A creativity silenced, but freed

McGhie west lily-1 7-23-09_edited For the first time in my life, flowers I planted have brought me sadness.

This spring, between the many torrential downpours that fell onto Connecticut gardens, I planted a fresh crop of lily bulbs, mostly of the Oriental type, to accent a long, flowing foundation bed anchored by holly, juniper, and ornamental grasses.  This bed runs along the west side of the home of a couple who have been my gardening clients for nearly a decade.  The bulbs have grown tall and are now full of beautiful flowers of multiple colors.  I had previously planted similar bulbs in this bed (photo at right) so my clients could enjoy their beauty both outside and in – which they did to the fullest – but these dramatic blossoms also became the focus of a camera lens.  The camera, given to Bruce by his wife Barbara and held in Bruce’s steady hand, captured the beauty of the lily blossoms in a most unique way.  He planned his photos when the light enabled him to highlight the blossoms while fading the background into darkness, and in doing so he captured breathtaking photographs.

Over my years of flower-planting collaboration with Bruce, I introduced his photographer’s eye to dahlias as potted deck plants, and the beauty of Siberian Iris ‘White Swirl’ and Clematis viticella ‘Venosa Violacea’ both planted in a bed he could easily photograph from his wheelchair.  During the last few years he delighted in the intricate flowers of the potted tropical hibiscus plants I convinced him would live happily on the deck where he often sat and read. As I expected, Bruce’s camera caught these blossoms in the purest, most dramatic photographic images.

This year’s fresh crop of lily bulbs and tropical hibiscus plants are now in full blossom, but Bruce’s camera has been silenced.  Until I get used to the fact that he is no longer sitting at his desk, overlooking the holly bush I kept pruned so it would not obstruct his view, each visit to his former artistic playground will bring a twinge of personal loss.  But I also know Bruce’s spirit will live on in these blossoms, in his photographs, and in the many other artistic and creative projects he left behind.  It is my sincerest hope that the energy he absorbed from the beauty of nature is now feeding his newfound freedom from the physical limitations he endured in life.

Bruce’s photos awed the many who saw them on display locally; but I don’t have any of his photos to share.  I can share my own simple photos of some of the Oriental lily blossoms standing today outside of Bruce’s office.

McGhie lily-2 7-23-09_edited    I know Bruce is out there somewhere, enjoying the beauty and scent of these blossoms in ways that he could not before; and I’m sure he and Barbara don’t mind me sharing these blossoms with you.


McGhie lily-5 7-23-09_editedMcGhie lily-6 7-23-09_edited

3 comments for “A creativity silenced, but freed

  1. July 23, 2009 at 5:59 pm


    I’m so sorry to hear about Bruce’s passing. I remember hearing you speak so fondly of him at lunch that day. The lily’s are breathtaking and I’m sure he got an immense amount of pleasure from them.

  2. joenesgarden
    July 23, 2009 at 7:35 pm

    He was most certainly one of a kind.

  3. July 24, 2009 at 11:03 pm

    He’ll be missed but if only we all could be so lucky to live a life like his

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