On Light, Darkness, and Garden Beauty

Vivid Color: Garden Peony

People are like stained – glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within. – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross


I haven’t always loved flowers, or maybe I have … but I remember vividly the day I fell in love with having a garden.

Flowers and Gardens

When my husband and I were first married, we moved from the Midwest to New Orleans. I also worked, not in a giant corporation like in the job I’d left in the Midwest, but for a small pipeline consulting firm. I was hired to engineer diameters and configurations of pipelines the firm would lay from offshore oil platforms to bring the oil on land to refineries. I didn’t love it, but I did it so that we could buy a house, some place to make our own.

When we found one we could almost afford– 5 feet below sea level (in that area, it’s common), 900 square feet, which had been neglected for more than our lifetimes, I continued engineering pipelines long enough to buy the house. It required a whole house gutting before we could move in, but my favorite part was the back yard. It had two gigantic pine trees, a beautiful Magnolia, and one thorny rose bush. I read a book to learn how to prune the rose, which was old judging by its thick canes, but one piece I lobbed off of the bush looked green, alive. I shoved that piece into the ground. About a month later, that shoot grew leaves, and a few months after that, it bloomed.

The single bloom was a coral-orange-fuchsia pink and so intoxicatingly fragrant it was impossible to walk away from.

That was the day I fell in love with gardens, with roses, with pushing random canes and plants into the soil and seeing what happens as a result.

On Light, Darkness, and Garden Beauty

Now, about eighteen years later, I still love gardens–roses, peonies, hummingbirds, color, and the feeling of growing something beautiful from the earth. And this last time I laid out my garden, I planted only my favorite garden flowers.

The one thing I have learned above all is that garden beauty appears at its most beautiful when caught in the contrast between light and darkness.

Here are a few of my recent favorite flowers … peonies and roses:

Pink Peony
Pink Peony


Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content. – Helen Keller


a peony's unfurling
a peony’s unfurling


Give light, and the darkness will disappear of itself. – Desiderius Erasmus

Pope John Paul hybrid tea rose
Pope John Paul hybrid tea rose


Darkness comes. In the middle of it, the future looks blank. The temptation to quit is huge. Don’t. You are in good company… You will argue with yourself that there is no way forward. But with God, nothing is impossible. He has more ropes and ladders and tunnels out of pits than you can conceive. Wait. Pray without ceasing. Hope. – John Piper


the male Cardinal
the male Cardinal


In order for the light to shine so brightly, the darkness must be present. – Francis Bacon


Vase of Garden Peonies
Vase of Garden Peonies


Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that. ― Martin Luther King Jr.


Vivid Color: Garden Peony
Vivid Color: Garden Peony


Stories are light. Light is precious in a world so dark … Make some light. ― Kate DiCamillo, The Tale of Despereaux


Light, Dark, and Beauty: a Ruffled Peony
Light, Dark, and Beauty: a Ruffled Peony


But friendship is the breathing rose, with sweets in every fold. — Oliver Wendell Holmes

A Bouquet sent from a friend
A Bouquet sent from a dear friend


But friendship is precious, not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life, and thanks to a benevolent arrangement the greater part of life is sunshine. — Thomas Jefferson

Do you have a favorite garden flower you’re enjoying this summer?

Published by Jennifer Lyn Art

About Jennifer Writer Author Photographer Artist Corporate Marketer Happy Wife & Mom World Traveler Grateful.

8 thoughts on “On Light, Darkness, and Garden Beauty

  1. Your photographs are outstanding! You know what? I can envision them within the covers of a gorgeous coffee table book with your name on the front!


    1. Thank you so very much, Beth. I would love to have a coffee table book full of photos … (maybe I need to start working on something like that once my novel’s ready…) Thanks! xo


  2. This is simply breathtaking. Your flowers, your photos, these words. I think you know the trope of light and dark is super important to me and I find such fertile territory in the gray area between the two. Life itself, you might say. xox


  3. Your photos are gorgeous, and I loved the quotes. I also love peonies. While I am excited about all the flowers growing in my gardens this summer, I am most excited about two rhubarb plants that are coming up. I have always wanted to grow rhubarb (pies, jam etc.), and this year I saw that my local nursery had roots for sale. I bought two and can’t wait to harvest next year.


    1. I love to hear about the plants you’re growing which you’re excited about. Rhubarb is an acquired taste, I think, but if you love it, it is distinctive and prolific. I hope yours grows and thrives and is the endless source of many pies and jams. Enjoy, and thank you, Kim!


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