Sunday, May 26, 2013

Messin’ with the Macro

At the same time I was shooting pics in the morning light, I was also playing around with my macro extension tubes. For all pictures from this post and the last one I used my tripod, something I rarely take the time to do. I had fun with the macro set.

Using the morning light again on the smokebush, I did these with the macro.

And then the Siberian Irises...

This is almost the same shot, but the one is more overexposed due to the sun peaking through more. I must say, I like that. It reminds me of a watercolor.

I just got this Minuet Mountain Laurel. I had been looking for one for at least two years and finally found it at the Perennial Garden in Eastampton. They have become one of my favorite nurseries, especially because of some of the more unusual annuals they’ve had the past couple of years. The first shot shows the buds and the second shot shows what the flowers look like as they open. It’s a beauty. It will only be only about 3 feet tall in about 10 years.

I had set up this shot and the bee flew in just as I took the picture. What luck!

I have a couple of little moss gardens in glass containers. This one is moss that I found growing on the wood shingle roof of the thing that holds our trashcans. I transplanted it in this glass jar and hope it survives. It has these cool reddish things that are almost like tiny flowers.

I have found that I love getting up close and personal with my plants. It opens up a whole other world and you see things that you never noticed before. It also puts you in a “zone” when you are that focused on something. It’s the same feeling I get when I’ve done botanical illustration. You are looking so intently at tiny details that you are totally in that moment and your mind is so incredibly focused, not roaming from this to that like it normally does.

Morning Light

I’m taking a digital garden photography class online through Longwood Gardens. It’s been fun and has me looking at my garden in different ways and experimenting with my camera. I jumped ahead a couple of weeks to where we are learning about light. (I start a web design class at my old college, University of the Arts, soon, so I wanted to get a bit ahead on the photo class before that starts.) One of my favorite times in the garden is in the morning when the sunlight illuminates the plants so beautifully. I certainly still have a lot to learn about photography, especially when it comes to controlling how the camera sees light, but I had fun playing around with the idea this morning.

The Siberian Irises are blooming right now and they look absolutely gorgeous when back-lit by the morning light. 

Siberian Irises.

One of my favorite plants to appreciate in the morning is the smokebush. The light and shadows on the leaves is pure magic.


I love how you can see the shadows of other leaves and stems in the highlights on some of the leaves.


Here’s that warm sun shining through. 


Sun shining down on the catmint and roses.

Catmint and pink roses.

Purple Columbine, purple spiderwort, and pink roses with the top of the shed in the background. I have to say I’m not a huge fan of spiderwort except when it’s blooming. It seeds itself all over and usually NOT where I want it. After it flowers it looks pretty unsightly and I cut it back, which is a good thing I think because that causes the leaves to grow in again.

Flower garden.

It has been very windy the past couple of days, which has caused the climbing rose to drop petals. I like how the dappled light looks with the petals on the ground.

Rose petals.

The rose petals on the ground next to the Hens and Chicks, also dappled with light.

Hens and Chicks succulent.

This purple columbine is in a shadier spot right now, but you can see the light behind it.

Purple Columbine.

This peony is also in a shady spot at this time of the day, but you can see the sun behind it.


 As the lights and shadows change throughout the day, so does the garden. It makes you take notice of different things at different parts of the day. I find that pretty fascinating.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Pass the Wine and Columbine

I always sigh a little with disappointment when I see my Pass The Wine Iris start to bloom. The colors are so unexpected compared to the photo of it in the plant catalog. You call this wine color? I think not. But hey, just because something is unexpected doesn’t make it less special, does it?

The not-so-wine-colored Pass The Wine Iris.

If these irises were members of a band, this would be their album cover.

Pass The Wine Irises.

The ruffled petals of irises always make me think of petticoats and Victorian ladies in hoop skirts.

The Columbine is such a free spirit. Gotta love that. It doesn’t care where it reseeds itself every year, however, I do encourage it here and there. At the end of the season I cut off the pods and crumble them up in certain areas and the seeds take it from there.

Purple Columbine here and there throughout the flower garden.

This one I did NOT encourage. Not sure how seeds got in this boxwood pot. Maybe a bird or squirrel, or even the wind, put it there.

Columbine getting cozy with a boxwood.

They are such beautiful flowers. They are nodding their little heads on this windy day.

Check out these two different shades of purple. How ‘bout that. I love when stuff like that happens. See, sometimes the unexpected IS special!

