Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Leafing through their shiny pages, I’ve often wished that I could live in CatalogueLand—or at least could go for an extended visit. In CatalogueLand, everyone is happy and smiling, even if they often stand or sit at odd, seemingly unnatural angles. Everyone loves whatever they wear, and it seems that the mere act of slipping on a pair of “washed cotton beachcomber pants” or a “Cyprus one-piece” swimsuit is enough to transport one to a sundrenched shore next to dazzling blue water. It’s almost always summer in CatalogueLand, even when in the real world it’s late February and you’d like to buy a warm winter jacket. The weather is always beautiful in CatalogueLand; the sun shines on tropical landscapes and fruity drinks next to beach chairs; the rain only falls when everyone is already wearing their dashing raincoats and hooded windbreakers; even the snow falls in big, aesthetic flakes that don’t turn sooty, or get in anyone’s way, and never clump in anyone’s faux fur or shearling cuffs and collars.

It’s a slightly eerie place, is CatalogueLand—a little Stepford-y—but I do enjoy the weather.

To some extent, DC itself feels like CatalogueLand to me, with its amazingly accelerated seasons and mild winters—but even more so, the Botanic Gardens are a CatalogueLand as well, where plants are always blooming and the air is always fragrant with the scents of flowers and leafy respiration. You always feel a little as if you’ve entered another, better world when you visit the Botanic Gardens, and it’s in that spirit that I present these images from my last visit:

Consider the geometric perfection and tender, living shape of this uncurling fern:

Observe the humid lushness of these orchids:

And the utter otherwordliness of this passionflower:

Visiting somewhere where you can see such marvelous, unearthly creatures is at least as good as visiting CatalogueLand. Better, actually; at the Botanic Gardens, you don't have to buy anything.

{A note: I do write all text and take all pictures. Please do not reproduce either without my permission.}


Anca said...

I have that spotted orchid! And the fern looks like a developing foetus, doesn't it?

biobabbler said...

Such an interesting thought and through line. Lovely shots. Odd question: I swear I've seen some catalog shots where I think, via the model's expression, she's thinking "I would never wear this hideous atrocity if my life depended upon it." Have you ever perceived a similar expression? Maybe it's just me. =)

Olivia V. Ambrogio said...

I *have* noticed that kind of expression from time to time! There's a lady who models for LandsEnd, a middle-aged woman, who has to wear the most dowdy clothes imaginable--*always*, and yet she masks her displeasure pretty well. But I have definitely caught the expression on some models faces that says, "If you weren't paying me to wear this, I would set fire to it. And you."

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