Saturday, October 2, 2010

Pictures for Ourselves

Do you take pictures of your own garden?  If you don't, I'm going to take this moment to demand that you go find or purchase a camera and get to it.  If you already take pictures of your own gardens, then I'm going to request that you take them more often.  Nowadays, with digital cameras, hundreds of pictures cost pennies, so the downside of have developing and printing costs decrease your budget for plant purchases are no longer an excuse.  I promise, you'll see your garden differently through a camera lens.

I find myself in the garden more and more often with a camera in hand, and I never regret the time spent taking or looking at those pictures.  I catalog plants by their photos, I document my garden's growth and development in pictures, and I mark the change of seasons and the frequent Kansas storms with pictures of their majesty and their damage paths in my garden. But most of all, inside all those pictures, instead of seeing the garden through the eyes of its gardener, I see the garden through the eyes of a visitor.  I can experience the garden, instead of experiencing the process of gardening.

We find it difficult, the "we" of gardeners in general, to separate our vision of our gardens from the little things that irk us  I can't look at my garden and not see the occasional weeds, the faded mulch that I know is there, the drab grass clippings, the phlox I should have deadheaded, or the blackspot on the roses.  But through the camera, I forget about all those things and I'm able to see the garden through different eyes; the eyes that can appreciate the garden instead of the eyes that work in my garden.

For example, I was thinking lately that my garden, here in September at the end of a hot summer, was lacking color, a little drab, or maybe a little beaten up.  But look at the picture of my front garden above, facing away from the front door of the house, taken on September 25th.  Boy, was I wrong about the color!  Look at combinations of the 'Betty Boop' rose on the left, the 'Emerald Gaiety' euonymus of the foreground, the burgundy foliage of 'Wine and Roses' weigela in the background, the two varieties of sedum in bloom, and even the bright red rugosa rose 'Hunter' out of focus in the far right background.  I also know that on the left, just out of the picture, are the still-blooming remnants of the white phlox 'David' and to the right, the red Canadian rose 'Champlain'.  How much more color could I expect?  With my "gardener's eye" I just couldn't see the color separate from the sidewalk, the mulch, and the surrounding fields.  With my camera's eye, I can see the beauty that others see.

If I'd just been bright enough to remove the dead daylily scapes before I took the picture it might look even better to me.


  1. Beautiful shot of all your color! Thank you for posting this and for reminding me that there's beauty to behold in the garden regardless of the season - even some seed heads are pretty cool too. I love how reading your posts makes me want to get outside and dig!

    Well done:) Have a great weekend.

  2. I take tons of photos of the garden. Come and see.

  3. Beautiful photo and beautiful post. (Note: I hadn't even noticed the daylily scapes until you pointed them out...then I had to go back and look to find them!)

    I enjoyed our brief conversations today and look forward to reading more of your blog.

  4. I agree with the photo assessment. As a gardener I sometimes only see the work. Recently some photos were taken by another person of my home and garden.
    What an eye opening experience!
    I'm going to pull out my camera more.

    I'm excited to find your blog Professor Roush. I spent a few years in the Kansas Flint Hills (K.S.U. grad). I miss the beautiful sunsets.


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