Monday, April 06, 2009

Poker School

Aloe, Aloe, What Have We Got Here?

Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON


Early last week, it suddenly struck me that I had missed a great opportunity to photograph the stunning red-hot pokers and to publish them for this weekly theme. I rued the missed chance, because as I explained to the Authorbloglets, the flowers seem to be at their very best in early March.

Of course, we're almost in mid-autumn now and the clocks turned back an hour yesterday, so the chances of finding any red-hot pokers (properly called aloe or kniphofia) in half-decent condition seemed extremely remote, especially as the days get shorter and the cooler weather returns.

Then I had a stroke of luck. I was driving around a bend and I was using my peripheral vision to the best of my ability when I noticed a solitary bloom standing proudly among several that had withered and dried. I couldn't believe my good fortune.


Naturally, I pulled over, parked the car and reached for my camera. Let me tell you that shooting this single flower was no easy task. There was a strong and persistent southerly breeze, so my target was bobbing around like a cork on a wave.

As you can see, the blooms comprise several tassels of different colours, almost like long, uninflated balloons. The newest "tassels" are up the top, while the oldest ones turn from reddish-orange to distinct yellow. As this final shot shows you, they also open to reveal seed pods.

The shape of the yellow parts, as they break open, has always made me think they look like trumpets. I guess they are Nature's clarion call, telling us that summer is long gone.


Visit Luiz Santilli Jr for the home of Today's Flowers.

40 comments:

Nessa said...

Amazingly beautiful.

richies said...

Your good fortune turned into our good fortune. What beautiful and strikingly colorful flowers. I had never heard of them or seen them before.

An Arkies Musings

Pouty Lips said...

I'd not known they existed until your post. I think you hit the nail on the head - I see balloons and see and hear sounding trumpets.

Sylvia K said...

What an amazingly beautiful flower! I agree with richies, your good fortune did indeed turn into ours as well. I had never seen or heard of it either. One of the joys of blogging is learning/seeing so many wonderful and and beautiful things! Thanks, David, have a lovely day!

Shadow said...

rich rich colours, lovely. and driving through streets with leaves swirling down's kinda telling me autumn's firmly in the air...

Louise said...

These photos are great. Not bad for bobbing around in the wind. I love these flowers, which I had never seen before moving to the desert. But our are at their peak in early summer. They must not be exactly the same.

Fat, frumpy and fifty... said...

O Glorious!

Sniffles and Smiles said...

I love these photos...and your poetic image of the trumpet is unforgettable...I will always think of them in this way from this day forward...

Eddie Bluelights said...

The trumpets shall sound! You must have eyes in the back of your head David to spot all these things. Sure you're not a copper?

lime said...

well your luck is ours as well. what a gorgeous thing. i am curious how large the overall bloom is.

imac said...

The Luck always be with you David.

Tarolino said...

I'm so glad you saw this flower in its prime still. They are such a stunning variety. I just love them. I know that feeling of trying to photograph close ups on a moving target. But you did it and the excellent result is now here as proof of it.

Maggie May said...

We call them red hot pokers over here.
Great shots.

lakeviewer said...

Now I know their true names. Lovely pictures, most stunning flowers.

(p.s. I did not receive your email.)

Luiz Santilli Jr said...

Hi David

Wow, fantastic take!
I never saw a flowers how that!
Thanks for sharing.
Send me flowers for "Guest Friend"!

Luiz

Kendris said...

You certainly made the most of the opportunity! It's a gorgeous bloom; I'm going to have to see if it has any US relatives

2sweetnsaxy said...

I'm glad you got the shots you wanted. They're wonderful. :-)

Annie said...

Thanks for all that David...you always come up with an interesting shot...and words to go with!

I am just back from meeting up with Daryl. That was interesting, and she has passed on a copy of your book for me to read, which will be fun.

Cath said...

I was trying to photograph a bud on a branch that was bobbing around in the wind today! Opposite season (spring) - same problem.

Beautiful colours on that flower. I love how photography makes us really SEE.

VALKYRIEN said...

Wonderful shots of a new flower to me! And they really look like trumpets! Great shots on a windy day!

Tink *~*~* said...

How nice of that solitary bloom to wait for you ;) They do have a very effective fade-to-yellow technique.

Tink *~*~*

Mickey Welcomes You To Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Sarah Laurence said...

That gorgeous bloom was well worth a road stop. What an interesting flower – it’s colors make me think of New England maples in fall. Thanks for sharing!

Digital Flower Pictures said...

Nicely captured. Aloe won't grow here in Connecticut but I was treated to many types and colors in California this February. I never knew the genus was so diversified.

Willow said...

Our SoCal aloe look a little different. Thanks for sharing the great photos!

Janie said...

I've never seen this flower, even in photos. It's exotic and beautiful. Great shots.

Judy said...

Beautiful images, as always! My favourite is the one looking straight down at the flower! An unusual angle, to be sure!

lakeviewer said...

Thanks again, David. You can reach me at rosariainpo@verizon.net

Pat - Arkansas said...

Lovely! The flower is not common around here, but one does occasionally see a few plants in bloom. I'll have to keep my eyes peeled.

Zerilda The Superfluous Blogger said...

i thought aloe was green! my gran grew it. it was green. maybe my-home-state-whatever-that-is aloe is green.

Arija said...

The Kniphofia, commonly called red-hot-poker is quite a stunning flower much beloved of Honeyeaters.
Nice shot David.

Indrani said...

I haven't seen these around here. Looks so colorful and they can enhance the beauty of gardens.

Mine are 'claws' that don't scratch though.:) I am playing for the first time.

GreenJello said...

Oh! What a beautiful flower! I've never seen anything like it before.

Cowgirl said...

Stunning portrayal of a plant us lot down under take much for granted - but when you "see" it properly it's beauty is revealed, isn't it?

Our clocks went back yesterday am too.

Ananda girl said...

Lovely photos. I have some of these in my yard. I am fascinated by your seasons vs mine. I will not see my blooms for another 3 months or so. It was so nice to see these today.

SweetPeaSurry said...

Amazing little flower, I dig the 'trumpet' idea signalling the end of the summer. So lucky that you got the shot!!!

introspection said...

'The trumpet shaped flowers are in fact nature's clarion call that summer has long gone'. Beautiful prose to go with that bright red and yellow poetry, captured by your camera...!!!
Strikingly glorious pictures, David. thanks for sharing.

The Girl From Cherry Blossom Street said...

That is a gorgeous shade of vermillion!
I have never seen that kind of flower before.
And I love the yellow part as they break open. It's the nature's promise that Spring shall come rewarding us with beauty everywhere...if only we look close enough.

Hilary said...

Wow..those are gorgeous!

Mojo said...

Trumpets, huh? I saw the brushes in a car wash. But those are rarely so colorful!

Denise said...

A flower I have never seen before, it is beautiful and I am glad it survived for your photo session. Wonderful shots.