A cherry (Prunus sp.) blooming in early February

Moss on a huge tree glowing under overcast skies

For more information about Seattle’s Washington Park Arboretum, go to:  http://depts.washington.edu/wpa/index.htm.

To see my web site, which includes photographic prints for sale, please go to LeeRentz.com

To see thousands of my photographs in large file sizes for use in magazines or other printed materials or electronic media, go to my PhotoShelter Website