Articles for the Month of June 2011

A Moving Experience

Dusk on the Hill

The latest Gardening Gone Wild Photo Challenge involves motion of various sorts in the garden.  The specific theme “Show the Motion” discusses how you can set out to use motion to enhance your normal photos in the garden.  Following the judge’s suggestions I set out at dusk one evening to see if the camera, tripod and I could capture the fireflies that dance around the garden in the evening.  One of the by-products of wandering around the hillside in the evening with a tripod is that you get a wonderful light on the flowers just as the sun is going down.  The colors are exceptionally strong without being blown out as they would be in mid-day.

Rock Garden at Dusk

Rose Garden at Dusk with Luxor Lilies

It turns out that the time period during which you can shoot with a long exposure, still get the garden elements, and let the fireflies dance is fairly limited — about 1/2 an hour.  I tried various exposures, zoom levels, ISO’s, etc. but the difficulty is you can’t really see and appreciate the arcing tracks of the fireflies until you return to the computer.  In the end it’s a very random thing as to whether the fireflies will actually choose to light up in sync with your camera, but it’s fun to try!  For example here is a shot from the front rock garden in which you can see three streaks of golden light.

Fireflies in Rock Garden

Another was on the hillside with clear arcs of color.

Fireflies above Coreopsis

In the end my favorite shot of the night came on the side of the hill with the pasture as backdrop and the False Sunflowers  in the foreground.  This picture was taken in the near-dark and it’s only by the magic of digital photography that fireflies appear as golden streaks of fairy dust in what looks like daylight.   This will be my submission for the GGW photo contest.

Fireflies and Hillside Garden

I also need to give some praise to the Luxor lilies which are flowering on six foot stems right now.

Asiatic Lily 'Luxor'

And I’m becoming a fan of the Walcroy Crocosmia which is an outstanding gold color to match the daylillies in the front yard.

Crocosmia 'Walcroy'

I should mention in passing that this is harvest time for the garlic.  I’ve strung several large bundles from the rafters in the garage.

Garlic (Kettle River Giant) hung to dry

And the blueberries are doing their annual thing.  I always look at them in the spring thinking that there really aren’t very many blossoms and maybe it will be an off year.  Then, come harvest time, the bushes yield abundantly and there are more to pick than we really have time for.  Beth has made a couple of full-size blueberry tarts that have been delicious.  It looks like we will be freezing berries again…

Blueberries picked last night from one of seven bushes

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day for June 2011

Elegant Japanese Iris

I’m out in California for this month’s Bloom Day celebrating my mother’s birthday but before I left I dashed around the yard to capture a few photos of the current state of the flowers around us on the hill at Ball Rd.  Besides the striking individual Japanese Iris that have been showing up, the daily contributors to our flower vases have been the lilies.  It is sometimes a marvel to me that although the deer are well known to eat lilies as one of their favorite delicacies, ours seem to have been spared with just a couple of early spring exceptions.  In addition we don’t seem to be facing the lily beetles which are a major problem in the northeast.

Several years ago the kids gave Beth a number of Blackout Lilies with their stunning dark red petals.  These have multiplied and they responded to our spring rains by growing over 4 feet tall this year.

Blackout Lilies

And in the rose garden we have a very nice set of white lilies which are very striking in early morning light.

white asiatic lilies

Beside the back deck we have new lily that has a very nice cream and yellow lily that is about 4 feet tall as you climb the steps.

Cream and White Lily

There are many more lilies in bloom right now and more to come, including the ultra fragrant Orientals.

It’s worth pointing out the that the herb garden is currently looking as flush and verdant as at any time I can remember.

Herb Garden

Finally the bank of Crown Vetch and Wild Pea by the driveway is lush with flowers right now.

Crown Vetch and Wild Pea growing freely on the driveway bank

If you want to check out what other flowers gardeners are seeing around the country check out the links at May Dreams Gardens

What a Wonderful Weekend

Iris ensata 'Agripinella'

We arrived home last weekend and got up on Sunday to find this lovely Japanese Iris in bloom it was like a delightful postscript on what had already been a wonderful extended weekend in Philadelphia.

For Christmas, our daughter-in-law had given my son and Beth and I, via AHS auction, a personal tour of Chanticleer, a highlight of the Philadelphia gardening scene.  Personally, it may be my favorite garden in the U.S.  So it was a joy to be escorted around the garden by Bill Thomas, who incorporates the history and philosophy of what is characterized as ‘ a pleasure garden’.  For three and a half hours we got to see both public and private parts of Chanticleer.  There is a recent book on Chanticleer by Adrian Higgins (pictures by Rob Cardillo) that captures a lot of the spirit of Chanticleer and I recommend it to anyone contemplating a journey to the Philadelphia area.  The garden incorporates spacious views that key off the large old specimen trees and is also full of delightful smaller spaces where plant treasures can be found.

We had spent a day at Chanticleer two years ago during which I took a lot of pictures, partly as inspiration of things to bring back to our little country dwelling.  One particular element was the colorful Adirondack chairs that we have now added to our hillside.

Adirondack chairs at Chanticleer

Another source of inspiration at Chanticleer are the chartreuse-colored Black Locusts at the entry to the garden.

Robinia pseudoacacia 'Frisia'

We have now planted two on the hillside here.

Some other memories from Chanticleer follow:


The Ruins

A field of Poppies

A field of Kniphofia

Goat's Beard (Aruncus dioicus) in the woods

Globe Flower (Trollius europaeus)

Spuria Iris (Cinebar Red) (credit ID to Jonathan)

The day after visiting Chanticleer (where we wrapped up our stay with a picnic on the lawn, apparently a Friday evening tradition judging by the number of other visitors who stopped by just for the evening), we went by Carolyn’s Shade Garden.  Carolyn is a fellow blogger who participates in such traditions as Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day and the Gardening Gone Wild Photo Contests.  It was an open house day for Carolyn and it was delightful to be able to stop in and meet her and her husband.  Her garden and nursery sits under some magnificent old trees in Bryn Mawr, just outside of Philadelphia.  Unlike Chanticleer, which studiously avoids labels, Carolyn has carefully labeled many of her plants and you can see how they mix artfully together in the following views down the terraces and back on the far side of the house.

Carolyn's Shade Garden #1

Carolyn's Shade Garden #2

Carolyn's Shade Garden #3

We bought a few plants from Carolyn as mementos of our visit but more than that we enjoyed visiting with another avid gardener who very much understands the enthusiasm that we find in novel plants.

Arriving back in Frederick we threw on some clean clothes and went downtown to the opening of a new photo gallery where three of my images are on display for this month.  We mingled with visitors and the other photographers, had some wine and generally reflected on what a great weekend we had enjoyed…

Opening of Shereen's Gallery