Plant sprouting in rock

Tenacious Beauty

            An English garden photographer—tired of perfect roses, tired of the bumblebee brushing its way into the heart of the cream lily, tired of trained apple branches crisscrossing stone walls, tired of hydrangeas as delicate and wide as china plates—began to look away.  Yarrow clung to ruined castle walls, twenty feet up.  Sprays of errant lavender grew in the bottoms of window wells, fallen from tidy planters.  Everywhere, he found unplanned beauty, unplanted flowers, unlikely stands of radiance.  Roadside day lilies cradled the debris of travelers.  Butterfly bushes, great brushes of blue, whizzed past train windows.  And he pointed his camera there.  The garden magazines would not publish his pictures: “We are sorry, but our readers prefer to know where they might see the carefully tended plants published in our pages.  Should you be visiting a garden soon, you are welcome to submit your best efforts there.”  He’d never been quite as successful with his “best efforts there” as he wished, so he kept snapping the escapees from gardens that so caught his eye.  After a year, he had a small show in a West End gallery.  He titled it, “Free-range Flowers.”  Several of the photographs were purchased, and for handsome sums.  An article appeared, then another.  He did not allow the magazines to take his picture.  And when finally he was invited to mount a major show, in Bloomsbury, he promised to attend a well-publicized opening reception.  He ventured only as far as the gallery door.  Inside, everyone was dressed in such bright colors, all of them standing so neatly together, all cupping their vases of champagne.  He turned away.  The walls behind the people held all he needed to say or do.  He went home for his camera and a walk that might take him everywhere.

 "Tenacious Beauty" first appeared in Coal City Review








Stone with word "me" carved in it


Errant plant

Clump of grass

Quilt of flowers

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