Garden Sculptures

I first visited the Naples Botanical Garden in 2013 and thought it looked like a new garden, not knowing that it had opened in 2009, only 4 years earlier. Not long when you consider how long it takes for individual plants to mature and create an integrated whole to the viewer. But this is semitropical Florida where the growing season is from January through December, there is no dormant season just growth and quicker growth.

I was hooked on the garden on my first visit especially with the bonus of a hosted exhibit of African art. I think maybe I saw a promotion for the exhibit that prompted me to visit that first time. I can’t create captions for many of the artistic works with name of the sculpture and artist because I didn’t photograph the information signs, something I regret.

2012-13 Winter Season

I continued to visit the garden but either they didn’t have yearly art exhibits, or I didn’t take photographs, or deleted the photographs somewhere along the way. I do know that I was enthralled with the orchids and lilies to took lots of photos of those. They also have a lot of hard sculptures that are are permanently built into their gardens and I took photos of those. I found this one photo of this gentle creature taken in 2015.

I watched the garden mature and expand, and it received the 2017 Award for Garden Excellence from the American Public Gardens Association. It was the youngest garden to ever receive this award. It was this 2016-17 season that the garden hosted my second favorite exhibit. They are origami created through the collaboration of Dr. Robert J. Lang, one of the world’s most renowned origami artists, and Kevin Box who used the paper origami objects to make cast aluminum replicas that were then painted.

In late 2017 this garden that had matured into an award winner was hit by Hurricane Erma – a dead-center attack. We had returned to Naples two weeks after the storm and the garden opened three weeks after Erma hit. In those first three weeks of clean-up many botanists from as far as Chicago and an army of volunteers from as far as neighboring states came to help save as many plants and trees as they could and remove material that couldn’t be saved. The garden lost more than 230 large trees, many of them were native to the grounds. The pile of debris covered 2 acres, 6 feet deep. Much was saved because as soon as the hurricane was forecasted the garden staff and volunteers carried as much as they could into protective places.

That season the garden was hosting a collection of animals and mirror art. The devastation was so great that I was disoriented during my visits after the storm. These sculptures provided beauty and a focus during this painful time. I found the animals and the mirrored pieces very challenging to photograph, maybe because the “natural habitat” no longer provided a context for them. But I was still able to enjoy their beauty.

Within a year, the garden began to fill in thanks to the staff and volunteers who moved plants from newly sunny locations to shade and filled empty places with sun loving plants and annuals. The year-round growing season also helped but it will take many years for the garden to recover. Staff are currently growing new plants from seeds and cuttings that they had routinely collected, bought and bartered from other tropical gardens around the world, and that staff have gathered from natural growing environments. The garden has not wavered from its commitment to growing rare and endangered plants.

It seems providential that my favorite exhibit was during the 2018-19 winter season by artist Hans Godo Frabel who is an accomplished glass blower. I love this exhibit so much that, after weekly visits for five months, during my first visits the next season I repeatedly would look for them to say hello and get some more photos. You can read about my enthusiasm for this collection by visiting Balancing Act, Surprise at the Garden, and Reflection of Lace.

The garden was closed for an extended period of time because of the pandemic so there was a period when I couldn’t visit in early 2020 and I didn’t return to Florida until February 2021. The garden had opened with timed admissions and they announced their exhibit for the year included works by Steve Tobin with the theme of roots (along with other works of his). I enjoyed how these works were placed in the environment and this small garden is designed so that works could be seen from multiple, very different, perspectives (and because much of the larger growth was gone because of Erma). Several of my visits were focused on capturing how well the art became integrated with the textures and landscapes of the garden.

The garden has purchased pieces from several of the exhibits to become permanent parts of the landscape. Now when I see them on my visits to the garden I feel like they are old friends, and I remember their family members from when they visited several years ago.

I think I am squeezing in under the wire for last week Lens-Artist Challenge – Gardens. You can follow that link to see more gardens, or you can join this weeks challenge by visiting Leya for her inspiration for “Dots & Spots.

