False hydrangea

When living in the Pacific Northwest, I fell in love with this distant hydrangea relative, Deinanthe caerulea, at a local nursery. It never bloomed for me but I potted it up and brought it with me when I moved back east, planting it in my NC garden. Now several years later it has finally flowered. The genus name means extraordinary flower, which it certainly is with its gorgeous waxy petals and colorful bold stamens. The species name implies a pure blue color, but my flowers are decidedly tinted lavender. Regardless of the exact color, the flowers are exquisitely beautiful, though incredibly ephemeral. I photographed the first flower I saw but it was a bit worse for wear by the time I discovered it. The next morning the anthers were completely gone, I suspect eaten by a variety of small beetles prowling their petals. So when this small cluster of blooms opened, I determined to capture their delicate beauty before they faded. This was a tricky shot since the flowers hang down, so I leaned way over and photographed them with their serrated leaves just above, and s dewdrop hanging from a flower bud glowing in the sun. Far above, there is the shadowy hint of oak leaves and a blue sky arching over the garden.