“All day long, all that moves is the sun, and the big Rainbird sprinklers…a giant outdoor hothouse with a billion dollar crop.”
- Joan Didion, ‘Notes From A Native Daughter’
These images are part of an ongoing project to see and interpret the landscape of the place where I live, the Central Valley of California. Here, the ideas of garden and cultivation are expressed on both the largest, and most intimate of scales.
The Valley exhibits many elements of the designed landscape: the grove, the framed view, and the movement of water through a canal. The tankhouses can be seen as garden follies, and an architectural expression of utility. In this garden, that grove is part of a grid of orchards that extends across hundreds of miles. Concrete aqueducts that travel the length of the state supply the water. Its “walls” are mountain ranges on four sides.
Gardens change, and not only with the seasons. The small farms of the Central Valley are disappearing to accommodate new building development, though much of that development now sits empty. Like the gardens of Versailles, the labor of many hands is required to build and maintain these vast industrial ‘gardens.’
I am conscious of the fact that my small grove of 50 olive trees is part of a much larger grove. These images explore that ‘larger grove’ through changes of season, circumstance, and time.