The golden hour

In photography, the golden hour is the period of daytime shortly after sunrise or before sunset, during which daylight is redder and softer than when the Sun is higher in the sky. ~Wikipedia

We had three glorious days of sunshine this past week, probably a first for this year. The garden reveled in the sunshine and bloomed gloriously at the height of daylily season. pinkhems2

The soul becomes dyed with the color of its thoughts. ~Marcus Aurelius

Pink daylilies bloomed with abandon

as did the purple and plum colored ones.

Flowers with eyes seemed to follow me with their gaze wherever I went in the garden

while the deepest colors added bass tones to the floral orchestra.

Without black, no color has any depth. But if you mix black with everything, suddenly there’s shadow – no, not just shadow, but fullness. You’ve got to be willing to mix black into your palette if you want to create something that’s real. ~Amy Grant

According to local weather tracking, only 29% of the days this year have been without rain or other precipitation. Like any gardener, I treasure rain but it has been a dark and gloomy summer. After those few glorious days of sunshine, the rain returned with a series of furious storms that pounded the garden with wind, water and spates of lightening and thunder for most of the day. Dozens of roads were flooded in the area; after a summer of heavy rain, the soil simply could not absorb any more.

The rain began again. It fell heavily, easily, with no meaning or intention but the fulfilment of its own nature, which was to fall and fall. ~Helen Garner


In late afternoon, the rain stopped and the sky lightened. By early evening, sunlight unexpectedly sifted through the trees and turned the garden into a golden land.


While many of the flowers were battered and sodden, their color sang to me from below as I stood at the top of the hill.  The battle with weeds and soggy garden beds were forgotten. The world was glowing.

I stood transfixed as the garden seemed to turn to me and say “See? We are fine. Stop worrying about neatness or perfection and join us as we revel in this golden hour.” rosedereschtrain

Once in a golden hour,
I cast to earth a seed,
And up there grew a flower,
That others called a weed. ~Tennyson

All text and photos ©2019 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved except where noted.

54 thoughts on “The golden hour

  1. Lynn, I absolutely love your garden. It’s an absolute living work of art and so beautiful. I was also particularly interested to read the quotes you’ve included about colour after reading the Contented Crafter’s post about the shop wanting cards with drab colours instead of the stunning vibrant colours she used. Deer are another thing we don’t have around here…a long with decent gardens. We live right near the beach on sandy soil and while I have had some success in the garden when I’ve made the effort and watered consistently, our garden has suffered from too much neglect.
    Since my garden is nothing to boast about, I thought you’d appreciate Geoff Le Pard’s English garden:
    Best wishes,

    • So glad you found me from Pauline’s place, Rowena. I do love color in the garden. Thank you for sending me to Geoff’s site – you are right, he has a fabulous garden! I visited Australia many years ago with my husband – we were in Exmouth and Adelaide in late December and early January so it was a treat to celebrate New Year’s Eve outside under the stars and balmy skies.

  2. Simply magnificent! Breathtaking! Your photography is really exceptional, as well. I’ve probably asked you this before, but how do you keep this gorgeous garden from being ravaged by the deer?

    • Thank you, Eleanor, I know how you love flowers 🙂 . This part of the garden, full of daylilies, roses, hydrangeas, and coneflowers, is protected on all sides with deer fencing – otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to grow any of them. Other parts of the garden are open to the deer but it’s taken several years of testing to figure out what will thrive and also survive deer appetites. Maybe that will be a future post – I’ll provide names of plants, but of course, deer have different appetites in different areas – no such thing as a deer-proof plant! Off the top of my head, try ornamental grasses and zinnias – pretty and durable 🙂

      • Between the deer and the moles, I look like an insane woman trying to keep them from eating my plants. They just laugh at me. I now plant my hibiscus/mandivilla potted garden on the wrap around deck that is 20 ft above ground. The first night I brought home all the profusely flowering bushes and trees (6), I stacked them together at the top of the stairs of the deck to wait until morning for replanting. It was a full moon that night and just as my husband and I were drifting off to sleep we heard a commotion which sounded like a bunch of incompetent thieves breaking into the house–a loud banging against the side of the deck. It was a herd of deer trying to mount the steps to eat my flowers!!! Fortunately they gave up and never tried that feat again. Good grief!

  3. Oh my gosh your daylilies are gorgeous. I wish I had only half of these. My bright red Cherokee Star daylilies get faded in the hot sun. You light shade looks perfect for them.

