All my favourite things

Photographer Unknown.

Simple, but so beautiful. This work breaks my heart.

It's a very simple idea, one that my own Dad practices...every season of every year, he takes a picture of the front of the house and then one of the back garden. We make fun of this little tradition, but I bet in the future, I will treasure them.

As i wrote in my 'Plein Air' project Critical Appraisal, the countryside is often seen as the perfect place for retirement, which seems curious when we consider how lush natural surroundings can constantly remind us of the passing of time, the changing of seasons, endless regeneration.

Flowers in particular, are capable for inducing such feelings of repose. The Victorians invented their own language of flowers, enabling shy, retiring (or rather, stiff upper lipped!) people of the era to leave secret messages for others. Even the recognizable scent of a particular flower, plant or perhaps a scented handkerchief sent its own unique message.

As the V&A archive states:

"There was a great vogue in the 19th century for images that depicted idealised rustic or seasonal settings. This is often interpreted as an escapist response to the upheavals of urbanisation and industrialisation. Many Victorian artists also specialised in sentimental interpretations of the historical past, producing works that were emotionally resonant but rarely true to period. The concept of one's personal past also formed part of visual imagery, with a focus on the more poignant life events: birth, childhood, marriage and death."

Another great reference to floriography, are etchings by Victorian writer/illustrator Jane Loudon. She was to Victorian gardening what Mrs Beeton was to cookery! Her beautifully illustrated books on gardening and plant identification sold in their thousands and women all over the country were enthused enough by them to take up gardening as a hobby. Her greatest work 'Encyclopaedia of Gardening' was a collaboration with her husband. They began to work together on John's books and in their own extensive garden.

Jane Loudon (1807-1858)
‘The Ladies’ Flower-Garden of Ornamental Annuals’

Jane Loudon (1807-1858)
'The Ladies' Flower-Garden of Ornamental Annuals'

Jane Loudon (1807-1858)
'The Ladies' Flower-Garden of Ornamental Annuals'

Jane Loudon's influence is difficult to exaggerate. She made gardening accessible and managed to communicate her own enthusiasm in a very practical, useful way. Through her books, gardening came to be regarded as a recreational activity for everyone.

For anyone interested in reading into the Victorians themes of nature, i recommend "The Victorian Flower Oracle: The Language of Nature"

Perhaps, spending your time creating a beautiful garden at your family home is a similar message of love and devotion? Even in these photographs set during winter, the path is kept swept clean, and the flower beds kept tidy. Even in the last image of the gentleman standing alone, he leaves a space on the path for her.

Perhaps living in a more rural environment enables the understanding of this relationship between humans and the natural world, and brings a sense of satisfaction. It constantly allows you to recognise the omnipotence of the natural world, being surrounded by such burgeoning life acts as a reminder to enjoy every moment.


naomuack said...


the solar flare said...

Beautifull post! I’m new on blogger and your blog is awesome!! If you want to follow me I’ll follow you back :D xoxo

Katie B said...

Thanks both of you! :)