Mad for Tulips

Looking at the heart of Tulips
Looking at the heart of Tulips
Looking at the heart of Tulips

Tulip Mania

I can understand why the Dutch in 1637 were mad for tulips. Initially they were mad because they loved them so much, that tulips were selling for more than gold.

The bulbs, which originated in Persia and Turkey, were being hybridized by the Dutch into new forms and colors. The Dutch were so successful at creating the desire for these new bulbs that everyone went mad for tulips. Anyone that is who had the money to buy them. Sadly, also many people who did not have the money, were spending the equivalent of a years wages or the cost of their homes, to buy a Tulip bulb.

First Financial Bubble

Tulip Bellona. Single early Cadmium yellow
Tulip Bellona. Single early Cadmium yellow

Investors assign this ‘Tulip Mania’, to be the first financial bubble and as a prime example of people getting carried away while their investing and ending up with out a real asset. Within a week many people became bankrupt when the bubble burst. Then people were mad for Tulips, because they lost everything. They had been a symbol of wealth which faded very quickly.

Tulips are very reliable bulbs and the Dutch are still bringing great flowers to the market. Tulips have a strong form and color and can be predictable in their blooming time. They are loved especially in municipal plantings to provide great blocks of unified color. I especially think of the beds on the central divide of Fifth Avenue in New York city, with strong splashes of vibrant colors. Or the round fountain garden in the Conservancy Garden of Central Park with the huge plantings of tulips.

Strong Colors and Reliable

Tulip Flaming Parrot
Tulip Flaming Parrot

Tulips, are also wonderful individually. They bring such a strength of color that I decided to photograph some for fun in 90s and Galison Books created notecards with them. As I am going through my archives of photographs during lockdown these jumped out to me. I am going to start a new section on my ‘prints page’ of flower portraits so large prints of them are available for wall decorations.

Finding images for large wall prints

Going through old four by five film brings to mind all the wonderful opportunities I have had to capture and record beautiful gardens and homes. I am excited to now be able to share those images in another form as wall hangings rather than books and magazines. Beautiful large prints are beautiful especially for private and commercial spaces. I hope you enjoy watching, the print site grow.

Single tulip
Single tulip

Finding Ryan’s

Ryan Gainey Poppies

Finding Ryan’s house

The cab pulled into a street in Decatur and immediately I knew which was Ryan’s house. There were flowers flowing out of the garden and climbing through the side walk in front a small busy house dripping with greens leaves. I had flown to Atlanta to photograph Ryans’ garden for House Beautiful which was published in November 1988. Finding Ryan Gainey seemed always a matter of chance, but that was the way Ryan liked it. Finding Ryan’s house was easier.

 Ryan Gainey portrait
Ryan Gainey portrait.

On Assignment for House Beautiful

Ryan Gainey is hard to describe because he was a man of many talents. One thing everyone can agree on is that he was creative with plants. Like pasting the whole of his living room ceiling with Magnolia Grandiflora leaves. Known for his collaboration with Tom Woodham in ‘The Potted Plant’, a successful retail venture, people began to find Ryan. He was distinctive in his thoughts, his speech, his dress, his flower arrangements, his entertaining. I remember him entering the Philadelphia Flower Show with a cape, broad brimmed hat, silk scarf and small round heavy framed glasses.

White flower arrangement
White flower arrangement on floor of the Ryan Gainey living room.

Ryan was very talented. He could be extremely charming or equally annoying. There was a story about everything in his house, his garden, his family and everyone he knew. Everything had a connection, a history, a relationship, a color he loved or hated.

He got to write books and magazine articles, design significant gardens, he created designs for large charity events. Everybody in Atlanta knew what Ryan was working on next. But at heart he was just a simple plantsman and a genius at it.

Ryan Gainey Poppies
Ryan Gainey Poppies.
Dinner table set in the garden
Dinner table set in the garden.

His garden can only be described as a cottage garden, but Rosemary Veerey described it as, ‘entering a great hall of treasures’. Most of the plants were simple, ordinary in every way except how they grew, what they grew next to and how much they had been loved by Ryan.

Pulling film into the future

I got to photograph Ryan’s work in Atlanta and in France, at Anne Cox Chamber’s Provence house. I am going through my older photographs and digitizing them for my print e commerce site. Originally they were all photographed on 4 by 5 film so through this time with Covid 19 lockdown, I am digitizing my files to make them available again. Finding these pictures, is really encouraging to see, how much the work stands up today. Enjoy them all!!!

