Remember the “Many Loves of Dobie Gillis” TV sitcom back in the late 50’s and early 60’s? Each episode started and ended with a little soliloquy of Dobie talking in front of “The Thinker.” Dobie was always contemplating on what the important things in life were: Girls and Money (used to get Girls). Things were much simpler back then. I decided to make good use of my “social isolation” time and did a little searching and found season 1, episode 1 of the show. It made me smile as I thought back to those simpler times and the start of the “beat” generation.
Fifty plus years later, I found myself standing along Rodin’s “The Thinker” in downtown Philadelphia. It was a difficult time for me then. I took the time to admire Rodin’s sculpture, clear my mind, and refocus my thoughts on what was the most important thing I could do moving forward. The answer was simple, live each and every day to its fullest.
Today was one of those days. I started sharing coffee and breakfast with my dear wife. We had a nice discussion, then went out to work in and enjoy our developing landscape. Later I came in for lunch and a nice afternoon nap. I woke up, did a little reading, then reviewed some of my older photography work, including this image of “The Tinker.” It triggerd old memories and I watched the episode of Dobie Gillis. Enjoying time with my wife, enjoying nature and getting a little exercise, reading to stimulate my mind, studying some classic art through my photographs, and watching a little past history … it was a simple, wonderful, and full day.
As the temperatures hover in the high 90’s, our new meadow continues to display a variety of color. I long to be able to get our among the flowers and become one with my camera and the beautiful blooms. For the next several weeks, I will need to be content with viewing alongside and from above. Patience is not one of my strongest virtues.
This is another one of our ‘”viewing rooms” at the southeast corner of our property. Looking north from here I can see the lower lawn area, the meadow and the crabapple grove on my right. Circled around the back and to the far right, is a conifer grove. A large Zelkova on the left provides shade from the afternoon sun. In a few years, this will be a protected hidden alcove. It will be a good spot to watch young ones play on the grass.
Our current “stay at home” and “social distancing” environment does have a few advantages. It gives me the opportunity to refresh some of my photography lessons. David duChemin, one of my instructors, stresses that to make a meaningful/compelling photograph, a photographer must first have a vision. That vision translates to having an intent for each image that is taken by a press of a cameras shutter.
This same thought is directly applicable to designing a landscape. When we first started designing our future arboretum one of the first things we did was to walk around the property to identify what scenes we wanted to protect and emphasize from potential “viewing rooms.” Selah Butte and the old Naches-Selah irrigation flume was a mandatory view. We picked a point near the southwest corner of our open lower lawn to build a protected viewing point. This point is where this image is taken from. We designed a planting area behind this point, an oval patch of lawn in front, and other curved planting and lawn areas between to develop a little room. In the back of the room, we planted trees to create shade from the afternoon sun. We framed the view of the butte with an oak and a Katsura tree. Other trees in the mid-ground have a limited height and will not interfere with the view. The summer sun rises directly over the butte. The setting sun lights the hillside up with a warm orangish glow. It will be a great place to welcome the rising sun with a cup of coffee as well as a peaceful place to enjoy a glass of wine as we enjoy the warm glow of the setting sun.
Now, let’s get back to the original question, “Why did I create this image?” My intent was simply to create a baseline illustrating the view that we have at the completion of our first phase of our Heatherwood’s landscape design. The image was created mid-day on the first day of summer 2020. I plan to develop a history of the passing of the seasons, morning and afternoon perspectives, and maturing of our Heatherwood arboretum over time.
The “Eastern Smooth Beardtongue” (Penstemon laevigitus) is one of our garden’s first bloomers. its three foot tall burgundy stems host brilliant white and pink flowers in the middle of the meadow.
Small beautiful vignettes like this help me focus on what is right with this world as I let go of the many difficult things we are all facing. Beauty is all around us, we just need to open our eyes and hearts to recognize it.
Here is to more color in the meadow. This time we’ve added a little orange to the yellow and purple. The patches of color are separate, but gently blend into one another. The yellow provides a little buffer between the orange and the purple. What a summer treat our new meadow brings us.
Clumps of yellow “Red Hot Pokers”. (Kniphofia uvaria) are scattered in several places around the meadow. They are the stars of the current blooming meadow perennials. They stick out like blazing candles on a birthday cake.
This image continues the theme from my previous post. The colors in our new meadow are striking. Adjacent colors were actually laid out using a color wheel. Here, opposite colors were planted next to each other to create the color contrast. Here again Monet’s perspective comes to the rescue.
We just finished carving out and planting a new meadow in the lower section of Heatherwood. The colors are already bursting out for its first summer season. Reds, purples, yellows, blues, oranges, and all different shades of greens are scattered about. We have a lot of bark covered ground showing through most of the areas. It will take a few years for the perennials to fill in. We have patience and are enjoying the individual plants as each one breaks into bloom. Hopefully we will have a flow of changing color throughout the summer and early fall. This is just a start. We will record the activity of the meadow and adjust as we go along. It will also be a “Never Ending Journey.”
I created this image today. It was my first time out photographing since I had my foot operation. I’ve been hobbling around for the past three plus weeks. I still can’t put any weight on my foot, so I got a little creative and hopped on my lawn mower and drove around our new garden meadow. I stopped and recorded many images from above. Getting the best perspective and composition was very difficult, and sometimes impossible. But, I just had to get out with my camera. When I started processing the images, I noticed that they were all a little out of focus. I guess the high frequency vibration of the lawn mower didn’t help my unsteady hand. So, I decided to cheat a little and convert the images into a blurred impressionistic versions. Thank you Topaz!
“Looking Into the Oak Grove” Yakima Arboretum, Washington
This image of oak trees in the Yakima Arboretum found me this spring before the Covid-19 restrictions. Luckily the Arboretum was allowed to remain open during this period. I was able to make several other visits to see the cherry tree bloom, the magnolia bloom, and the crabapple bloom. Several times I felt that I had the Arboretum to myself. It was a great time to just wander and let images come to me.
My walks through the Arboretum help me visualize what our little place in Selah could be in 15-20 years. This spring we planted five oak trees. We have spaced them out to create a grove where we will be able to watch them grow. It will take several years for them to be tall enough to support an understory of smaller trees and shrubs. In the meantime the grove will look bare, but I will be able to squint my eyes and imagine what it will be like when they mature.