Reuse and Recycle

Looking for a way to reuse those low-sided, cardboard boxes that you sometimes bring your plants home in when you buy them from the nursery? Boxes are your cat’s best friend. Izzy has decided these are much more fun than her bigger box that we keep for her on the back porch. And even Molly sometimes prefers the box over her ceramic plant bowl.

Molly relaxing in a sun patch.

I took this while eating lunch on the porch. Not too bad for an i-Pad picture.

Izzy and Molly enjoying some box-time.

Ok, so maybe this was just an excuse to post pictures of “the adorables.”

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Book: Succulent Container Gardens by Debra Lee Baldwin

The full title of this book is “Succulent Container Gardens: Design Eye-Catching Displays with 350 Easy-Care Plants.” Debra Lee Baldwin is the author. This book has some great eye-candy for succulent-lovers.

It is broken down into four parts. Part One is “Pairing Plants with Pots,” which demonstrates how plant and pot relate to each other and how important your pot choice can be. The design and color of the pot should echo or contrast your plant, yet not overpower it. It also talks about top-dressing, such as using crushed stone or blue glass to enhance your potted plant.

Part Two is about “Plant Palette.” This section is about color and form and about what types of succulents are good for containers. From Aeoniums and Agaves to Euphorbias, Sedums and Synadeniums, it’s a good introduction to succulents for beginners. This section also goes over what make good companion plants to succulents, such as Bromeliads and Oxalis.

Part Three is “Creative Designs and Displays.” Grouping pots, planting succulents in unusual containers like a bird bath, bathtub or fountain, hanging baskets, miniature landscapes, living wreaths, topiary, and vertical gardening are covered in this chapter. Definitely a fun chapter, just for the pictures alone.

Part Four is “Planting, Care, and Propagation.” I have to admit that I skipped to this chapter first because I really was winging it on the succulents I already had and didn’t know much about them. Plus, I wanted to know how to take cuttings, which is super-easy. Sun exposure, potting and repotting, soil and fertilizer, watering, grooming, overwintering, pests and diseases, and creating new plants from old are all topics covered here – very useful to those of us who are relatively new to the world of succulents.

At the end of the book you’ll find plant lists sectioned off by height, texure, color, etc.

This book helped fuel the succulent fire that began last year. It’s a great reference for inspiration and good for gaining a basic understanding of succulents and how to use them in containers. I would recommend it to anyone who has discovered an interest in succulents and wants to learn more.

Scents of Spring: Wisteria and Lilac

A recent rain pretty much beat down the wisteria. But boy, before that, the entire yard smelled AMAZING! These pictures don’t do it justice. The wisteria was particularly lush this year. Made for lots of happy bees. The second you would walk out of the house you would smell it, no matter if you went out the front or back door. I loved sitting on the screened-in back porch while it was in its full glory. It was intoxicating.

This shot was taken through our family room window looking out towards the shed. 

Most of the wisteria grows on the greenhouse. It looks so pretty with the bleeding hearts underneath.

Wisteria on greenhouse with shed to the left.

When you walk through the back gate into the back yard and walk under the wisteria, you are overpowered by it’s magical scent.

Looking from garden gate towards back of yard.

The mass of blooms is quite remarkable this year. I think I pruned it at exactly the right time last year. I have found that is key to a successful spring flowering.

I wish you could smell this!

Wisteria on greenhouse and on the shed in the background.

As I’ve mentioned several times before, wisteria and I have a love/hate relationship. I love it because it’s so incredibly beautiful in the spring and is one of the best smells EVER, I hate it because it grows an average of 10 feet per year. Serious pruning is required every year to keep it from taking over the greenhouse and shed.

Wisteria on the shed.

I prune the wisteria on the front porch pretty much constantly throughout the year to keep it from overtaking the entire porch.

The front porch with the wisteria and azaleas.

The wisteria tree in the back yard is much more manageable than the vine kind.

Wisteria tree.

I rescued this lilac in our front yard from a mass of overgrown wisteria when we first moved into the house. It does better and better every year. This is the most blooms I’ve seen on it yet.

Purple lilac in front yard next to neighbor’s yard.


I know the subject of this post is “Scents of Spring,” and these don’t really have a scent, however, the skip laurel that I planted last year in the area that I had cleared out was blooming beautifully. Unfortunately, after the heavy rain, it’s not quite as pretty as this now. If you look closely, you’ll see Izzy in this picture.  :o)

Dwarf spirea, skip laurel, and Green Velvet boxwood.

Potted Succulents

Here are my succulents after I potted them. I also added a few cuttings from succulents that I had overwintered in the greenhouse.

This arrangement is in an old, rusty colander...

This one is in a blue ceramic pot...