Colored Urn in Flower Garden
Colored Urn in Flower Garden


Revisiting published locations during Covid 19: Saint-Gaudens

Mick Hales is revisiting photographs of Saint-Gaudens for his print gallery. Mick photographed the Summer home of Augustus Saint-Gaudens for a story published by House and Garden magazine Dec 1985. Saint-Gaudens was an American Sculptor, active at the end of the nineteenth century and part of the Cornish Art Colony. He developed relationships with the architects Stanford White and Charles McKim and also the painter/ decorator John La Farge. They collaborated on many projects together.

Gardens and studios

Lower Garden Terrace with bench with pair of Zodiac heads. MickHalesGaudens2

Mick Hales is now adding to his new print site. Many of these classic published photos are available for people to hang in homes and offices.

Collecting Images for Print Site

Mick Hales enjoys revisiting his Saint- Gaudens images because the Covid 19 virus makes travel very difficult. Spending time digitizing images has its benefits. Photography has changed in so many ways since large format film but it still involves timing and a talented eye. Shooting in the misty mornings and through the late afternoons into dusk, is still the way to go.


Saint-Gaudens’ parents moved from Ireland to New York, his mother being Irish and his father French. His father started a footwear business in New York. As a young teenager Augustus starting learning from a French stone cameo cutter Louis Avet. Later, the French influence in his life drew him between living in Paris and New York. He was also influenced by the French artist in Paris Henri Chapu and Italian Donatello. In 1868 he entered the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, until the Franco Prussian war when he moved to Rome. There he began to sculpt in earnest and completed his early work of ‘Hiawatha.’

Amor Caritas, Angel of Charity, by Augustus Saint-Gaudens MickHalesGaudens3
Pergola infant of the studio has grape vines growing above it. MickHalesGaudens5

The Neoclassical style of the mid 19th century started to change towards the more naturalistic Beaux-Art and Saint-Gaudens followed. Some of his notable commissions were Abraham Lincoln, The Puritan, Amor Caritas, Robert Louis Stevenson and the Sherman Monument. President Theodore Roosevelt commissioned him to redesign the 10 and 20 dollar gold pieces in 1905. Saint-Gaudens work is recognized internationally, on the very small coins or up to his larger monuments.

Plaster Caste from the Parthenon depicts mounted horses. MickHales.Gaudens
Pan figure stands over a fountain beneath birch grove.

One of the striking features of Cornish is the ever present form of Mount Ascutney. It’s eye catching shape is an important terminating feature in views and landscape design of Cornish houses. The life style of outside activities; dances, poetry readings and social gatherings always have Mount Ascutney in view. The light hearted ‘play time’ feeling at the colony is still alive. Mick’s photographs successfully show the spirit of the place where an ‘Arts Renaissance’ was underway; introducing a naturalist freedom within Classical boundaries.

The Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park, the sculptor’s gardens and studios in Cornish, are open to the public seasonally. There are Covid 19 restrictions to be aware of.

How to create a Juxtaposition in your photography; City Green.

City Green photographed by Mick Hales

How to create a Juxtaposition in your photography.

Mick Hales recalls photographing the book City Green: Public Gardens of New York published by Monacelli Press. Written by Jane Garmey.

Battery Park at the Southern tip of Manhattan is filled with memorial gardens and a wonderful place to spend a lunch hour.
The juxtaposition of the trees and the buildings emphasizes the scale of park in the city.

Photographing gardens in New York City means the borrowed landscape is likely to have a variety of buildings in the background. Not a bucolic background, but often thought provoking. This was especially the case when photographing the World Trade Center Memorial Garden, Brooklyn Bridge Park, the High Line and Brooklyn Grange. All of which are surrounded and sometimes overwhelmed by high rise buildings.


The World Trade Center Memorial Garden is so powerfully surrounded by high rises and sunken waterfalls in the center that sometimes realizing that it was a beautifully designed simple garden was hard to capture. When using a juxtaposition of size, ie the huge skyscrapers of the financial district and the relatively low height of the trees, the difference in scale places an emphasis on the fragility of the living trees. This is extended by the design of this memorial by the deep two stage waters falls which exaggerate the height and depth of the memorial, the falling water symbolic of the passing of life.

