It was a phrase we used, this “walking the property”, when we lived in a previous house with a very small garden. It was in a suburban housing estate and our first home. We were so proud of it and loved our garden and would walk around to check on this and that plant most days. Without the stops to admire and talk about various plants, this walk would have taken a minute or less.
Nowadays, the garden is larger and the walk takes a little longer, with the many stops to see what has changed since the last walk around – which could have been on the same day or the previous day – and the many pauses to take photographs, for that is what I do most days and oftentimes several times each day as something catches my eye, as the light changes or a ray of sunlight catches a flower in an attractive way or a plant is just at its best. Walking the property is now as much about photography, about catching the moments and having them to look at again, to enjoy again and again.
Of course, photography is a lie, a deception or, at the very least, a selective view and recording of a moment. Garden and plant photography is all about catching both at their perfect best but, given that, it is an enjoyable pastime both in the act of taking the photographs and in later looking at them at leisure and in detail. I find this especially when photographing wildflowers, orchids in particular. Outings to see them and admiring and examining them in the field is only part of the enjoyment – reviewing the images at home often reveals details nor seen earlier and allows for greater examination of the flowers. Photography in the home garden might sound repetitive but the garden changes from day to day; flowers develop, open and fade from day to day, the light will vary and with that change, everything in the garden will change also.
The weather has been glorious and today was the hottest day of the year to date. Temperatures reached 22C here in Waterford which is about the limit for this old man. If the mercury goes above that I begin to melt. At the end of the day I felt exhausted, worn out as an old man becomes worn out. It was not that I was working especially hard today or that the work was particularly heavy; it was simply being under the sun all day. A good night’s sleep, a good rest and we will be at it again tomorrow and feel grateful to have the good fortune to have a garden to pass these days so pleasantly. My son said this evening that we were lucky to have our pastime on our doorstep and that is the truth of it; we are very fortunate indeed.
A quotation from Life in the Garden by Penelope Lively: On the 31st of May 1920 Virginia Woolf went gardening. Here’s what she wrote in her diary: “The first pure joy of the garden…weeding all day to finish the beds in a queer sort of enthusiasm which made me say this is happiness. Gladioli standing in troops; the mock orange out. We were out till 9 at night, though the evening was cold. Both stiff and scratched all over, with chocolate earth in our nails.”
These photographs are today’s moments with today’s thoughts and reactions and all are fleeting and perhaps insignificant and tomorrow will be another day with different experiences in the same place.
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