Perhaps mushrooms are not the most fanciful of topics amid the light and sparkle of the holidays, yet as we begin to enter the New Year, there is a lot about them that can inspire our own growth. Natural recyclers of the forest, mushrooms don’t need super soil in which to grow. They originate from tiny spores, not seeds, and therefore can rely on such rough-and-ready substances as sawdust, grain, wooden plugs, straw, wood chips, or liquid for nourishment.
Given their humble beginnings, one could be forgiven for only thinking of mushrooms as the brown variety we see in the produce aisle. However, one only has to discover the elegant, exotic, luminescent, graceful, colorful mushrooms captured by photographer Steve Axford to realize how much more there is to fungi and that serious beauty can grow anywhere. His macro lens captures lifeforms that look like they don’t exist in this galaxy, let alone in his backyard. And yet, that’s where he finds them.
Axford owns a plot of land in the subtropical forested Northern Rivers region of New South Wales in Australia that he has been looking after and restoring. He has found a world of mushrooms on that land, many of which had never been photographed before. In an interview with Bored Panda, Axford said: “It is now estimated that there could be 4 million species of fungus, of which only 1 to 200,000 have been described … It is a whole world waiting to be discovered and it is right under our noses.”
While much nature photography focuses on the big things, Axford has found his passion in the darker crevices of the forest which yield tiny instances of glorious beauty. We could take a lesson from this to look inward to find and celebrate the potential that grows within us. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. I for one, will be filling my dreams in the New Year with the type of beauty Axford has found right in his backyard.
Photos: Steve Axford