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Ephemeral Beauty Turns to Purple Rain

The classic purple Rhododendron always reminds me of my long-gone grandparents' garden in Handsworth Wood, a suburb of Birmingham. It was there as a small child I first truly listened to the full majesty of a blackbird's beautiful song whilst gazing into the pinkish purple of those glowing flowers. Sound and vision.

Up in the bird filled woods above my home in Hebden Bridge there's a snicket hosting another of these familiar yet exotic seeming plants. So each spring the mauve flowers and blackbird connection is happily reinforced in my memory.

A shady lane with green leaves and purple rhododendron flowers

This year that Pennine Rhododendron had just reached peak magenta when a burst of heavy rain sent all the blooms tumbling. I happened to be walking past not long afterwards and took this series of photos, as an acknowledgement and record of transient beauty and the poignancy of brevity.

Close up of mauve pink rhododendron flowers

The shady snicket passing between old houses and into Lee Wood.

zoomed in on purple rhododendron blooms

Such a pretty hue of purple tending towards pink and similar to the foxgloves lining the steep path lower down the hill.

purple rhododendron flowers scattered on a path

And then the rain came and spoiled the purple party, but leaving this bright floral carpet to cheer the footsteps of wanderers for a brief while. Completing the cycle of ephemeral beauty for this year.

A shady and leafy path with Allen rhododendron flowersf

Rhododendron Ponticum can be a problem when it becomes a monoculture in woodland areas yet I enjoy the pop of colour provided by this 'Rose Tree' in gardens and parks.

For an alternative take on the significance of Rhododendron in the landscape and ideas about 'invasive' species see the project titled With Love. From An Invader by photography artist Yan Wang Preston. The project took place at Sheddons Clough in the South Pennines watershed, not so far from Hebden Bridge.

This link takes you to the website of Yan Wang Preston


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