My posting has been a bit thin! Between a lingering cold, a new student, and a big conference, my time has been divided. Tomorrow I’ll be posting about Turing Patterns. Alan Turing’s been dead for 63 years, but his name is still alive in the halls of patterns and bifurcations.
My first and favorite subject for photography was flowers. Early on, I struggled with composition, what to include in a wide-angle shot and what to exclude, and how to do this. Flowers were simple subjects; I knew immediately what I wanted my image to look like. This love of flowers has drawn me to many botanical gardens over the years, even as I learned to see more than just the individual flowers. So today, I rooted through my photos and found 10 favorite images from gardens in eight states. Maybe later this summer, I’ll share my own garden!
1. Marie Selby Garden in Sarasota, Florida
Marie Selby specializes in tropical epiphytes, or plants that grow on other plants. Orchids are epiphytes, and the greenhouse is stuffed with them. With no tripods allowed, the lighting conditions are a challenge, but I love seeing the insane variety of orchids.
2. Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, MO
The Missouri Botanical Garden is one of the oldest in the country, and still a center for research. This is the garden that I wandered through as a child.
3. The Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, VA
4. The Denver Botanical Garden
High elevation gardening, but with more water than my New Mexico. The Denver Botanical Garden highlights water efficient plants, but it was still mind-blowingly green compared to the high desert.
5. The Japanese Garden in Portland, Oregon
Humid and covered in moss, Portland’s Japanese Garden feels authentic. It’s beautiful and detailed.
6. The Sonoran Desert Museum in Tucson, AZ.
A combined zoo/botanical garden next to Saguaro National Park, the Sonoran Desert Museum is a great place to check out bizarre succulents.
7. The Albuquerque Biopark
My local botanical garden. Living in a desert, you learn to treasure the green spaces. More often than not, I go just to stroll, not to photograph. For me, that’s very rare. I also really enjoy the Japanese Garden, which is definitely not as authentic as Portland’s (we are just not going to grow moss here), but shows how style can be interpreted with a local flavor.
8. Chile’s Peach Orchard in Crozet, VA
This view isn’t open to the public, but seeing an orchard in bloom is a beautiful thing.
9. The Organic Tulip Festival in Madison County, VA
Another garden that you can’t visit anymore. They only sell their bulbs now.
10. Phipp’s Conservatory in Pittsburgh, PA
I’ve been to Pittsburgh about 5 times in the last decade, always in late March or early April. Apparently, it’s not a great time, weatherwise. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the sun there. So I can see how an indoor conservatory like Phipp’s is essential. It’s gorgeous, and right next door to Carnegie Mellon University.
On my first western trip, I visited Moab in July. We went hiking in 105 degree heat, the sun pounding the ground and anything above it. We learned to respect the desert, because the desert will win.
I always stop and admire the brave stalwarts of the desert—that scraggly tree growing from a forbidding rock face or that little flower, full of color if only briefly. They can never move. They survive or die.
In an ancient landscape shaped by wind and water on continents that no longer exist, the desert plants are ephemeral. Like the ruins of the southwest and our cities, the landscape will outlast them. But they, like us, can be beautiful for their time.