Saturday, August 11, 2012

Garden Adventures ~ What I Thought I Knew

By Divine Ms. Moon
I was sitting on a bench in the shade in the botanical garden today when a busload of tourists arrived. "Oh, lordy," I said, much to the amusement of the man who was walking through the shade garden at the time. "If you move quickly," he said encouragingly, a sly look in his eyes, "maybe you can beat them."

And maybe not. They caught up to me right outside the kitchen garden. To be fair, they cheated and went both ways around the old house. I tried to concentrate on the hosta flowers ahead of me and braced myself for the onslaught of ooh-ing and ah-ing.

"Ooh," said one of two women who approached where I was standing, "those are tall." "They certainly are," I replied genially, although inside I was flinching, "I have never seen hosta flowers tall enough to look in the eye." "Oh," responded the second woman, "those are just Krossa Regal. I have a ton of them in my garden, but I hate those flowers, so I cut them all off." "The other woman said, "Krossa Regal, yes, that's right."

As turned to watch them continue their way down the path, I began to wonder just who these tourists might be. After a while, I met another group, ooh-ing and ahh-ing over a mass of short blue flowers along the path in the wedding garden. "Periwinkle," one said. "Nope," said another, confidently. "Geranium -- probably Himalyan." Oh, really, I said, quietly to myself, and a bit skeptically. But on the other side of the garden, I found the marker near another mass of the same flower. "Geranium himalayense," it read. I realized then, I was in the presence of some not-so-ordinary, elderly garden tourists.

I paused for a while on the bench overlooking the knot garden to review the photos I had already taken. When I looked up, I noticed an obvious shot in front of me that I had, nevertheless, never seen before. The focus was tricky, so I had to fiddle with it for a while, and when I had finally gotten what I thought I wanted, I picked up again and walked toward the pergola overlooking the lily pond, where two of the tourists were now sitting, eating their lunch. They invited me to sit and continued to eat.

I asked where they were from. They named a city about 80 miles from here. "Ah. Garden club?" I asked cautiously. "Well, yes," said one of the women quietly, "Master gardener club." And then I knew exactly why they weren't behaving like the ordinary, casual garden visitor. I was impressed and appropriately humbled.

"Getting any interesting shots?" asked the other woman after we had talked for a while about the house and the garden and what gardens there were to see in their city. "Actually, yes," I said, pointing vaguely back toward the place from which I had just come. "I found that if you sit on that bench and look down toward the knot garden through the fence, you can get a pretty interesting shot." "May we see?" one of the ladies asked. "Of course," I replied, and turned on my viewfinder, dialing to the photo above. They both looked at if for a moment, and then both glanced around the garden, seemingly puzzled. After another moment, one of the women said, "That's beautiful, but where did you find the stained glass?"

Exactly, I said to myself. And I was so relieved to learn that I knew at least one thing that those master gardeners didn't. I hope to be one of those myself, someday, and then I will know for sure what now I just think I know.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Joy in the Garden

One of my favorite garden plants is the stargazer lily, a spectacular variety of the oriental lily. Not only are they beautiful, but they remind many people of weddings, and thus, they produce joyful, romantic associations. I have one colleague, however, who hates the scent of stargazers, claiming they remind him of funerals. I tend to ignore him, as he also thinks global warming is a good thing because it improves his golf game.

By Divine Ms. Moon
In other times, I had stargazers in my own garden, along with many other lilies of oriental, Asiatic, and daylily persuasions. This is what the stargazers looked like in my local botanical garden this morning. No matter what my colleague says, my associations with stargazer lilies will always be joyful. 

Coming To Be

I met another photographer in the garden today, and we compared stories. She is a stay-home mom who picked up a camera one day and found that it fulfills something within her that needed filling. I have a similar story about something that needed filling, but we don't need to canvass it here. When this lady asked me what kind of photos I like to take, I struggled to explain how I am interested in impressionist, or watercolor, photography. She looked at me curiously, obviously not grasping what I was saying. She is interested in portraits of children. I can understand why she did not seem to relate to what I was saying. 

We parted company and I went back to taking pictures. I called back to her that she really would be interested in the stargazer lilies, which were putting on quite a show in the wedding garden. She responded politely, but she never did come back that way. I believe she was chasing butterflies, and I hope she had great success. A short time later, I was sitting on a bench, contemplating an arched doorway a few feet away. A single branch of a climbing rose was trailing down into the open arch, drifting gently back and forth with the soft, cool breeze. It knew it was calling me, but several shots later, foiled by a very fickle sun, I still had taken not a single shot with which I was satisfied. And so, a little frustrated, I stood up, composed myself to go on my way, and walked ahead, under the branch, and through the arch toward the formal rose garden beyond.

The reason we're here right now is that I have tried to train myself to always stop and look back because, sometimes, the best shots are the last shots. And so it was today. The light looking back was perfect. 

By Divine Ms. Moon
I stood there for a while after I finished taking photos in that spot, wishing the lady I met could have been there in that moment, so I could have shown her the photographer that I am coming to be.

I think she would have understood.