Garden Visit #1
Dunedin Botanical Gardens
It’s Friday morning. I have the day off and in an unplanned way I am spending it alone. It has been a fraught week with little time for creativity so I pack my camera in my bag and head to the gardens. It is time for an Artist date with myself. It is early and I walk in step with those who are heading to work for the day. The luxury of a day off feels very real as I pause to unpack my camera and they walk on, focused on their day, me I am allowing my eye to wander and it quickly becomes distracted by colour and composition. The day feels slow to start and a slight mist hangs over the garden. It almost feels like it is still sleeping. As the garden yawns and stretches, it begins to become a place of activity as gardeners start their work for the day. I stand and watch feeling invisible. A wheelbarrow stands in a path with the tools. I wander on.
Colour is slowly returning to the garden. It feels loud and boisterous after the winter and especially in corners where trees and shrubs are yet to reveal their summer form. For the moment they still stand naked as leaves are yet to reappear. Ash grey, fawn brown branches reach for the sky. These are the colours of winter. Spring colours are more bold. The magnolias shouts in a pink flamingo pink, in other corners it is white but it is flouncing petals add drama to the gardens demanding attention. In contrast there is blossom. It too comes in shades of pink and white but is softer in nature, swaying gently in the morning air. Across the lawn snowflakes and daffodils march along. Ribbons of yellow and white pop against the green of the lawn. It is patchy, these moments of colour as most of the garden where I walk is still dormant. It is the start of spring, the warm up act to the summer that it is to come.
I stand and if I turn in a circle, everywhere I look I will see a different variety of camellia. I have a love hate relationship with them. I love the contrast and beauty of the bloom against dark vibrant leaf. I hate the quick fade that leads to a mottled bloom that hangs around longer than it should, and this is coming from someone who #lovesdeadcrap when taking photos. There is a few shrubs that are tall and have a mass of flowers which remind me of the photography of Valerie Finis who captured gardeners and gardeners from 1955 on wards. Her work has a gorgeous vintage feel to it and this camellia evokes that feeling. I snap away channeling her as best I can. As I stand and ponder what to photograph next I hear a commotion in the camellia next to me. As I look closer I am surprised to see a couple of Tuis foraging for nectar from the flower blooms. I had never thought of this flower offering enough for pollinators to feast on. I note to myself to be kinder in my thoughts of this flower.
I stroll around noticing peonies starting to emerge. Their foliage unfurling like an alien form. The tree peony which is one of my favourites, stands, almost stoic. It is just branches, indicating little of the beautiful flowers that are to come in the spring. The gardens feel like it is at a cross roads, a signficant moment of change. There are so many stories to be told. Hellebores still dominate, flowering in mass under trees that reach for the sky. Small amounts of growth are starting to appear in the perennial bed but for the most part it is made up of the odd flower that has escaped the grasp of the gardeners clippers. The roses have had their prune, small buds of leaves are starting to form. I finish my loop of the garden, my camera filled with images. The mist has cleared and sunny day is unfolding. My soul refueled. I head home.
Click here to learn more about the Dunedin Botanical Gardens .