The World Trade Center Memorial Park.
The trees of the World Trade Center Memorial Park are dwarfed by the PATH building and High Rises.

Another form of juxtaposition I like to utilize is photographing into the light. This can be technically challenging as it can create flair in the image if light goes directly into the lens, however if that can be avoided, it often gives strong form to the subject and as long as there is enough fill in the shadows form an exciting image.

World Trade Center Memorial Garden
New growth in the trees is Juxtaposed with the man made skyscraper.

Similarly, juxtaposition between a fragile natural form and that of a rigid man made form can set up interesting conflicts which emphasize differences within an image. The reason we do this in photography is that although we are capturing something which is in reality normal we are trying to show it or explain it more deeply by contrasting its contents or surrounding. Creating a visual question which the viewer has to take time to evaluate and go deeper into the photograph to fully comprehend. We are holding the viewers attention and giving information which we experienced as the photographer in front of the actual experience or happening so the viewer can receive that it as well. As photographer we are trying to tell a story to some else which we have just seen and experienced. Juxtaposition is a great tool to capture attention.


Get your copy of City Green; Public Gardens of New York, and find out how to use juxtaposition in garden photography.


Mick Hales


City Green:Public Gardens of New York. Mick Hales recalls photographing the book. Part one- Getting in Early.

Wave Hill Aquatic Garden
The Aquatic garden at Wave Hill comes into its fullness later in the season and is a great place to learn about water planting.

Mick Hales recalls photographing the book City Green: Public Gardens of New York published by Monacelli Press. Written by Jane Garmey.

Getting in Early.

Photographing landscapes and gardens for the book City Green: Public Gardens of New York, gave me a chance to really explore the richness of NYC gardens open to the public. New York has a wealth of different gardens as well as parks, which add to the quality of life for New Yorkers and visitors.

When Photographing gardens the most important times are early morning and late afternoon. If it is a day with clear sky and very strong daylight it is much harder to photograph, especially in the middle of the day, the contrast is too high and colors are washed out. Most gardens are a combination of different shades of green which in a soft even light can read as many different hues, but in harsh light plants loose their subtlety and appear very reflective or dark.

Getting into the gardens early in the morning for City Green proved to be more difficult than I had expected. Many of the gardens required extensive clearance to enable me to photograph with a tripod.

Scheduling in advance means you have to deal with whatever weather the day gives you. I had to travel from Columbia County into New York City, which was around 120 mile drive, to arrive before the sun got too high, and too strong to shoot, which meant leaving home around four in the morning.

With some of the locations I would arrive after the long drive, anxious not to miss the early light in the garden only to have to wait hours for a garden’s PR person to come into work.

I have now published around 40 coffee table books and recognize that acquiring access is one of the major issues to it’s success. One of my favorite books which I wrote as well as photographed is called Monastic Gardens. We photographed in monasteries in France, England and America for the book. I spent a long winter writing letters asking permission to photograph inside monasteries. These days e mails help to speed things up but people are still very busy and it can take a long time to arrange a shoot.

Gardens change so quickly that a day or two can make a huge difference in their appearance. A burst of hot weather, which often happens in the spring, can push bulbs and spring flowering trees to cycle through blooms in days rather than two or three weeks.

I remember traveling to photograph the garden of Oca, in Portugal, for House and Garden magazine, the night I arrived there was a sudden freeze and snow fall. The garden was destroyed when I got up to shoot in the morning, it looked the antithesis of a Portuguese garden and I came away with very little exposed film. That is a long way to go to return empty handed.

Gardens are fickle and photographing them takes a lot of patience. The number of times a gardener has said to me, ‘I wish you had been here a week ago the blooms were terrific, now a lot are over.’ I would wish they had told me two weeks ago that the blooms were coming in and I would have changed my schedule.

Get your copy of City Green; Public Gardens of New York, and find out about the wonderful gardens waiting to be seen the next time you have some time in NYC.

West Side Community Garden from the book City Green.
Springtime is especially beautiful in New York with thousands of bulbs in bloom.

Mick Hales

City Green: Public Gardens of New York. Flower Magazine Preview.

