Two close friends had died the year before, just days after my birthday. We went to Montreal to get as far away as we could from the place we had seen them last. That trip did a lot to boost my spirits, but it was probably the lotus that made the biggest impression.
For nine years I pined for a return visit during the month of August to experience them in bloom again. This year it finally happened.
Unfortunately, I was only able to bring my digital camera with me. The day was unbearably hot and I was unable to lug a big camera bag around due to a shoulder injury. I’m happy with the digital shots, but of course, as a film lover, I can’t help feeling remorse about the photos I didn’t get to take. After all, it could be another 10 years before I see lotus in bloom again!
I’ve put together a limited edition printing of Lotus in Bloom notecards. There are five photos in the set. However, just a warning that we are going on a big trip during the month of December so I will be shutting down the online shop in about a week’s time.
Turnout in the mutant vegetable competition at The Royal Winter Fair was disappointingly lackluster this year. I don’t know if it was the poor weather this season, or a waning lack of interest in growing monstrous, overgrown produce, but it seems that the competition fell from an abundantly healthy display in years past to the above six, pathetic contenders.
To be fair, I don’t recall having seen Siamese twin cucumbers before and was quite impressed. But the duck shaped potato that in my humble opinion stole first place from the Siamese twin cucumbers… PLEASE.
I should have entered my sweet potatoes, however we ate them all up soon after harvesting. The entire crop grew into twisted puzzle pieces that together could do a decent imitation of stomach intestines. Take THAT potato duck! I’m crafting myself a mental grand prize ribbon as I write this.
I pretty much only go to The Royal for the mutant veg, so thank god for the adjacent table of whale-sized squashes and melons or I would have been forced to demand a refund.
Look at the size of this thing! We put a quarter next to it for size comparison. At this size vegetables tend to morph but I’d hazard a guess that it’s a butternut squash.
I don’t know what they’ve got in their soil, but two of these three jumbo squashes were grown by competitors with the same last name. The biggest one is listed as a ‘long gourd’ or ‘Sicilian zucchini’ and comes in at 9ft 10.25.
It was held to the support structure with camo duct tape, a detail that won my heart. Automatic win! No, I wasn’t a judge. However, if there is a fall fair that would have me, I’d be very into it!
I neglected to record the weight of these larger than life-sized apples.
Enormous sunflowers and corn: one of my favourite categories.
And last but not least, the giant pumpkins.
These potatoes were a part of the regular produce competition. They looked so fake from what I deem to be excessive polishing, that I actually had to touch them to prove they weren’t made of plastic. That friends, is weirder to me than a Siamese twin cucumber.
Our off-time on a recent trip to New York City was spent wandering around soaking everything in and taking pictures. I didn’t go out of my way to visit specific gardens or community gardens this time, but naturally found some along the way.
One of the community gardens I came upon was the LaGuardia Corner Gardens located in Greenwich Village between Bleecker and Houston Streets. I have come across this particular garden on past trips and have even taken some photos of it. I had a rough idea of where it was located and was pleasantly surprised when we stumbled upon it on our last day.
I’m not sure what it is about this garden that had me hoping to find it again. Maybe it’s the location, which is particularly interesting as the garden sits smack dab in front of a supermarket with a fence around it.
There are several community gardens in New York City that are a good twenty years in the making. Through the years the landscape and socio-economic standing of the communities that surround them have changed, often times from poor to rich and from rubble to fancy metal and glass contemporary structures. As a result, these gardens and their gardeners always have an interesting story to tell.
The history of LaGuardia Corner Gardens is your typical community garden story beginning with local residents digging a garden on barren, unused land, then fighting to keep the garden alive amidst a changing neighborhood.
While I was taking photos, a woman came up to me and mentioned that a rooster had been spotted poking around in the garden the day before. She didn’t know where he came from or if he was still there. This exchange and information sharing is one of the things I enjoy most about photographing gardens. If you hang around long enough looking like you belong, someone is always bound to come by, eager to reveal the garden’s secrets.
Sure enough, as we made our way around the perimeter we eventually spotted him darting about, stopping now and again to take a bite out of a plant. I wonder if he is still there and how much of the garden remains!