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A Plant Nerd Worthy of the Name

Ever so slowly here at TP, strangers are becoming regulars, and regulars are becoming friends. So as I continue dodging your most-asked question, What Would Eve Do? (she'd chew her nails to the bone worrying about how much angst to reveal; I promise an update, soon...) I thought I'd introduce you to one of the many sensational photographers in the TP Flickr pool, an anything but garden variety acolyte of the Goddess Flora.

His name is Rob Illingworth, he says the "real"gardener in the family is his wife Sharon (I guess that makes him, what, chopped liver?), and the couple lives 7 miles north of the MN border in Oh! Canada. Judging by their Flickr page, her passion is woodland and rock garden plants and his is everything she grows.

If it takes a family to create a portrait like the one below — the plant is Hepatica — consider this union blessed.

Hepatica clearly thrives in Ontario, at least in the Illingsworth garden, where the couple grow -- and he photographs -- a variety of colors and forms, mostly from seed. The Mr.'s photographs blew me away. In answer to my sheepish question, Um, you didn't color-correct this, did you Rob?, he answered quite earnestly, "I went out and picked two flowers from the plants. I have always intended to do this just to satisfy myself as to colour accuracy. I am pleased to say that the flower colours are very close to what I see on my monitor, which is colour balanced." photo credit: Rob Illingworth hide caption

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photo credit: Rob Illingworth

A self-described "plant nerd with a bias to growing rather than plant classification" (aha! he does garden!), this serious amateur recently visited one of the country's more imaginative and certainly better-endowed public gardens, Chanticleer in Wayne, PA. Its website does not do it justice, but Rob's photographs do.

Surprisingly, it wasn't his destination. He had, shall we say, less romantic plans. Rob was visiting the mid-Atlantic region because of a trillum symposium he'd signed up for at a nearby native plant mecca, Mt Cuba. Now that is one serious plantfest of a place. "I went to the symposium not as an expert, but as a keen grower," Rob wrote, "feeling that we could grow many more trilliums here despite our climate."

I can only imagine the notes he took; something tells me this is the guy who'd you'd most want to cheat off during a final. Anyway, among the many pix he's posted from Chanticleer, this one is Rob's favorite:

"Here's a low circular mound of fine gravel very carefully raked into an artful pattern," writes Rob. "The fallen flower petals from the adjacent trees had collected in the ridges making for me a perfect garden memory. While I was there the light was right and I was very happy even though I only had three hours for my visit. Not nearly enough time to see all the garden, but leaving me reason to return". photo credit: Rob Illingworth hide caption

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photo credit: Rob Illingworth

So many Illingworth pix, so little time. Be sure to take your own tour through his photos.

And who, might I ask, are you?