Landscape Photographer Mick Hales, latest book City Green:New York Public Gardens, can be preordered through Amazon Books. Interiors photography in New York City is published in New York Living: Reinventing Home by Rizzoli.
Recently published books of Mick Hales Photography City Green: New York Public Gardens by Monacelli Press and New York Living: Reinventing Home by Rizzoli.

Flower magazine comments on upcoming City Green: Public Gardens Of New York. In the March April Issue. In Bloom Books. Garden Photographer Mick Hales

A new book takes us on a tour
of the lovely green spaces of New York City, from pocket gardens to more expansive ones, and celebrates the ingenuity and spirit of their creators and keepers

THE CAMBRIDGE DICTIONARY defines the phrase urban jungle as “city life, especially the unpleasant parts of it,” such as traffic noise, pollution, and huge concrete buildings. New York City certainly has all of those, and they affect even the casual tourist. But it also possesses wonderful pockets of respite from all that—many more than

the city’s crown jewel—Frederick Law Olmsted’s 843-acre Central Park. City Green, captured by the talented garden photographer Mick Hales, takes us on a tour of 25 verdant spaces in Manhattan and the outer boroughs. It’s a celebration of the ingenuity that urban gardens demand when short on acreage. Consider Paley Park, tucked between two buildings on 53rd Street just o Fifth Avenue, with its wall of water that drowns out Midtown tra c. At no more than one-tenth of an acre, it still makes a statement (and is perfect for an alfresco lunch). Not just creating but also keeping green areas green can be a challenge in a city tight on space. Writer Jane Garmey chronicles the determination of Upper West Side residents to protect their community garden from development, which resulted in a vibrant, self-funded, and well-tended space. The book also takes us to those gardens that are more luxuriant in space and pedigree, such as The Cloisters in Upper Manhattan overlooking the Hudson River, and Wave Hill in the Bronx, which was once a private estate. With this book in hand, even the most ardent naturalist can brave New York City in ne form.

City Green: New York Public Gardens. is now available for preorder through Amazon Books.

Recently Published: Madoo Garden in Flower magazine May 2017

Bob Dash used every opportunity to experiment in the garden, with color, structures, pathways and plants

The first time I met Robert Dash, the painter and gardener, was for a shoot for House and Garden magazine commissioned by editor Babs Simpson nearly 27 years ago. Since then I have photographed the two houses and garden which make up ‘Madoo’ in its various stages of development. Bob Dash has now passed on, but Madoo is now held in a trust under the skilled management of Alejandro Saralegui. Both the houses and gardens require considerable attention to keep the spirit and creative nature that Bob Dash carried. It is truly a jewel in Sagaponak and an important part of the American cultural heritage.

Bob Dash was extraordinarily creative and used his painter’s eye in the garden as much as in his studio. He painted the different structures in the garden strong colors and they would often change each year. He was part of the artistic community in the Hamptons.  There was always social gatherings involving gardeners and artists with the constant flow of ideas and critical thinking on any subject. Bob’s use of color in the garden was always cutting edge and he loved to push the boundary in thinking the garden was another canvas to paint with.

Bob Dash used color in the garden in the many artifacts and structures

He kept two houses on the property, a summer house and a winter house, and both were distinctly different in inside and out, but the use of color was so strong that it was always an adventure returning in a new season to see what he had done.

Bob loved strong colors and everything he touched was a piece of art.

Bob’s summer studio was made out of an old barn with a large latticed window which looked out over a pond.

Madoo is open to the public on certain days and well worth visiting.

Recently Published Newport Garden

A Garden for Strolling: Flower Magazine
April 2017

Bettie Beardon Pardee achieved the impossible- to build a new house and garden in Newport, RI, and have it blend in perfectly with the famous ‘Cottages of Newport’. The garden suits the house in scale and intimacy, it is not too big yet certainly not small, with much to discover; vistas, refined plant combinations and a myriad different shades of green. It is ‘French formal’, with a twist of high American style.
Having worked on two books on the houses of Newport, Living Newport and Private Newport with Bettie, which were published in 2014 and 2004, I was fortunate to photograph her garden several times and get to know it well. It is a very exciting addition to Newport.

Formal garden is centered with fountain.

Roses climb over the garden orangery.

Finely kept topiary garden.

Climbing roses perfume the morning air.

Capture your projects in their prime. Call Mick Hales 518 672 0014.