    • Thanks, Ray! Some of the red ones do fade in sun or lose their color in the rain – over the years, I’ve found ones who keep their colors. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. 🙂

  4. Such a perfect ending to this post, Lynn – the “See? We’re fine” response to your worry. You all have had quite the weather woes lately, but the garden just keeps giving. What extraordinary beauty there is among all those day lilies – wow, your collection grows and grows! And that moment just after the rain lifts is always magic. I love the Amy Grant quote too – that’s an interesting one! I had to look her up – is the quote from the musician? I have to say, it’s not a genre I like, but I respect the quote. (And having just listened to an NPR tiny desk video, no question she’s an accomplished musician). 🙂

    • Thank you, Lynn – that moment when the garden seemed to speak to me was the impetus for this post. Honestly, I hadn’t thought that quote was from Amy Grant, the composer, but apparently it is! I was looking for another perspective about the importance of shadow and dark tones in the garden – when I teach young composers, they often forget about the power of deep bass notes to ground and strengthen a piece of music. Music and the garden – all the same to me 🙂

      • That is such a great insight. And it’s one of the things that makes your blog so interesting, and so different from the rest – the way you bring those two disciplines, or should I say those two pleasures, together. 🙂

  5. Overcome by day lilies—a whole community to enjoy via your pictures! It is a balm to view as I now live in the woods and though I love my walks and the lively activity amid all these trees, I do miss abundant flowers. Thank you–and the quotes were apt and pleasing, as well!

  6. Absolutely gorgeous photographs. Our weather had been like yours, and then we had a sudden shift around the end of June to hot and sunny. Just now we had the first real rain in at least 2 weeks. This time of year I find the intensity of the sun makes photography difficult, the contrast of light and shadow too severe. Early in the evening, the sun is generally behind the tall shade trees, so that often comes to be my “golden hour”.

    • Thank you, Jason! Weather has been extreme, hasn’t it? I try to photograph very early in the morning, as the garden is in light shade and evenly lit. In the evening, we get light in the garden after 4 P.M. since we lost a large oak on my neighbor’s property. So early and late work the best here unless there is fog or overcast skies.

  7. Love your photos and musings…looks like the grey days are coming again for a bit. So we enjoy while we can!

  8. A spectacular collection of day lilies, Lynn. I’m sorry about the rain but pleased to see you forgetting about ‘neatness and perfection’ for a while and just reveling in the beauty that’s there. I’m no photographer but the pictures with dark and shadow in them always stand out above the rest, as in those taken in the ‘golden hours’.

    • Thank you, Richard. I remember you saying “I refuse to be a slave to my garden” in a recent post, which encouraged me to relax a little more about my own wild surrounds. I do love those dark shadows – they make the light all the brighter in contrast.

  9. Your garden is very beautiful and I love the range of colours in your planting. (‘Eggplant Ecstasy’ is wonderful!)

    • Thanks Jude – I love the darker ones too, they add such richness to the mix and always seem mysterious to me. I like a little mystery in my garden 🙂 We’re on our third day of sunny weather with two more to come – I think that sets a record this year for most sunny days in a row!

  10. It continues to amaze me how varied & extreme a factor weather is, regardless where we live. Unusual/Atypical seems to be the new norm, weather wise. Nature itself is replenished with each rainfall, and hopefully the rain totals aren’t so extreme as to be causing ill-effects.
    Our local weather patterns have shifted so much as to be very unpredictable, at least to me.
    The weather service often catches hell for inaccurate forecasts.
    Your daylilies looked marvelous & everything is very lush after so much rain. I hope the sun does return before summer is officially gone. 🙂

    • Thank you, Kate – the daylilies thrive on water and heat so this is a very good year for them. We are now in a short run of sunny days, which is a welcome change. Yes, atypical weather seems to be the new norm in many places, which I find worrying. Best of luck with your garden, I look forward to seeing more of it.

  11. Hello Composer! I followed you back here after reading your comment on my blog and what a delight! You have a magnificent garden – and take a good photo too! As I’m deep in winter currently it is a great delight to wander about the gardens of my Northern Hemisphere friends. It’s lovely to meet you, Pauline

  12. You have a marvelous day lily collection, Lynn. Such great variety in shape and color, I love the dark purples the most. Your garden looks so full and lush, undoubtedly due to all the rain. I try to console myself that it is better than drought. 😉

    • Thank you, Eliza – yes, the copious rain had doubled the size and bloom of the daylilies – they are water lovers. It is better than drought but it keeps me out of the garden more than I would like.

  13. Lovely colours. The foliage of the rose is a wonderfully dark shade of purple. I’m sorry you’ve been having more rain than the garden needs, but I agree with the flowers – we have to pause and revel in all this.

  14. The Golden Hour…a subject near and dear to my heart. 🙂

    Thanks for posting all of the beautiful lily images, Lynn. It’s a real treat to view them; I’ll come back later and take a second garden tour…and very likely a third.

    • Kerry, I thought of you when posting this – I don’t capture it nearly as well as you do but I also remembered your statement from a recent post “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good” 🙂 so I included those final photos of the golden light captured by a cell phone 🙂

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