What’s In A Picture: Trillium Leaves

I am sometimes asked why I need more pictures. I’m not the world’s best photographer, my camera is an iPhone in my bag or pocket (so readily available) and I like to practice. Well, that’s my excuse. A true one, but it misses the point.

It’s hard to explain the feelings I have when I look at this, good picture or bad picture. It might seem weird to write them down, but we’re blogging here, aren’t we? A personal blog’s all about riffing on whatever catches our attention, wondering if there’s anyone in the world who will follow our train of thought and pinching our arms in astonishment at those who tolerantly do. So…what do I feel when I look at this picture?

My kindest friend would not claim to think this is one of my best: I would not normally share it. My excitement to see trilliums hasn’t helped the composition or focus, but it still holds enough riches that I haven’t found it in my heart to delete it. And that’s the first point, I suppose:

The moment

How many pictures do we keep that celebrate a point in time we want to remember? I hadn’t expected to see trilliums on my walk and the picture reminds me of the mini-rush of adrenalin. My heart really does leap when I find one of my favourite plants at my feet.


Green and brown are eye-friendly colours. Never going to be voted the most exciting, they don’t dazzle like the yellow of a daffodil or the orange-red of a tulip might. If our eyes engage with them, they can linger in a form of yoga for the mind. And yes, those fallen leaves are a little messy, but even if you’re a neatnik, be content to leave them fallen, knowing nature will make good use of them, given time.


I marvel at the three leaf form of the trilliums, compare the leaf shapes and wonder if the little one will eventually have the markings and form of the bigger one, with broader leaves rather than lance-tip ones. Will its darker patches spread or will it always make the same lovely contrast to its companions as it does now?

I look at the tiny green blurs in the background – the first leaves of seedlings, scattered in the rich dirt. Are any of them trilliums in the making? I wonder how many will survive the hoe in a well-tended garden like this one. They are tucked away in a corner, and most visitors will not spot them, but the gardener will know where they are and will have plans. If you’re a seedling, that might be ominous.

I wonder how trilliums could be classified as weeds, even if they were as plentiful as grass. (I can’t get over violets being lawn weeds either. If we called flowering weeds lawn jewels, they’d perhaps have a better press.)


It’s not envy as such, as anyone who sees these in flower is very welcome to every bit of joy they might bring. But any other word would rob the feeling of its bite. It was an ‘Oh, yes!!! Oh no!’ moment to glimpse them and realise in the next instant I was so close to seeing them in flower. Will these be red, brown, purple, white or the greenish ones? I won’t be back to see them this season. Their mottled leaves are a treat, but I won’t enjoy how, fully open, their simple, three petal design offsets the leaves so well. Call me a fool, but that’s bittersweet.


Last year’s leaves are well on their way to returning to earth at the dry, crumbly stage. We almost have to imagine the soil – it is so darkly rich, it reads as blackness beneath the twigs and scraps of leaf-litter. Humus-rich, edge of woodland soil is the best: any gardener should delight to work with welcoming earth like this.

The picture seems to point to the leaf becomes soil → nourishes the bulb → produces the leaf sequence that would be pure delight, were we not mortal. I remember how not everyone knows how a rose comes from a seed and thank my lucky stars my parents made sure I do.


We who love patterns and textures can let ourselves play for a moment with the colours and contrasts.

We might start by admiring that splotch-free stripe down the centre of the trillium leaves nearest to us, or by following the hint of an s-curve that plays out along the leaf spine. We might weigh the shades of colour from light to dark, and admire the silvery-purple sheen on the darker trillium. We might linger on the brighter green erythronium leaf (far right), appreciating its chalky white markings, the brown edges and leopard-like blotches.

One nodding bud has yet to throw off the constraint of the trillium leaf. Even flowers have their burdens. The strappy leaves of bulbs around the periphery? I can take them or leaf them. Well, I did warn you this was the playing section – what do you expect?


After taking this picture, I walked alone along a mowed path through a field loosely planted with daffodils, disturbing a pair of pheasants with mischief on their minds. He was bright and splendid, she, skittish, then flustered on seeing an intruder. They dashed away into the bushes, reminding me that the garden is full of living things, just a breath or two away and that more than one creature may be hidden away in this picture, in the darkness or under a leaf.

So although I wish this picture was a bit more stunning photographically, there is more than enough to keep me happy here.

Why would I want more photographs? All this is why.

In celebration of the Spring Equinox, 2019. 

25 Replies to “What’s In A Picture: Trillium Leaves”

  1. I read this twice when you posted it, and my brain went all over the place trying to figure a way to respond while at the same time preparing to travel to California. I was too twitterpated to put into words all the responses I felt. It wasn’t just that I needed time to recover from “take it or leaf it,” though that did cause a brief disruption of breath.

    Your ability to speak the moment is really amazing. I agree with WigginsWords above that this post is a meditation. Kind of like holding something and turning it over and over to see its different aspects. There’s a quiet command in this to stop time for a moment or two. OK, so maybe we can’t, but this is next best. A lovely post. Thanks!

    1. I hope you’ve had (or are having) a lovely time back there – the weather would be a welcome change I imagine. I’d been hoping you’d been travelling rather than experiencing any more pesky internet issues. I’ll emit a sight of re-leaf that has proved to be the case.

        1. The cold is always an extra shock to the system after being somewhere warm. I’m sorry it was a mixed bag, but it must be a difficult time with your brother in your thoughts.

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