Crepe myrtle, canna, cleome and cone flowers make a lovely splash of summer colors in the raised bed in our back yard.
The bright yellow coneflowers in the foreground attract goldfinches when the flowers go to seed. The goldfinches are fun to watch when they perch on a flower and pick at the seeds. The flowers stalks bend and sway under their weight.
A dwarf crepe myrtle tree with its dark pink blooms that are almost a purple is almost hidden by canna lilies and cleome. It should get several feet taller over the next few years and be more visible. It was a volunteer seedling from an established tree in the front yard. it really struggled the first couple years after being transplanted, but seems to have finally adapted well to it new location.
The first couple years after planting canna lily bulbs in our front yard, they did well. Then they started to die off, so last year they were moved.
A few were left in the front yard, but moved to a different area and the rest were moved to the raised bed in the back yard.
Their red flowers are not big and showy like their leaves, but they add an intense color and interesting foliage to the flower bed.
Here they have done well so far. I think the key to success will be to dig them up every few years when they start to get crowded, and then replant them.
Another interesting feature of the cannas are their seed pods, seen in the picture below.
The light pink blooms are cleome that reseed themselves prolifically every year. This year, there were close to a couple hundred which were thinned down to a manageable number so they would not compete with the other plants.
Cleome is another flower that deserves a close up look. The long stamens start to escape from the flowers before the flowers open, making interesting loops.
It is a rainy Independence Day.
So, my pictures today were limited to what I could see from the shelter of indoors.
From the living room window, I took several pictures this afternoon. Afterwards, when reviewing the pictures, I realized that the subjects were the colors of the American flag.
When we first moved into our house, my husband’s parents gave us a squirrel proof birdfeeder. For over 20 years, this birdfeeder has lived up to its name, baffling one generation of squirrels after another.
It is designed so that the weight of a squirrel on the perch will close the door , blocking access to the seeds. It also has a counterbalance on the back which is adjustable to different weights to allow or limit larger birds or squirrels.
But it met its match the other day and lost to a smart squirrel. Maybe not as smart as just persistent.
Look at how the squirrel uses its hind feet on the counterbalance to keep the trapdoor open.
Then it figured out a method of getting the seeds without being able to see its objective.
Okay, it is clever, but not all that clever since the first picture posted was the last picture I took. It got greedy and tried to climb over the perch and wham, the door shut.
Don’t worry. The squirrels are well fed in our yard since we put feed on the ground for the birds who don’t like feeders and for the squirrels and chipmunks who inhabit the yard too. Plus the birds flick seeds out of the feeder, adding to what is already on the ground.
This evening I was greeted by this view when I pulled into the driveway. The eerie moon light backlit the leaves on a maple tree which had been eaten by inchworms again this spring.
My son, husband and I sat on the steps and enjoyed the view as the moon changed its mood. After I came in, I found a wonderful piece of music on internet called Moon Over Ruined Castle arranged by Kazuko Okamoto and played by the Jubiloso Bells choir.
After another rainfall,
The weeds have grown tall,
giving the goldfinches plenty of seeds to feast on,
Mushrooms are popping up in all over the place,
turning the sedum blooms into glistening lace.
Light changes as the sun shifts from morning to evening, changing not only how the garden appears but changing what is revealed.
While working in the yard moving mulch, I passed by this section in the yard on the way to get a load of mulch. The spider web went unseen. When I walked back with my load of mulch, the morning sun backlit the spider web making it visible to me. It was a lovely orb web stretched between the spent flower stems of hosta plants. I find it interesting that the spider placed segments of spiral lines used as fillers in the upper right corner and right side of the web.
Later in the early evening, my husband pointed out a single spider silk extending from far up in the magnolia tree down to probably the small weeping mulberry tree. I had just barely enough time to get the camera and take a picture before the lighting changed, putting the silk line in shadow and rendering it invisible. This picture was take at about 75ft distance from the subject, which shows that visible part of the line was quite a few feet long, extending much further up to the magnolia tree and down to the mulberry tree, and was rather thick.
In both pictures, the webs were only visible when back lit by the sun.
At the beginning of the week, I was not surprised when an employee of the Department of Public Works knocked on my door. He politely told me that he was here to remove the sign in our yard. It had been a little over a month when we received an award for our yard from the county which included a sign placed in our front yard. For more details on the award, see An Award for Our Yard post.
Our month of public recognition via a roadside sign was up. So, two DPW workers pulled up the sign to save for next year’s award winner. I wonder who it will be.
The general rule for photographing the garden is to pick an overcast day or places in the garden where there is even subdued lighting. This helps prevent colors from being washed out. A good source of tips on the subject can be found in the article garden photography 101, with ken druse. Ken Druse has authored many books on gardening for which he is the photographer.
But, there are times to break the rules. The high contrast of strong sunlight and deep shadow portray a very different mood than the even lighting of an overcast sky as well as serving to create a focal point in a picture.
In the following two pictures, the first one was taken on an overcast day and the second one on a sunny day.
In the first picture, the goal was to show the holes eaten by inchworms this spring. Having low contrast lighting made the focus on the holes easier than with bright light and high contrast.
In the second picture, the only way to capture how light transforms the needle-like leaves from a medium green to a bright green, is to take a picture of the leaves when they are backlit by bright sun. Here, it also creates a focal point in the tangle of branches and leaves.
I often buck the general rule of photograph on overcast days and not in bright sunlight with dramatic results that I find pleasing. Here are a couple more sunny day pictures:
Here, the focus is on the twig fence border which is highlighted by the deeply shadowed background. This was a very bright, sunny day for which the shadows were deep and what was in the sun appeared washed out. This picture captured the mood of a sunny day well.
This was a lovely sunny winter day expressed by a bare oak tree silhouetted against a sky with covered with cirrocumulus clouds.
I find that revisiting the same subject in different lighting, whether due to being overcast versus sunny or due to different time of day, yields very different results which are sometimes more effective or pleasing than others. The key is to experiment with different lighting conditions if you want different results.
When our hummingbird feeder hung unvisited by the little avian beauties for a couple weeks, I thought that maybe they were not going to return to our yard this summer. But, several days ago, my husband noticed a hummer at the feeder. Soon, there was competition for the male ruby throated hummer, so it was time to hang the second feeder. The birds are very territorial and tend to guard “their” feeder and not let others near it. The feeder in the front yard has been claimed by a male so I hung a second feeder in the back yard and that one is guarded by a female. Of course other hummers try and do succeed at getting to the feeder.
This makes for some interesting tactical maneuvers and chase scenes. There is never a dull moment when the hummingbirds are around. Although hummingbirds are very fast fliers, they have the unique ability to hover for long periods of time which makes it a little easier to get a picture of them.
To learn more about how hummingbirds hover, go to Mo Castandi’s post on the subject.
For feeding hummingbirds, I follow the Hummingbird Society’s guidelines of using a 1 part pure cane sugar to 4 parts water. For more information, click on the link to go the website.