Once I got the trees and foreground blocked in on this, it took me at least five passes to get the light right. I probably repainted the whole thing three times. I think that's just how far off I was in my head about how to get the effect of bright light in a dark garden—repeatedly, the ferns were too big, too bright, too colorful, too attention-grabbing. I kept thinking I had it right, and then I'd look at it for a little while and see that I really didn't have it.
Yesterday I got it really close, and I spent more time last night scrutinizing it, and decided that it needed more darkening. So this morning, still fearful that I was going to have to repaint the whole thing again, I started blacking out more of the foreground, and darkening almost all the fern foliage until it finally—finally—blended into the whole composition and let the sun dominate the painting. Whew!
Leonardo da Vinci reportedly said, "Paintings are never finished, only abandoned." I'm abandoning this one, quickly, while I can get away, and pretend that I won this battle.