Seedhead in Sunlight

Seedhead in Sunlight

Seedhead in Sunlight © 2011 Bo Mackison

Wabi Sabi is a aesthetic concept intimately related to Japan and Zen Buddhism. However, it is not a “style of art” but rather a way of perceiving things, a very refined culture of things imperfect, impermanent and incomplete that expresses itself in great freedom of form, sublime colors, and a simplicity.

Things of wabi-sabi nature are understated and unassuming, yet they do have presence and quiet authority and describe the transience and solitude of existence, an existential loneliness and tender sadness, in short: the essence of Zen.

                                                                                                                                                                                            – Karen Ulrike Soika, painter

The seed head of the Pasque flower is one of the earlier seed heads in the garden, appearing in June and July. It usually has tinges of green and purple in its thready fibers, but this seed head, side lit in the sunlight, highlighted the subtle coloring of natural light. This plant, at this time of year when it has long-lost its velvety, deep purple petals, seems to me to be the essence of wabi-sabi. Imperfect. Impermanent. Freedom of form. Sublime colors. Simplicity. Yet with a presence that truly is an example of the transience and solitude of existence.

Photographed at the Allen Centennial Garden, a horticultural studies garden on the urban campus of the University of Wisconsin in Madison.


Bo Mackison is a photographer and the owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC. She is frequently inspired by the concept of wabi-sabi in her work.

About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. Beautiful details and light.

  2. What a funny looking flower…

    • Actually the flower is a velvety, deep purple flower, quite regal. Though I always seem to photograph the wispy seedhead and never the regal flower! Hmmm!

  3. Gandalf says:

    Very interesting image. I like it – reminds me of Albert Einstein.

  4. This is beautiful in detail, lighting, and how it fills the frame. I love Wabi Sabi and when it is reflected in art and photography.

    • I love a wabi sabi photograph, too, Anna. I also tried it in a square format, and was quite pleased with that crop. It was hard to choose between them. Glad you like the composition.

  5. Well done, Bo. I have always enjoyed your Wabi Sabi photographs. You have a way of capturing the beauty in the concept.

    • I guess there really isn’t a subject that I don’t think worthy of my best attempts at capturing its heart and soul. I think that is why I love photography so much, and why I love to shoot in a wabi-sabi mindset.

  6. Gorgeous!

Leave a Reply