Gratitude in the Garden

Sitting on the ground beside the garden wall, I noticed some purple plants reaching upwards and the pink ones reaching out. In the gap, I noticed the short garden wall. What I had was a squirrel’s eye view.

Taking a moment to look at the garden from a squirrel’s height, I found an intimate spot and a moment for reflection.

While admiring the  flowers’ vibrant colors, I thought about gratitude.

Gratitude for this quiet, peaceful moment,

For my eyesight and my health

For my camera and my photography practice

For nature’s freshness and vitality

For summer.

Strength in Community

Sharing positive thoughts and staying in touch with each other during the Coronavirus pandemic will help all of us stay strong as we self-isolate to keep our community healthy. I’m grateful that this photography blog has created a positive online community, and I encourage you to make it stronger. You might follow the blog by entering your email address on the site, and recommending the blog to friends and family. This artist is not seeking financial gain (there is none). The rewards are purely spiritual.

One member of our community asked for more flower photographs and flower names, as she wrote, “I love to learn more about flowers.” (She is also an animal lover.) So, today I bring you the Hong Kong orchid, photographed at the Naples Botanical Garden this year. I first discovered the Hong Kong orchid — where else — in Hong Kong in 1998 while visiting friends there. Now I count myself very fortunate that the orchid trees thrive in tropical southwest Florida, and I have one of these trees on my street.

#orchid, #orchidtree, #hongkong, #hongkongorchic, #growontrees, #florida, #naplesbotanicalgarden, #naplesflorida, #gardens, #botanicalgarden, #pink, #bluesky, #nature, #naturephotography
The Hong Kong orchids grow on trees in tropical climates from Hong Kong itself to Florida, USA. 2020
#hongkongorchid, #hongkong, #flower, #nature, #tropical, #pink, #fuscia,#naturephotography, #flowerphotography, #florida, #naples, #community
Close up of the delicate petals and stamen of the Hong Kong Orchid in Naples, Florida. 2020

Do you have a request for the photography featured in the blog? Flora? Fauna? Tropical or Snowy? I still have an archive of Nature, Wildlife and Landscape photography from Jackson Hole and Southwest Florida, but I’m always excited to hear from you. Thank you for strengthening our community.

Van Gogh Self Portrait

Van Gogh’s Self Portrait was recreated in flowers at Pittsburgh’s Phipps Conservatory. The strong shapes and colors in his portrait allowed the Pittsburgh artists to make a remarkable piece.

Do you recognize Van Gogh with his piercing eyes, red beard and straw hat? The choice of plants in the portrait even reflect the different dots of color found in the background and the jacket. Find this recreation of the Self Portrait at the Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh.

The current flower show features rooms inspired by other Van Gogh paintings such as Starry Night, the bar with the pool table, and a Provencal house.

My previous blog featured a landscape photo with clearly defined shapes that are different colors. Do these two compositions inspire your work?

Alnwick’s Poison Garden: fun facts

The Poison Garden at Alnwick Castle, in Northumberland (a northeast region of England) taught me about the chemical properties of many common plants. Here is a sample list from the notes I took.

#echium, #echiumvulgaris, #vipersbugloss, #flowers, #sheep, #england, #wildflowers, #burr, #poison, #blue, #purple, #nature
Echium vulgaris or viper’s bugloss contains burs that catch in sheep’s throats if they graze on it, and it also affects the liver.

The beautiful poppy flower is the source for opioid medications as well as the dangerous illegal drug heroine.

#poppy, #bud, #opium, #opioid, #heroin, #chemical, #flower, #england, #castle, #garden
Poppies are a source of opium.

Willow tree bark contains salicylic acid, an ingredient of aspirin. This compound is a natural pain reliever, not a poison.

The Rhubarb leaf and about 3″ of the stem near the leaf contains oxalic acid, which in enough quantity can cause liver failure.

Laburnum has a pea-like berry. Four of them could kill a child. However, the entire plant is toxic.

Periwinkle lowers your blood pressure, and is now used to treat childhood leukemia.

The seed of berries of the Yew are toxic, yet are used in chemotherapy for breast cancer.

Giant hogweed, Heracleum, causes a horrible rash that can last up to four years when skin that has contacted the plant is exposed to sunlight.

The bitter honey of the common Rhododendron is poisonous.

Foxglove can give you heart palpitations if you handle it. All parts of the plant are poisonous, even deadly, if swallowed.

Break a laurel leaf and smell the almond scent at your own risk. You are inhaling cyanide, which prevents oxygen from bonding with your blood. People who trim laurel or handle the trimming must be careful.

Rosemary oil and Juniper berries? Avoid them while pregnant.  They can cause miscarriage.

Did you learn anything new?

