My Favorite Thing

As I’ve been known to confess to fellow landscape designers, I would probably rather photograph gardens than design them.  It’s my “favorite thing.” And in most of my blog posts, photographs occupy as much space as words – if not more.  So I was enormously flattered when Deborah of Kilbourne Grove invited me to take part in a Favorite Photo Meme. Deborah’s photo of her beloved dog Piper, who now lives with a friend, is wonderful – intimate, humorous, it produces an immediate emotional connection between the viewer and subject.

Well, that’s a tough act to follow, especially since gardens don’t have kissable noses like Piper. I’ve been privileged to photograph a number of extraordinary public and private gardens for some time, and I probably have at least a dozen “favorites.” Pick just one? Impossible. But after giving it a lot of thought, I decided to share my favorite photo of my own garden, and save the other favorites for posts on other places and topics.

My front yard in early summer morning light

I like this photo because of the wonderful quality of the light (I took it about 6 a.m. on a July morning) and the area of the garden it shows. My front yard consists of a very steep, hilly area. At the top of a long series of stone steps and retaining walls, you reach a landing that serves as a bridge to the final steps to the front door. There, I placed a small seating area with a four-foot wooden bench under the embrace of an old crabapple tree. Hydrangeas (Annabelles in the background, ‘All Summer Beauty’ in the right foreground) thrive in the north-facing site, and there is a Daphne odorata in front of the bench. A very peaceful place, where my older son often sat to study when he was in high school (while I, of course, was busy elsewhere in the garden, most likely weeding). This isn’t the most technically proficient or inspiring garden photo I’ve ever taken, but it speaks to me like almost no other.

Now I would like to invite four other bloggers whose work I admire to join in the exercise:

First, Cyndy of Gardening Asylum in Connecticut . Her blog posts always lift my spirits and I love, love, love her recent photos of her Garden Muse, complete with randomly-curled metal wire. She has a good photographic eye and lots of good material to work with from her own garden. And Jean, of Jean’s Garden, recently posted some stunning photos of a pink and white amaryllis in bloom that I would loved to have taken.

Charlotte at The Galloping Gardener and Britt of The Photo Garden Bee both do what I long to do – on a regular basis, they travel to and photograph gardens all over the US (and the world), sharing photos with us so we can visit vicariously and fill out our “to see” list for vacations, retirement, or simply our dreams. Both are first-rate photographers.

If you haven’t visited any of these sites,  I hope you do so immediately. And I’ll be eager to see what each of them shares with us!

Explore posts in the same categories: General, landscape, photography

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27 Comments on “My Favorite Thing”

  1. Edith Hope Says:

    Dear Melissa, The photograph of your garden taken early on a summer’s morning is lovely. The quality of the light you have captured gives to the whole garden a very special atmosphere and appeal. I should love to be sitting on the bench.

    • Melissa Says:

      Thank you, Edith! The tree also makes the space really special. I am starting to have to do some major pruning on it because of its age and the snowstorm took out a major limb. But this photo captures the “genius of the place,” so to speak.

  2. gardeningasylum Says:

    Hi Melissa – What a lovely, peaceful space you’ve created in the shade of a characterful old tree! The personal, meaningful pictures are always the best. Thanks for the kind words and linkage – I’m on the case…Cyndy

    • Melissa Says:

      I love the photo you posted on your blog – made me want to visit and curl up with a good book there! Feel free to continue the meme if you like, but no pressure. Hope spring is beginning to appear in Connecticut!

  3. Melissa Says:

    Hooray! I’ll look forward to seeing your post. I just had to fiddle with my administrative settings to get this to appear at the top of the page so I’m glad it’s more visible now.

  4. Kathy Says:

    You’re making me wish for spring! Your photos are truly lovely. Thank you for stopping by to visit my blog, and good luck in the blogging world! (My daughter lived in Washington DC area a couple years ago and you have sparked some memories of a trip there.) Take care, Kathy

  5. Melissa, thank you for the lovely compliments about my photo of Pipers kissable nose. It was very sweet of you.
    I love your picture, the way the tree branch leads you eye through the picture, and the light, sublime. I guess, I should be getting up at 6 and grabbing my camera, instead of my tea cup.
    I hope to see more pictures of your garden, it is beautiful.

