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“The best way out is always through.”

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Cultivate Flower Photos, Visit a Botanical Garden

If you like to photograph flowers and plants but don't have the time or room for a garden at home, consider making a trip to a local botanical garden. Even if you do garden a lot at home, you'll get to see things at a botanical garden that most home gardeners could simply never grow and in quantities that are extraordinary. Wherever I travel in the world, in fact, one of the things that I seek out are the local gardens and botanical collections.

Most gardens have two types of displays: formal outdoor gardens and indoor conservatories. Longwood Gardens just south of Philadelphia, for example, has around 1,000 acres of outdoor gardens and more than 4.5 acres of indoor gardens! In fact, the conservatory contains more than 5,500 different types of plants growing in 20 different gardens. Another favorite haunt of mine is the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx and it features 250-acre landscaped acres, 50 curated display gardens, a 50-acre native Forest and more than a million different plants--all waiting to be photographed. I photographed the water lilies shown here at the NYBG in one of several nice reflecting pools behind the main conservatory (I also photographed a family of 11 baby ducks in the same pool).

These are some of the big guns, of course, but I've found wonderful small gardens in places like Corpus Christi, Texas and Tucson, Arizona and I've even got a small but terrific rose garden in a park just up the street from where I live. Wikipedia has a great listing of gardens organized by state and odds are you'll find one that's within a short drive. Don't forget to check YouTube, also, you're sure to find lots of videos of formal gardens and botanical parks.

One other thing that I like about photographing in a botanical garden, by the way, is that they usually have a staff of gardeners who work continually to deadhead old blooms and weed the gardens so that you don't have to worry about a great shot being ruined by a few raggedy blossoms. Even better, you can ask the gardeners lots of questions about how they keep the gardens looking so nice.

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