Taking a walk through downtown Winter Park several years ago, Diane Gillett Boswell first noticed them: the magnificent tabebuia trees that blossom in Central Park every spring.
“On a beautiful spring day in Winter Park at the golf course, I saw these yellow flowering trees,” she said. “The light from the blossoms was just glowing, and it inspired me.”
Her passion for photography suddenly began to blend in with her love and appreciation for the beauty and expressions in the city’s trees.
“I started photographing the trees, and this has been for six years now, and I still go back to the trees in March when they bloom,” she said.
Boswell’s work recently took up a permanent display at the city’s SunRail station at 148 W. Morse Boulevard.
On Wednesday, Aug. 27, the city officially unveiled its new “Art in Transit” project.
The Florida Department of Transportation had provided grants for art to be created at the stations along the SunRail route, and the Winter Park Public Art Advisory Board selected Boswell as the artist to create the piece that was recently installed there.
What she created was a sculpture called “Tree Whisperers.” It features eight double-sided panels that contain her photographic images of those familiar yellow flowering tabebuia trees, set against a blue sky.
Boswell said as part of her own research, she discovered that the seeds for those tabebuia trees were brought to Winter Park by Milford Foster, who had discovered them in an unusual place: on railroad tracks during a trip he made to South America.
Intrigued, he brought the seeds back to the United States and planted those trees in Winter Park to grow, Boswell said.
Now, in an ironic twist, her artwork is on display at a train station, Boswell pointed out.
While finishing the “Tree Whisperers” sculpture, “I was talking to my husband,” Boswell said, “and I said it was amazing that the seeds for these trees came from railroad tracks. My husband said to me, ‘History can be viewed in a linear way, but it can also come back full circle.’
“And that,” Boswell added, “is the way I like to think of this project.”
Last week, the city of Winter Park and the Public Art Advisory Board held a dedication ceremony to unveil the "Tree Whisperers” sculpture and present it to the public.
Winter Park’s SunRail station has become the most frequently visited stop along the train route, which also makes stops in Maitland and in downtown Orlando.
Boswell studied art and architecture in Florence, Italy, and later got a degree in architecture and interior design from the University of Florida in Gainesville.
Dana Thomas, chairwoman of the Public Art Advisory Board, said Boswell deserves a lot of credit because in addition to creating “Tree Whisperers,” “She spent a lot of her own time and money getting this ready.”
Boswell said it had been a great partnership.
“On the creative side, the process of working with the Public Art Advisory Board has been fantastic,” she said.
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