Diana Bloomfield: The Old Garden
Portfolio Introduction
The Old Garden

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 from 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: camellias, lenten roses, wisteria, Carolina jasmine, quince, antique climbing roses-- all flowers that seem of another place and time.

When I got married, our first home was a Victorian in town that didn't have much of a yard. In fact, there was no back yard at all and a very narrow side yard. The front and side yards were edged all around by an ancient wrought iron fence. A small yard, to be sure, but we planted flowers that lined the sidewalk leading to the house, and climbing vines and roses all around 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 each 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.

~ Diana H. Bloomfield

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