Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Alas, too late: GGW Picture This Contest: Genius Loci

The theme of this month's Picture This contest at Gardening Gone Wild, judged by internationally renowned garden photographer Andrea Jones, is ‘GENIUS LOCI’ - THE ‘SPECIAL ATMOSPHERE OF A PLACE’. As Andrea explained in the contest announcement,

"It can be the view of your garden out of your bedroom window – or of your favorite garden visited while on vacation. Anywhere that you feel especially drawn to. Just try and capture the ‘spirit’ of the place. It does not have to be and early morning shot – it could be an urban garden heaving with visitors. But just one shot that you feel captures the ‘GENIUS LOCI’ – the ‘special atmosphere of a place’.

Every garden is completely different so there is no right or wrong way. It’s just a question of feel and intuition.

Your favourite space may be an urban garden buzzing with people – then try and capture need that buzz. It might be a garden at night so then photograph it in the moonlight. If it’s a quiet peaceful private space then I want to hear the silence.

It’s your personal interpretation of one of your favourite outdoor spaces. Your special place photographed in such as way to show what you love most about it. Please keep the view wide as possible to encompass of a view as you can but capture that spirit – that’s what matters. I want to see gardens with soul! I’m so looking forward to seeing the pictures you upload."

Well, my most favorite outdoor space isn't a garden, it's one of the largest, most remote, and least visited national parks in the United States. Big Bend National Park is an incredibly special place, unlike any place on earth. My contest entry attempts to capture its vastness, its opportunities for solitude, its flora, and its heavenly light.

South Rim sunset

This shot was taken at dusk on the South Rim of the Chisos Mountains, a mountain range located entirely within the boundaries of Big Bend National Park. The strenuous six-mile hike to the South Rim via the Laguna Mountain Trail, with its nearly 2000 foot gain in elevation, is considered by many to be the top mountain hike in all of Texas. This hike had long been on my "bucket list", and at 45 years of age, out of shape and about 40 pounds overweight, I did it. This vista greeted my husband and I at the trail's peak, just before we made camp for the night. Exhausted, exquisitely sore, yet completely elated, I couldn't help but grab the camera and shoot, shoot, shoot.

I have other photographs of Big Bend National Park in my October 2009 blog post, posted in response to Pam Penick's weeklong Bloggers' Celebration of National Parks on her blog, Digging. And I have even more shots on my Flickr page. Of all the photos from my three visits to Big Bend, I think this one shot in particular captures its Genius Loci.

I've been away much too long. And, I took too much too long to craft this post, as it appears the contest deadline was tonight at 11:59 p.m. Eastern time! Oh, well. Too many excellent photographs of actual gardens were entered for me to have a chance at a win, place, or show anyway: check out the contest gallery and see!

Words and photos © 2009-2011 Caroline Homer for "The Shovel-Ready Garden". Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.


  1. That's a beautiful photo, Caroline. Awarding winning, I would say.

    Thanks for sharing it with us.

  2. It does capture the essence of the place. Magnificent.

  3. Nice to find another Texas gardener.

  4. Wow, Caroline, that's an incredible shot! Well worth the climb, I would say (you've inspired me on that, by the way). I really need to get out there and see Big Bend.

  5. Hi Caroline! I was just enjoying your blog and came across your Big Bend photo. It absolutely captures the vast beauty of Big Bend. The park is a favorite of our family too and we like to spend Thanksgiving there. I featured a few posts after our trip in the fall if you want to check out my pics. I hope you'll be at Pam's Saturday, I'd like to hear about your time in Big Bend.