We arrived at the gardens in between rain showers on the tail end of our road trip last summer. Being in the car had started feeling less like an adventure and more like a means to an end, so it was time to get out and see something green to feel refreshed.
I had been to the gardens years before, when I was a toddler and my parents had a house a few towns over. It was another one of those places, like I’ve written before, that was below the surface of my memory, floating somewhere in the back of my mind with other childhood recollections.
I was determined to take some beautiful shots of flowers, as my new camera lent itself particularly well to the task and all the plants in the yard at home were exhausted by my crouching around them and trying new angles to photograph. There were gardens with vegetables and herbs that were beautiful to see but I hadn’t figured out how to capture them yet. I retreated to the rose gardens.
Taking photos of large flowers is always satisfying – the way the vibrant colours come across so clearly, the crisp focus of a stationary target, and the angle of the bloom giving it the aesthetic of a portrait. I made my way down the rows of roses but hadn’t found the ideal flower yet. It wasn’t until we had navigated the rest of the gardens and came across ponds and bridges that I saw the big sleepy hibiscus flowers being swarmed by fat bees. That’s where I found that shot up above. It’s one of my favourites and transports me back to standing on the bridge in the summer-warm valley.
I love loving by the ocean, there’s no doubt about that. I’ve spent my time in a fair number of port cities and coastal towns. But there is something about the valley that I have always loved. Maybe it’s how the hills curl up on either side and the sun baking down is like a giant womb. I don’t want to disturb you with that image; rather, all the best summer fruits come from the valley. I was just a baby when I lived there. It’s like crawling back inside a kangaroo pouch, for me.