• Annemarie Bolduc

My little Garden Studio

Updated: Jan 30

How backyard gardening is an essential activity for me and became way more than a hobby.

Summer produce composition • Photography © Bottle and Brush Studio 2019

Before moving with my partner to his corner of the Australian high country; arts, music and events were my main source of creativity and income. Montreal had been an exciting 15 years of my life, but the urban lifestyle was starting to burn me out… Growing up in a mountain and lake region of Québec and loving the outdoor activities, nature has always been essential. Love and timing can sometimes change directions of your life, and here I am by the Snowy Mountains of Australia! Now doing generally different things, I have found new passions that ground me with gardening and gastronomic creativity. Growing food was at first an experimental and dream hobby but now I consider it to be as part of my home-based design studio for many reasons… so here are few: I use my homegrown fresh herbs, flowers, plants and produce as props for my photography projects. I earn a bit of extra pocket money selling plant divisions, seeds, cuttings, extra produce and preserves made with the harvest. I swap with friends and neighbours, exchange tips and ideas. I develop and write my own recipes with fresh organic food to eat all year long, which transformed the kitchen also as a creative workspace. Gardening keeps me balanced and reduces the stress accumulated when working at the computer. I learn all the time, feeding my brain with something new constantly. And now, I write all about the whole experience of this “backyard studio” lifestyle on my blog. And who knows what’s next, the seedlings of new ideas just keep shooting!

Various backyard market produce • Photography © Bottle and Brush Studio 2019

Growing food to use in photography and developing recipes is a trickier job than it looks. You have to monitor the light and be prepared as harvest time approaches. Everything is all about timing and priorities. There are some times of year where everything is ready to pick at the same time and photography with fresh food has to be done quick. I may not have children but while operating a creative business at home, looking after pets and being the main home-garden-maker, my days are quite full. It can be overwhelming sometimes but I'm grateful that I can achieve something meaningful each day. Keeping busy with what I love doing, that it is a perfect way to live my forties, in the present. Gardening may be a therapeutic activity that fills up different energies but it can also be hard on the body, especially the lower back, knees and arm joints. I have to be stretching and exercising every day to reduce muscle pain and avoid strain. But I find ways to make this enjoyable by using my veggie beds as support (like a ballet bar) and watch how are my plants and chooks are doing at same time. While the whole yard keeps my body and soul busy, I shall never forget to always be cautious when gardening in Australia. I'll get back with some interesting stories on this subject, but one thing’s for sure, it is a great privilege to live in this climate and be able to cultivate various types of crops every season of the year!

Always busy in the studio garden • Photography © Bottle and Brush Studio 2019-20

In 2020, we were feeling so grateful that our home and beautiful eclectic established backyard survived the fires. Our quarter-acre space gave us comfort and grounding when the first Covid-19 lockdown came. That was just when we were all emotionally starting to recover from the trauma of the bushfire disaster happening in our region. When most of my regular and potential clients were affected by fires, smoke taint and virus restrictions, I was pretty much out of work. Graphic design is not essential when it comes to crises like these. But during uncertainties, the garden gave me the positive thoughts, new inspiration, the strengths for survival, some new professional life purposes, a safe nest, comfort… and delicious food to enjoy and share. In the garden I never feel the vertigo of the ocean’s distance separating me from my family. In the garden, I don’t need to look pretty. In the garden, I disconnect, breath, find ideas, keep things alive and am generally optimistic. In the garden there is no nostalgia, only experience, and we look at the present and future. In the garden, it does not matter to feel different from everyone in town as a foreigner, and any broken feelings just fade away. In the garden, there is a break from the news and media, no fear to catch the virus, nothing to pollute the air… All there is in the garden is soil, plants, bees, flowers, vegetables, fruits, slugs, a cat, birds, chickens, poop and me. While watering, picking, taking photos, pulling weeds and growing food, I’m thinking about these words and this is how I know my garden is way more than a hobby.

#snowyfoodiesintroductionstories #ourecleticgarden #cookingablook #foodphotography