Gimme a Hand

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White iron hand in containerA week or so ago one of the garden magazine editors I work with regularly sent an e-mail saying she was looking for photos of gardens with flea market stuff in them for a story. A couple of days later she wrote again, saying they were going to do a whole special magazine on the subject. I searched my files and put together a preview gallery for Diane, and then got to work trying to find some new material.

The Birchwood Garden Club met last Wednesday night, and I asked whether anyone knew of gardens that might fit the bill. One lady, who I didn’t know well, mentioned her friend in La Conner and said she’d give her a call. Cutting to the chase, I visited Chris McCarthy’s garden on Friday afternoon and spent a couple of hours making some new images.

Chris was a little hesitant for me to shoot on Friday afternoon since I’d initially approached her to “just take a look.” But the light was nice, filtering through the trees, and she had some nice stuff in her garden. I also convinced her that I was good at cropping weeds out of the frame and that we could just pluck the dandelion seed heads that were in the way.

This hand rising out of a pot on the back porch, seemingly caressing the emerging foliage of some balloon flowers, was one of the first images I made while Chris weeded the next shot.

Glass fishing float When was the last time you made jello in a fancy mold without mold removal? I don’t think I ever have, but my mom did when I was a kid. That was some 40 years ago. These molds came in lots of interesting shapes, and Chris had decorated her wooden fence with them. Sitting in front was a big glass fishing float on an iron stand. These floats occasionally wash up on Washington beaches, having crossed the Pacific from Japan.

In the same grouping was a $2 carved wooden bear with marbles for eyes and an iron bucket full of tuberous begonias. I worked many angles on the scene, but decided I liked the simplicity of this frame the best. Sometimes less is more when it comes to a photograph. Come to think of it, that’s usually good advice. Take away everything that isn’t an important part of the frame.

In a garden filled with whimsey and fun there were numerous antique iron shoe lasts painted in rainbow colors, one clambering among the boughs of a Japanese umbrella pine and others marching upside-down along a path. Giant otherworldly cardoon foliage framed a blue greenhouse annointed with a lyre from a sewing machine stand. A huge iron wheel cast shadows on the lawn and anchored the end of a perennial bed. Sedum filled an aluminum collander nestled among lady’s mantle. Elephant ears sprouted from copper wash boilers against the wall of the ‘tower of power’ shed. A bowling ball, turtle shell, and rusty pitcher pump hid among maidenhair ferns in a pair of wash tubs. And right out front was what looked like a giant golf ball on a tee — in reality a steel bouy painted La Conner blue resting atop a giant mining hose nozzle.

Ceramic figurine dives into containerKeeping with the theme of detached body parts, this little ceramic figurine was just breaking the surface of a sea of succulents in an old strawberry pot, splashing sedum foam among the sempervivums with a few glass jewels floating among the waves for good measure.

Only time will tell whether my editor decides to publish any of the photos from Chris’ garden, but I had a good time and made a new friend.

These were all photographed with natural light and my 24-105mm lens. I used my 70-200 for the giant golf tee to isolate it from the background, standing in the middle of a busy street and watching for traffic so I wouldn’t get run over. Sometimes that’s just where you’ve gotta be.

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