Frida Kahlo at the Tucson Botanical Gardens

Frida y Diego © 2017 Bo Mackison

The exhibit FRIDA KAHLO: Art, Garden, Life was created by the New York Botanical Gardens (NYBG) to highlight Frida Kahlo, renowned Mexican painter, and her deep connection and appreciation of the beauty of the natural world. The exhibit was designed by award-winning scenic designer Scott Pask and curated by Adriana Zavala, Associate Professor of modern and contemporary Latin America art history and Director of Latino Studies at Tufts University.

Tucson Botanical Gardens (the Gardens) was the only garden selected to receive this exhibit by NYBG. This setting showcased the exhibit in a landscape familiar to the original home and garden.

Window View from Casa Azul © 2017 Bo Mackison

The gardens are alive with the colors and textures representative of the original gardens in Casa Azul (Blue House). Archival photos from the 1940s show their garden as a showplace and gathering place.

Casa Azul’s Pyramid © 2017 Bo Mackison

In 1941, Frida Kahlo and her husband and noted muralist, Diego Riviera, designed and constructed a small pyramid in the garden of Casa Azul, their home in a suburb of Mexico City. They based their design on Mesoamerican models. Various native cacti are on display in Tucson; pre-Hispanic artifacts were displayed on the original.

Frida Kitchen II ©2017 Bo Mackison

Frida was an excellent cook and spent many hours each day shopping for fresh foods at the mercado, then preparing dishes for family and friends. A small replica of her kitchen is located in the children’s garden of TBG.

Frida’s Art Studio ©2017 Bo Mackison

A unique view of a replica of the studio environment of Frida Kahlo. Shelves are crammed with small sculptures and books on botany, poetry, pre-Hispanic cultures. Stoppered bottles of mineral colors are ready for use.

The Two Fridas © 2017 Bo Mackison

Contemporary artist Humberto Spindola, artist-in-residence at NYBG during the Frida exhibit, designed and created this sculpture made of paper dresses and bamboo-framed mannequins. The sculptures are made from tissue paper, a modern adaptation of the Aztec-inspired amate paper made from tree bark. The skeleton is molded bamboo fastened with hemp cord and wax.

His sculpture is an interpretation of Kahlo’s painting The Two Fridas, a painting where Kahlo illustrated her dual heritages. One Frida wears a white, European styled dress; the second Frida wears the dress of the traditional Zapotec women. Note the healthy and vibrant heart vs. the unhealthy, weakened heart. Kahlo did this painting in 1939, the year she divorced Diego.

The exhibit is at Tucson Botanical Gardens runs through May 31, 2017. It is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Check current information at

Walking a Garden Path – Sunday Series

Red Flowers in Monet’s Garden © 2012 Bo Mackison

Whenever I am in need of spirit-lifting, my first remedy is to find the nearest flower garden and wander its paths. It’s difficult to hold on to a hurt feeling or stay in a bad mood when I focus, instead, on the beauty of the flowers I see.

Flower Bouquets © 2012 Bo Mackison

Frequently I find my time is best spent simply observing the natural world around me. I notice the artistry in nature and soak in the joyful colors. I walk in the quiet garden, and let the calm and peaceful feelings be my companions.

Floral Mix © 2012 Bo Mackison

I rest in the garden for a few minutes, standing quietly, breathing deeply. I breathe in acceptance.

So Orange! © 2012 Bo Mackison

Then I remember a line of a poem written by Mary Oliver that I love  — “my work . . .  is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished.”

Bright Blue Eyes © 2012 Bo Mackison

 The gardens and their flowers offer so many gifts, free for the taking. I need only stand there and be astonished.

Garden Bridge © 2012 Bo Mackison

I study their bright colors, feel their velvety textures, inhale their perfume, and watch as a breeze sets them dancing. I find the rarest of gifts while walking through the garden — a sense of calm and serenity.

I took these photographs during the New York Botanical Garden’s current exhibit, Monet’s Garden. The exhibit features flowers that were historically grown in Monet’s gardens in Giverny, France. These flowers provided the inspiration for many of his floral paintings.


Bo Mackison is a photographer and the owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC.  She travels the United States and captures its beauty in images and words.


