Sunday, January 16, 2011

Garden Bloggers Single-Bloom Day

Ok, there's more than one thing blooming in the garden right now. But it is stuff I've covered before and I don't want to get too repetitive here. There is one plant in the garden that is blooming that I'm excited about though. I recently put in an order to Yucca-Do Nursery and included this Echeveria defractens on a whim. I'm really liking in so far!

echeveria difractens
echeveria difractens

The fiery orange blooms really grab your attention. The 3" rosettes are not super showy but a nice deep brown-y purple that I think will darken in the summer with more sun and less water. When I received the plants in the mail, they had bloom stalks on them and all the leaves that grow from those stalks had been knocked off. I had the foresight to save all those little leaves and sprinkle them over soil in the pots. Now I've got lots of Echeveria difractens babies on the way!

echeveria difractens babies

Thank you to May Dreams Gardens for hosting Garden Bloggers Bloom Day!

I love me some lichens - Foliage Follow Up

For Foliage Follow Up this month, I'm devoting most of my post to my favorite winter foliage treat - Lichens! I love hiking in the winter because the rains have plumped up all the lovely lichen and moss that cling to tree trunks and rocks. It's like all these new gardens that only appear in winter. The lichen foliage comes in all colors - green, brown, orange, black, icy-blue, white, chartreuse. You just have to slow down and enjoy these miniature, temporary gardens.







Love this mossy roof:

Mossy mountain in miniature:

This is a new moss to me:

So vibrant:

And there are also the Polypodium californicum ferns that appear this time of year. The fronds spring from solid rock boulders.

If you are into lichens and moss check out these three books:

Macrolichens of the Pacific Northwest by Bruce McCune and Linda Geiser, Oregon State University Press - a great book with with key, photos and descriptions of lichens to be found in this region.

Lichens by William Purvis, Smithsonian Institution Press - a life and times of lichens around the world.

And a surprisingly good read: Moss Gardening by George Schenk, Timber Press - a great book if you would like to encourage moss in your garden.

And make sure and check out our kind host's Foliage Follow Up post over at Digging.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Making the Best of a Sunny Photo Day

I was spending a weekend in a small town just north of here when I came across a beautiful grove of deciduous oaks, their trunks covered in luscious rich green moss and their upper branches glowing white against the overcast skies with palest green lichen. Ohh, I have to photograph those! But I didn't have time right then so I planned to come back the next day. Unfortunately the next day was sunny and bright. A beautiful day of course, but a killer for any photography plans. The lovely range of greens and browns in the grove were now completely washed out by the bright sunlight. Well, I was in the mood to photograph, dang it, so I just went ahead to see what I could come up with.

low sun

The grove was on a steep hillside and the winter sun was low. The slanting light threw everything into high contrast. The trunks of the trees turned black against the tan colored grasses. The trees now seemed stark and creepy. Well, I'll just have to make some creepy photos then! High contrast works well with black and white photography so I decided I would post-process some images in Photoshop into black and white. So, while photographing, I looked for interesting textures or silhouettes and tried to capture that low winter light. I took a lot of photographs that are pretty blah but I think a few turned out well. Anyway, it was a fun exercise.

spirally grass

It's hard for me to get out during those ideal shooting times of day - early morning or right at sunset - so sometimes I just have to figure out how to work with harsh mid-day light. It's a little trickier to shoot during the middle of the day but if you are able to keep an open mind and work with what you've got or try something new, you can often come up with something interesting.

I like this composition with the stone, grass and trees, but I sure wish I'd pulled out those two long blades of grass in front of the rock. It would have been so much stronger without them. Gotta pay attention to things like that!

rock and trees

Here is a photograph that worked all right in color. I had my polarizing filter on so the colors turned out a bit more saturated. If you decide to use a polarizing filter it will be most effective it you can keep the sun at a right angle to where you are shooting, fyi.


Here is the same shot after I turned it into a black and white image. I think I like it in color more though.

hillside bw

I kind of like this one in color too. The textures in the grass were pretty cool.

grassy slope

Of course, working in the shade is always an option on sunny days too. Here are some shady shots I got.

lichen branch


So, I'm kind of enjoying working with strong light. Maybe the photos aren't bursting with color but you sure can get some drama by harnessing that unfiltered brightness.