This project looks at vernacular landscaping in Queens--that is, front yards and gardens that have not been designed by professionals. In neighborhoods from Astoria to Howard Beach I photographed examples of a universal, obsessive need to decorate and ornament land. In careful arrangements of plants and objects, signs of class, religion, and national identity are revealed; stone and plaster animals speak to our need to imagine we live close to nature.
These images examine the relationship between people and nature as expressed in landscaping. Sometimes this relationship has been clearly planned, as in the fence that protects the oldest tree in New York. In others, intentionality is more ambiguous, such as in the metal armature that holds up a dead tree trunk.
This kind of landscaping is a suburban phenomenon, and Queens, being an extraordinary mix of urban and suburban, is rich with it. The borough has been called the most diverse places on earth, and this diversity is reflected in the landscaping I photograph.