At the Garden Shop – Sunday Series

Ah, the Variety - Seed Packets at the NYBG

Ah, the Variety © 2012 Bo Mackison

“Whether you tend a garden or not, you are the gardener of your own being, the seed of your destiny.”
–  The Findhorn Community

Gardening Display at NYBG

Gathering at the Garden Store © 2012 Bo Mackison

“Though I do not believe that a plant will spring up where no seed has been, I have great faith in a seed.  Convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders.”
–  Henry David Thoreau

Sun Hats, Garden Hats, Hat Hats at the NYBG

Sun Hats, Garden Hats, Hat Hats © 2012 Bo Mackison

“What dreadful hot weather we have!
It keeps me in a continual state of inelegance.”
~ Jane Austen

Wall Flowers at NYBG

Wall Flowers © 2012 Bo Mackison

“Flowers have a mysterious and subtle influence upon the feelings, not unlike some strains of music.
They relax the tenseness of the mind. They dissolve its vigor.” ~ Henry Ward Beecher

Garden Layers - NYBG

Plants for Sale © 2012 Bo Mackison

I have found through years of practice, that people garden in order to make something grow; to interact with nature; to share, to find sanctuary, to heal, to honor the earth, to leave a mark. Through gardening, we feel whole as we make our personal work of art upon the land. ~ Julie Moir Messervy

Ceramic Stone Path - NYBG

Ceramic Stone Path © 2012 Bo Mackison

“The mere thought of walking outdoors on a brilliant golden-blue day causes fire-works of delight to go off in most people’s psyche.  It gives one an instant feeling of happiness and that is meditation!  We are not only in touch, at that moment, with the physical splendor of nature, but also with the beauty of merging our own spiritual nature with it.”  –  Karen Zebroff


These photographs were taken at the Garden Store at the New York Botanical Gardens.

And a note of explanation regarding the last photo – this garden path was made of round ceramic stones, in varying sizes but most about an inch and a half in diameter. The Garden Store sold these small ceramic stones to benefit the Botanical Gardens.

The stones have possibly the most interesting history of any garden stone I have ever heard – each stone was handmade in the early 1900s as a functional object in a clothing factory. What could have been their use?

The stones were put in with newly manufactured fabric and washed. Stone washing!  It “gentled” the fabric and made it ready for use.

And yes, I absolutely had to buy a couple of dozen ceramic stones to place in odd spots in my garden – if only for the history they hold. At 4 for a dollar, it was money well spent. I have much enjoyed this tiny addition to my garden! Simple joys!


Bo Mackison is a photographer and the owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC.

In a Garden

Dome and Green Plants

Conservatory Dome © 2012 Bo Mackison

Whoever loves and understands a garden will find contentment within. ~ Chinese Proverb

While exploring the Conservatory at the New York Botanical Gardens, I could hardly watch where I was stepping, so enchanted was I with the intricate design of the golden struts that supported the glass ceiling of the garden.

August Break 2012


Bo Mackison is a photographer and the owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC.  She is working through a backlog of photos taken this summer, while enjoying a bit of an August Break.

Week One : New York City.

Sunday Series – A Walk Through Monet’s Garden

Monet's Bridge at NYBG Exhibit

Monet’s Bridge © 2012 Bo Mackison

I cultivate my garden, and my garden cultivates me.  ~Robert Brault

Conservatory Flowers at NYBG

Monet’s Flower Garden © 2012 Bo Mackison

In my garden there is a large place for sentiment.  My garden of flowers is also my garden of thoughts and dreams.  The thoughts grow as freely as the flowers, and the dreams are as beautiful.  ~Abram L. Urban

Monet's Garden at NYBG

Monet’s Garden in Orange © 2012 Bo Mackison

How fair is a garden amid the trials and passions of existence.  ~Benjamin Disraeli

Monet's Garden at NYBG

Bright Flowers in Monet’s Garden © 2012 Bo Mackison

In the garden I tend to drop my thoughts here and there.  To the flowers I whisper the secrets I keep and the hopes I breathe.  I know they are there to eavesdrop for the angels.  ~Dodinsky


Bo Mackison is a photographer and the owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC.  On Sundays, Bo shares a series of photographs and quotes she finds meaningful.  Sunday is a good days to enjoy a few of the colorful flower photographs I photographed earlier this summer at the New York Botanical Garden at the Monet’s Garden Exhibit.