Archive for September 9th, 2009

Photo contest angst

Once again I have decided to enter the Gardening Gone Wild monthly photo contest.   This month the prize is a selection of ornamental grasses, which I would dearly love to have.   I have spent my plant budget already this year working on the Petite Prairie, and I could use a few more plants to fill it out.   This month the subject for “Picture This” is Ornamental Grass, and you would think that I could capture an image of this nascent prairie garden that would give me the prize.

I have been trying for several months to figure out just how one could get the magic of the textures and airiness of grasses into an image.   Last month during “On Your Knees” I spent a lot of time on my knees in the wet grass being eaten alive by the tiny bugs Jim and I have dubbed “the ankle biters” because they tend to bite your ankles as you walk about the yard.  They are so tiny, I have no idea what kind of bug they are, but where they bite you itches like crazy for about 10 minutes.  They don’t leave welts, which is a blessing, and they don’t go higher than your knees when you walk around, so wearing rubber boots foils them.   They like the cool of the evening.   Anyway, in spite of all that looking and creeping and shooting and cropping (and scratching), I did not get a single image that I thought got across the vision I had for it.

So now I have another chance, and this time the prize is even more germane to my present gardening needs, so I truly covet winning.   Oh, I’d like to bask in the admiration of my peers too.  God knows there are some incredibly talented photographers and gardeners that take part in these contests.   I truly feel very outclassed on a regular basis by the other entries in the competition.

So, today I went out to the Petite Prairie on another photographic safari, looking for a prize winning image of my ornamental grasses.  I really love this new garden, there are so many textures and colors.   Right now the Llano Indian Grass (Sorgastrum nutans) and the “Cheyenne Sky” switch grass (Panicum virgatum ‘Cheyene Sky’) are blooming, and the textures of them together are really splendid.


The switch grass is the sort of “beaded” one in the background.   The whole clump of this grass makes a sort of haze of red and gold in front of other things.  In my experience, this haze is a knock out when you are standing there in the garden, but the camera does not catch it the same way my brain does.   So even when I get a pretty nifty picture, the textures don’t seem to come out the way I envision them.


There are seven different grasses in this picture.  I love this garden, but is that an award winning shot?   I just don’t know.

Then I wander along in the garden, and I get totally distracted from my purpose by the dinner plate sized hibiscus in the Rain Garden.


I think the pollen grains and the tiny drop of nectar on the pistil are just delicious.

Further along in the garden, I try to capture the rock garden in such a way as to demonstrate the “coastline” Jim and I tried to create along the sea of gravel.  The junipers and sedums trailing down the rocks are supposed to give the impression of distant forests.  Behind them are “sunset lit clouds” of sedums.


I happen upon a view along the Thyme Walk that really entrances me.


The sweet autumn clematis is covering the pergola with a roof of blooms. This is another display that it is quite difficult to get on the camera because the blossoms just absolutely glow with whiteness and tend to wash out in the long view.


They are better close up.  Turns out they are also quite busy, many bees and wasps are visiting.


The bees are dividing their time between the clematis and the sedums in the Rock Garden.


Finally I give up the photography for the moment,thinking the light might be better later on.

Instead, I pick a posy for the table.   Another in the series “Bouquets you can only have if you are a gardener.”  This particular grouping is full of color and demonstrates the amazing spectrum of colors you will find in zinnias if you save the seeds.  It is not a very nice smelling bouquet due to the marigolds, yarrow, and goldenrod.  It has a very pungent herbal aroma rather than the sweetness we usually think of in a flower arrangement.


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