    • Melissa Says:

      I don’t have a lot of photos of other parts of my garden, just individual plant shots. I may try to remedy that this year, depending on how much snow damage I have to cope with. But thanks for the kind words on the picture.

  6. I do love being out in the garden in the early morning. The light just brings out another aspect to the beauty already there. Your garden is just beautiful. I love the branch architecture of your tree and I adore hydrangeas.

    • Melissa Says:

      Noelle, I’m so glad you like this photo. I actually have a small version of it, framed, on the landing outside my bedroom. The hydrangeas are a special favorite of mine, also, although they are a little untraditional for foundation plants (they are interspersed with cherry laurels).

  7. […] 5, 2010 · Leave a Comment Melissa at Gardenshoots is blogging about ‘favorite thing’ photos, a meme begun by Deborah at Green Theatre. […]

  8. Oh Melissa I love your painterly photograph! The form of your tree is stunning! The light is utter magic and your plantings beautiful and lush creating a paradise. I can see why your son would want to sit out there to study … I do not think I could take my eyes off the garden long enough to get much studying done! Lovely post and inspiring to help me do mine! ;>)

    • Melissa Says:

      I do love this tree and was sad to have to remove one of the big limbs that got cracked by the snow. I think it is near the end of its life span. Hope things are starting to thaw out in your corner of Massachusetts.

  9. Pretty lighting! Just stopping in to say ‘hi’!

    • Melissa Says:

      Thanks, Kathy! I understand you might be doing a feature article on the Hester garden this summer – that will be one of our fall Open Days gardens. That would be great publicity! Thanks for stopping by.

  10. Elizabeth Reed Says:

    Thanks for sharing your blog travels, Melissa. I was finally able to set aside some time to look at the sites you recommended, but not enough!! they are all great!
    Loved Piper.He soooo wants to go to England. I have a friend whose cat had to reside in France for three months, then was allowed a UK residency.
    I FB fanned the Garden Bee.
    Your landing image is beautiful. We’re all pulling for a healthy crabapple comeback!
    One of my clients lost a third of a beautiful old magnolia that is a centerpiece of her garden. I’m at least trying to force a bathtub full of the smaller downed branches for her. It may not work, but trying to make lemonade from lemons. Anyone know if Magnolia buds can be forced?


    • Melissa Says:

      I don’t know the answer to your question about forcing magnolia buds but it can’t hurt to try. It’s so painful to have to prune off large damaged branches of beautiful trees. I just had to cut the leader off a hinoki falscypress in my side yard and nearly cried. No lemonade there.

  11. […] Beauty in Photographs Recently, Melissa at Garden Shoots invited me to participate in a favorite photograph meme. (Thank you, Melissa!) I was simultaneously […]

  12. Jean Says:

    Melissa, Thank you so much for recognizing me with this meme. I have just posted my contribution at this link:

  13. What a beautiful garden you have, and your photo captures it so well. The lighting, the angle, everything…just perfect!

  14. Tatyana Says:

    Wonderful! Both, the garden and the picture.

    • Melissa Says:

      Tatyna, so glad you like it. Next week I will probably post about the “before” state of the front yard and how I re-designed the slope that leads up to the bench area. Thanks for stopping by.

  15. Laurrie Says:

    After all the beautiful shots of Chanticleer you posted, I have to say the picture of your front yard is the loveliest. It’s not just a serene garden setting, it’s a lived in place, and that makes all the difference. Just beautiful! Looking forward to some before and after posts.

    • Melissa Says:

      You have really touched me with this comment. It’s true, this photo evokes “home” for me. Thank you for seeing that, and for letting me know.

  16. John Says:

    Thanks for sharing. Curious blog folk want to see more of your garden. That certainly looks like a livable piece of the outdoor world. I wonder if you have the same problem that I do in taking the time to actually sit in contemplation as opposed to moving on to the next project.

    • Melissa Says:

      You caught me. I think I have sat outside on that bench maybe four or five times since it went in. The idea always was that it would probably be as much of a focal point from the side of the yard as a place to sit and enjoy the garden. I need to do more of the latter before too much more time passes since the next place I live might not have a garden!

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