Life in Purple

I’m full of pent-up energy – so eager to do everything that I’m having a hard time focusing on getting anything done. I just had a month full of health care appointments (with each test/imaging leading to another possible problem resulting in multiplying appointments) and cold, mostly-cloudy weather. Weather forecasters are saying that tonight will be the last night with temperatures around freezing. Father Frost doesn’t seem to know that the last date for frost in my neighborhood is the end of April – he has visited nightly for close to a week.

As I sit in my purple reading room at 8:00 am, having just returned from a lung scan, I sit and enjoy the sun coming through the blinds and the framed spray of purple flowers made by twilling paper, by artists in Viet Nam. This was last year’s Mother’s Day card from my son and I have enjoyed it so much during the past year that I decided to get it framed to hang in this perfect spot for viewing.

As I sit in my warm room I keep glancing to my left, looking out two big windows onto the porch with my purple porch swing. Outdoors is calling me even though it is barely 40 degrees F. so I grab my second cup of coffee and…

I haven’t spent much time on my purple porch swing this spring because of the clouds covering the sun on most recent mornings – the sun that warms me when the air temperature is just above freezing. This morning is beautiful with a very warm sun and I spend time studying my garden down below the porch, thinking about where to put newly purchased perennials and reading the seed package of Zinnias yet again, for information it doesn’t provide – like is it warm enough to sow the seeds now.

I also look at the old and faded quilt I made when I started quilting again after finishing university and had more time. It is hanging over the back of the swing to dry from melted frost collected as it covered a new shrub clematis I planted too early. Jim normally uses it as a cover to protect the front fender as he leans over to fiddle with the engine. He mentioned that it is a beautiful quilt and I had to agree. I have always loved this quilt because the pattern has the same movement as the “storm at sea” pattern. I’ve been studying the contrasts of light and medium dark pieces that make straight lines look curved. This is going to be my next project after I finish two or three other projects I have in process. I will probably start picking fabrics for it and will want to find some purples to match the swing. I find it interesting that I have never purchased many purples so I think a trip to a quilting store will be a part of my future (says my private fortune telling cookie).

I am enjoying my purple pansies that I planted about a week ago. They do best in cooler weather and I usually buy them too late, just before hot weather hits so they don’t last long. This year when the pansies decide they have had enough heat of early summer, I think I will replace them with some of the beautiful new petunias. I planned on planting annuals in pots on the back deck on Wednesday, then Thursday, and then Friday, as the weather forecaster kept adding one more night of cold in the 30’s. I got impatient with this long cold snap in May and planted them yesterday – hoping that pulling them up close to the house at night would protect them from damage. This morning there was frost on the neighbor’s roof but my plants seem to be okay.

I bought three “heavenly blue” morning glory plants last week knowing full well that they should be planted at the end of May. I am enjoying watching them grow as they sit in the sun on my sewing table and just may plant them next week when the temps are suppose to get into the 70’s. Last year was a dismal failure without a single bloom but I read that morning glories do best in poor soil with minimal watering. So this year they are on their own. I also planted some marigolds in little pots but they haven’t sprouted. They are seeds I collected from last year’s plants and I have plenty to sow outside when I plant the zinnia seeds. All of this is to say that I am really into the working with the flowers in my flower garden this year after focusing on eradicating weeds last year. This spring I am still fighting weeds and rapid spreading perennials but last year’s work made a big difference in what I have to deal with this year.

I also also focused my writing of this post on Jude’s Life in Colour: Purple for the month of May. If your life doesn’t have enough purple in it, maybe you need to visit me and enter through my purple door – or, if more convenient check out other photographer’s samples of purple by visiting Jude. Tell her I said hi.

Simple

Yesterday we started our discussion of our first camping trip of the season. We like to take two or three short, midweek outing each year to places here in Michigan within a 4 to 6 hour driving radius. Simple outings to familiar places we love, with anticipation of simple activities. Jim mentioned the eastern Upper Peninsula as a basecamp to go to the Pictured Rocks on the southern shore of Lake Superior and maybe Sault Ste Marie (pronounced sue saint marie). I was thinking of a campground we like south of Traverse City, close to the shore of Lake Michigan. Both place would be good the middle of June because the tourist season doesn’t begin in earnest in Northern Michigan until the 4th of July. Then campgrounds and small towns become crazy busy and, especially as we are still in pandemic mode, busy does not equate to living simple.

