Mat posing in the dappled light of the Zen Garden, Tucson Botanical Gardens, Tucson, Arizona

Mathew posing in awe in the dappled light of the Zen Garden

Last Saturday, son Mathew and I visited the Tucson Botanical Gardens for the first time. I knew there was a Tucson Botanical Gardens, but didn’t know where it was. As it turns out, I’d been by it a number of times, but simply didn’t notice it. For one thing, the sign isn’t very conspicuous. For another, it’s in such a busy and developed area it’s hard to believe anything could grow amongst all the concrete and traffic.

It was well worth the trip. This tiny pocket of beauty was voted America’s Best Secret Garden by Reader’s Digest. It covers only 5 1/2 acres, but is full of interesting themed gardens. It was originally a home, back in the 1920’s. Some of the original buildings were made from adobe on site. We had fun meandering about. A few plants realized it was almost Spring, and were beginning to flower or show signs of life. I’m guessing in a few weeks the gardens will be spectacular.

We spent quite a bit of time in the Butterfly Exhibit. Here’s what I discovered. It was pretty crowded (with people). Almost everyone there was on the hunt–for great butterfly photographs. I got into the spirit of things, despite having a hunch that my photos weren’t going to be so great. Off I went, round and round the enclosure with the camera in front of my eyes, clicking away. Once I’d had my fill of shooting the butterflies, we exited this magical place.

Butterfly on visitor, Tucson Botanical Garden, Tucson, Arizona

Here is a potential hitchhiker, taking a free ride on a Garden visitor

But not before being brushed off with a feather duster by a volunteer, in order to ensure that there weren’t any potential escapees.

What I learned was that my experience was totally different than Mathew’s. He simply wandered about and stood still, taking in the atmosphere and enjoying the butterflies drifting about. I departed, feeling like I’d been in some sort of competition. I missed out on some of the magic due to my digital focus. When I got home and looked at my shots they were as expected–disappointing.

Butterfly with blue spots, Tucson Botanical Gardens, Tucson, Arizona

Believe it or not, this butterfly had beautiful iridescent blue spots, which did not show up at all in my photographs

It makes me wonder about people and their cameras and how having that distraction affects their experiences? I say leave the photographing to the professionals. Let them do the work so that the rest of us can enjoy the experience.