The First Rose to Bloom in Our Garden With a Little Cheating
Saturday, April 27, 2019
|Rosa 'John Davis' April 27 2019|
Anybody has kept up with this blog since I started in
January 2006 must know that I (and Rosemary, too) am crazy about roses
especially old roses and English Roses.
Since about that time I have perfected my technique of
scanning them with my Epson flatbed scanner. These scans are an accurate record
of the roses and other plants from our garden. Some are no longer with us and somehow
those scans are comforting to me that my roses, those that died are alive in my
One of my constants is to post a blog with the first rose to
bloom in my spring garden. For many years the honour went to the Rugosa, Rosa ‘BlancDouble de Coubert’.
When we moved three years from our large Kerrisdale garden
to our present (and small) one in Kitsilano we could not bring all our roses.
My eldest daughter is a school teacher in Lillooet with an almost acre sized
garden. Since she is Zone 4/5 we gave her many of our extra hardy Gallicas and
Blanc Double de Coubert, being a rugosa, is hardy, too.
But I can cheat if I want to. I purchased on Thursday at the
Save-On on Main and 16th (can you imagine finding this rose there?)
the Canadian Explorer Rose, Rosa ‘John Davis’. We bought, two as this rose is
Zone 2b so it will do just fine in Lillooet. The rose is supposed be fragrant.
Perhaps because of the cold I have yet to notice any scent.
Patrice in Threes
Thursday, April 25, 2019
Our cats are creatures of routine. Every night when we go to
bed they expect Rosemary to go to her dress drawer and take out a little bag of
cat treats that she called candies. She then makes them get on the bed and
gives each one (alternating) one at a time.
The male cat, Niño expects us to open the door of our deck
right after he has his breakfast. Niño goes upstairs with us where Rosemary and
I have our breakfast in bed from a tray
and we read the NY Times and the Vancouver Sun. There is a human pattern there.
I am given the Sun while Rosemary reads the NY Times.
So, animals and humans are creatures of routine.
But I believe that there is a human talent that is exclusively human. This is our ability to discern patterns.
Consider these lovely photographs of Patrice Bilawka. I have
written about her here
. But today I noticed something and I have given
it the name Patrice in Threes
. I am wondering if these patterns would have been
obvious with a modern digital camera. In the case here these are contact sheets
of 6x7cm b+w negatives. I have scanned them in such a way as to avoid the
social media police.
Who Shaves the Barber? Why, me!
Wednesday, April 24, 2019
Sometimes you find out you had something, but when you
noticed, it was gone.
This has happened to me with people, too. I learned to
appreciate how they had contributed to my life once they were gone. The first
in that list would be my mother whom I never told I loved her until I could
But sometimes you can get lucky and awareness can appear as
a jolt. In the early 1990s in Vancouver there was a much larger photographic community (or it
seemed that way) as few then could disappear into their homes and sit at their
monitors. There were all kinds of events in town including the pissups at the CAPIC
meetings. Of these (the CAPIC meetings) I went not for the beer but to feast my
eyes on Rick Etkin’s (the host) assistant Nicole Scriabin.
There was an active photo gallery on Beatty Street that
specialized in group shows of the erotic kind. It was there that I first met
photographer Patrice Bilawka. She was a hoot, a happy person who also happened
to be a very good advertising photographer. With our mutual friend Ian McGuffie
we embarked on a project of doing monthly one night exhibitions in my studio on
Robson and Granville. For McGuffie and for me Bilawka was one of the boys, that
is, until she told us she was leaving town. It was then that I realized that she
was an absolutely beautiful woman that might answer to the question, “Who
shaves the barber?” “Why me,” I answered. I came to understand. So I proposed to take her
photographs. She said yes but insisted on having a good makeup artist, Jessica
Timmins Venturi. I was to take the photographs in Bilawka’s pad.
When I arrived I set up my lights but noticed lots of
beautiful light coming from the windows and casting Venetian blinds type (a
cliché!). While waiting for Venturi to finish I noticed two important things.
One was that Bilawka had a bandaged left hand. I did not ask. It was only much
later, weeks later that I found out that it had to do with an ex-boyfriend who
was a boxer.
