After chipping away at ice layers on the city sidewalk in early February, I told Nancy Arons how I craved images from summer gardens outside her house in Pelham, MA. She soon responded with truly gratifying photos, including dates, plant names, and intriguing notes. Almost all her photos here are from late July, between 2015 and 2021, except for an irresistible October scene.
Here are labeled photos by Tina Gram from this summer in her spectacular garden in Somerville. She selected, described and sent them in response to my recent request to friends to share their photos of plants they value. My goal is to present the photos and words in ways that convey the alluring qualities of the plants from the photographer’s perspective. While still facing technical challenges in the process, I’m thrilled to explore new possibilities for sharing the pleasures of plants.
“For ( Ekua) Holmes, the sunflowers represent a radiance that “sustains us even when things are not how we want them to go.”
From the start of Pleasures of Plants, my intention was to share plant photos by friends and family, not only by me. For a few months I was trying to get comfortable with new features in the format I had selected. I hesitated to involve anyone else during that phase. Though still learning the basics of this blog, I’ve begun asking people to send photos of plants they value. I’m very grateful for their responses,* support, and patience as I try to present those photos in a worthy way.
One of my first posts ( January 2021) focused on photos I took as an enthusiastic but infrequent visitor* to Northampton Street Community Garden. This sequel adds views of an insider, someone who has worked the soil there for several years with attention to significant events in her surroundings. As I requested, she has selected from her own photos and provided her own words to identify or explain them.
On neighborhood walks this spring and summer I began to notice tended gardens in the narrow strips of earth between sidewalk and street. For instance, I felt the sense of shelter from traffic as I climbed the slope of Upland Road lined with clusters of flowers or grasses around saplings or established trees.
Last week a surprise gift bouquet with botanical notes about hydrangeas got me to start noticing their variety in my neighborhood. I marveled at the many different forms of delicate clustered blossoms among their handsome hardy leaves. Wikipedia affirmed that worldwide there are more than seventy species of hydrangea, including shrubs, vines and truly tall trees.
A few magnolia trees in my neighborhood began to blossom tentatively in late March, followed by a full surge in early April with three bright mild days. Cold winds and rain soon sent many petals to settle, discoloring on the ground after the brief but spectacular displays of distinctly different magnolias. No wet spring snowstorms to weigh them down this year, so they can gracefully give way to other predictably brilliant showings of the season.
Clematis vines, leaves and beginning buds are graceful in themselves, while signaling the promise of slightly translucent flower petals unfurling, emerging from the subtle green overlapping leaves. Not sure my words or photos (from streets in my neighborhood) will convey the significance of clematis in my life, but here’s a chance to try.
Bright red abundant Mandevilla* adorned the fence and walls of one home on nearby Kirkland Street throughout the summer of 2020. Not until mid July did I properly identify those vines and begin trying to document their captivating qualities over the next few months. I hope to give them more careful attention this coming spring.