Beyond Perfect

And So It Begins © Catherine RutgersPhoto shoot, two sessions, May 27, 2012 – Word on the street is “I don’t remember the garden looking so jungley.” Indeed, it’s overflowing with vitality. Remember that super-intense composting project? See The Art of Compost for documentation. See below for results!

My brother and I have an ongoing routine when I’m working on the garden. He: “Is it perfect yet?” She: “Whatever, whatever, mumble, mumble, something.” He once mentioned that I couldn’t proceed on the premise of having a relationship with every single leaf and rock. But I do. Anyway, most recently, my answer was quick and clear: “It’s beyond perfect.”

Down on my belly to take these pics, I realize there’s an entire little ecosystem happening here, including the slugs and snails. The former can be cringe-inducing, the latter are cute, they both rend holes in the fabric and sometimes eat entire plants. But we’ve established détente, and I will do nothing to eliminate them.

The image titles tell a story, too. Backstory to the story, aka, history … Years ago there were two large mulberry trees in this area and my friend Mona began adding shade-loving plants: violas, Solomon’s seal, ajuga. Then the trees were cut down and we got more extravagant with lilies, hostas, peppermint. It was looking really good.

Next up, sidewalk reconstruction. I met with the project manager and asked how far the work would extend, then carefully cleared the areas and set the flora aside for replanting. BUT. I came home one day and found the entire garden covered with cast-off cement and other construction rubble, inches deep. Oh.

Smooshed up against one of the brick walls, I glimpsed a bit of green. Poked about and discovered it was the peppermint, still fully alive. After asking the landlord if it was OK to rebuild, I proceeded to dig out the entire plot with a spoon and hauled the debris away, rescuing what could be rescued and slowly evolving the mix to its current unbelievable lushness. June 2, 2012 – Life is amazing in all its permutations. Rock on.

Beyond Numbers © Catherine RutgersBeyond Logic © Catherine RutgersThey Have Such Personality © Catherine RutgersSuch Grace © Catherine RutgersSuch Will to Survive © Catherine RutgersIt Is Beyond © Catherine RutgersMy Wildest Dream © Catherine RutgersThat I Could Be © Catherine RutgersSo Impossibly Beyond © Catherine RutgersSo Lucky As to Be © Catherine RutgersBuilding This © Catherine RutgersFrom the Rubble © Catherine Rutgers

Photographs  by Catherine Rutgers © 2012
This post is dedicated to Susan Scutti, who always inspires me to keep working.

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4 Responses to Beyond Perfect

  1. Thank you to all the bloggers who stopped by for a like!! Marvelous to see connections from Indonesia, India, Morocco … and Ohio. And speaking of, here’s the link to a great article about rain gardens from The Soulsby Farm: http://soulsbyfarm.wordpress.com/2012/05/26/how-to-build-a-rain-garden/

  2. Susan Scutti says:

    love these photos — there are so many shades of green, to me the most beautiful color — and I love the repeated conversation with tim… ha!

    • Thank you, Susan, muse and author of The Renaissance Began with a Muted Shade of Green, which is one of my all-time favorite titles! Thinking about it, I have a funny relationship with green: though I love to be surrounded by it, spend hours working with such luscious foliage, am continually grateful to be in this unusually green zone of the city, find it endlessly inspiring, I rarely use green as a primary color for my artwork. Go figure.

      In paint and onscreen, the green options are sometimes terrible (think of, for example, the standard text colors offered in Word). I find it hard to manage, and will spend ages tweaking a green in Photoshop to find the perfect shade. However, I’m almost always happy with my photos of greenery. Unlike flowers, which I find much harder to capture. The white roses in “They Have Such Personality” bounced so much light that they’re blurry, but they deserve a place in this lineup.

      During the same photo session, I also took pictures of a rose bush that’s full of outrageous, nearly neon blossoms, but none of those came close to the experience of looking at the real thing. Sometimes, I’ve photographed flowers indoors, and felt that the results did represent their deep character; have also scanned flowers with satisfying results. There must be something here about sunlight vs. artificial light and the way it mediates between the real thing and the captured image. Full-fledged photographers must have techniques that work well with flowers, because they’re a lot of amazing pix out there. But I’ll stick with pondering on a more metaphysical level.

      By the way, did you notice how wet everything is? Before I got the camera out, there were a few sunny days after rain and I really wanted to catch that effect. Even considered that I could hose the garden to re-create it, which now strikes me as a somewhat humorous impulse. The raindrops, and the sunlight, converged naturally.

  3. And lovely to hear from, and discover, The Wandering Wandering Youth. Thanks for the like, Claudia!

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