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Sunflowers are one of the most fun plants to grow and photograph. The above image was taken at the South Coast Botanical gardens in Torrance, California. However, the real reason that I am showing an image of sunflowers is to illustrate a trend developing in Southern California gardens.
There seems to be a real move towards much more formal gardens with increased use of hard-scape instead of plants. I used to take a lot of sunflower images at Descanso but the specific location has been replaced with a wall and cypress trees for no apparent reason. Another location was Wild Animal Park in San Diego. Much of the green-scape is being replaced with amusement rides and mechanical exhibits. They have recently changed their name to Safari Park although I consider this name a little misleading. Of course, the grand daddy of formal gardens is the Huntington Library in San Marino. It's always displayed some of the most beautiful formal gardens in the western United Stats, but it has always been that way. You don't go to the Huntington and expect to see sunflowers.
People enjoy sunflowers. They come in all sizes, shapes, and colors and you can see people's appreciation and sheer joy by the smiles on their faces. I get the feeling that the sunflower is just too "lowly" for the donors and benefactors of the foundations that support these gardens. After all, if you were a donor, wouldn't you rather have a brick on the ground or a bench seat named after you instead of a sunflower.
It's too bad because the conservators are totally missing the point of beauty in a seasonal garden. There is a fascination with a garden that is whimsical and so fragile that it may only last only weeks weeks before fading. Even the process of fading is beautiful in its own way. There really is beauty in chaos.
Image shot with a 200-400 F4.0 zoom lens on a cropped frame, 16.2 MP DSLR mounted on a carbon fiber tripod with ball head.