Saturday morning I spent some time in my garden, watering and deadheading the spent flowers. My neighbor, Eric P., has an incredible stand of brilliant red crocosmia, and when I was done with my work I stood and sketched these exotic flowers. It seems a little weird to focus on the form of something when its color is such a standout, but of course when you take away the color, it makes you really look at the form -- which for these flowers turns out to be very cool. They open in order down the stem, with each successive bud slightly larger and more elongated, until the ones in the back start to unfold. The form is like a set of triangles: the triangle of the entire flowerhead is mirrored by the two triangles of each side, both when seen from the top down or from the side; the bloom is always held above the plane of the stem.
What makes each flower cluster so beautiful, I think, is that they twist gently in different directions, none the same as its neighbor, and all are in different stages of opening. The busyness of the flowers is contrasted with the simple spear-like leaves, in this case in a clump taller than me. They remind me of delicate, fluttery, show-off tropical birds in a green tree: a big clump of Crocosmia is pretty impressive, especially in a northern garden.
I've never tried to grow crocosmia but I feel lucky to be able to enjoy Eric's! Some of you who live in tropical climates must know this plant well. I think it comes in yellow too, but the red is a knockout punch. One of these days it will make its way into a painting: it's too fabulous to portray only in black-and-white.