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2019 SPE Annual Conference: The Myths of Photography and the American Dream / Major support by The Joy Family Legacy Foundation

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Laurie Blakeslee

SPE Member since 2011
Member Chapter: Northwest

40 Year Garden

For more than 40 years, my mother-in-law Fritz has been gardening the same plot of land behind her home in Boise, Idaho. It is almost a secret garden, as it can’t be seen from the street or even from Fritz’s kitchen window. A mid-summer walk through the backyard and two gates reveals a large vegetable garden at its peak – a refuge of abundance.
Thirty tomato plants – paste, slicers and cherries; six plantings of corn, staggered two half-rows at a time; potatoes – Yukon Gold and red; 200 square foot raspberry patch; a raised bed of strawberries; four varieties of grapes; pole beans, bush beans; shell peas, sugar snap peas, and more. All started from seed, the garden is a testimony to careful planning and hard work – endless weeding, digging, dragging hoses and picking and pruning.
Fritz’s children say they can hardly believe she maintained such a large garden all the years she worked full time. Despite their protests to scale back the ambitious planting, in recent years the garden has expanded with each season. In the tremendous heat of July, even Fritz will admit she is overwhelmed by the work. Her husband’s weakened heart limits his previous role as collaborator. Fortunately, my partner Stephanie shares her mother’s love of gardening and works alongside her.
In the series of photographs 40-Year Garden, I record the final years, as Fritz’s work in this garden will soon end. She and her husband will move from the home in which they raised their five children; it is time to downsize to a condominium while it’s still a matter of choice.

Untitled (white fencing)

Untitled (dead cucumber)

Untitled (Fritz in raspberries)

Untitled (in the raspberries)

Untitled (bean fence)

Untitled (tying peas)

Untitled (fall ladder)

Untitled (Fritz in the corn)

Untitled (deadheads)

Untitled (red hose)

Untitled (Fritz in raspberries)

Untitled (red onion)

Untitled (Fritz in grapes)

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