We decided when we could go (a week with no health-care appointments) but didn’t make a decision about place. Maybe I better check on campground availability because going camping without reservations results in a less than simple trip.

This is in response to Debbie’s One Word Sunday prompt of “Simple“. I love it when photo challenges are “simple.” Thanks Debbie.

Friday Flowers – in Pink

New Guinea Trumpet Vine

Jude’s month of pink is coming to a close today so I thought I would share some of the beautiful pinks from my last visit to the botanical garden before leaving Florida for Michigan. This New Guinea Trumpet Vine grows up the roof supports along the boardwalk into the garden. There is always something of interest along this walk so I usually need to stop for a few minutes to enjoy and see what I can capture with my camera.

But the next one is a favorite. Every time I’ve gone through this file I stop for a minute or two…

I was drawn to this waterlily because the sun’s rays was touching it just right as the sunlight was breaking through the bordering trees. On this particular morning I was following the gentle rays of the sun poking through here and there, not yet so bright it harshened up the shadows and washed out color. I did a little cropping and reduced highlights a touch – but all other post-processing didn’t have any value-added. As I cropped I noticed the hint of a reflection on the water at the bottom. That brings a smile to my heart.

Had to include some sweet memories – is that a touch of pink I see there? Do you think it will be enough pink to count on the very last day of April pinks? Jim and I split this scone and it was every bit as good as it looks. He took his half, the rest was mine. He was an engineer, so you would think he would be better at fractions, huh?

Will you join us?

Berea, Kentucky

Being vaccinated against the Covid-19 virus has opened up the world to us again, but I am finding that a whole new etiquette has emerged. We have really missed getting together with the other 5 couples for our monthly pinochle and potluck night – but not sure we are ready to meet with that many people indoors, yet. Jim and I did decide that we felt safe getting together with another couple indoors for cards, something we had started just before we left Florida.

Last week I was having an e-mail discussion with the male half of one of our pinochle club couples about birds and I asked if they would be comfortable getting together for a game of cards. We arranged for Monday night at our house. Sunday evening Jean called and said she needed to tell me what she had done over the weekend. She went to a family birthday party with all of the attendees either vaccinated or immune because they had caught the virus within the past year. Jean wanted to make sure that we still felt safe getting together with them. I was grateful that she asked – I quickly took my internal safety temperature and said I was but I would need to check with Jim. We had a great evening with each team winning half the games interspersed (or interrupted) by lots of laughter.

We also talked about whether we would be comfortable getting together with the whole club. Jean wondered if it would make it safer if we didn’t have the potluck dinner. Our discussion was more of the wondering kind than one that led to a decision or consensus. Yesterday I received an e-mail sent out by Terry, another of our pinochle club friends asking if we are vaccinated and if we would feel comfortable getting together with everyone. Jim and I will have talk that one over some more. My safety temperature is in the “caution, caution, caution” range. What is interesting is that every get-together with people we know involves asking if everyone feels safe doing it. Every time we talk, the discussion includes what we are feeling safe doing and what we are still avoiding.

Life is different now that we are vaccinated but we still spend a lot of energy calculating what we can do and what still feels too risky. We are doing more shopping in stores but that requires that we do the cost/benefit analysis of when is the best time to go into the store. We are getting together with one other couple again but not for indoor dining – although maybe we would mid-afternoon when restaurants are empty. After an outing one of us will usually ask the other if s/he felt safe. There seems to be a balance of calculating how safe an activity is and being more relaxed about the whole thing. We know we have relaxed because we frequently have to go back to car to get our mask before entering.

We are feeling an urgency to be with friends and family again, but our primary urgency is still to protect ourselves and others from taking the virus into our bodies where it can potentially mutate and become even more dangerous. I hope you are finding ways to take care of your emotional and social needs while keeping yourself and others safe.