Justification? Perhaps - But I Miss my Rosemary
Saturday, June 13, 2020
|Hosta 'Neptune' & Rosa 'Mary Magdalene' 10 June 2020|
This week my Rosemary has been in Lillooet with our daughter
Ale, helping her in the garden. I am going to finally pick her up this Sunday
14th of June. I spend the days not wanting to read the repetitive
articles of my NY Times and Vancouver Sun and I have been shunning CNN and
MSNBC for the same reason.
Our cats, Niño and Niña must know something is afoot as they
cling to me, follow me everywhere and seem to want to eat all the time.
Our garden has been seen by members of the Vancouver Rose
Society so the only work to be done now is clean-up and the deadheading of the
roses. It is about now that I must look at my once blooming roses (which are
much too tall) and consider how much I should prune them. Unlike remontant
roses (those that bloom more than once) once-blooming roses must be pruned after
|Rosa 'Westerland' 12 June 2020|
And, because nobody will be coming to the garden in the next
while, I feel tempted (and do succumb) to cutting a large display of a rose
like the one here of Rosa ‘Westerland’.
I have many scans of this lovely rose (with that synthetic apricot jam scent) throughout
season’s past and this one. Did I need to cut this bouquet?
My initial reason for scanning our roses and other plants
was a form of accurately documenting the plants of the garden. Many of our
roses have died so my scans are a comforting record of how they graced our
garden en gave us pleasure.
But more worrying is this scan of a rose with a hosta leaf.
Is this all about accuracy and record? Or is it a futile attempt at being
Two Gardens of Earthy Delight
Friday, June 12, 2020
|Francesca Albertazzi & Rita Monaco - 11 June 2020|
My Rosemary and I started gardening full time in 1986 when
we moved from our little strata title home in Burnaby to our big corner house
and garden in Kerrisdale. We soon realized we could not afford the local and
excellent neighbourhood Japanese gardener.
Visiting other gardens was important in that we wanted to
see how other people did their gardens and we would “rip off” what we liked.
The garden eventually grew to be a very good one because my Rosemary was and is
a perfectionist. Soon garden clubs and people from abroad came in buses to see
Things are much different now as we have settled in small
deck garden. Visiting other gardens and especially those of the Vancouver Rose
Society has for us a different and much calmer purpose.
In this virtual lockdown the idea of being able (if only for
a short while) to converse with people who have a mutual interest (roses) is a
very good thing. It is almost as if those gardens, as beautiful as they were
(the two I visited yesterday), were of secondary importance. It was the
conversation that topped my experience at Rita Monaco and Francesca Albertazzi’s
garden as well as in Mary Irvine and David Macvey's.
|Rosa 'Mme Hardy' - Mary and David Macvey's garden|
At the Irvine/Macvey garden I noticed hidden in a little corner a
lovely and most wonderful petal dump! The garden with lots of varieties
including old roses, and very new ones hybridized by Brad Jalbert was neat to
the point that it reminded me of my Rosemary who in our Kerrisdale garden used
scissors to trim and edge the grass by flower beds.
I will be sexist and say here that behind every successful
woman’s garden there is a man. The man in question, David Macvey is the man who
weeds, mows and makes her-and-his garden the delight that it was for me to
|The rose petal dump at the Irvine/Macvey garden|
Rita and Francesca's garden combines the talents of mother
and daughter. I never got to meet Francesca’s husband as he was sent away to
shop. Mother (Rita) is a talented painter whose landscapes remind me of the northern
Italy we visited last year. There are those columnar and very Italian cypresses
|Rosa 'Compassion' - Rita and Francesca's garden|
Francesca is an able interior decorator. This means that if
you combine that popular garden discovery of the 90s that gardens should have
rooms with Rita’s sense of the artistic you have a garden that is smallish but
full of detail (neat detail and well grown plants) no matter where you look.
In both gardens I was helpfully de-snobbed a tad. In the
Irvine/Macvey garden I just happened to smell Rosa ‘Julia Child’, a rose I have
snubbed because of the name. What a divine scent this rose had!
In the Italian garden I spotted a beautiful English Rose
that wasn’t. It was Rosa ‘Compassion’ a Harkness rose.
I look forward to further delights next week.
In Praise of the Trombone II
Thursday, June 11, 2020
In Praise of the Trombone I
It seems that I have a little obsession in my love for the
trombone that is being pushed into making it a tad bigger by the appearance of
two separate Isolation Commissions
by Jeremy Berkman and Ellen Marple and one
more by Marple for Early Music Vancouver.
I have a new friend in Twitter who is keen on these two
guys. It happens to be Tom Allen of CBC’s eclectic radio program called Shift
Some of us know he plays the trombone. Of Jeremy Berkman’s Isolation Commission
in an underground parking lot Allen wrote this:
Ellen Marple’s two pieces, the Early Music Vancouver one
with three different trombones and one sackbut is fabulous.
Who says that Vancouver is “no fun”? Mark Haney’s Isolation
Commissions are now past 80 of them.
