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I have come to appreciate garden produce as works of art. Looking at still life paintings by famous artists and appreciating them as works of art made me think about what they painted; fruits, flowers, vegetables. Then I began to think that the paintings were works of art that represent natural works of art. So I began to think that being a gardener is actually being a director of living art. I now think of my garden as an on- going art project. When I plant a seed I will receive a work of art.
I think of growing vegetables as food for the body and flowers as food for the imagination. So the style I chose for the garden is edible landscaping. Most layouts I've seen in this style are rather formal. I didn't want it to be a formal layout so as we go along I will show pictures of how really informal the garden is. The garden surrounds the house so it is in sections. Each section looks different. Because of the mild climate there are flowers and vegetables year round. Of course the winter flowers and vegetables are different than the ones in summer. To go into the garden and pick what you want to eat adds freshness as an ingredient that you can't get any other way. I also think about the luxury of flowers. Flowers are important guests at weddings and other celebrations. They also announce the seasons. Here in Northern California as the fall flowers pass, violets and narcissus will announce the coming of Spring. Right now dahlias and chrysanthemums are being featured. Dahlias certainly qualify as some of the most beautiful flowers in the world. I have been collecting them for several years and have been able to share them with friends because they are so productive.
Dahlias are native to Central America.
Dahlias are the national flower of Mexico and the official flower of San Francisco, California. I read that Cortez brought dahlias back to Queen Isabella. In my mind the action goes like this; Queen Isabella is sitting on her throne. The door opens and Hernando Cortez walks in . He is carrying a large bouquet of dahlias. He holds them out to Isabella and says,"Hey Izzy take a gander at these dahlias I brought you from Mexico. They'll blow you away." Isabella answers," I'll tell you what blows me away Herney! That you would have the colossal gall to call ME Izzy! I'm the QUEEN over here, ya know! And let's see, your what? an adventurer? Well unless you're looking for a really adventurous midnight ride with Torquemada I suggest you curb that sass and show some respect around here! Oh, and by the way, the Mexican flowers are lovely."
At the Botanical Gardens in Madrid, The Abbe Cavanille named the genus "Dahlia" for Andreas Dahl, noted Swedish Botanist and student of Carl Linnaeus. I was so disappointed when I first read this. I wanted dahlias to be named for some femme fatale like Delilah.
The Aztecs cultivated dahlias. I read that one of the great pleasures for the Aztecs was to row around the islands planted with colorful flowers in Lake Xochomilco. I picture a lovely Aztec family at one of the temples watching the the still beating hearts being pulled out of the prisoners chests. The blood runs down the steps in front of the alter. When the bloody sacrifice is over the family goes to Lake Xochomilco. They row around the islands enjoying the colorful flowers. They are peaceful and content knowing that because of the bloody sacrifice the sun will rise again tomorrow.
In 1570 Francisco Hernandez was in Mexico to study the natural resources of the country. He described plants that resemble the dahlia species under the names Acocotil and Cocoxochitl. The Aztecs used parts of the dahlia for food and medicine. An Aztec herbal written in Latin about 1550 states there is evidence of the dahlias use as a treatment for epilepsy.
In the 1800's there was a brief experiment using dahlia tubers as a food crop to supplement potatoes. It was decided that dahlias are better suited as decoration than food.
As the sun moves over the garden the lighting changes. I like to take the picture when the light is behind the flower because then the flower glows from within. To get a picture like that you have to be there when it happens because the lighting changes moment to moment.
I photograph flower arrangements like a fashion photographer photographs models. I take several pictures with the hope one of them will be a magic moment of beauty.
Dahlias and Sunflowers The yellow dahlias are all volunteers.
I tried to put the anemones with some of the darker colored dahlias but the intense colors made the anemones look off white instead of pale lavender pink.
I imagine this bouquet next to Sheherazade as she tells her stories.
I took a lot of pictures of this arrangement before this one came up.
This bouquet of Cannas and a Dahlia has the look of tropical flowers.
This is a picture of edible landscaping with Roses, Dahlias, and Brussels Sprouts.
Next time I will show the terracing in the garden.