Photo reflections

Photo by Deborah Maier

The gardening season has wrapped up for the year. Now it is time to take a look back. While the Calgary Horticultural Society recommends gardeners be note-taking journalists, for many this just doesn’t happen.

However, with the ease of phone camera use, many gardeners snap pictures of their gardens throughout the season. At the first sign of spring colour, “click”, a cheery bloom is captured. The flowering plum is catching the May morning light, “click”. A July hailstorm is incoming …”click, click, click!”

Going back through the photos captured each month unveils a beautiful garden. I’m often surprized to see what bloomed when. Memory is a fluid thing, but the photos capture the time and place clearly. Often when we reflect, we focus on the challenges. Looking at the photos, it is refreshing and uplifting to see the successes. 

One of my favourite Society community projects is our calendar. Starting in June, we ask members to submit photos from their gardens, to include some comments about their garden, and add a gardening tip or two. This year’s calendar theme was garden favourites.

Gardeners could send in photos of their favourite view, flower, garden art–any favourite garden feature. It’s inspiring to see what is special in their gardens. The comments we receive range from humourous to sentimental. One year we asked, “What will your garden always have?”  A response…”Weeds!”

Reading that comment was a laugh-out-loud moment. Yes, my garden will always have weeds, too. The more sentimental ones usually mention the importance of a plant and its tie to a person who is no longer with them … these are poignant and touching stories to read.

Then there are also good gardening advice contributions, such as, ”use mulch to suppress weeds and retain soil moisture.” And, “collecting rainwater in rain barrels meant I didn’t need to use my garden hose all summer—every gardener should have at least one.”

We include as many of these stories and tips in the calendar as possible. These stories make flipping to a new month exciting. The draw is not just which picture has been selected to represent the month but which stories. The hardest part of creating the calendar is selecting the photos for the main picture. There usually is space to add several interesting notes.

We also include some of the Society’s annual events such as Plant Shares and general garden annotations. The historical first and last frost dates, for example. The calendar becomes a visual journal of what happens and what should be done in a Calgary garden each month.

If you take photos of your garden, you can make one too! Several templates for creating your own calendar can be found online. Even some of our local printers have them available on their websites. Selecting a theme for the calendar month will help narrow the photo options. I like to choose photos representing remembrance for November.

December often features red flowers or evergreens. January is often a white theme—winter snow, white flowers … some to represent the season and the new year. February, features something from the heart, March is the start of spring so spring flowers or greens, or clovers for St. Patrick’s Day. Then it is the blooming season, choosing a garden favourite for each month will capture a moment to represent each of the remaining months. Ideally, you would use a template that let’s you personalize the notes on the date pages.

Adding family and friends’ birthdays and anniversaries, when you want to start seeds, order bulbs … anything noteworthy to you, will make the calendar special.

This is a great November project for a gardener. It gives you a purpose as you look back at the gardening year. Each picture you choose tells as story about the gardening season past. Adding your own comments makes it special. Gift-giving season is around the corner. Print a few to share your love of gardening and the beauty of your garden with family and friends.

To learn more about gardening in the Calgary area, visit our website