I also noticed that witnessing the application of makeup on
a woman by a woman was intensely erotic. I quickly put my Mamiya RB-67 ProSD on
a tripod mounted with the longish 250mm lens so I could take photographs
The photographs I took after are some of the best I have
ever taken. But those makeup photographs are something else.
The pictures here I took in September 1996 and you can see
There is something to be said about going into my files
(film files) and looking at contact sheets with a loupe. The pleasure (particularly
until then undiscovered gems) can never be topped by looking at digital
photographs on a giant monitor.
There has been a most pleasant occurrence related to the
photographs above. I have discovered that Venturi is not only the excellent
makeup artist that she is but that she is an extremely good photographer. Her
website is here.
So again I have asked that question, “Who shaves the barber?”
My question has been answered in the affirmative.
Roseness & Catness
Tuesday, April 23, 2019
|Rosa 'Reine Victoria' 2002|
Sometime in 2002, during an idle weekend, I was admiring a
recent addition to our Kerrisdale garden. It was the Bourbon rose Rosa ‘Reine
Victoria’. On a lark I brought a bloom into the house and scanned it on my
Epson flatbed. I might have simply had beginner’s luck (one that has persisted
until now) because the resulting image was astounding to my eyes. I decided
then that this method of scanning flowers from my garden doing them at
100% size, writing the date of the scan
and being careful to be as accurate as I could with the colour would be an
asset if comparing notes with a gardener abroad.
Through the years many of beloved roses have come and gone.
Three years ago when me moved to our present Kitsilano location we had 85 old
and English Roses. But we had grown at least 125 during those years and those
roses had given up the ghost. Rosa ‘Reine Victoria’ did just that.
Now as the scanning season is upon us (note the two rhododendron
scan’s in today’s blog I have come to the realization that roses have something
in common with cats.
|Rhododendron 'Golfer' April 23 2019|
Whenever one of our cats has died I have discovered that the
quickest “relief/cure” is a brand new one. It seems that cats, perhaps more so
than humans are closer to that Platonic world of Ideas where everything we see
in our troubled and imperfect world reflects and absolute and perfect idea. A
cat represents catness. A new cat
something of the old dead cat that is carried over.
Many of my long gone roses can never be replaced. The garden
industry has retracted and choices are fewer. But just like our new cats, Niño
and Niña represent themselves and our cats that came before them, somehow, my
scan of a rose, a rose I no longer have, gives me the comfort that I have some
of it not only in my memory but the stored scan has something of the rose's
|Rhododendron augustinii 'Marion MacDonnell'|
Earth Day - A Chestful
Monday, April 22, 2019
Today is Earth Day. I first wrote about it here
Some years ago a designer friend at Emily Carr asked me to
contribute to a show in Calgary called Mother Earth. I thought about it and the
picture I submitted with the great help and chest of Katheryn is the one that
opens this blog.
Since then I have found that any attempt to combine my
passion for roses and flowers with human anatomy is doomed. The only exception
seems to be the use of the chest with hands in a graceful manner.
Because I am obsolete, redundant & retired at my almost
77 years of age I have time in my hands to think. I do a lot of that except
when my Rosemary snaps me from it and urges me to do this or that. Today is a
lazy, rainy Easter Monday (besides being Earth Day) and Rosemary is having a
siesta. This gives me the impetus to write this not-too-heavy-duty blog which
has only the pictures as a reason for it.
One of the major differences between my mother (note the use
tongue and my second language
that is English is that nouns in Spanish have gender. Automobiles being
are therefore la máquina
. Cars in Spanish are women. Sex, is el sexo
so sex in Spanish is masculine! Nouns that end in a
are the exception. Thus an
eagle is el águila
as la águila
would be cumbersome to pronounce. There are is
one fine exception that I learned in the Argentine Navy. Ships that go to see “se
van a la ma
r”. El buque
(male) goes to the sea (feminine). And yet sometimes
(most of the time) the sea is “el mar”.
In this 21st
century where women are fighting
actively to finally get their due it is nice for me to remember that somehow
our planet has been a woman, our mother. This is perhaps why plants held close
to a woman’s chest somehow convery nurturing and growth.