A Doubly Exposed Tannia - My Camera Was Human
Wednesday, June 10, 2020
In this blog
I wrote about the most serious putdown I have
ever received as a human being.
For the years as a Vancouver magazine photographer I knew
that because of the hefty competition I could not rest on my laurels. I had to
come up with new ideas and new techniques. And most important was the
realization that if I made a single mistake I would not be re-hired. Perhaps
Ana Victoria in Oaxaca was right that I was a human trying to be a machine like
Now in this 21st century there is a longing for
the simpler times, times that were slow (at least for those who remember that
rosy past) and in photography there is a film and film camera comeback. This is
good as we must take advantage of all the methods that are open for us in
photography. But sometimes I believe that there is so much emphasis on the type
of camera, the kind of film used and experiments with unusual methods of
developing it, that one can forget the inherent possibility of the quality of
an image if it is the result of cerebral (machine-like?) thought.
Many years ago as I was struggling to find ways of taking
photographs of women that went along with 20th century mindset
called “glamour” I photographed Tannia. She was also the first to pose for me
in the best room of the Marble Arch Hotel in which I began to explore my ideas
of the eroticism of taking pictures of a beautiful woman in a seedy hotel.
In one of those preliminary photographs of Tannia I inadvertently
took one double exposure. My Mamiya RB-67 had an almost foolproof device to
prevent such uncontrolled exposures to happen.
But happen it did to my delight
(only a recent delight that I have noticed).
Perhaps it has all to do with the fact that as a retired
perfectionist magazine photographer I have fallen into that comfortable niche
of thinking that I am an artist.
As for Tannia, I am now aware how much she must have
suffered in my bumbling. But she taught me lots with her patience.
Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose
Tuesday, June 09, 2020
|English Rose, Rosa 'Buttercup' & Clematis 'Bijou' - 09 June 2020|
During the months of May and June and even after to the last
days of fall I walk into our garden to cut roses and other flowers to scan. It
is a relaxing pastime that I started in 2001 and after so many years I have
gotten the knack on how to do this well.
My relationship with roses did not begin well. Sometime in
1987 my Rosemary dragged to a monthly meeting of the Vancouver Rose Society at
the Floral Hall of VanDusen Botanical Garden. I immediately noticed how
uncomfortable hard the folding chairs. I had to suffer that while over 100 bad
slides (mostly closeups) of roses were projected.
But Rosemary, as always, was right and I became a keen
grower of mostly English Roses and Old Roses that eventually competed with my
very large hosta collection.
From Vancouver Magazine
art directors Richard Staehling and
Chris Dahl I learned lots. They pushed me into realizing that there was always
a way of making a cliché photograph fresh again. They argued that there was an
alternative to any photograph that could be an improvement.
|Rosa 'Reine Victoria' - Summer 2001 - My first plant scan|
I soon learned that photographs of roses made me yawn. Some
were badly taken, others using macro or close-focusing lenses showed the roses
in isolation much like specimen roses in a rose show.
It was in 2001 that in boredom I scanned Rosa ‘Reine
Victoria’ and experienced a wonderful beginner’s luck. Since then have done hundreds of scans of every rose
(and many other plants) that died or survived my garden machinations.
these roses like Reine Victoria are now impossible to find anywhere. Somehow
having a faithful (accurate) scan of it gives me some comfort.
I have always believed that the quickest cure to a dead cat
is a brand new one. We have followed that dictum for years. It has to do with
the fact that a new live cat somehow has that essence (a Platonic Essence) of
catness and we can discern in that new cat the memories of our old dead cats.
Could roses also have that Platonic Essence? As Gertrude
Stein wrote and in this Wikipedia citation:
"Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose." was written by Gertrude Stein
as part of the 1913 poem "Sacred Emily", which appeared in the 1922
book Geography and Plays. In that poem, the first "Rose" is the name
of a person. Stein later used variations on the sentence in other writings, and
"A rose is a rose is a rose" is among her most famous quotations,
often interpreted as meaning "things are what they are", a statement
of the law of identity, "A is A". In Stein's view, the sentence
expresses the fact that simply using the name of a thing already invokes the
imagery and emotions associated with it, an idea also intensively discussed in
the problem of universals debate where Peter Abelard and others used the rose
as an example concept. As the quotation diffused through her own writing, and
the culture at large, Stein once remarked, "Now listen! I'm no fool. I
know that in daily life we don't go around saying 'is a ... is a ... is a ...'
Yes, I'm no fool; but I think that in that line the rose is red for the first
time in English poetry for a hundred years." (Four in America).
She herself said to
an audience at Oxford University that the statement referred to the fact that
when the Romantics used the word "rose", it had a direct relationship
to an actual rose. For later periods in literature this would no longer be
true. The eras following Romanticism, notably the modern era, use the word rose
to refer to the actual rose, yet they also imply, through the use of the word,
the archetypical elements of the romantic era.
The quality of rose photographs thanks to the advent of
better cameras and phones has improved. But these make me yawn and the
projection of 100 of them would make me
uncomfortable even if I were sitting on an easy chair.