August in Rosetta McClain is a time to appreciate the array of colours found in its many flowers and plant life. People visit the garden for various reasons but mostly to photograph it, to read in a quiet spot, to sit in contemplation and even paint. Since the pandemic, there have been intimate family picnics which are, technically, not allowed, but they happen anyway, because there’s no better place than a garden for people to gather and be with one another. It’s good to hear the laughter of children and the relaxed look on people’s faces as they explore the garden, leaving behind the worries of the world.
Flowers have always been an important part of my emotional landscape. I grew up with them, not only in the house, where we kept flower pots of geraniums and coleus but also out in the garden. In public spaces on the Azores, flowers abounded, too. Flowers could be found in churches decorating the altars of the saints or on the procession routes throughout the city on the many feast days that brought the holy statues out of their churches and onto the streets of Ponta Delgada.
The religious use of flowers was not restricted to public display but was intimately a part of family life. In my parents’ and grandparents’ bedrooms, on top of their dressers would be a religious statue surrounded by fresh flowers. Their scent is still with me, and when I survey the beauty of the garden I have the privilege of walking in every day, I am reminded of the place of flowers in my memory of home.
A display of flowers in honour of Senhor Santo Cristo in the 1940s or early 1950s, from my family’s photo collection. Ponta Delgada, Azores.
We would gather to pray the rosary in front of Our Lady of Fatima. Photo from May, 1969, Toronto, Canada.
And now, back to photos of Rosetta Gardens, the place that conjures up memories of my past.
Photographing the garden
Reading in the garden
Blending in with the garden. Can you spot the person amongst the flowers?
Painting the garden
May the path take you on your own discovery of the garden