Here’s another man about gardening, but he’s not a plant expert or designer. Buffalo resident John Pfahl is known far and wide for his landscape photography, particularly of Niagara Falls and other waterfalls and rivers. He’s also done several series that are of special interest to gardeners. The photographs are exhibited through Janet Borden Gallery in New York and Nina Freudenheim Gallery in Buffalo; Pfahl has also published several books.
My favorite, Extreme Horticulture, (Frances Lincoln, 2003) is an out-of-the-ordinary book for any gardener’s coffee table. Pfahl traveled throughout the United States to find the most striking, far-out, amazing, and spectacular examples of botanical wonders (most created or encouraged by humans). Shown above is a banyan tree (planted from a sprig in 1937) at Cypress Gardens in Florida.
Pfahl spends plenty of time at the usual suspects—Cypress, Longwood, the Getty, Lotusland—but he was also able to find intriguing cultivations is less obvious locations. Here is a radically pruned maple in Chatauqua (much of it was diseased)
I am also a huge fan of The Very Rich Hours of a Compost Pile, a series that documents moments in Pfahl’s own compost heap. Yes, Pfahl is also a gardener, and a regular visitor to my garden during Garden Walk.
I know there are a lot of photographers out there—indeed, we’re all the photo-historians of our own gardens—but I like the incisive, controlled romance of Pfahl’s viewfinder. He loves to find and document the extremes, but he never goes over the edge himself.