John Muir’s No Ugly Landscapes

Tundra-Swans-flyingThis is just a view of a large water body of the Niagara River where the Tundra Swans can be found. It is not the prettiest landscape, but it certainly is not an ugly one either.

“God never made an ugly landscape, so long as it is wild.”  John Muir

Does this quote make you think? I know when I was young, I would never have appreciated the scenes in this post. I was a bit preconceived and bias in my views of what was pretty and what wasn’t. I think I believed landscapes needed to be green and lush if fields with a bright sun overhead. Mountains and trees needed to be in view. Water was a given. I now appreciate many various forms of landscape of each season or weather condition. I have expanded my views where you cannot help but believe Muir’s words.

But did you really look at what Muir said closely? “…so long as it is wild.” He did not say, there are no ugly landscapes.

I think he found a number of ugly landscapes that had the hand of man. God was responsible for the beauty found, but man came in and messed it up. You can say that about quite a few waterfronts in cities across the world. And why do you think water was so important for factories?

Tundra-swansIf you look at the graceful swans, God really did a great job there too.

There are countless places to explore all across this vast earth, places of immense beauty that few people ever get to witness. It seems a shame more don’t get to appreciate it, but then again, that may be the very reason the beauty remains.


The swans are here now in great numbers. Take the time to appreciate the gift of beauty.


About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at:
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22 Responses to John Muir’s No Ugly Landscapes

  1. Bill Thompson says:

    I enjoy your approach to both photography and philosophy. The commentary is always as interesting as the images. In my seventies I’ve come to appreciate November and December weather and landscapes more and more, as you so beautifully have shown above. The search for beauty in winter scenery is a bit more challenging, but worth looking for especially as we age.
    The older I get, the more time I spend “seeing”.
    Be well, Donna and keep showing us what you “see”…Bill

  2. bittster says:

    A refreshing point of view. I think it says a lot about how differently people can see the world and I’m all for seeing beauty in all things nature!

  3. lucindalines says:

    I don’t think those are ugly landscapes, even with the power plants in the background. I tend to look at all nature pictures with the eye of how would you go about painting that? What colors would you mix to get that hue, that shadow, that line, how could you reproduce that angle? It is all beautiful!!

    • Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Lucinda. Ha, maybe the factories look good at a distance. The problem with them is the pollution they put into the air and water during their lifetime. Chemicals were dumped into the river and the ground. Now the plants have a limited workforce. Some plants are operational only because the EPA would be in there if they were abandoned. I bet with all the chemicals used or produced, there would be a lot to find.

  4. Oh, I couldn’t agree with you more on this one, Donna. It may seem infertile, but so much is going on in a late autumn/winter landscape that we can’t even see. That makes it more beautiful and mysterious to the wise ones among us. Actually, often when I look at landscapes and see all the subtle color differences, I think, “Oh, I could wear that blouse that’s X color, with those pants that are Y color. And a scarf in Z would be pretty with it.” Nature’s colors teach us in unexpected ways.

    • Yes, the decomposition and the resting of the landscape. So much happens that we don’t see and many don’t appreciate. Yes, the colors change and does the mood they generate. Thanks for the wise comment.

  5. aussiebirder says:

    My delight is capturing the beauty in the things others often pass by, or never even notice. Like you, I see beauty in everything God has made, it is all good!

  6. Yes, you may even have to look closely at all the interconnections to see the real beauty, but no wild landscape is ugly.

  7. debsgarden says:

    One can argue that even factories have a certain esthetic that can be beautiful, as your photos prove. But I prefer the wild landscape. Too often I see a marvelous image, spoiled by an array of power, cable and telephone lines. But we must have those lines.Sigh.

    • Oh, those power lines!!! Now many municipalities are putting them underground. They have to go somewhere unless the whole world becomes wireless. From the standpoint of human advancement, the factories have there place in how far we have become and where we are headed. They have cleaned them up far better than many years prior. The river is not in as bad a shape as it once was.

  8. swo8 says:

    Love the wild land/waterscapes Donna. Too bad man got in the way and messed things up.

  9. Gillian says:

    I’d agree that there’s something beautiful, magnificent or awe inspiring in any landscape … man made or natural. It’s up to each one of us to see the good things in life. There may be power plants and pylons on the skyline but our lives would be very different without them!

    • We would have a vastly different life. I look ahead assuming how we will get power in the future. I believe it will be far more environmentally friendly. Look at solar and wind power. We have come a long way, and the future will have us leaps and bounds testing or creativity and ingenuity.

  10. Friends were discussing ‘why’ people continue to desecrate the landscapes by clear-cutting, bulldozing, etc, instead of taking more time to use more sensitive matters. ‘we must educate them,’ is often a normal reply, but that puts them in the defensive mode.. it’s so delicate,- finding a way to bring current information and new techniques, options, etc. it’s rewarding to hear someone tell how ‘avi turism’ has made more money per hectare than when the land was used for cattle. reforestation is understood – but few want their land to be idle… it’s that quest for the dollar – sometimes out of desperation and other times out of greed.

    thanks for all that you do! lisa

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