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.
As I sit at my office computer I can look out the door to the large and majestic Pacific willow (Salix lasiandra var. lasiandra) in our backyard. It’s one of 38 species of willows found in Washington state and one of the easier ones to identify (willows in general are notoriously difficult to key out).
Our Pacific willow is one of the last trees on our property to lose its leaves in autumn. Today it’s still covered, although there are lots of fallen leaves on the ground, too. Continue reading →
Now that our autumn rain has arrived, the forest floor in our woodland has sprung back to life. It’s almost like a second spring even though the trees are beginning to shed their leaves. Underfoot, piggyback plant (Tolmiea menziesii) has greened back up and is busy producing little plantlets atop nearly every leaf. Continue reading →
Last summer we planted a native seed mix instead of a traditional lawn in front of the studio. It has a bit of a wild look, and now that the grasses and lupines are coming into bloom I think it’s becoming very attractive. The seed mix is called Coastal Grasslands and came from Sunmark Seeds in Oregon.
When I stepped out of the office at sunset last night I was immediately struck by how nice the grasses and lupines looked in the late afternoon light. I ran back inside and grabbed my camera and 70-200mm lens and went to work in the few minutes before the sun dipped below the horizon. Continue reading →
Redwood sorrel, Oxalis oregana, gets that common name because it grows prolifically under the giant redwoods in northern California. But you don’t have to have redwoods to grow this attractive groundcover. Other common names for this plant are wood sorrel and Oregon oxalis. In the wild its also common in the understory of low-elevation Douglas-fir forests. It is native from British Columbia to California. 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 →
I have two more Allium photos inside the magazine on pages 14 & 16, plus one of western poison ivy on page 25. I’ve been contributing to The American Gardener since 1997. Thank you, David Ellis and Mary Yee, for continuing to choose my photography for the magazine.
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 →