In the Garden, Rain and All

In between April showers I’ve been visiting as many public gardens as I can.  I’m not kidding about in between – it’s been so soggy that we’ve broken a hundred and twenty-two-year record for the wettest October through April (our wet period). But if you watch the forecast and the skies carefully there are breaks, and that’s when I duck out to visit a garden. The destination may be an hour’s drive or a ferry ride away, or it may be closer to home. Either way, my impromptu garden tours are pure pleasure, even if I have to drive home in a downpour and wall to wall traffic.

I avoid carrying a tripod or backpack. The camera bag with extra lenses, filters and what have you stays in the car. A Blackrapid camera strap goes over my left shoulder and across, so the camera rests at my hip by my right hand.  I find it’s the most comfortable way to carry my camera, which is a little smaller than a standard DSLR.  I have small velcro pouches on the strap that hold an extra battery and SD card. They’re lifesavers, except when you forget to resupply – oh well.

I carry one or two extra lenses in a pocket or a pouch hanging from a belt loop. A snack is always handy, too. There’s a running joke about getting me one of those many-pocketed photographer’s vests, but I’m not going down that road. I have been grateful for the hood on my sweatshirt lately though – and grateful that my camera’s weather-sealed. Eventually the incredible Seattle summer will arrive and rain won’t be a worry, but the beauty of our rainy Spring is that overcast skies often bring out the best in flowers.

Here’s an assortment of photographs taken at six different public gardens this month.

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The photographs were taken at Heronswood, the beloved garden and specialty nursery founded by plant explorer Dan Hinkley, the Kruckeberg Botanical Garden, another garden that began with the passion of a collector and grew into a nursery-cum-public garden, the University of Washington’s Center for Urban Horticulture in Seattle, Bellevue Botanical Garden, the Rhododendron Botanical Species Garden, and Powellswood, yet another garden that grew out of a private collection.

The pretty magenta and yellow nodding flowers are fawn lilies (Erythronium oregonum) which grow wild in the woods in the Pacific Northwest and are popular Spring garden plants. The photo that looks like an orchid (with dark background) is a Formosan Lady’s Slipper (Cipripedium), a hardy orchid from Taiwanese mountain forests that does well in our climate, too. The white three-petaled flower with the black beetle is a trillium (T. ovatum), a native woodland Spring flower that does well in gardens. Below it is the flower of the Akebia, an Asian ornamental vine.  The small blue flowers are Corydalis flexuosa; the blue bud is Meconopsis, the Himalaya Blue poppy. The last photo is of a Disporum, or Fairybells, probably our native species (D. smithii) at Heronswood.

I’m off to explore the “Big Empty” – a region in Oregon that is mostly range and desert, dotted with ghost towns and fossil beds. Maybe I’ll have a few desert landscapes to post when I return, and there are still desert photographs from my January trip to Arizona to post. Also, a selection of black and white garden images. Stay tuned…


44 comments

  1. Your photographs are beautiful! As for process, I also use a Blackrapid camera strap and appreciate its ease and flexibility.

  2. I’m staying tuned – don’t worry, I’m staying tooned! 🙂 Several things to talk about here. As always, a beautiful set of photos, but I particularly like the way that the buds(?) hold themselves tight into the stem in the first one, its almost like some religious symbol. And then the one with the black beetle on the white flower. And then the one two below that beetle, with the zone of blue flowers across the top of the otherwise green mosaic. Next, well, you know I’m strange, but I really do wonder if its worthwhile putting your name on your images – I never do, and my attitude is that, well, if someone steals some they steal some, and that Life’s really too short to worry about things like that – we are, after all, able to go and make more images to our heats’ content, its not as if people are stealing from a finite and exhaustible store. I almost feel like putting a notice on my blog asking people to help themselves to whatever they want! I think your gorgeous pics look better unadorned. A 🙂

    • Staying tuned…good! Because I’ve been out of reach for a few days, off the grid for the most part, and it was a nice experience. Super, I mean incredibly small towns, each one many miles from the next, in eastern Oregon – desert steppe country, very interesting geologically, which I bet you’d like. Not many birds, but amazing roadside scenery and friendly people.
      I agree with your idea about the first photo – it does have a religious or symbolic look to it. They are buds of the fawn lilies below. Re bugs on flowers, I can’t tell you how many times I miss them, take a macro, and get home to a pleasant surprise. This one I did see though! Glad you like the field of blue and green, that was my intent, the colorfield feeling.
      Re my name on my photographs, the jury’s out in my mind. I’m playing around with it. Someone advised it, previously I had rejected the idea, and I thought it was time to rethink it. Of course photos are a better viewing experience without any print on them, but, but….
      Anyway, thanks as always for your thoughts, and Happy Weekend Adrian!

