Fading flowers – memento mori

Following on from Susan Rushton’s post about faded roses, I thought I would look for beauty in last week’s flowers. It’s been warm this week so they are following the path toward decay. The Japanese Iris has taken on marvellous marine blue stripes and intense veining.

iris dryingiris bloom over

Is it beautiful? Shapes, colours and textures are equally or more interesting. Fading flowers in the garden have less of a sense of decay, more of a sense of transmutation as seed pods or berries replace the flowers. With cut flowers it’s the idea of decay and death that holds an emotional recoil for me, not the aesthetics.

fading flowers lily

Paintings of flowers withering or fruit rotting and/or with insects have been made in the past as ‘memento mori’, to remind one that death is coming and it might be soon. I was thinking about this as I photographed the flowers and sure enough, a fly appeared, amazing looking, part of nature, but again that recoil. Dianthus ‘King of the Blacks’ gets nearly black as it withers.

fly on dianthus

fly on flowerdianthus with flyThe pollen stands out. It’s everywhere, spilling on the petals.

dianthus pollen

lily pollendahlia pollen

hydrangea pollen

I think I’m in denial about the ‘fleeting nature of life and experience‘.


4 thoughts on “Fading flowers – memento mori

  1. Honest post, Cath. Death is an idea that is tough to embrace. But your photos display a quiet beauty of acceptance. The fly was a particularly apropos symbol of death, as their larva hasten to recycle waste, pointing to the ultimate circle of life. Even in death, there is rebirth. The concept of which, makes death easier to reconcile.

    1. Thanks Eliza, yes the fly was a happy coincidence, or maybe he was attracted by the decay. It’s true, these flowers will break down and provide food for insects, even if they don’t set seed and grow new plants.

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