The rain has cleared as I head outdoors, camera in hand. I do this most days. A quiet little moment of observation. I like taking some time to connect to the garden, to see, to learn and to understand my role it more. Sometimes it is a quick dart out, other times I can be there as long as I want, luxuriating in being able to wander around distracted by whatever takes my eye. You can quickly lose an hour doing this.

Over the year or so since I took up my camera, taking photos of the garden has helped me understand my role in the garden. My role has become one of an observer and gardening for me has become less about controlling and maintaining and more about becoming part of the community that lives in my flower beds. I think a large part of the reason for this is from what I have seen from behind the camera.

I definitely see more of the details that make up the garden and this tends to be what I take photos of. Little details. Some days the images I take are inspired from something I have seen as I have weeded a bed. A little secret that was hidden. I would have walked past it before. It would have gone unnoticed. Other days I know it is the season for roses, dahlias, spring bulbs and I am anxious to capture then before they pass. I find regular practice has helped improve my skill set. Those daily ventures into the garden benefit me creatively and definitely spiritually.

The interest in creative details that you find in your garden and how to capture them is the main theme of the workshop I will be giving in February at Crosshill Gardens.

I did a practice run for workshop the other day. No doubt confirming for the neighbors my oddness as I talked to myself whilst in the garden. I discovered on my first attempt that I get distracted, that I get excited that I am like a kid in a candy store. I darted from one bloom to another. The delights in a garden constantly inspire and when I think of sharing that excitement, of others feeling the same, it fills me with joy.

So today, camera in hand, I walk down the path. In this moment for me it is about the roses. Roses after rain are the best. They droop with the weight which can evoke a feeling of life weight. They have just opened, a fresh bloom, with a delicate sprinkle of raindrops on petals. Or they are a tight bud wound to a tapered point, ready to burst when the sun returns.

When I take a photo I think about what has attracted me to the flower. What was it that caught my eye? Humans like distractions, our eyes flickering one thing to another. A quick endorphin rush follows after our eyes have rested on a beautiful rose. I have questions that run through my head unconsciously as I take my photo. A dialogue almost between plant and me. It tells me it’s mood and I respond with my camera. Sometimes we feel the same. I factor in the environment, again more question and finally I think about how I want to tell the story of the bloom. The options are numerous and I work my way through them factoring mood and environment. The photo is taken.

My purpose is not perfection. In fact I embrace imperfection. A bruised petal, a faded bloom, they for me hold just as much beauty as the newly flowering. Perhaps more so because they have a story. Even the out of focus photos have merit. One of my teachers advised me of this, that the technically imperfect photo can capture the mood better than the perfect one. Sometimes the images flow, other days nothing works and I take it as a lesson. I listen to what is going on around me and within. Taking a moment to reflect.

My workshop in February, my first, at Crosshill Gardens will be like this, us walking in the garden together, seeing what captures our eye – squeals of delight are optional. I will talk though how I take a photo, do a demonstration if technology is kind and then we can wander, talk and capture the beauty that is Ali’s stunning garden. I hope you will join me.

Workshop details can be found on the Secret Gardens NZ website. I do have plans forming for other workshops. If you are interested please sign up to my newsletter.

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