Saturday, July 05, 2008

Garden Diary: sunny morning

Gardening in a woodland makes opportunities for structure - I mean spatial structure in the broadest sense - hard to come by. Here the planes of plant material carry the eye away from the house toward the woodland, left balancing right, and trees climbing to loftier heights with increasing distance, creating a focal point centered by the Miscanthus 'Morning Light' in the foreground. I learn to take my garden structure where I find it, then work to strengthen it - a difficult thing to do in this wild garden. So much depends on where you stand, the time of day, the season ... and I should add, on the selective eye of the camera.

In a very real sense, this view is 'created' by the position of the camera, the backlighting of the dogwood and Miscanthus in the foreground in contrast to the dark foliage of the trees behind, the centered grass and, very importantly, the cropped edges of the photo. The real garden doesn't have this frame, so the 'focusing' effect of the grass is far less pronounced. But this example does show the possibilities in using structural elements to direct attention, create spatial contrasts, and connote meaning (Miscanthus 'Morning Lignt' = radiance?). I am reminded of a poem by Wallace Stevens.

I placed a jar in Tennessee
And round it was, upon a hill.
It made the slovenly wilderness
Surround that hill.

The wilderness rose upon it,
And sprawled around, no longer wild.
The jar was round upon the ground
And tall and of a port in air.

It took dominion everywhere.
The jar was gray and bare.
It did not give of bird or bush,
Like nothing else in Tennessee.

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