 

Sheep on Lindisfarne

How appropriate that I should find sheep grazing on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, since sheep are often used in Bible stories as symbols of the common man in need of a good shepherd. I was able to walk fairly close to this small herd and this one sheep who had wandered off. I must have looked more like a wolf than a shepherd, because the sheep were calling out, “Baaaaah.”

 

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Sheep need to avoid eating this beautiful blue flower, Viper’s Bugloss, that grows wild in England, because its burrs can become lodged in the throat, often creating the need for extraction or even surgery. Burrs aside, the flowers affect the sheep’s liver.

#echium, #echiumvulgaris, #vipersbugloss, #flowers, #sheep, #england, #wildflowers, #burr, #poison, #blue, #purple, #nature
This Viper’s Bugloss was growing alongside the Lindisfarne Castle. It’s not good for the sheep to eat

I learned about these beautiful yet troublesome flowers in the Poison Garden of Alnwick Castle, which is also located in Northumberland, on the northeast coast of England.

A Meadow Full

A meadow full of lupines stretch far into the dark edge of the woods. Here are a few compositional tips.  When you frame a photograph, it is a good idea to consider the foreground, middle ground and background, letting the foreground elements lead your eye through the frame.

Shallow depth of field makes the three well lit lupines in the foreground stand out. The countless lupines in the middle ground tells the story that the meadow stretches out a long way, and the dark background at the upper left allows the eye to exit.

Did you notice the star shaped leaves in the lower center? This helps to balance the composition. Did you notice the lack of distracting elements — Nothing that distracts or detracts from the main subject?

#lupine, #lupines, #june, #summer, #pennsylvania, #flowers, #flowerphotography, #nature, #naturephotography, #depthoffiled, #sony
Where does your eye go first in this composition?

As you consider these factors of light, fore/middle/background, S curves, shapes, lack of distractions and depth of field, you are well on your way to learning how to create a dynamic (rather than a static) image.

Lupines in Evening Light

It’s amazing how a warm ray of evening light can make a garden look special. That ray of light is even sweeter after a day of heavy rain.

#lupines, #light, #garden, #june, #may, #purple, #pennsylvania, #sewickley, #flowers, #nature
Purple Lupines have withstood the heavy rain and stand out amid the lush greenery in the evening light.

Lupines are one of my favorite flowers. They bloom in Western Pennsylvania in late May and early June. I enjoyed photographing them in New Zealand in December. The seasons are reversed Down Under!

Pink Peony Bouquet

A pink peony in full bloom displays countless delicate petals, and here the raindrops accentuate the delicacy. This pink bouquet is still growing on the bush, standing up to heavy rain and warm daytime temperatures.

#pink, #peonies, #may, #rain, #raindrops, #spring, #nature, #flowers, #mybackyard, #bouquiet, #sony
Do these lush pink peonies remind you of an old-fashioned petticoat?

Peony Season

How can peony season be nearly over? I came home to Pittsburgh after a week out of town, and the weather had nearly ruined all my pink and white peonies. Dozens of blossoms were falling apart and lying on the wet ground. I’m afraid it was a bad week for a gardener to leave town.

Just a few late bloomers have withstood the heavy rainstorms and stood tall for today’s photography.

#peony, #white, #may, #spring, #rain, #season, #sony, #depthoffield
On a cloudy day in between rain showers, this white peony shows off its delicate petals.

#peony, #peonies, #whiteandpink, #may, #spring, #rain, #raindrops, #mygarden, #season, #earlyspring
The white and pink peonies from the same bush share the spotlight.

Tulips at the Frick

The Frick Collection in Pittsburgh is exhibiting Paul and Bunny’s Mellon’s art collection, which normally hangs in the Virginia Museum of Fine Art in Richmond. Most of the paintings are from the Impressionist period, including works of Monet, Van Gogh, Degas, Sisley, Pissaro, Redon and Morissot, but there are also some equestrian paintings and some post Impressionists like Matisse and Picasso. It’s a fantastic exhibit!

At the same site, you can visit the historic Frick home called “Clayton,” see the late Whitney Snyder’s collection of antique cars and have lunch at the Cafe. Just outside the Cafe, I also enjoyed these tulips in the garden — living, breathing works of art.

#tulip, #spring, #may, #pittsburgh, #frick
The best way to photograph a flower is to keep it simple. Shallow depth of field isolates the subject in the frame. Yes, I was down on the ground, kneeling in the mulch.

#tulips, #redwhiteandblue, #pittsburgh, #frick, #flowers
I liked the contrast between the red and white petals and the bed of tiny blue flowers behind them.

#tulip, #redandwhite, #spring, #may, #pittsburgh, #frick, #macro, #flower
Even though this tulip was past its peak, the texture, colors and detail were inviting.