'Art in the Garden' photo show at Tower Hill Botanic Garden

Margaret Smith

When Stow photographer Aimee McMaster looks at a flower, she sees a lot more than just a pretty picture.

“I find it amazing what nature creates,” said McMaster. “I have a lot at home, in my garden, some still to be planted….what grows from the Earth, it’s something I can’t describe. I can’t get enough of it.”

She says she will see something in nature, and decide, “I have to have it” – and tries to capture it with her camera lens, which explains the more than 200,000 digital picture files she has stored in her computer system.

“I love being outdoors — any excuse to get outside,” McMaster said.

McMaster’s floral images, along with X-ray photography by former South Lancaster resident Jim Wehtje of Rochester, N.Y. will be on display at Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston, as part of the botanical park’s “Art in the Garden” series.

McMaster said, in her nature photos, she is always trying to find a window in a secret world that may be quite beautiful, but reveals more than that.

“I do a lot of macrophotography,” said McMaster, which means getting up close and personal with flowers as well as insects and other creatures and objects in the natural world.

Her love of photography began when she was growing up. She took some photography courses at school and later, got her first 35-milimeter camera.

Walks around a local pond provided plenty of inspiration, but McMaster also likes to photograph people.

“I took kids in the neighborhood and took portraits of them,” she said.

Nautical scenes and architecture also captivate her photographer’s eye.

What began as a lifelong avocation is now a profession. McMaster started her photography business about six years ago and now works from her studio, Kerrington Studios Photography.

“I’m a mom. I have three children. I started my business when they got a little bit older.” At first, she made photographic note cards, which are carried in several venues, including Ralph Jordan’s and Powers Gallery, both in Acton, Fruitlands Museum in Harvard, and the New England Quilt Museum in Lowell, among others.

In addition to the exhibit at Tower Hill Botanic Garden, she looks forward to exhibiting her work at Emerson Hospital in January, and said some of her photos will be included in a book about boat houses by Ashley Rooney, an author and an Emerson Hospital administrator.

In a press release, Michael Arnum, spokesman for Tower Hill Botanic Garden, said of McMaster and Wehjte, “Both artists show their appreciation for the beauty of the natural world. Detail, creative vision, and culture are also prominent values of their work.”

Arnum said McMaster’s “brilliantly colored and detail oriented photographs reveal rich textures and capture the essence of nature’s wonders.”

Among other honors, McMaster was the winner of the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism photography contest 2007 and Yankee Magazine’s 2006 Fall Photo Contest. She is currently working on a photojournalistic project for a book publisher.

Arnum said Wehtje, who grew up in South Lancaster and lived there from childhood until about age 25, has a bachelor’s degree in natural sciences and studied at the Rochester Institute of Technology before deciding to freelance as a photographer.

X-ray photography is his specialty.

Of his work, Wehtje said, “The beautiful patterns that natural subjects often reveal under the tube make me feel that in the end we don’t really create. We can only discover how to see the beauty that is already there.”

If you go

The photography of Aimee McMaster and Jim Wehtje exhibit runs Tuesday, Aug. 5 through Sept. 14 at Tower Hill Botanic Garden, 11 French Drive, Boylston. An opening reception will be held Thursday, Aug. 7, 6 to 8 p.m.

Regular viewing hours are Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Exhibit admission is free with regular admission to the garden; $10 adults, $7 seniors, $5 youth, and children 6 and under and members are a free. For details, visit or call 508-869-6111. 

Margaret Smith can be reached at