Dreamed Botany

The growing season in New England can be very short. As a nature photographer, I often visit greenhouses to stay with the green a little bit longer. I thought I would find comfort in the orderly life of the plants living and thriving, kept in orderly rows and beautiful tableaus by the gardeners.

But I found my interest drifting away from the center, towards the edges. This plant that grew between the walls of the greenhouse, that plant that stretched towards the sun, away from the heat of the room, the press of its neighbors. I became fascinated with where the weathered frames of the greenhouse connected with the smooth leaves of the plants. Some days, I didn’t even go inside – what drew me were the light and color of the sun, shining through the greenhouse, a vision of what might be. My end of season visits unveiled a dreaming world within the greenhouse. The plants stretch in unexpected ways, making their own way to the sun. Without words or voices, they make their desires known. I don’t need to know their names to see them yearning for the light, reaching for space, for a breath of fresh air.

The plants of my dreamed botany embody the aesthetic of wabi-sabi. A Japanese philosophy of art, wabi-sabi encompasses the idea that beauty is not perfect or permanent. Change and simplicity are central to this idea. The perfect blooming flower is not as beautiful as the decaying vine. The otherworldliness of the plants is grounded in the scarred glass pane, the peeling wood frame, the rusting metal edge.

Images from this portfolio will be on view at the Bedford Free Public Library January 10- March 13, 2019.

Images from this portfolio were on view at the Griffin Museum of Photography March 10-April 3, 2016; at the Vermont Center for Photography March 4-27, 2016; and at the Danforth Museum of Art June 18-August 21, 2016.