Based in Los Angeles, December Tea is a blog by Lauren Bailey. Her posts explore the world around her, through words, pictures, and constant cups of tea.

The Bloom Report

The Bloom Report

bloom report
\ ˈblüm \ \ ri-ˈpȯrt \

noun

  1. a. a usually detailed account of the flowering state and blossom
    b. a period of blooming recorded in an account that is shared

  2. a. a statement in time of beauty, freshness, and vigor
    b. an appreciation for the physical appearance of a flower’s natural state

verb

  1. a. to describe as being in a state of fully expressed (as in aroma, beauty, and excellence)
    b. an active moment of pause to appreciate the growth, petal structure, and color of flowers found in botanical gardens, lining the sidewalks or houses, and growing on a variety of trees

Perched between the sidewalk and asphalt is a small unassuming garden. It was on an early morning walk to my car, three years ago now, that I first noticed it. It was a winter of unexpected rain and as the season turned to spring, the neighborhood revealed a fragile ecosystem of wildflowers that are so often hidden. I was out of the mailroom and on my desk but the weight of everything had been growing heavier and I was at a low mental point.

But this morning. This morning was different. As I walked the sidewalk to my yellow beacon, I saw a beautiful white rose surrounded by leafy green, appearing as if overnight. It stopped me in my tracks. I had never noticed this small garden plot before. This rose offered a sense of hope and light, as I too was feeling stuck in the pavement, but it had bloomed and become something beautiful. I felt like if I chose, I could also embrace change and bloom where I was currently planted, and maybe someday I would lead myself to a new garden and bloom even stronger. Change was not only welcome but was also beautiful. 

That one rose, on that one day, opened something for me. As long as I can recall, I have been an admirer of flowers and have enjoyed them in all their forms. Daisies, roses, dahlias, poppies, ivy on buildings, tulips. Though I hold a special love for wildflowers and those along the hedgerow. My senior thesis in college was inspired partially by the water lily paintings of Monet. The way his paint speaks through the canvas and captures the movement of light and color atop the water like a visual poem. That spring something inside me shifted and I began to pay closer attention to the flowers blooming around me. It brought me immense joy to watch the cycle of the roses outside the brick house with the red door and to see the poppies break through the earth in explosions of orange that are able to withstand wind, rain and sometimes the footsteps of thoughtless humans. Flowers are at the same time fragile and yet resilient, a product of their environment and flourish when given a large drink of water, much like humans.

To me the Bloom Report is all of this. It is also a moment of pause, a way to smell the roses each day, a moment of appreciation for the structure, form, beauty of the flowers, a fifteen second meditation to remind you to breathe, and something really lovely to look. I think it can be whatever people need it to be. It is something that I love to do, as I like to get up close and personal with the flowers, maybe closer than some would like. I have noticed that the older I get, the more I am drawn to nature, to the desire to grow it and protect it, and to admire it.

The Bloom Report made its debut on Instagram stories in March 2018. Though its name wouldn’t be cemented for another few months. It could have only come alive in spring when the roses were blooming and the world was changing shape to prepare for that season’s super bloom. It began as an attempt to capture the flowers around the neighborhood that I would see daily, often growing alongside the sidewalks or roads. The first ever report was of a pink rose covered in water droplets. That dusty rose pink remains my favorite shade. From there it expanded as a way to document the natural world I saw. There are no set rules to how or what I capture except that it should spark joy and provide a bit of fun: from the plants growing throughout beds in Manhattan, to the gardens at the Huntington Library, to the daffodils sprouting through the hardened winter ground. It is as its core temporary and yet also ever lasting.

At first glance there don’t appear to be many seasonal progressions in Southern California and yet the more I stop to notice the fine details, the more I think that assumption is less accurate. Yes, we don’t get an autumn that begins on the usual timeframe of late September to early October, as this is normally when our hottest summer is at its peak, but some trees will begin to change and shed their leaves come November and early December. Winter is mild with grey skies and a higher chance for rain, which continues into our spring. Grey May and June Gloom are seasons in their own right.

Spring is truly the season of transformation. Late April sees the blooming of the jacarandas. Purple flowers will fill the streets and cover your car if parked beneath.  Then again they’ll bloom in September as I’ve recently learned the jacarandas is a tree that has two blooming seasons.  The tissue paper thin bougainvilleas will begin to bloom starting in May. The bright pink, white, and purple flowers are a constant across the city. Then there are the roses, perhaps my favorite, which are the first sign that spring is just around the corner. The white roses will start in March and sometimes will continue through the end of the year. 

There is no perfect bloom yet each is symmetrical and precise in the way only nature can be. It is a snapshot of that moment in time – the way the light was hitting, the vibrancy of the petals that can sometimes appear altered on screen but jump out at you in real life, and the mood in which I was capturing it. It is a grounding that I find I need in a busy city. Flowers also happen to be one of my favorite subjects to photograph. There is such life to each stem. I hope that these small moments bring you as much joy as it is brought me.

All of these pictures were taken at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in October 2018 using a macro lens. The video is a compilation of some of my favorite bloom reports over the past two years. The rose that started it all is not pictured but can be found here.

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