Four Fabulous Flower Faces (Part 1)

Not too long ago, Joe and I stopped into a local antique store. It was a Sunday and the store was supposed to be closed, but the owner had some paperwork to do. When she saw us peering in the window, she invited us in.

My eyes immediately landed on a portrait of a twenty-something Elizabeth Taylor. That, naturally, led to a reminiscence of Hollywood glamour and the shop owner recommended a book, Four Fabulous Faces, which celebrates the lives, work, and faces of Joan Crawford, Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo, and Gloria Swanson — in all of their black and white, dramatic lighting fabulousness.

When I returned home, I looked around my garden and noticed some fabulous faces of my own and I thought they too deserved some time in the spotlight. . .


Anyone who knows me or this blog, knows I have a thing for bromeliads — a bromance, of sorts. Sharp edged or soft, sun or shade, flower spikes or flowers in the cup, I’m aways impressed with their variety and easiness — and I love the surprise of not knowing which variety has which flower.

That’s the case with this bromeliad, the same one on which a moth with its own fabulous face spent some time on. I found this bromeliad years ago, on a neighbor’s bulk trash pile, buried under palm fronds and other yard debris.

I carried it — gently, because of the saw-toothed leaves — and planted it in my yard. And waited. And waited. And waited. It never bloomed, so I wondered if I had picked up a mother plant whose pup-producing days were over. The plant, though, never died — so maybe I had actually picked up an immature pup that needed time.

Quite recently, I moved the bro to an area that received more sun — and the spike appeared. The stalk, dusted in white and looking like a ghost, was covered with small buds. These eventually opened into small yellow flowers that reminded me of straw flowers.

At first, I was disappointed the spike wasn’t more dramatic — but I have slowly come to enjoy its silvery and subtle beauty, especially when that garden area darkens in the evening. It’s as if this bromeliad has taken a cue from All About Eve, an ingenue to outshine the greatest star.

Bleeding Heart Vine

I’ve written about and photographed this plant before, but for new readers, here’s a condensed version of “The Tale of the Bleeding Heart Vine.”

I first spotted this plant in a catalog about 20 years ago, and purchased it as a Christmas gift for my maternal grandfather, who lived in Louisiana. He was a gardener  and if a green thumb gene exists on a strand of DNA, I like to think this is where mine came from.  He loved the plant when it arrived and rooted lots of cuttings. He also gave one to me.

For years, that plant lived in a large pot, which I transported to my office for the fall, winter, and spring, and then returned to my New York backyard for the summer. During this regular chore, an attempt to keep this heat-loving plant alive, my grandfather passed — but the bleeding heart vine always rewarded me with a flush of exotic white flowers with red centers.

When it was time to move to Florida, the potted bleeding heart vine was placed in the moving truck and arrived in a climate more suitable for its life. I transferred it to a much larger pot, and the vining plant climbed higher than it ever had in New York. I have since learned to give it a hard pruning in early to mid-winter. The late-winter/early-spring flood of flowers is a showstopper — and like my grandfather,  I’ve been able to root cuttings for friends, neighbors, and other areas of my own yard. It’s truly a flower that keeps on giving.

One Fabulous Winner

Finally, I would like to thank everyone who took a chance to receive a free copy of my book, Seeing Green. I appreciate all of your kind words and encouragement. That being said, today is the 8th anniversary of my blog — so it seems very appropriate to congratulate Indie of Red House Garden for winning a free copy. I’ll be in touch via email to get your information.

If you’re interested in purchasing your own copy, please visit Blurb — and look for promo codes, which Blurb often announces on its homepage, to save some money.

Two More Fabulous Faces Will Appear In The Next Post!

9 thoughts on “Four Fabulous Flower Faces (Part 1)

  1. I love your photography, Kevin. You capture the beauty of your garden’s “four fabulous faces” with lovely sharp and colorful images. I am sure I would have enjoyed the inspiration faces discovered in the antique shop, as well. I have been deluged with out-of-nowhere responsibility this past month and so haven’t yet told you how much I’ve enjoyed your beautiful book. I have plans to purchase a couple for gift books, knowing my gardening friends would find the accompanying stories truly enjoyable. It’s hard to find something unique that everyone doesn’t already have or see on the shelves, so your book is appreciated. 🙂

    • Hello, Debra. Thank you so much!!! When it comes to the photos, I have to admit I surprise myself. I don’t use a tripod, so I have to try and stand very still, hold my breath, and then snap the photo. I hope you’re able to get ahead of the responsibilities. I know how that can be… by the way, I thought of you this morning. I saw a new item about “fire poppies” blooming in the ashes of California.

      • I hadn’t heard about the “fire poppies,” per se, but I have seen the wildflowers in those areas, at least from the freeway driving through. The green hills were an almost unnatural green, and I was so admiring and giving the untypical rain the credit. Then I read something about the soil being more nitrogen-rich after the fires and creating this almost emerald green color. It’s fascinating to me!

        Your photos are great, Kevin, and I think I’m most impressed you can stand still without the tripod. LOL! I think that’s part of my problem. I have a lot of very beautiful blurry photos. 🙂

      • Debra — what I didn’t tell you is how many photos I take while standing still until I get one that’s not blurry. I’m sure Joe and the neighbors think I’m nuts. They must be thinking, “How many photos of a single plant does he need?” 🙂

  2. Pingback: Four Fabulous Flower Faces (Part 2) | Nitty Gritty Dirt Man

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