Saturday, May 02, 2009

Flowers and churches

click photo to enlarge
Visit any English church, at any time of year, and you are likely to see displays of flowers. In the building the sills of ancient windows will have a vase of garden or bought blooms. The font at the west end of the south aisle may have a larger display at its foot, and at other strategic points, particularly the chancel and sanctuary, flowers will feature, especially lilies. The popularity of this variety in churches stems from its long use in Christian iconography as a symbol of beauty and purity. As the seasons change so do the church flowers, and when flowers are in short supply during the winter months, leaves and berries often take their place.

Weddings, harvest festival and Christmas are times when a church receives greater quantities of floral decoration. However, for the sheer number of flowers no period of the year compares with the time of the Flower Festival. I've just spent a couple of days visiting flower festivals at my local churches, and have been impressed and delighted by the displays that parishioners have put on. Many were themed displays around religious and secular subjects: "Jesus is...", "London Streets" and "Famous Lincolnshire People" were three of the topics chosen this year. I took a number of photographs, and I may post any that look good enough for reproduction. Whilst I made my tour I also looked at the churchyard displays of flowers and secured a number of images that please me. Churchyards flowers fall into two camps - those that are placed by a particular grave as a tribute, and those planted with the purpose of beautifying the area around the church. Of all the displays I saw recently none could compare with the tulips around the ancient church of St Mary at Long Sutton. The Fenland area of Lincolnshire is where most of the UK-raised bulbs are grown, and Long Sutton seemed to have examples of many of the wide variety that are produced.

This image shows a wonderful, colourful confusion of varieties under the dappled light of the trees.

photograph & text(c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 19mm (150mm/300mm equiv.)
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/250 seconds
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -0.7 EV
Image Stabilisation: On