A Walk Through The Garden

Those of you who know me well enough know that gardening is to my beloved as photography is to me.  It is a place to get away form the daily grind, and let a bit of creativity flow. And while I have always appreciated the beauty of a garden, it was not normally a place that you would normally find me relaxing or recreating.  Yes, I have been known to head up to the tulip festival in the Skagit Valley each spring, and the rose garden was a frequent place of visit each June, but for many years that was the extent of my flower photography.  So when we were fortunate enough to buy our house a number of years ago, I was more than happy to relinquish all control of the grounds to her.

Over the years, however, I learned more about individual plants as my beloved shared her passion with me.  Fair enough, as I often shared my images with her, as well as asked for opinions when I was in need of some editorial advice.  There is a certain beauty to sharing, that is if you are actively engaged and paying attention, in that you begin to become familiar with an unfamiliar subject matter, and start “to see things new”.  Upon learning more about her garden, I found plants that I normally would have walked by and viewed as part of the scenery, suddenly calling out for a mug shot!  No longer was my flower photography confined to spring tulips and summer roses, nor was travel up to the Skagit Valley necessary to enjoy seasonal blooms, although it still remains one of my favorite places to photograph throughout much of the year.

While this new-found taking to the plants in our yard expanded my photographic world, little did I know that it was going to encompass most of it during my chemotherapy and radiation treatments these past two years.  The sheer level of exhaustion that these treatments can cause is nothing short of unbelievable.   So, as the beautiful spring weather took hold these past two years, I considered myself lucky if I had enough strength to head into the back yard for a few minutes of sunshine and photography.  Trips to the Skagit Valley were suddenly a luxury that I could not really afford.

The two photos shown here were taken after completing my first treatment in 2012, and during my second treatment in 2013.  And while they were displayed as relatively small prints during my photo exhibit in July, I have to admit that the photo of the peony has grown on me these past few months.  As beautiful a flower as peonies are, the ones in our yard tend to be very finicky, and are a difficult flower to photograph either as a buds or in full bloom.  And while 2012 proved to be one of the longest, coldest, wettest springs in recent history, a few drops of rain before an afternoon sun break were all I needed to finally capture their beauty.

The hellebore was a gift from my beloved this year when I was in the middle of a chemotherapy cycle and was not allowed in the garden.  She graciously floated a beautiful sample in a bowl of water so I could enjoy its beauty, as well as take macro photos of it from the comforts (and safety) of our dining room table.  Tabletop macro photography is not something that I normally do, but it proved to be a very good distraction from the misery of the chemotherapy’s side effects, and frankly, it was about as much photography as I could muster given the shape I was in.  In light of the circumstances, and the relatively new camera and lens that I was using at the time, I am quite pleased with how the image turned out.

Thank you, my love, for once again helping me “to see things new”!  Your garden is truly a source of joy and beauty that only you and mother nature can provide.

–Ken

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