My grandparents’ house, set back from the street, right in the middle of town, stood on a couple of acres. A vegetable garden in the back, pecan trees in the front, and fruit trees all around seemed commonplace.
What seemed extraordinary to me were the big white hydrangeas that flanked one entire side of the property, running front to back– a never-ending hedge of fluffy snowballs, appearing at once delicate and airy, bold and showy.
I have always loved hydrangeas and now have them in my own yard, along with so many others– quince, wisteria, climbing roses, camellias, peonies— all flowers that seem of another place and time.
When I got married, our first home was a Victorian in town that had a small front and side yard, edged by an ancient wrought iron fence. We planted flowers that lined the sidewalk leading to the house, along with climbing roses and Carolina Jasmine all over that fence. Some stood straight like little soldiers, but mostly they climbed, intertwined, fought for space, and grew with abandon. Each year, it was a beautiful fairy-tale like display. When we moved, 3 miles away, I would often run into our former neighbor at the grocery store. He would always stop to speak and, without fail, lean over to tell me that “the old garden just isn’t the same without you.”
As part of my mission to create handmade art every day for a year, I began this series in 2018, purely by accident. The Old Garden honors my own Southern garden, which I view clearly from my back windows, and that of my grandmother’s, now seen only in my mind’s eye. Etched in deep faded hues, our gardens mingle, intertwine, and overlap.These flowers – although now permanently fixed as pigment encased in hardened gum arabic – remain, like my memories, as ephemeral as ever.
About Diana Bloomfield
An exhibiting photographer for over thirty-five years, Diana has received numerous awards for her images, including a 1985 New Jersey State Visual Arts Fellowship, and five Regional Artist Grants from the United Arts Council of Raleigh, North Carolina. Most recently, in 2019/20, she was awarded a Professional Development Grant (previously named Regional Artist Project Grant), from the United Arts Council of Raleigh. She was named a Critical Mass Finalist in 2014, 2018, and 2019. [Official Website]