I like Hostas. They’re a great garden plant, grown mostly for their foliage, hardy, colorful, and easy. Well, they’re easy if you don’t have deer. Since we have deer in our garden, we’re not currently growing any Hostas ourselves.
Earlier in August I had the opportunity to visit two fantastic woodland gardens south of Buffalo, New York that each feature over 1000 varieties of Hosta. I think that’s just a little crazy, but the gardens were a delight. Of course, they don’t just grow Hostas. Even with the great variety of shade of green, gold, and white, Hosta foliage alone won’t carry a garden. But think about how these plants can light up a shady border, form a groundcover, or be an accent.
This video slideshow illustrates some of the many ways Hostas can be used in the garden.
Photographed with a Sony A6300 camera, lightly processed in Adobe Lightroom, and slideshow created with Animoto. What you can’t see are all the other GWA: Association of Garden Communicators members who were visiting these gardens at the same time.
The fine folks in Buffalo, New York certainly do know how to garden. And they share their gardens with friends, neighbors, and garden lovers from around the world. They have a long-running Garden Walk Buffalo on the last weekend in July each summer. This year, several of the gardeners kept their gardens open for some 350 members of GWA: The Association of Garden Communicators as we visited their fine city for the annual GWA Symposium.
This video slideshow, which runs just shy of five minutes, showcases some of my favorite garden views in the Cottage District, Elmwood Village, and Lancaster Avenue neighborhoods. These were all walkable neighborhoods with largish old homes on narrow but deep lots. Most of the gardeners made use of nearly every square inch of space.
For the technically-inclined, I photographed these gardens with a Sony A6300 mirrorless camera and 16-70mm lens, mostly on a tripod. What you can’t see are the busloads of other garden photographers, writers, and on-air talent who were also visiting these gardens at the same time. Patience (and a little “would you please move a little”) goes a long way.
When we moved to our studio property in 2014, we decided we wanted to incorporate many of our wonderful native plants into the garden. Natives are drought-adapted, hosts to native insects that provide food for birds and other animals, relatively low maintenance, and best of all, they’re pretty to look at. When we walk in the woods and see an environment full of plants we’re seeing many years of growth. In a garden setting, starting from scratch, it takes a few years to go from bare soil to lush growth.
Three years in, we’re making slow progress. In some places our new beds are starting to mature and look good. But garden ideas don’t always work as anticipated the first time around. Continue reading →
As photographers we can easily fall into a rut of always seeing and photographing our world just one way. We find something that works and repeat. There’s not necessarily anything wrong with that, and done well it can be an important aspect of your style. But if you’re always photographing from eye level with a 50mm lens you’re missing out on alternative ways to tell visual stories.
The spring 2017 issue of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD) magazine, The Designer, features examples of my photography that show alternate views of the same garden. The story was written by Katie Elzer-Peters, a garden writer colleague I’ve known for several years. Continue reading →
It may not have felt much like spring on Thursday, February 23 as I drove to Seattle for the 2017 Northwest Flower & Garden Show. There was a bit of fresh snow on the ground as I drove down I-5 for my annual fix of gardening inspiration. I’ve been going to the NWFGS for 20 years, sometimes as a speaker but more often just to enjoy the display gardens.
Before you press your shutter release, take a good look at what’s in your frame. Pause a moment and take care of any little details you see that might detract from your photo.
In this pair of photos of the daylilies growing by our back door, in the first frame you see all the spent blossoms. That might be OK if the story you’re trying to tell is that daylily blossoms don’t last long and they linger on the stems until they dry up and fall off. But if what you’re after is a nice photo of daylilies blooming, then I think the photo looks a lot better with the spent blossoms removed.
It’s always easier to clean up details like this before capturing the image. Imagine how much time it would have taken in an image editing program like Photoshop to remove the spent blossoms and replace them with plausible background material.
I apply the same principle when photographing people. Let’s get that cat hair off your jacket before I trip the shutter.
Creeping Buttercup (Ranunculus repens) is keeping me very busy weeding our garden this spring. A pretty little perennial, native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa, creeping buttercup has been introduced and become naturalized in nearly every state in the United States. Left to its own devices, creeping buttercup sends out creeping stems that take root at the nodes when they touch the ground, forming a dense carpet that shades and crowds out more desirable plants. Continue reading →
A few days ago my friend Annie called to say her red-flowering currant (Ribes sanguineum) was about to burst into full bloom, inviting me to swing by and photograph it. She has a couple of nice shrubs against the fence in her backyard and when I visited on March 16 one of the two was in full bloom. Continue reading →
Feathery tendrils of gold envelop rich red-purple centers, brightening a corner of the garden on dreary winter days and sending a heady sweet aroma wafting across the lawn. That’s what witchhazels (Hamamelis) will do for you. They’re one of my favorite shrubs for year-around interest in the garden, but especially in February as they come into bloom.
Witchhazels (sometimes written as two words, witch hazel) are shrubs or small trees that will ultimately reach about 15 feet tall and wide. They grow best in slightly acid to neutral, well-drained but moist soil. Plant them in full sun for the best growth form, although they’ll accept partial shade. Like many other plants, the more shade the more straggly and leggy the growth. Continue reading →
As I look out the window to our garden the staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina) is beginning to turn brilliant orange, almost glowing in the soft morning light. Erect pyramidal clusters of fuzzy red seeds form soft spires against the foliage.
This large shrub is native to most of eastern North America east of the Mississippi River. It is widely planted, and thrives, in much of the rest of the continent. A mature sumac can reach 25 feet tall and equally broad. It’s often a multi-stemmed shrub, spreading by suckers arising from the roots. Staghorn sumac is often found in the wild on disturbed sites and woodland edges. Continue reading →