I visited one of my favourite local places last week, TWIGS Community Gardens. TWIGS, Therapeutic Work In Gardening in Swindon, has been running for almost 20 years. The gardens are managed by TWIGS as a resource for people who have experienced mental health difficulties. The area provides a source of therapy, offering people the chance to learn new skills in gardening and craftwork, and spend time surrounded by nature. The gardens have public opening times, when anyone can visit to experience for themselves the tranquility within. I find it rather like stepping into a bubble, away from the world for a while, immersed in a natural oasis.
As well as a camera, I always take some cash with me. There’s a voluntary entry donation to support the work of the charity. There are also a range of home grown plants available for sale, and hand crafted items such as bat boxes. If plants grow around me, they do so because they are survivors, rather than because I am a skilled gardener. However, the TWIGS team are always on hand to offer advice on how to care for and nurture the plants they sell. I really can’t recommend the centre highly enough.
Back to last week. This was a rare occasion whereby I arrived without my camera, intending simply to explore the gardens and appreciate nature. I won’t make that mistake again. My resolve lasted only a few minutes, before I returned home to collect my kit.
Rather than firing off a set of general scenery shots, I decided to set myself a challenge and only use one lens while I was there. The gardens abound with flowers and insects. No surprise then that I opted for my macro lens. The day was damp and overcast, but this only served to bring out extra vibrancy among the flowers. After several warm days, the plants were pleased of the refreshment. Many insects, gastropods, and mammals were out and about too.
With so much to see, the time passed very quickly. Immersed as I was within the comfort of the gardens, I lost myself down the lens. Observing and marvelling at the life in miniature around me. The gallery images show colours seen through a water droplet, a droplet on a leaf, a snail watching me watching it, a spiked shield bug (also watching me watching it), a yellow gerbera, and a honey bee approaching a blue corn flower.
Photography is my livelihood. It’s hard work and requires dedication, self-development, and a lot of energy. However, it’s important to include some fun within the work. This can help spark new lines of creativity, and set new challenges to help develop techniques. Ultimately though, it’s fun. Something to look forward to. New experiences to remember. In the modern times of 24 hour social media access, news reporting, and unprecedented insights to the lives of others, it’s so important to find time to switch off. To have fun. To live.