Pursuing Life's Daring Adventure

Sunday, January 11, 2009

For Color-Starved Eyes

Every year about this time, in the darkest, coldest, cruelest part of winter, my eyes become color-starved. The reason I know this is because when the gardening catalogs start arriving just about the time the lights and glimmer from Christmas fade, it’s all I can do to keep myself from poring over their pages for hours. Not only do all of the flowers and sample gardens indulge my eye, but something intangible in the shapes and opulence of the photographs make my eyes want to hang onto the images for hours. This is the reason, I realize now, that I wanted to have my own camera and my own gardens—to find something of beauty upon which to gaze when winter has sapped the color from my world.

So … I’m sharing the beginning of the story of how our gardens came to be …

We moved into our home, an ordinary suburban house in Southwest Ohio, almost ten years ago from a tiny bungalow in New Orleans. During our time here, it’s possible we may have spent as much time outdoors as we have indoors. At least, so it seems. Even as toddlers, the boys stole every chance to escape out the back door to stomp in puddles. Instead of trying to corral them back inside, I joined the boys outside. I still have memories of their little legs running through the grass while they pushed plastic wheelbarrows loaded with brightly-colored children’s tools. The boys have spent years beside me on their knees building worm habitats while I weeded or worked in the gardens. Muddy or not, we all have a love for the backyard, and as a result, we have many gardens.

Our yard contained only a postage stamp-sized concrete patio and two spindly trees when we moved in. So, the first year we lived here, I spent hours chipping away at the sod in frugal attempts to transform our plain yard into something more interesting. The shape came slowly at first, laid out in crude shapes with garden hoses to represent the picture I had painted in my mind. As we built a couple of structures—a pergola and an arbor—the gardens started to move along. Plants came a little slower, but eventually, through pass-alongs from friends and plants found in the bargain bins at local garden centers, our backyard came to know some color … these four photographs follow our gardens through the change in seasons, from dull and lifeless in winter to rose-covered arbors in spring to the eye-popping rainbow of summer and the more muted tones of autumn.

Per the requests of a few blog followers, I plan to return with more posts of garden photography over the coming weeks.

Here’s to looking forward to a beautiful Spring!

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