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Donna L. Gassie – Garden: Art & Life

Flowers. I love flowers.  The colors. The shapes.  The fragrances.  The shear variety.  And this from a city girl growing up in apartments.  I never experienced many fresh flowers or gardens when I was a kid.  They were exotic and something that occasionally showed up for special occasions.


I’m a photographer.  And at some point in my adult life, I became acquainted with these flowers and I could not stop taking photographs of them.  I believe it was after my mother retired at a place at the lake….she cleared out large parcels of the yard and planted flowers.  Bulbs, beginner plants, cuttings….a big mix of types and species.  And it was lovely. It was in progress and changing monthly, looking different every visit. And my mother was lost in the work of her garden, happy in her floral explorations.

And at some point, I finally lived in a house and there was room…for a flower garden!  We cleared an area and mixed in rich soil.  I bought loads of annuals and perennials.  I drew page after page of garden blueprints and then I stood over that plot and mulled over the possibilities.  I finally measured out my rows, dug in with my trowel and transplanted the little plants.  And in the midst of developing my first garden, my younger brother unexpectedly passed away. That garden became a place of peace and with every flower I situated in that first garden, I planted a memory of him.  I cried and I smiled in that garden.  It was life and growth.  It was sustaining.


I have owned 4 houses since that first one.  At every house I have turned the earth and created flowerbeds.  Big, puffy blue hydrangeas. Bright red poppies. Fragrant, purple Russian Sage, hearty and wild. Perky, yellow daffodils bringing us Spring. Flowing Butterfly Bushes. Fall Sedum.  The beauty of flowers, the symmetry and wonder of what nature creates, the gift of getting lost digging in the dirt and how it provides the opportunity for meditation and contemplation…a flower garden provides us all that.  And so much more.

Donna L. Gassie is a photographer, gardner, social worker, writer and occasional performer living in Richmond, Virginia.