The Garden

The Garden

by Freeman Patterson

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Freeman Patterson has traveled the globe to photograph the wonders of the natural world. In this book, Patterson turns his camera towards the garden in his own backyard. Hear the whisper of wind through a canopy of trees. Inhale the sweet fragrances of ferns and grasses. Observe the vibrant colors of delphiniums, forget-me-nots, poppies, bachelor buttons and


Freeman Patterson has traveled the globe to photograph the wonders of the natural world. In this book, Patterson turns his camera towards the garden in his own backyard. Hear the whisper of wind through a canopy of trees. Inhale the sweet fragrances of ferns and grasses. Observe the vibrant colors of delphiniums, forget-me-nots, poppies, bachelor buttons and cornflowers. Trace the texture of white snowflakes against brown grasses.

On early spring mornings, the daffodils dance and the young fronds of hay-scented ferns push their way up to the light. Summer brings lupins as far as the eye can see and robust hostas advancing on Virginia bluebells. Autumn's gold leaves give way to frost-gilded petals, and winter's first snowfall intensifies the red of high-bush cranberries. The expectant earth stirs again in spring as energy kindles and the garden is reborn.

In Patterson's garden, rain is as important as sunshine, colors blend seamlessly with fragrances, and everything that lives and grows also dies, the cycle of life keeps rolling.

Editorial Reviews

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - Jan Riggenbach
Dream-inspiring pictures and thought-provoking essays... I find myself looking at my garden and my photography in a new way.
Halifax Chronicle-Herald - Jodi DeLong
This is a book for those who love fine art, photography, gardening, nature and joy.
Globe and Mail - Sherry A. Firing
Patterson writes eloquently and evocatively ... This is truly a lovely book.
Hamilton Spectator - Robert Howard
Reflective, informative and easy to read... a pleasure to read and examine.
Contra Costa Times - Lynn Carey
For an afternoon of absolute fantasy, curl up with "The Garden," by Freeman Patterson.
Landscape Architecture Magazine
Dramatic photographs... highly sentimental and personal... most of the important details are contained in the lush images.
Charleston Post and Courier - Janice Shumake
Freeman Patterson reminds the gardener what it's all about, the very reason to garden... He captures a grander view that can renew and inspire
Scripps Howard News Service
Glorious images and personal reflections remind us all why we love nature.
The Rangefinder - Lou Jacobs Jr.
The Garden is wise, evocative, sensitive, spiritual and glowing in its photographic diversity.

Product Details

Key Porter Books
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
9.25(w) x 10.25(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt

Preface and Introduction to The Garden


Every garden and every gardener is a work in progress. And no matter how tiny or grand, how colorful or restrained, how wild or ordered, the garden is a metaphor for the gardener. When you invite somebody into your garden you are inviting them to meet you.

Although our garden may be like a "persona," one facet of our personality that we want the world to see, more likely it is the face that we, as gardeners, want to show ourselves. So, when we observe and contemplate our creation carefully, we can learn a great deal both about who we are and who we want to be.

I am forever gardening in my imagination. Have you ever met a gardener who isn't? I don't mean creating scenarios that we would like to reproduce in the physical world, but gardens we can never create and probably nobody else could, either -- even if our financial resources were unlimited and our patience endless. But, perhaps we will draw or paint our imaginary gardens or, in my case, create them as photographs.

For example, I'm sure that somewhere there is a small lake like this one [reference is to a photograph on facing page] -- a pond where, even now, a flock of geese is swimming among the reflections of spring flowers on the water's surface. I can't find it at Shamper's Bluff; none of the ponds are quite like this, and none of the reflections will ever look quite like these. And yet, it exists -- first in my imagination, second in a photograph, and now in this book -- and we all can pause by its banks and find awe and delight in its beauty.

Because every garden is a place of dreams and every gardener a dreamer, we should find nothing strange and much that is symbolic in our own and other gardens. Are the paths straight, or do they curve and wander? What colors appear consistently? Does the gardener worry about ripping out every last weed?