    • Wish it was my garden! 😉 It’s many public gardens; I’m without garden space currently so I go seek them out. Akebia is a crazy, fascinating flower close-up – glad you enjoyed!

  3. It is such a joy to see your photos. That closeup of the blue bud/poppy is my favorite – wow, you captured its essence, down to those tiny tiny tiny details!
    I liked your digital signature, especially when spaced out sort of poster style – but quiet poster! it’s professional and artful and shows that you’re serious about your work – and it helps people connect your unique style with a name.

    • Hi Lisa, thanks for your thoughts….the blue poppy is quite a wonderful flower, and not common. I’m playing around with a signature, and the spaced out one is the latter version, which I too think is better, but as you can see above, some people prefer no signature, and I can certainly see that. But you bring up some strong points. Thank you Lisa, and Happy Weekend!

  4. These photos are a much-needed spring breath for those of us still stuck in The Great White North. The snow is disappearin but only a few leaves have stuck their heads above the cold earth. Flowers? Ha! Those are still weeks away, unless you count pussy willows and poplar catkins.

    P.S. You mention that your camera is “weather-sealed” … did it come that way or have you designed something to protect it? Between snow, sleet, rain and fog I would really like to add more protection for my camera (Sony A6000).

    • “The Great White North” – I bet that sums it up well. I’m sure Spring is all the more precious once it finally shows up. I do count the catkins though, those early signs that make us feel so good, and eager. I love early Spring. The weather sealing came with my camera, and was one of the pluses for me, since I can be rather blithely unaware sometimes, or just heedless. My camera is probably a little bigger & heavier than yours – it’s a micro four thirds, an Olympus OM D- EM1 (not the latest model). Even many of their lenses are weather sealed. I haven’t put anything to the test, just light sprinkles here and there, but it’s nice not to be worrying. Still, it’s not weatherproof, and I wouldn’t take it out in really bad weather. They do make sleeves that enclose your camera for that, which may be a pain but worth checking out.

      • Thanks for the camera info, Lynn. Saw the first dandelions yesterday. Finally the last of our snow disappeared!

    • Nothing much we can do about the weather, right? Just figure out ways to work with it. Thanks you Louis, I’m glad you enjoyed them. Some of these – actually most or all of them – are flower species I’ve photographed before, and I find that helps. Though they’re not in bloom long, each year you get to know them a little better, and your photographs can begin to show that.

  5. So pretty…I especially love the white upside-down ones with purple ‘lantern’ centers. I agree overcast is often best for captures of flowers, or it can be nice if there are some dappled sun spotlights here and there. I’m glad you’re finding some time to tiptoe through the raindrops. It’s been SO wet. I often don’t have the luxury to catch the breaks, so I’m feeling a little cabin-bound. But I’ve been enjoying the views of the changing weather and light – especially the many rainbows this season.

    • Hi Sheri – those are called fawn lilies, and there are other names of course – but they’re native here. Maybe you can still find a few blooming if you go up high enough, but right now I can’t think of where I’d look, other than local gardens. They’re quite small so I had to get down on the ground for those and make use of the articulating LCD screen.
      Yes, it’s been crazy wet this year, as we both know – but it seems to me there have been a lot of pretty sunbreaks, too. The better to make rainbows, which for some reason (I know there have been many) I keep missing.
      I hope you do get out a little more soon!
      Oops – maybe you’re talking about the Akebia vine, the close up of cream and purple flowers in a cluster? NOT native! But likely still blooming over at Bellevue Botanical Garden – go!

  6. The purple and white lantern-like flowers are my favorite: or at least they’re a tie with the insect-adorned trillium. Are the blue flowers naturally so bright? That certainly is an electric blue. The white flowers you didn’t identify reminded me of our Blackfoot daisy. It’s a little clumpy and low-growing, so it makes a nice display.

    I just read about the various straps. I don’t think I’m ready for one of those. I feel like it would be just one more thing to think about. Maybe once I learn to focus properly I’ll reward myself. On the other hand, carrying extra lenses is something I need to do. I went out early this morning with only my macro and my 18-135mm, and ended up needing the telephoto to chase a monarch butterfly. Another lesson learned.

    I did come across a pair of snakes this morning, both about 3-4′ long, and headed away as fast as their little — scales? — could carry them. I was in knee-high boots, but not snake boots. Those may need to be my next bit of equipment.

