When we moved into this house two years ago we were excited because it had a large back garden with some citrus trees and a beautiful old grape vine. For the first year we deliberately didn’t do much at all except watch to see what might happen over the seasons…
One of the most amazing things was the border under the citrus trees: about 10 feet of dark green bromeliads, very overgrown and untidy. This was one thing we were pretty sure we’d improve, removing at least some of the plants which weren’t really that attractive. Then one day one flowered, a stunning bright red flower. So they stayed… Research tells me that Bromeliads don’t flower often and we still think there’s too many, we could probably shorten the patch, or split it and put something else in the middle.
This year, just this week, as all the mandarins and oranges are starting to ripen, the whole border has burst into flower with maybe fifteen to twenty vibrant red flower spikes. I understand that the ripening fruit encourages them to flower. It looks amazing.
I wanted to try painting them but after staring at one for half an hour I still couldn’t find a starting place, so I decided to try sketching first to see if I could work it out. Working backwards, I did the simpler bud on the right hand side of the page first. The full flower on the left was really hard to work out, the top part makes your eyes go funny if you look long enough. And if you don’t then you can’t work out where anything goes!
I hope this sketch manages to depict it – I can see it, but I know what I’m looking at. I’m happy even though I didn’t manage to be very detailed – more of an impression than a botanical study. I think it’s helped me work out how a painting might be attempted, which was the main thing, and hopefully it’ll be a lot clearer when there are colours to identify the different parts of the flower.