FEATURE image: purple and white irises, May 2023. All photographs and text ©John P. Walsh.
My entire life I have always enjoyed being around flowers and gardens.
I started taking photographs of them in 2012. With so many other people everywhere, I have always enjoyed visiting and walking among the beautiful fragrances of earth’s bountiful and beautiful flora. Dangling, drooping, shooting straight up, bunches, single stem, of endlessly different shapes, sizes and colors—and places and settings—flowers and gardens embody life, creativity, and beauty. One of my earliest memories of gardens was on a childhood vacation to Jefferson’s Monticello and, in that summer’s heat, being surrounded with the scent of the boxwood shrubs. All these perennials and annuals are definitely worthwhile photographic subjects. To stroll (and bend and scrunch) among nature’s orchestra of leaves, branches, and blooms and photograph them is one of life’s pleasures.
The world of flora contains some of the most distinctive creations on the planet.
Fresh blooms are engaging, shy, forthright and protective. In their season, they exist to proffer their fleeting beauty and fragrance for the spectacular end of reproducing themselves.
I have taken photographs of many other subjects but flowers I return to again and again. It’s because flowers don’t disappoint.
Grace Kelly wrote a book on flowers called My Book of Flowers. “I love walking in the woods, on the trails, along the beaches, ” she said. “I love being part of nature…” This is one of the great things about searching for and finding flora to photograph: whether in the wild, semi-wild, in a nursery, or on the front porch or in the garden, the wonder of their presence leads to an experience of nature in its most vital form.
Grace Kelly became interested in flowers and their arrangements only in the last years of her life. It had been suggested to the American princess in the late 1960’s that as part of the festivities for Monaco’s centennial she might host a flower arranging competition, which she did. Though princess Grace admitted she “was the most ignorant garden president going,” her knowledge of flowers and gardening grew and, if only because of their shared passion for these precious blooms, she met many new friends. I too have found that I have made friends from all over the world because of our mutual love for flowers and the garden. One cannot underestimate flower power!
Most of my photographs of flowers and gardens are shot in the Chicago area.
Named for Frederick Douglass (1818-1895), American slave, abolitionist leader and author. Developed in 1972 by Richard Americo Fenicchia.