Photo a Day Finale

Posted November 28, 2014 by Melissa
Categories: photography

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In early June, the “Naked Vision” workshop I had been taking with Colleen Henderson came to an end – over seventy days of daily photography (posting to a private, group Facebook page). In prior posts, I shared first some garden images, then other shots, from that project.

After the workshop ended, I kept shooting daily for another two months before deciding to take a break. The process has changed how I look at the world around me, and has made me a closer observer of what I’ve come to call “quiet spaces.” Here’s a selection of images from those last two months.

Garden Shoots will be on vacation until after the winter holidays.

Autumn Vistas at Dumbarton Oaks

Posted November 15, 2014 by Melissa
Categories: landscape, photography, Travel, Uncategorized

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One of the most amazing gardens in the Washington DC area is tucked away at the top of Georgetown. I’m speaking, of course, of Dumbarton Oaks, designed over a period of thirty years (more or less) by Beatrix Farrand. Farrand, the first woman landscape architect in the United States, worked with Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss to create an expanse of garden “rooms,” and designed every aspect of the landscape, from the plantings down to the finials and stone benches you find throughout. (For those of you who follow such things, National Geographic just ranked Dumbarton Oaks as one of the top ten gardens in the world.)

On the first of November, I went to visit the gardens. The last time I saw them, several years ago, I had been disappointed in the herbaceous borders. But this time the whole place looked spectacular; and there was a new “performance art” installation in the form of sound pipes in the Lovers Lane Pool, by Hugh Livingston. The Dumbarton Oaks website describes them as “an imaginary chorus on a watery stage.”

Dumbarton Oaks, Hugh Livingston, Lovers Lane Pool

“Pool of Bamboo Counterpoint,” by Hugh Livingston, at Dumbarton Oaks.

Livingston’s sound “piece” follows on other temporary art installations that have graced other parts of the garden in past years, including Patrick Dougherty’s “Easy Rider” installation in the Ellipse, which I wrote about in an earlier post.

After investigating the pool installation, I spent several hours in the rest of the garden – the weakening fall sun was low enough that photography was less challenging than I’d anticipated. Hope you enjoy the show.

Dumbarton Oaks is located at 31st and R Streets NW in Washington DC. From now until March 15, 2015, the gardens are open only in the afternoons from 2 – 5 pm and admission is free.


October at Longwood – Part 2 – the Meadow Garden

Posted November 1, 2014 by Melissa
Categories: Environment, landscape, photography, Travel

Tags: , , , , ,

When my friend Sarah and I planned our trip to Longwood earlier this month, one of the destinations I had in mind within the gates was its new Meadow Garden. Opened in June of this year, the 86-acre expanse was designed by Jonathan Alderson Landscape Architects and boasts three miles of walking trails and boardwalks that take visitors from the edge of Hourglass Lake up to the Webb Farmhouse and Galleries. We covered a lot of territory (and continued to struggle with the strong sun, photographically) and marveled at how beautiful and wild the garden is. Some friends who had visited in September had been able to see goldenrod in flower, at the end of the summer season, and we were a bit early for strong fall color in the trees. But these images should give you a good idea of how magnificent the space is.

For more information on the Meadow, visit Longwood’s website and this excellent article published by the American Society of Landscape Architects earlier this year when the Meadow Garden opened.

October at Longwood – Part 1

Posted October 17, 2014 by Melissa
Categories: photography, Travel

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Last week a fellow photographer and I took a day trip up to Longwood Gardens. From where we live it’s less than two and half hours’ drive, so we got up early and were at the doors when they opened.

Longwood Gardens

Seasonal plantings – including ‘towers’ of mini-pumpkins – welcome visitors to Longwood Gardens in October.

We were there to explore the new Meadow Garden (the subject of my next post) and see what the Flower Garden Walk and conservatories had to offer before the Chrysanthemum Festival kicks off on October 25th.

The day was beautiful – a virtually cloudless sky and pleasant temperatures. Which meant NOT a good day for trying to photograph the gardens where sunlight was involved. Even with a polarizer, we struggled. Longwood doesn’t allow anyone in before 9 am, and so lovely, soft early morning light wasn’t an option.

We did the best we could, and had a good time. Here are the best shots I could get. Next post – the Meadow Garden.


High Summer at the US Botanic Garden

Posted October 3, 2014 by Melissa
Categories: Environment, landscape, photography

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In late August, I took a personal field trip to the US Botanic Garden, located on The Mall in downtown DC. It had been a while since I visited. The National Garden has grown in since its early days and was the site of lots of cleanup work the day I was there, so I didn’t photograph it. But the areas around the entrance to the building were awash with beautiful, full late-summer plantings, both in beds and containers, including those planted as an extension of the garden’s “Amber Waves of Grain” exhibit  (which remains up through October 13).  Hope you enjoy the photos!

Two Hours in Central Park

Posted September 20, 2014 by Melissa
Categories: landscape, photography, Travel

Tags: , , ,

Several weekends ago, I took a road trip to New Jersey and Connecticut to see some gardens through the Garden Conservancy’s Open Days program. But the first stop was an overnight in New York City, courtesy of the mother-in-law of a friend I was traveling with. We only had a couple of hours Friday afternoon after we arrived, but we wandered over to Central Park, and my camera’s memory card started filling up fast.

Central Park Mall, American elms

The Mall, Central Park’s widest pedestrian pathway, is also one of its most-photographed features. Avenues of American elms grace its perimeters.

I haven’t been to Central Park in many years, and certainly not since I was trained as a landscape designer. So when we paused to enjoy the Mall (previously called the Promenade), I was ignorant of its significance. But I recognized the huge, mature trees as American Elms (confirmed by some discreet signs) and marveled at the landscape view they provided. Apparently they are one of the Park’s horticultural treasures, and great care is being taken to preserve and care for them.

Steps from the Mall, we saw the Boathouse and lake, a wedding party, bubble blowing, a couple dancing for a photographer, and bikes whizzing by. We heard a young woman singing opera underneath the steps leading down to the lake, and saw a young man who could have stepped out of a Renaissance painting walking slowly as he was photographed by a friend (not to mention by me). Central Park is full of wonders, and this Friday afternoon was no exception.

Chihuly’s Magic at the Denver Botanic Gardens

Posted September 6, 2014 by Melissa
Categories: landscape, photography, Travel, Uncategorized

Tags: , , ,

Where did summer go? Technically we have until the third week of September before we officially bid adieu to its glories. Fortunately, you have longer than that to catch the Chihuly exhibit at the Denver Botanic Gardens. I made my first visit to the DBG in early August on a bright, sunny Sunday afternoon. The place was packed and the shooting conditions about the most challenging you can imagine with all that sun and all that glass.

The friend who took me said her husband wasn’t a big fan of how the glass sculptures work in the garden (they are in virtually every part of the multi-acre space). In some areas, I agreed with him, but in others I thought the additions were brilliant. A film in the visitor’s center gave us some insight into his work in other venues, including cities like Venice and Jerusalem. If you’re in Denver between now and when the exhibit closes in late November, don’t miss it – and if you go at night, the sculptures are lit! How cool is that?

In the meantime, here are some photos to give you a vicarious experience.


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