Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Plants For Shade

Hush! Don’t tell my boss, but while I spent six nights at work with no lights and no heat, I kept myself awake by writing about plants that grow in the shade. I published the results on Hub Pages.

Monday, November 17, 2008

First Outing

My trusty old digital camera died last May after years of giving me great photos despite the abuse it suffered from me. Of course it chose to do this a week before I was due to visit the New Jersey Botanical Gardens for the first time. I had always planned on replacing it with a digital SLR, but really hadn’t looked into them. In one week’s time, I managed to research brands, features and prices and purchased a Nikon D40.

And then it poured rain. With my old camera, this wouldn’t have been a problem. A little rain had never hurt it (although I’m sure it would have disagreed) and since it was a simple point & shoot, I could operate it with one hand while holding an umbrella. Not so my fancy new SLR. It requires at least two hands and dislikes moisture, heat, cold and dirt. What a prima donna!

The new camera had to wait until June before going on its first outing to NYBG. I put it through its paces. There were a lot of hits and misses, but by the end of the day, I had gotten the hang of this fancy digital SLR stuff.

This was one of those trips that yielded more than one Photo of Day. The first one was taken in the garden at Holly House before we even left.

Acanthus mollis
Bear's Britches

This is a new flower to me. I want it for my shade garden at home.

The second one isn’t even of the gardens.

Old Mill

This is an amazing shot. I took it out of the window of a tram that was stopped so that passengers could embark and disembark. Somehow I managed to keep the camera still despite the rocking of the tram as people got on and off while keeping all of them out of the photo. I did manage to get a little of the railing of bridge that we were stopped on, but that can be cropped out.

I had fun a lot fun that day. I took some “arty” shots like this:

I have no clue what flower that is, but it looks really cool.

I got some neat close-ups:

And I enjoyed using the lens to bring things closer like this duck:

Here’s another flower that is new to me:

Rudbeckia maxima
Giant Coneflower

Walls and fences drew my attention that day. Here are two of my favorite shots:

You can see all of the photos of my trip to NYBG on Flickr.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

First Catalog

The first seed catalog of the 2009 growing season landed in my mailbox today. It’s one of my favorites, Pinetree Garden Seeds. It is also the source of my favorite red zinnias and heirloom Crego asters, as well inexpensive books.

Already my order is taking shape. More red zinnias along with orange, yellow and white ones. I’m thinking of waves of colors. My favorite shaggy Crego asters have been reseeding themselves but I will continue to order them so that I can plant them in different beds each year. I love their colorful disheveled flowers. They look like they have bedhead. Don’t you just love flowers that make you laugh?

I’m ruminating on what to do about my hanging baskets. I’ve tried impatiens and trailing petunias. Pinetree Garden seeds carries two different varieties of climbing nasturtiums. Nasturtiums did very well for me in a strawberry pot under one of the baskets two years ago.

More books, of course. “Sweetness & Light” by Hattie Ellis: a history of the honey bee from the prehistoric era to present day. Originally published at $23.00, it has been reduced to $4.98. “A Blessing of Toads” by Sharon Lovejoy: essays on the creatures in her gardens. Originally published at $17.95, it has been reduced to $4.99. “Brooklyn Botanic Garden Handbook on Garden Photography”, originally priced at $7.95, reduced to $1.95.

It's too early to place my order. More catalogs will be filling my mailbox in the coming weeks.

Mid-November Blooms

Despite the cooler night time temperatures, a few flowers are still adorning my garden.

The pink, blue and lavender blossoms on my Nikko Blue hydrangeas have turned a uniform rosy pink.

That same pink fades to a dull red.

The dull red fades to a sea green.

And finally, the green dries to a dull brown. I leave the dried flowerheads on all winter. They are more attractive than bare branches.

Friday, November 14, 2008


I love my Nikko Blue hydrangeas. When the flowers mature, they are a brilliant sky blue. I love that they do equally well on the shady side of my house as they do on the sunny side.

Half a dozen years ago the sewer line broke and a trench was dug from the foundation to the curb. When the trench was backfilled, the soil in that area was a different pH, resulting in gorgeous pink blooms.

This year, there was a third color. Lavender.

The question is, was the lavender the result of pink mingling with blue or blue blending with pink?

Monday, November 10, 2008


Lamb's Ear

Most people grow Lamb’s Ear for the foliage. They don’t care for the flowers, oftentimes pruning the stalks off before they have a chance to mar the look of the low growing leaves. Personally, I love the flowers. And I especially like the contrast of the tall spikes of flowers to the shorter foliage.

I’m always surprised at the tiny size and intense purple of the flowers. If you look closely enough, you will see tiny leaves on the stalks as if the plant were saying “Look at me! I can grow tall as well as spread low.”

For me, this photo captures all of that. Better yet, it pleasantly blurs what is in reality a very busy background. Immediately behind the Lamb’s Ear are asters. Further back, you can see splotches of orange daylilies. And beyond them, my neighbor’s house. Thankfully, my nemesis, the chainlink fence, is nowhere visible except as a semi-opaque horizontal line.

We’ll award this “Photo of the Day”.

Saturday, November 8, 2008


Salvia Black and Blue

This is one of my favorite photos from this year. It easily qualifies as a “Photo of the Day”. I was trying to photograph the salvia while being mindful of the background. I chose an angle that would capture the form and color of the salvia blossoms that also included the foliage of the hosta growing at the base of the pot containing the salvia.

I love the contrast in colors and shapes. The dark blue against the bright green background. The linear flower stalk against the ovals of the leaves. In fact, I liked the result so much that I use it as the wallpaper on my PC.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Autumn Glory

This is what I see when I step out my door.

I’ve been allowing a tiny Japanese maple volunteer to grow at the end of my driveway. All through the spring and summer, it looks messy and weedy. Then, in the fall, the reason that I tolerate it becomes apparent.

I’ve been taking lots of pictures of the fall color in my neighborhood. Soon the cold winds and rains of November will arrive sweeping all of the leaves away. The glory that is autumn will be replaced by the dull earth tones of winter.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day Blooms

Fading Mums

Heirloom Marigolds

Last of the Cosmos

Marigold Bud

I was surprised to find entry to my polling place at the local high school restricted to one door and guarded by a police officer. Why? This is America. We don't riot. We patiently stand in line, cast our votes and then go on about our day. And if we don't agree with the outcome, we argue about it in court. And if we don't agree with the court's decision, we look forward to the next election. Because there will be a next election. There are no coups. This is America. We have peacefully changed governments for more than two centuries.

I hope that you voted today. It doesn't matter how you voted. It just matters that you voted.