I often find that a wonderful way to get to "know" something better is to photograph it. And when it comes to flowers, especially those that appear for such a brief time during the year, taking photos is another way to preserve the unique color, texture, pattern & structure. From January's crisp paperwhites to March's festive freesia, September's sculptural dahlias & December's tightly furled cyclamen buds, I always enjoy taking some time to look at them through the camera lens...

Often my subjects are flowers I’ve found at the weekly plant & flower market, but the Giardino delle Rose (Florence’s rose garden) is one of my favorite local spots for gathering inspiration. Located on the terraced hillside just outside of Florence’s medieval walls, it's a wonderful place to follow the growing cycle of such a varied selection of plants. I nearly always bring along my camera when I walk up there to spend some time among the roses or under the branches of a certain favorite olive tree. Observing the olives as they grow from tiny blossoms that emerge in spring, breathing in the perfume of summer roses—which leads to the rose hips that appear once the blooms are spent—and experiencing the seasonal rhythms are all good antidotes to living in a city.

I have been struck by how much color can still be found in winter, and love that the structure of each plant is revealed during this time. There have been lovely surprises, too, such as the blood red thorns of the Rosa sericea pteracantha that are prominent in March, and a bush whose striking foliage changes from purply/red to shades of green and then rust/gold as the year progresses.

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