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Drive 240 Miles: Photograph 1 Flower

Drive 240 Miles: Photograph 1 Flower

D800-Blue Poppies-0997-2014-03-14Silly season for Washington-area flower photographers officially kicked off today with a mad dash to Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA to photograph its much-anticipated blue poppies.

Perhaps it was the fact that we had all been cooped up too long over this cold, hard, seemingly interminable winter or that few of us had seen a flower anywhere outside of a grocery store in more than six months, but the throng of photographers that descended on Longwood this morning was beyond crazy.

That said, I do not regret that I was one of them.

Like a drug addict who had been denied his fix for too long, the second I knelt down before those exquisite, exotic beauties, I once again felt that familiar, sugar-sweet rush of horticultural happiness blitz through my photographer’s veins like crack cocaine.

D800-Blue Poppies-1029-2014-03-14The blue poppy (Meconopsis Grandis) is native to the high elevations of the Himalayan Mountains and is the national symbol of the Kingdom of Bhutan.

Its very existence was long disputed, in the same way as was that of the Yeti, another mythical Himalayan native.

In the early twentieth century, sightings were reported and quickly denounced. A blue poppy? Who had ever heard of such a thing? Poppies are always red, surely.

But, in the late spring of 1922, a British Himalayan expedition, led by legendary mountaineer George Mallory, discovered the plant on their failed attempt to reach the summit of the as yet unconquered Mount Everest.

As a result, the mythical flower was finally introduced to the outside world amid great excitement at London’s Royal Horticultural Society show in 1926.

Thus has grown the legend of the blue poppy. Little wonder, then, that some of us are willing to drive hundreds of miles to photograph this fabled flower. To photograph these delicate beauties in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States is an unmissable opportunity.

Longwood Gardens force their blue poppies to flower every year in March and they last for only two weeks.

The poppies themselves are large flowers, about four inches in diameter, with languid, generous petals of a deep, mesmerizing sky blue colour.

The combination of cool (blue) and warm (orange) colours in a single flower makes the blue poppy an obvious favourite with photographers, who will go to extraordinary lengths to find such a fortuitous combination of colours.

I’m glad I did so this morning.

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(click on an image to enlarge it)

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11 Comments

  1. Irv Freedman March 15, 2014 at 11:37 am #

    Once again exquisite writing and wonderful photography.

  2. Victoria Porter March 15, 2014 at 11:57 am #

    Gorgeous macros.. Enjoyable read!

    • shaunmoss March 15, 2014 at 8:30 pm #

      Thank you so much, Victoria. I really appreciate your kind words.

  3. Ramana March 15, 2014 at 3:46 pm #

    Nice article…. Awesome photos.

    • shaunmoss March 15, 2014 at 8:29 pm #

      Thank you, Ramana. This is what I do when I’m not bugging you about IT applications at work!

      • Ramana March 27, 2014 at 4:07 pm #

        Not at all, Shaun. I enjoy working with you and your team.

  4. Ray March 15, 2014 at 4:18 pm #

    Spot on Shaun! Keep it up….

    • shaunmoss March 15, 2014 at 8:29 pm #

      Thanks, Ray. I greatly appreciate your regular visits to my blog.

  5. Josh March 15, 2014 at 6:50 pm #

    Thanks for sharing and the beautiful images! I’ve been shooting the blue poppies for years and always get a photographic high. Unfortunately, the poppies were not in bloom when I had my orchid photography workshop a few weeks ago but will make the pilgrimage to Longwood.

    • shaunmoss March 15, 2014 at 8:28 pm #

      Josh: Thanks for the visit and comment. I think we both agree that the poppies are well worth the annual four-hour roundtrip drive. I really ought to take your orchid workshop: I can’t photograph those things to save my life!

  6. ellery March 17, 2014 at 10:40 am #

    Glad you made the journey. Red poppies are predominant here in full bloom and Israelis crowd the fields to see them. There are also some relatively unknown fields of blue, white and purple flowers. Nice to see them au natural!
    Your images are excellent reminder of my one trip to Longwood to shoot them. Well done Shaun…

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