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The Hose Menace: How Not to Photograph Your Garden


Light green hose coil: a brilliant contrast to ‘Apricot Emperor’ tulip

You may think of garden hoses as just unassuming, servicable garden tools.



Coil of hose repeats a variation of the curving lily foliage around this black hollyhock

But I’m here to tell you, they’re flaming egos. They like to hog the spotlight. And I’ve got photographic evidence.


Garden hose relaxing in evening with opening Nicotiana alata.

As my pictures come up on my computer screen, I respond to a plethora of them like this: “Nice picture, if the garden hose weren’t in there.” They’re sneaky, too. No matter where I’m taking pictures, hoses insinuate themselves, like ubiquitous snakes.


Just a slice of hose adds the contrast of artifice to dull foliage.

I could go into Photoshop and clone them out. But that entails more time than I’m really willinng to spend. I mean, first I’d actually have to learn Photoshop, instead of just tinkering with it here and there. And then I’d have to sort through all my photos and find the salvagable ones with hoses in, and then I’d actually have to take the time to do them all…I’d rather just use the photos without hoses.


Curving line of garden hose leads the eye to the curl of aging ‘Lady Jane’ tulip

For those of you who don’t wish to blame your failings on an inanimate object—there must be one or two in the world—a tip: the hose, which is invisible in our daily lives, must be paid attention to. (You see what I mean about them being egomaniacs.) They must become visible, and you must  compose your photograph away from them. Either that, or do what I do only on festive days: coil the hoses up, so they’re actually out of the way.


Garden hose lurking in background of a potentially arty sweet pea shot.

Or you can try this handy tip: write a blog post about hoses in photos, and use up some of your hosey photos there.


Tangle of hose contrasts color yet repeats shape of ‘African Queen’ twig supports

{ 16 comments… add one }

  • Susie August 18, 2009, 8:58 pm

    I’ve done the same thing…you are so focusing on the subject matter…you forget whats in the background. I have a really cool photo of my ball fountain….when I looked at it on the screen….I can see myself in the reflection, blue shirt, camera & all! Not the artistic plan I had in the least. I love your African Queens & ‘Apricot Emperor’ Tulips….just stunning!

  • tina August 19, 2009, 4:41 am

    Too funny. But you know I didn’t even notice the hose until I really looked.

  • Northern Shade August 19, 2009, 7:06 am

    Hoses match with an informal garden style, too, with their curving lines and their spontaneity. (Plus, if you had a formal garden, you’d probably have an under gardener to put them away for you, and a head gardener to remind him.)

    I love the classic shape of the ‘Lady Jane’ tulip, and those ‘Apricot Emperor’ tulips really pop in the shade. Are you studying the bulb catalogues right now, or have you already placed your order?

  • Frances August 19, 2009, 12:47 pm

    So true, those ego maniac hoses always sneaking into the best shots too! Our hoses are black, called Neverkink, and they don’t kink, but they do become unwound and sliver alongside unsuspecting plants in beautiful bloom or bud. Love African Queen, new here this year, BTW. My father insisted that the hose be coiled neatly when not in use, no exceptions. But during our droughty summers there has to be watering done and sometimes we just leave them, knowing we will be using them again so soon. Oooh, bad gardeners. :-)

  • Pomona Belvedere August 19, 2009, 1:13 pm

    Susie, I didn’t used to like orange but I guess I’m making up for it late in life, the Apricot Emperor and African Queen are now some of my faves.

    Tina, don’t give me ideas about getting away with hosey pictures on my blog…

    NS, you can be trusted to come up with the aesthetic viewpoint. I have to have an informal garden, because I don’t know how to instruct a head gardener.

    Frances, you’ve just given me a great excuse (I hope): it never rains in summer here, so the hose is always in use, why I never coil it…I use Flexogen hoses which have a lifetime guarantee (although they don’t hold up to a chainsaw or pruners) and are great in cold weather – but they do kink. Hm.

  • rebecca sweet August 19, 2009, 3:35 pm

    brilliant! I just love it when someone writes about something that all of us deal with – especially when they’re so witty! Those darn hoses – why oh why can’t they make them a normal shade of green – a shade found in nature? Heck, how ’bout brown? Then they’d at least blend into the ground…..

  • Charlotte August 20, 2009, 12:06 am

    Pomona: I have a MeMe award for you and your wonderful blog so please go to my post for more information.

  • Randy August 20, 2009, 4:21 am

    I have to agree with Tina too, I didn’t think they were that visible either and in some of the photos I had to actually look for them. LOL I think we tend to be our worst critics.

  • susan morrison (garden-chick) August 20, 2009, 8:28 am

    You could have dedicated this post to me! Whether it’s my garden or a client’s garden, a hose somehow always manages to sneak in to the photos. Is there some sort of karmic balance going on here? I.E., socks that mysteriously disappear in the dryer are rematerializing as awkwardly placed hoses in the garden?

  • Cyd August 21, 2009, 3:54 am

    You are so funny. Do you feel festive very often? I don’t, I know I’ll be out there again the next day.

  • Deborah at Kilbourne Grove August 21, 2009, 3:08 pm

    This happens to me all the time. My garden is at a weekend house (without a computer) and I rush around madly all weekend taking pictures (sometime I even do a spot of gardening as well). Monday mornings I download them on my computer and look at them, only to find “the dreaded hose”. I’m too lazy to do much to the pictures, so it stays.

  • kris at Blithewold August 25, 2009, 2:54 am

    Aarggghh hoses! They’re just about the only thing in the garden that can make my temper flare. We’ve always had a big ugly turquoise one (why are they that color?) hanging on one of the North Garden walls – in nearly every shot anyone takes of that garden. Since it’s been so rainy this year we never put it out – maybe that’s why I think that garden is the prettiest it’s ever been… By the by, in some of your shots I think the hose is sort of artfully integral to the composition!

  • Alice Joyce August 26, 2009, 4:44 pm

    Love this post. If I had a nickel … well, you know the rest.
    Sneaky hoses infiltrating the frame.
    Missed you, and glad to have you back.

  • Jim/ArtofGardening.org September 15, 2009, 7:01 am

    This is so funny. I’ve had to retouch out hoses in more photos than I can remember!

  • Steve January 6, 2010, 12:45 am

    Dam egomaniac hoses, anyway!! I toured your blog in more depth for a delightful change, late tonight when I’m feeling restless and ran across your “Rants” section. “OK, let’s see what she’s got.” This may be the post of the year! Man, since I actually work and install stuff and have always tried to have my photography not interfere with progress during – say – maintenance or warranty revisits to my projects – it seems I am always taking shots with hoses involved. Someone gave me some grief about it once and I declared then – and still do – “Well, it’s the only doggone way the picture’s going to be taken!” Besides, doesn’t it add an element of authenticity??? 😉

  • Steven Edholm March 5, 2015, 6:20 am

    Totally been there! I’ve taken now to buying black hoses, the crafstman black rubber hoses to be specific. No less ubiquitous, but less flashy. still, the majority my hoses are green yet and frequently in the way. Coil them up and put them away? What a novel Idea.

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