When we want to learn something important about ourselves, it's a good idea to go into our garden. We'll find that we've planted a lot of answers there.



Shamper's Bluff is a high, forested, rocky peninsula that juts into Belleisle Bay in New Brunswick's lower St. John River valley. Perhaps five hundred acres (two hundred hectares) in size, about half of the bluff is now a private ecological reserve belonging to the Nature Conservancy of Canada. This reserve is my home, as I donated most of the land to the Conservancy in return for life tenancy. Its several ecological zones or natural habitats are home for 253 species of plants, flocks of migratory and nonmigratory birds, and mammals such as hares, foxes, field mice, coyotes, flying squirrels, deer, and occasionally moose and bear. Of course, there are also toads, frogs, salamanders, garter snakes, fish swimming in the water lapping the bluff, and insect species far too numerous to count. All of these species have an aboriginal claim to the ecological diversity of Shamper's Bluff They were here long before me or any of the other forty or so human residents.

In a circle of about twenty-five acres (ten hectares) around my house, I have the privilege of engaging with the land and the many plant and animal species in a restricted but active way. I can, for example, mow paths through the fields for easy access to the succession of wildflowers. I may cut alder bushes growing in the nearby swamp so the numerous clumps of cinnamon and interrupted ferns can continue to build vigorously the gigantic tussocks they commenced over a century ago. I am permitted to blaze a trail for wandering to the edge of the swamp, where I have placed a bench for sitting and observing the waving sea of green. All those really important things!

Near my house, barn, and guest cottage, I am able to mix the wild and the domesticated with abandon. Here, in an area with no defined boundaries, a melange of flower beds overflows with both annual and perennial plants, and paths with no apparent destination meander through spirea, wild rhododendron, and blueberry bushes. Here native ox-eye daisies dance with the red poppies of Tuscany, Israel, and Flanders, broad-leaved hostas clump together in the shade of wild apple and birch trees, and perky blue forget-me-nots poke through sweeping expanses of hay-scented ferns.

But this is not a garden of Eden where life is care free and lived unconsciously. It lives and grows in the "real" world -- in the objective world of my senses, in colors and tones, scents and fragrances, bird songs and buzzes of insects, and in the subjective world of my feelings, nourished by the sunlight and rain of my emotions, fertilized by my imagination, reveries, and dreams. The sense of fullness and satisfaction I experience from both aspects of this world requires cultivation, fertilization, pruning, and other hard work.

For many years I planned and tended my garden alone, but as it grew larger and I grew weaker due to a long, debilitating illness, I began to teach an interested long-time friend, Joanne, about plants and their lives, about gardening with native plants as well as "domesticated" species, about the importance of being sensitive to microclimates and weather, to soil types and conditions, and about observing natural designs of every sort.

When I became very ill, Joanne assumed all the gardening responsibilities, though I could never resist making suggestions. And, as her knowledge and confidence grew, neither could she. Now that I'm healthy and active again, we go about "doing our thing," both together and separately, but our pleasure in the garden and in gardening is greater now because it is always shared.

Gardening together has also deepened our friendship. When Joanne arrives, usually as the early light is just beginning to illuminate the paths that wind through the fields and woods, one of us makes a pot of good coffee and we sit at my kitchen table talking about gardening for ten minutes or, perhaps, an hour. Gardening with plants, gardening with ideas, gardening with dreams. Neither of us is quite sure where the physical garden ends and the spiritual one begins, and neither of us cares. The transition from one to the other is easy and utterly natural.

I invite you to join us in the garden through pictures and words, the entire garden -- a communion of habitats, species, and individuals, a place where rain is as important as sunshine, where colors blend seamlessly with fragrances, imagination, and dreams, where everything that lives and grows also dies, but where the cycle of life is eternal.

Meet the Author

Freeman Patterson has written ten books. He has received many awards including a 2001 Lifetime Achievement Award from the North American Nature Photography Association, and the 2003 Miller Britten Award for Excellence in the Visual Arts.

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