    • That blue – the poppy and the Corydalis – I increased the blue saturation a tiny bit in each, as I remember, mainly to convey the way it looked to me at the time. I usually decrease saturation a tiny bit, actually. I think the poppy bud is brighter than the opened flower, which is a softer blue, and equally gorgeous. Here’s a page of them:
      https://www.google.com/search?q=meconopsis&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiOu-6RvNnTAhUP32MKHUftCiwQ_AUIBygC&biw=1920&bih=940
      Now I’m thinking I should go see if that one is still out – it’s not far away, that garden, but they don’t have many of those.
      Re the strap, for me, it’s one less thing to think about because it’s so comfortable but you’d have to see if it felt that way for you. I tried it on at a camera store before buying. I don’t dare go without a strap, I’d drop the camera! And I can’t tolerate it, or binoculars, around my neck.
      Lenses – they surprise us don’t they? I brought four with me (three primes) on our 4-5 day road trip, and ended up staying with the one zoom lens the whole time! Just once I switched to the macro for a flower, and had trouble adjusting my eyes. I had gotten used to the zoom.Travel photography, for me anyway, is so different from photographing closer to home, for the reason you mention – many unexpected things are happening so you need flexibility. I still have not bought a telephoto lens though. If and when I do, birds and butterflies look out! 🙂 You must have a great variety of butterflies in that area – we are poor up here in that department. But you have more snakes, Trade offs! A little garter snake is fun to see, the bigger guys, not so much. Happy Weekend Linda!

      • You know, now that I think about it, some blue morning glory buds I photographed had that same purple/blue/magenta combo that made them just spectacular — and the colors there seemed a little unreal, too. I can’t even imagine a blue poppy, even though I’ve seen the photos. They are beautiful. Now, I’m off to read about that lens you mentioned. I just can’t seem to get anything as crisp as you do, no matter what I try. I can’t afford another lens — and honestly, I know the lens isn’t the problem. But still — it doesn’t hurt to see what people are using. All of it helps me understand what I have.

      • Re the lens and sharp photos, as much as everyone says the equipment doesn’t make the photo, it does make a difference. Most or all of these were taken with the 60 mm macro, a prime lens, and it’s been a really good lens. When I got it, I did notice the difference. Plus the camera has image stabilization. Maybe you’ll get a windfall or you’ll find a similar lens that’s compatible with your camera used, online – we’ve bought a few used pieces of equipment that have been great. Photography can really cost! I’m going to trade in a lens or two soon!
        I love the morning glories that have those colors!

    • No, I haven’t seen those – that’s a fun post – and I don’t know Bored Panda. I like the plastic bag diffuser – even that is more than I’d normally do, but maybe one day I’ll try it. Thanks!

      • Yes, the plastic bag diffuser was my favorite too. I despise flash photos because of how they bleach the color out of images. This looks like a great solution when you need more light but want to keep it looking ‘natural’.

  7. Lynn, your focusing and depth of field are just so very very good! Wish I could go with you so I could see how you do it. I think my favorite photo here is the first one because it is the most abstract, but they are all lovely. . . . I’m afraid I have to agree with Adrian about your name on the photos. To me, it commercializes them. I understand about wanting to protect your images, but any evil person who really wants to steal them can do a little Photoshopping—or just cropping—and be rid of the words. I see that you have a clear note in your About section about copyright. If your worry about people stealing images has increased, maybe you can add a reminder on each post about copyright that links to your About page . . .

      • Thank you, Scott – I think photographing subjects you’re more familiar with is easier, plus I’m getting better at processing! But the real change is having more time. I can’t begin to describe the difference between life pre and post “what-happened-in-Phoenix.” Since I couldn’t return to my job part time, I decided not to return at all, and though it meant forgoing a few more years of saving for the future, it may just be a better deal all around. (I hope I feel that way in twenty years, if I’m still here!) Difficult decision to make, but right now, I’m liking it. I wish you more time, and more freedom.

    • Hi Linda – I think the lens does play a big part in flower close-ups. I have one made for my camera that happens to let in a lot of light and jis very sharp. It’s become my favorite lens (https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/892512-REG/Olympus_v312010bu000_MSC_ED_M_60mm_f_2_8.html)
      I appreciate your thoughts about the signature – it’s something I’ve gone back and forth about. You and Adrian have good points to make, as does Lisa (Playamart). I’m going to sit on this for a while! Happy Weekend Linda!

    • It seems the east coast has really been getting some extremes the last year or so, but I hear you, rain is OK after a dry spell. Thanks for commenting Susan, I’m glad you liked them! Happy Weekend!


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