Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Trying to Conquer the Contrasts of Spring Light

Anything that sounds the least bit like a complaint or a whinge in this post should be completely ignored. It is spring. It is beautiful, and although we did have a bit of frost in some parts, I sat outside before dinner and just smiled at it all like a fool. My challenge is trying to capture it all. My brother's friend used to joke that the Queen (she's on all our lively coloured currency that only Canadians use for anything) squinted when he opened his wallet. Well, I think I'm doing the same with all this glorious sunshine....and so is my camera. I've produced more 'black velvet' photos than I've ever done before.

Here is an establishing shot taken this a.m. so you can see how things are moving along. I'm under my largest Japanese maple facing north.

Crept into my flower bed - violets, tulips and the unsophisticated smaller quince hedge all vying for attention. Light is pretty good here.

This white Epimedium is quite different from the little orange one out back - flowers are held well above leaves - putting the lens right into the low sunshine. Really looks like the flower edges are melting away into the ferns.
Is it me, or does this barrenwort look like she's trying too hard.

A dear little Viola sororia 'Freckles' starting to open. Pay no attention to that blast of light to the left and top....
So, now the light is up a little higher and smashing into the orange lily tulips (Ballerina). The colour representation is pretty good. However, with the good comes the smudge of black velvet at the bottom.
My walking buddy is at a music festival this week and so Kevin and I are on patrol. We came across this building site - formerly nice house on a big lot. And look at these trilliums!

I just adore it when they start to go all pink and pretty. (Yes, camera is definitely compensating for high light, light petals and dark green....)

Did I mention that I'd lost my patch of something that looks just like this....wonder if they'd notice.
You just know they're going to put in a good looking house when they've got a sign like this:

Ah yes, when luxury just isn't enough, I say give 'em Ultra Luxury.
Oh well, further along on our walk spotted this little Euphorbia - they've built up their rock garden so all the plants are just at hip level. Very welcoming.

OK, back home - one hour later, the Ballerinas look like they're back to the barre and out of the bright lights. That's Hosta June - very reliable, not bothered by bugs and lovely to look spring, summer and fall.
Have you ever started to photograph something - and the more pictures you take, the more you realize you're just not capturing what you're seeing. This is an Akebia quinata - called Chocolate Vine so that you buy it in the store. It doesn't smell like chocolate, but it is rather cool and I'm going to try to get a good shot over the next few days, if I have to run down both batteries trying. These flowers are girls - they're big and pink and puffy - the boys are the paler bits that dangle.

Boys hanging around, not open.

Is it my imagination, or does it look like someone didn't want her picture taken?

You can sort of see what the boys look like here.

Sort of a foolish arrangement - perhaps the reason I've never seen fruit on this vine.

So much easier to take a photo without the sun blasting off all over the place.

I think that this little Trollius is my favourite Black Velvet Photo of the day. Remember, if you're going to stroke it, the nap runs down.


Teza said...

Love the Epimedium 'White Queen' (or so I assume it might be) and the purple one does seem to be in a 'staged' pose as you mentioned LOL! The Trillium and Sanguinaria are wonderful... is this at the location for the Ultra Luxury development...... a bit of guerilla garden rescuing might well be in order! Nice to see so many wonderfully colourful plants up and about in the garden. Great photos too!

Frances said...

Oh Barbara, they are all wonderful. The shots of the chocolate vine, yes that would be a selling point, wouldn't it? are wonderful. The female and males flowers are exquisite and you have captured the lady's privates very well. The light is blazing here, much too quickly it seems. I wish you were here to give me some pointers with the new camera, too. And maybe look at a few plants. And maybe take some home with you. It is just a short drive from Canada. My friend has done it, in only a couple of days. We have a nice guest room with your own bathroom. :-)

easygardener said...

I'm going to check out my Akebia tomorrow. I'm not sure I've ever noticed the male flowers before and I've been walking under it for years!
The purple Epimedium flowers look like a swarm of colourful flying insects :-)

Outside In said...

Wow! the chocolate vine is wonderful, and what a great photo shot.

Gail said...

Barbara, The first time I saw akebia was at the local botanical garden~~it was planted on a sweet little garden shed and smelled divinely of chocolate. I've never run across another with fragrance. Great capture on the tiny flowers....and also the adorable epimediums. They are so low to the ground I am wondering if you are lying down in the bed! gail ps Just my 2 cents~~rescue a few.

Meems said...

Hi Barbara,
I am utterly amazed at how fast northern gardens "wake up" once the snow and frost goes away. That shot from "under the largest Japanese maple facing north" is very much appreciated giving me a perspective of your beautiful green garden. So many pretty flowers and colors are coming about for you now.

Barbarapc said...

Teza, it was sold as Epimedium x youngianum Niveum. And I don't know how it happened, but I happened to be driving and I had the shovel in the car, and there were those empty pots....well, evidence to follow!
Frances, thanks for that. Would love to come play! So tempting!!!
E.G. they do look like bugs don't they.
Cathy - hoping for more sunshine to do even better. Although today, it's so dark.
Gail - Maybe it will change in fragrance as it matures - will go out today and see what I can sniff!
Thanks Meems - in a matter of 2 weeks it all seems to go from nothing to everything - and the further north you go - it's even more pronounced. You can tell the gardeners this time of year - we're all gimping around after too much all-at-once gardening just trying to keep up with it all.

Glädjekällan said...

Here the Akebia is flowering for the first time and yesterday a saw the difference of the boys and girls flowers. Lovely!
Epimediums are plants that I can't be without.

Northern Shade said...

The Epimedium are delightful, both the modest little white one, and the prima donna purple. The tulips are snazzy, such a nice healthy clump, with lots of blooms.

Wow, the patch of Trilliums is awesome. They are ultra pretty.I just picked up a few of these for my garden.

Sometimes it's tricky catching the shifting light in the garden, as shadows, and light patches move around. I like the look of dappled light.

Peggy said...

Hi Barbara, great photos as usual.I love the chocolate vine,if it never produces anything but those curious flowers is it worth the space! We are having nothing but torrential rain at the moment so growth has slowed up on everything.

Barbarapc said...

Birgitta - I was surprised this year at how tough it was on other ground-covers - unlike the Epimedium - tough as nails and beautiful. I agree - I just couldn't have a shade garden without them.
N.S. And, a few of them are now looking quite pretty in my garden - those garden fairies are wonderful!
Peggy, all that rain no wonder Ireland is so fabulously green. Yes, I think the Akebia is worth it. We don't have a great variety of woody vines that grow well here because of the weather. I appreciate the fact it has nice leaves; is vigorous, but not overwhelming; grows in the shade;and I do like its oddball flowers. It also has a pleasant habit of overlapping on itself in a nice way. With all the things you can grow in Ireland, maybe not Akebia - but for us and for what it does do, I would recommend it and would put it someones garden if they liked unusual plants.