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Updated: Aug 19, 2021

Glistening flowers in pink, purple, red, white, and more, in unison. A vivid representation that diversity is beautiful. Each is unique and makes an important contribution to the overall environment, while supporting its neighbouring plants. These pictures were taken in a botanical garden, where people of all kinds come together and admire the success of gardeners. This garden is a place anyone will find captivating. In every corner, there is something to be admired, from delicious fruits and vegetables to towering trees and elegant flowers. Accompanying the sights is an enticing smell of sweet fruits, a fresh smell of trees, and a graceful scent of flowers, unique for each type of flower. I am specifically fond of flowers - not only because of their beauty but because of what they symbolize to me.

Growing up in a family of gardeners, gardening has always been a part of my identity. It was a means to separate myself from my busy life and to indulge in a world of beautiful nature. Gardening gives me a sense of belonging because it makes me feel tranquility, familiarity, and connected to my family. I helped my parents garden from a young age. We grew vegetables such as beans, squash, coriander, and a variety of flowers. We had a relatively small plot, but enough for a family of five. The feeling of the soft soil falling through my hands, the smell of fresh air, and the taste of our homegrown vegetables all make me feel at home. Although I am still not the best at gardening, being in a garden reminds me of significant concepts in life such as the importance of patience, perseverance and most importantly, the concept of growth. I believe it is necessary to constantly remember that as people, we should aim to grow into better versions of ourselves, although it may take time and hard work.

I like to think of the life cycle of a flower as a metaphor. In order for a flower to grow and bloom, it goes through various stages in life which require time, patience, and hard work. In difficult times I apply this into my life and remember that in order for me to reach a goal, like a flower blooming, I must persevere. This allows me to stay calm, collected, and remain resilient. Also, when I am surrounded by nature and separate myself from the bustling city, I am able to focus on my breathing more and de-stress. Focusing on my five senses allows me to do so because I can connect with the sights, smells and feelings I am familiar with.

The beauty of gardening is that not only does it make me feel a sense of belonging personally, but I see it as a vehicle that brings a whole community to feel a sense of belonging together. Time and time again, gardening proves to be a connection that draws seemingly different people together. Whether it be root vegetables, fruits, trees or flowers, gardening is a hobby that is shared among almost all cultures. This further interconnects our communities by creating conversations and relationships among people of all origins. In community gardens, people support each other by lending a hand in watering and even share their harvests of fruits and vegetables. This kindness and support of gardeners gives me a sense of belonging.

Referring back to my garden/flower photo series, I believe the diversity of the plants is what makes my images look so beautiful. Similarly, diversity is what makes communities beautiful. Having people with different cultures, faiths, races, ages, skills, and experiences is the catalyst to positive growth in every community. I want my images to remind people of the importance of diversity and how it parallels the theme of growth. I hope my connections and experiences inspire others to connect with gardening and plants, and ultimately feel a sense of belonging in their own community.

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