I learnt this term a few months ago, shortly after I purchased my new camera.
Bokeh is the Japanese word for ‘blur’. It describes the blurry, blobby, smeary or smudgy background you get against the foreground image which is in focus.
I like the way that the smudgy bokeh radiates outwards from the ink-splash shape of Centaurea ‘Jordy’.
I have nice blobby bokeh here, like a finger-painting. This makes a nice contrast with the fountain of Hemerocallis fulva ‘Flore Plena’.
Bokeh is how the world looks to me if I don’t have my glasses on or contact lenses in. I have brilliant near vision. This is handy for a bookish person, and someone who likes peering closely at flowers. It is not so handy for recognising a loved one across a crowded room.
In the photo below, it is Rosa ‘Benjamin Britten’ behind Buddleja davidii ‘Royal Red’.
If I feel my way around Benjamin (ouch. He can be a bit prickly), and bring his blobs into focus, then you see the swooshes of the buddleia behind.
Here you can see the sharply focused Salvia ‘Amistad’ in the foreground. The stems and buds are hard and metallic, whilst the petals are silky. The pink blobs are Phlox paniculata ‘Starfire‘.
I like the hill-like shapes here: it is like a landscape. I love the contrast of the arching crocosmia in the foreground with the soft blobs and pillows of geranium and phlox in the background.
I love the layers of colours in the next photo. Though the crocosmia is in the foreground and the leaves are in focus, the flowers are all at different depths, so are mostly in very soft focus. I am pleased with the balance of colours: this is exactly what I want in the bright border: highlights of hot, flaming colours, and backdrops of cooler, darker blues, purples and greens.
My daughter had a gorgeous sundress when she was younger. The fabric had a buff background and bright pink cherry blossom print. I loved it. This photo with the parched lawn as the buff background reminds me of that dress. Phlox is photobombing again. In the foreground Buddleja davidii ‘Royal Red’ is picking up the phlox’s bright orange-magenta, in the throat of each flowerlet.
The reverse arrangement shows the phlox in focus and the buddleia spilling over its head like a fountain. The bokeh smudges the background flowers and foliage outwards, away from the central subject, as if they are standing back to admire the phlox.
Let’s have a light-and-dark contrast. Here is Hemerocallis ‘Bonanza’ with its banana-and-burnt-caramel deliciousness, with a darkest green smudgy background. With a few masterful little smears of bright green. The lines of the smudges are echoes of the curves of the petals.
With the Euphorbia below, the plant structure is such that there are very close tiers of leaves. They get increasingly out of focus, the further away they are. Euphorbia is a really useful plant in the bright border both for its bright greens, and also for its sculptural presence.
The excitement in the bright border this week has been the gladioli suddenly popping up. The buds seem to appear overnight. They too are wonderfully sculptural, arranged in a plaited sword. I love the grey-lilac tinge with just a hint of apple green. They suggest the cool, glint of steel.
The flowers at the base open first. It is like a sudden flash of silk through a suit of armour.
I love the action bokeh below. Like a sword-fight.
The texture of gladioli flowers is incredible. They are the most sumptuous, opulent, resplendent of all. They have exquisite tailoring. Look at the curves and folds of the petals! I love the contrast of the darker unopened flowers at the base of the sword.
If you have enjoyed this post, then consider clicking the ‘Follow’ button at the base of this post. You will receive an email every time I post. You can also share the post via the usual social media channels, and via email.
My aim in this blog is to share the little pops of wonder I get from gardening and from nature. You don’t have to be into gardening to appreciate these. The world is an amazing place and there are so many sensory pleasures that go unnoticed.