I’m not a big fan of winter nor have I heretofore been much of a gardener. I spent my summers on a farm/ranch and didn’t pay very much attention to growing things, apart from seeing them as crops…yields…fresh corn that was on the stalk when I put the water on to boil. But in the last few years, I’ve taken a more active interest in first the aesthetics of gardening…and then the process itself. And my vision has changed…or, better, maybe I’ve opened my eyes to things I was blind to previously.
So this Winter Interest piece is going to be from my point of view – the point of view of a middle-aged guy with, effectively, toddler’s eyes. I’m new to much of this and expect that I’m seeing stuff from a relatively immature point of view (compared to many of the rest of you).
Parenthetically, this has been a rather strange year on the western slope of the Rockies. Last year, we had two feet of snow still in the foothills in February. Yesterday, it was sixty-five degrees here. We dodged most of the brutality of winter this year, so many of the pictures in this piece don’t reflect normal here. But it was and still is winter…and that variability might be part of a broader point.
I’ve been thinking about this article in two rather broad (and arguably artificial) categories:
1) The annual cycle of gardens and the individual entities therein
2) The aesthetics of a winter (dormant) garden
I have a few thoughts on each, which follow. Also, thanks to the neatest woman I’ve ever met (mostly because she tolerates me and even seems to like me), the unwashed cetacean (@dirtdorphins), for many of the pictures that appear here in this article.
The Circle of Life
Last fall, I started this thread: The thread "The Circle of Life: everything else" in All Things Gardening forum
The introduction reads, in part:
Most of the time when we photograph plants, we do it at the apex of their beauty. But there's clearly a purpose for the entire life cycle of a plant or flower. It has a job to do (and is doing that job) from sprouting to growing to flowering to seeding to dying - and then starting the cycle again.
I find beauty in the entire cycle - from the potential in the seeds themselves to the contribution of the decomposition that gives the next generations a chance to complete their leg of the ever spiraling cycle(s).
So this thread is about anything but the apex of what we think of as youth's beauty...and finding beauty throughout the cycle. And, of course, this is probably a metaphor for other things, too ;).
I'll start. Here's a hibiscus about three days past its prime. I defy anyone to tell me that there's not wonder in it still:
I was gratified with the reception, response, and participation. There truly is beauty in all aspects of the life cycle of living things…and the systems in which they are able to cycle. The entire thread is worth looking at, to be sure. Here are a few photos that Dirtdorphins and I contributed (or should have contributed if I didn’t post them there). I'm very much running out of time for this, and I promised this article, so for now these will remain captionless, but the bees and early bloomers are from January and the first couple of days of February (look closely for the frost flowers blooming on the window. So, excuse the random order and have a look at the thread. Others have contributed magnificent shots not seen here. It's worth your time to look at them. It really is.
Other examples of winter shots and circling life can be found in these threads:
The thread "Budget close-ups - Adding a flash to the mix" in Photography Tips & Techniques forum
The thread "The Classifieds, $35.00, and closeups (or the end of a notsosane obsession?)" in Photography Tips & Techniques forum
Winter (and seasonal) Aesthetics
I’ve often called Dirtdorphin’s gardens fireworks in slow motion. From early spring until snow falls, there’s always something interesting going on. But it wasn’t until this year that I noticed that she selects plants not only for their winter aesthetics, but also for the design of the gardens themselves – the shapes and colors of the boulders and the plants and the trees and even the ornaments and fixtures/infrastructure all work together to please the eye and the heart, irrespective of the season - or for each season or part of the cycle specifically. Her gardens and their design create a stark contrast to the municipal or industrial rows-of-box-store-marigolds-and-petunias-pull-them-out-in-the-fall-leaving-nothing-but-bare-earth “gardens” that one often sees. And another wall of photos...but each displaying winter's potential beauty. Feel free to stop clicking once you're sated. The photos below were mostly taken by @dirtdorphins...in her own garden.