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  Bookends: Dan Davidson

The Garden

Reviewed: November 14, 2003
By: Freeman Patterson
Publisher: Key Porter Books
192 pages, $45.00

 In this mid-sized coffee table book photographer Freeman Patterson invites us to visit him and spend a year in his garden. This might sound limiting, but Patterson’s garden encompasses some 200 hectares of land i the lower Saint John River Valley, where it juts into Beleisle Bay. Patterson has long since donated the land, which is near where he grew up, to the Nature Conservancy of Canada, with the proviso that he gets to live there until he dies.

When you have this much space, and you share it with 253 species of plants, many animals,, migratory and non-migratory birds, snakes, toads salamanders and even fish, you have a lot of material to photograph. Patterson’s earlier career may have taken him all over Canada in search of material, but now he hardly needs to leave home, and this book is the proof of it.

The book is in glorious full colour. Most of the photographs are full page or slightly larger, and almost every one is accompanied by a thoughtful single page essay on some aspect of gardening, along with some insight into why this particular image was created.

Most of the photos are representational in nature, snapshots by a master who composes by instinct these days, though he can tell you why each shot works. Some, however, are impressionistic in nature, as multiple and overexposures, or movements of the camera play with colour and texture in interesting ways.

This is a fascinating book which it has taken me several weeks to experience. I’m not finished with it yet, so consider this review a work in progress.

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