Sunday, May 03, 2009

Scenes from the Macro-World - Spring Flowers

Today was another of what the Irish would call a "soft day" - overcast, humid, mild, and occasional light showers. I went back down to Ballard Park to see if I could convince some songbirds to sit still and ended up on elbows, knees, and belly getting macro shots of the small flowers popping up all over the park.

Wood Anemone, a member of the Buttercup family, is an early bloomer on the forest floor. There are several areas in Ballard Park that are developing some impressive Anemone carpets.

Soon after the Wood Anemone shows up, Garlic Mustard also starts to show its face. This member of the Mustard/Cress family grows in shaded, wet areas, mostly beside streams and ponds or in low-lying, swampy areas. Unlike the Wood Anemone, which sticks close to the ground and spreads out, Garlic Mustard grows straight up, reaching heights of around a foot. But like most of the other plants in this photo essay, they grow in extensive carpets.

Another in the Buttercup family, Lesser Celandine also grows in extensive carpets. This plant is another that likes low, wet areas, and it's the first flower to bloom in Ballard Park. You know Spring is coming on when that huge yellow carpet appears beside the trail near the Hazard Rd. entrance.

Thyme-leaved Speedwell grows in matted clusters in the grass of the meadow on the quarry floor. This plant is small, and the blooms are only about 1/8 inch (4 mm). The macro lens is the only way to capture these, and at that I was right down on my belly to get this shot. But the effort is worth it; these tiny blooms are beautiful!

Back in town the usual flowering trees - Ornamental Cherries, Crab Apples, Magnolias, and Dogwoods - are starting to bloom, but here in Ballard Park the two or three Crab Apples trees still only have tight red buds, the Apple tree in the quarry has no blooms, and neither have the Black Cherries which are prolific in the park. But the Maples are blooming these odd green flowers which will eventually produce the characteristic "helicopter" seeds. That's right; Maple trees have flowers!

But the most widespread blooming tree in Ballard Park is the ubiquitous Downy Serviceberry, more commonly known as Shadbush or Shadblow. These small trees are everywhere in Ballard Park, and their prolific white flowers shout "Spring is here!" as loudly as the carpets of Lesser Celandine. So welcome to Spring in Ballard Park!

© 2009 by A. Roy Hilbinger


  1. ...these are just beautiful. I'd really like to learn more about Macro photography.

  2. Hi Roy! I,ve just got back home.will sit down & read now.Best Wishes& have a great week,Regards Tony.

  3. I love it when you post the close-ups!

    Do you have access to any Lily-of-the-Valley? I'd love to see the lovely little "bells" through your macro lens...

  4. Once during a particularly splendid Irish afternoon I overheard an elderly gentleman greet a friend with "Ah, 'tis a grand fine day." It struck me then and remains with me now as a perfect expression of climatological gratitude.

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  6. Thanks everybody!

    Kelly, I love macro photography. I got a macro lens for my first digital camera early on, and this camera I use now has macro settings. I always use the "Super Macro" setting because that's the one that lets me get right up on the subject. Heh, heh! I spend a lot of time crawling around on the ground.

    Patrice, we have lots of both Canadian Mayflower and Lily-of-the-Valley in Ballard Park. They're still a couple of weeks away from blooming, but when they do, believe me, you guys will get the full tour!

    K, a friend of mine, the late (and still very lamented 2 years after his passing) Michael Shorrock, was a musician who played traditional Irish music, and even though he was from here in RI he also owned property in Doolin in Co. Clare. He used to talk about how on days like we had this weekend - overcast, humid, mild temps, and occasional light rain, the local farmers would show up at the local in the morning, order a pint, and settle back in their chairs with a sigh: "Ahhhhh! Soft day!" I'm something of a fan of soft days myself!

  7. Great job! It can be difficult to get those little guys! And what a joy to see them.

    It appears that we have longer winters but then we catch up pretty quick to you guys in the south?