Last week I had the pleasure of visiting several friends on Bainbridge Island, WA, where I meandered one afternoon at the Bloedel Reserve, ranked one of the top 10 botanic gardens in the country. One of the beauties of Bloedel is that its 150 acres has both natural forests and meadows as well as designed landscapes. It’s an immersive experience with plenty of places to stop along the trails and simply soak in the beauty. Their four guiding principles include: Horticulture & Design, Conservation & Stewardship, Creativity & Inspiration and my personal favorite Nature & Well-being.

Growing up on 160 acres in rural Western New York State (land of the Seneca nation) I think I always knew that being in nature was healing, even though at times it felt isolating. There was solace to be found across the field of the back forty, down the ravine to the where the headwaters of the Ischua creek bubbled up out of the ground.  The two plus decades I lived in Boulder, CO hiking 14ers, camping and skiing was a way of life. I also loved going to the Denver Botanic gardens when the Monet water garden lily and lotus blossoms were unfolding and the holiday Blossoms of Lights display was in full swing. Living in the Bay Area, I can never get enough of hiking out to a beach to listen to the wisdom of the surf. The San Francisco Botanic Gardens, Japanese Tea Garden, Conservatory of Flowers and the Filoli Gardens are also dear to my heart. And I can’t visit the Big Island of Hawaii without going to the Hawaii Tropical Botanic Gardens or to Paleaku Gardens.

Nature, whether wide open wild spaces or Botanic gardens is where I most love to practice Zen contemplative seeing and photography. The point of Zen seeing is to slow down, way down, and receive the gifts nature offers through all our senses, for a full body experience. To become intimate with our surroundings so that we develop an understanding of how our inner world is connected with our outer world, and how the natural landscape and beauty can heal the wounds of our inner landscape.

Click on any image in any of the groups below to see the gallery view.
All photos ©LjWinston/ LjW Divine Sight

Color vs BW: How does the strength of the composition differ between color and black and white. What emotions are stirred in color and black and white and are they different?
Which resonates with you more, color or black and white?  Hint: There are no wrong answers.

Textures & Topography: Nature offers a vast variety of textures and patterns. Smooth, nubbly, frilly, hairy. Even when there’s no apparent rhyme or reason to a pattern and it looks random, nature knows exactly what she’s doing in the creation of her textures and patterns. Every minute detail has a purpose.


Leading Lines: Notice where your eye travels in each image, whether the lines are straight and obvious, subtle or curvy. If you can imagine yourself IN the photograph, where are you? How did you get there – walk, swim, slither, fly?  What point of view interests you most?

Openings: Both nature and man-made openings can hide or reveal something. Imagine yourself in each image. Which view point is more comfortable? Looking in, or looking outward? Which is less comfortable? What does this reveal for you?

Color: Colors impact how we feel. There’s a whole art and science to color therapy and many books explaining how color impacts us. What emotion or physical sensation arises when you dive into each color? There’s no wrong answer, no judgement, just notice what arises for you and how you feel.

I hope you enjoyed this brief glimpse of one afternoon at the Bloedel Reserve, and that these images offered you some beauty and visual respite.  If you haven’t already signed up to receive emails about new posts, please do. I have lots more to share from the Scotland and Ireland trip and future announcements about workshops.

“The Soul has a fundamental need for encounters with beauty. It is a central source of nourishment and continually renews our sense of vitality and awe.” – Francis Weller