Garden Chiaroscuro

I spent a few rewarding hours in my local botanical garden the other day.  Famous for rain, Seattle was clear and sunny;  the angled October light cast deep shadows on the brilliant stained glass colors of fall.

The back of this Dahlia was as joyfully pretty as the front.

A mushroom – looks like an Amanita – hid behind a fern frond.

We’ve had a lot of sun, but as always we are VERY mushroom-y here in the Pacific northwest!

The season’s last roses are so sweet – this one is a climber with a fruity scent and perfectly round blooms, some of which dropped prematurely onto the ground below, scattering lovely pastel petals.


Oh, the complexity of fall color!

Grasses go to seed in shimmering drifts.

Hydrangeas were beginning to brown. With the color removed from the petals, the structure is revealed beautifully.

In contrast to the orderly structure of a Hydrangea petal, these leaves displayed a marvelous anarchy of form.

And this one had been caught mid way between limb and earth.

Another leaf burnished by autumn’s chiaroscuro light.

But it’s not all fall leaves and mushrooms.  There are straightforward floral beauties still to be found, the late bloomers, the brave ones who raise heads to waning light in defiance of cold and dark and the sure slipping away of leaf and flower….

The photos, many of which illustrate the idea of chiaroscuro, were taken at Bellevue Botanical Garden, Bellevue, WA.

From Wikipedia: Chiaroscuro (English pronunciation: /kiˌɑːrəˈskjʊər/; Italian: [kjarosˈkuːro]; Italian for light-dark) in art is the use of strong contrasts between light and dark, usually bold contrasts affecting a whole composition.


    • I was thinking about down under being in spring time as I put this post together, so thank you for commenting – I SO LOVE that these posts reach people all over the world and we can communicate so readily. Do go out & shoot!


    • I thought the petals photo didn’t show as well in this post as it did as a stand-alone photo, so I’m happy that you liked that one. They were just SO GORGEOUS – perfect arcs of soft color – I always love the look, the poetry, of fallen petals.


    • Thank you! I hope you get a chance to roam around a bit sometime; some posts are more abstract and some are more concrete. I’m enjoying looking at your work and reading a bit about your story. The hand icon is a photo I took one-handed of my other hand on the edge of a small reflecting pool full of goldfish, at a botanical garden in NYC, where I used to live. Thanks for commenting!


  1. These images and your poetic narrative are wonderful. I absolutely love the one of the pink leaves drooping into the water with the reflections. This is a beautiful post, Lynn. Your use of light is superb. I enjoyed every one of the images. What a treat it must have been to visit the gardens!


  2. Ah, Lynn, chiaroscuro is my favorite word ever! These are wonderful photos that capture the idea perfectly; the fern and mushroom image is sheer genius. As I read this post, I was thinking of the synchronicity of reading your post while I was preparing a musical piece for my blog called Shadow and Light. But then shadow and light is more than a visual concept, more of an archetypal experience that resonates 🙂


    • It’s a very musical word, I think, the way it takes a syncopated trip off the tongue (is that accurate??). (AND the Italian connection, AND the meaning itself – all very musical!) I think I’m privileged to be part of your process as you create posts. Really. It’s a privilege for many of us to take part in each others lives in this way, if we pay attention.


  3. I hope you have a garden. Seriously. Your appreciation of all things garden is beyond wonderful and well, you just need to have one! 6 and 7, they particularly appealed to me, but see I say that but the grasses, I love grasses, I love them in my garden because of their movement and architecture. Oh how you capture them all so well. Brava! 🙂


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