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Allan designs and plants flowering gardens in Montreal, Zone 5 [USDA Zone 4] .

See website, design work and favorite flowering plants at

Consultation and coaching for do-it-yourselfers is provided. Occasional emailed questions are welcome and answered free of charge. Oui, je parle francais.

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Entries in garden photography (11)


Psst! Wanna See Some Really Cool Garden Pictures?

The internet has made it possible to access the web sites of internationally acclaimed and talented professionals who are garden designers, writers, or photographers. Visitors to these sites are rarely disappointed; most come away bowled over by the talent and creativity that they encounter there.

Another online source of information and pleasure, delivered in words or pictures, or both, may be found in the garden blogs of more than 4,000 hobbyists and amateurs who communicate from all corners of the globe. On rare occasions, a posting from one of these sources will stand out and merit special attention and accolade.

This past week, on August 1, 2011, to be exact, one such garden blogger has taken his site from respected hobbyist to world class professional, when he posted some camera shots he took of the Bellevue Botanical Gardens, in Seattle, Washington. Known to his readers as scottweberpdx, and blogging at Rhone Street Gardens, this garden blogger has created a collection of sublime plant images that are world class. From the point of view of pictorial composition, texture, perspective, and color, they are all works of art that I would be eager to hang on my walls.

The protocol of garden blogging does not permit me to reproduce any of these spectacular images on my site. Therefore, I urge readers to click onto the blog logo above to experience firsthand what I can only write about.


A Perennial Garden Will Always be a Work in Progress

When designing a perennial garden, one cannot predict with certainty how it will grow during the following season. Sun, rain, temperature, soil conditions, location, borrowed views, and a plant’s naturally - determined personality will interfere even with the most experienced gardener’s vision. Editing a flowerbed, in seasons to come, is an integral part of the design process.

The photo above demonstrates a late May-early June combination from this season that was planted last year. While it creates a satisfying visual composition, it is not growing as spectacularly as envisioned in the original plan on paper. From left to right, one can see Salvia Caradonna, Rainbow Knock Out Rose, Itoh Peony Bartzella and Iris sibirica Caesar’s Brother. A vivid pink Silene Rolly’s Choice grows in the background but it is unintentional to the composition.

For better results, the rose ought to have had more blooms on it; the purple siberian iris ought to have been growing behind the yellow Itoh peony for a more vibrant color effect and the purple-blue Salvia ought to have been closer to the rose. Except for moving the iris, the other “ought tos” are not realistic options in the narrow flowerbed that flanks a walkway. In fact, Salvia Caradonna is such an impressive perennial that by the beginning of July, it became necessary to move it to another spot in the bed where it could flourish without overpowering the garden. Furthermore, in USDA Zone 4, the rose will only pump out more blooms in early July.

Since shooting this photo, the taller purple irises were lifted and placed behind the shorter yellow peony. The intention is to create a more dramatic composition. Perhaps in their new location, the irises will contribute visual excitement when they bloom in tandem with the coral roses.

My only regret in posting this photo is that Itoh Peony Bartzella is not a friend of the camera. The bright lemon yellow saturation of its petals is so intense that light bounces off the flower, even on an overcast day. It is quite a challenge for this neophyte photographer to capture a satisfying image of this very unusual and dramatic plant.

Even with the generous advice of skilled photographers, at this time of year, garden projects leave so little time to learn how to use the camera properly. I am sure that one can control for this bleaching-out effect if one takes time to read the owner’s manual provided with the camera. With only modest results, I have relied upon the editing feature of Zoombrowser to improve the appearance of the yellow petals. My consolation is that instead of mastering my Canon Power Shot, I gave homeowners the garden of their dreams.


Healing Gardens, Healing Stones; a Product Review

Healing Stones and Gardens, a DVD/Postcard Gift Set by Sherry Black and Everett Buss, Five Star Publications 

The concept of the healing garden is relatively new to North America. A study of Asian landscapes shows that such gardens have been in use for a very long time. We are only now beginning to understand their power to relax the visitor.

Since the industrial revolution of the early 18th century, our lives have grown more complex as the pace of life has steadily increased. Finding peace and tranquility becomes more challenging with each generation. Those who have a commitment to a strong belief system may find comfort in their religious rituals. However, for many, that refuge is elusive and the need for a spiritual experience to sooth, relax, and re energize, remains unfulfilled.

A large number of people engage in serious sports, dance, yoga, meditation, or massage. Others use recreational substances. Many do not know where to turn. Fortunately for some of us, each time we step into our gardens, we experience a euphoria that defies description. The touch and aroma of the soil, the fragrance and color of the flowers, the sounds of the birds, the fresh air and the wind, the warmth of the sun, and the exercise all contribute to a feeling of well being.

Spending ten minutes watching this DVD will be a relaxing spiritual experience both for those who cannot garden during winter and for many who do not enjoy gardening at all. The creators hope that the viewer will be able to suspend time while watching the breathtaking images of peaceful, flowering gardens alternating with and superimposed upon multidimensional stones and crystals.

The imagery for the postcards and the DVD are supplied by Sherry Black and Everett Buss. Ms. Black is a nature photographer who has created advanced technology slide shows that blend her photographs together on large screens using three projectors. The haunting and ethereal shows are in demand for music concerts, gallery openings, and museums. Everett Buss, who has a gift for seeing the universe in stones and crystals, is responsible for bringing us the awesome imagery embedded there. Through his lapidary art, he finds and shares spirituality. Each of his images is abstract art of extraordinary depth and feeling.

On the DVD, garden images not only alternate with the designs found in the stones, but each stone image echoes the pattern and design of the next nature image. Throughout, the inviting background sounds of birds and insects are calming. Watching the DVD had as powerful an effect on me as a glass of wine, a hot bath, or a Shiatsu massage. It must be the continuous bombardment of the eye, with pleasant, breathtaking images, that creates the calming, visual experience. The compact size of the combined DVD and postcard set makes this a unique and thoughtful gift item.



Garden Photography:A Post Scriptum to a Previous Post

When I posted three photographs of flower beds at White Flower Farm, taken by Irene Jeruss, I neglected to pay attention to what made two out of the three photos so powerful. [Please scroll down to the previous post to have another look at them]

Then I read comments to that blog, posted by some readers who mentioned that photographing flower gardens are challenging. That reminded me of a conversation  I once had with a photographer friend. Photos of flower gardens are less satisfying than the real thing, he related, because the brain sees an image in three dimensions but a camera only captures that image in two dimensions. That may explain why many pictures of flower gardens, that we have seen and then photographed, are so disappointing. However, that alone did not explain the pleasurable effect that Ms. Jeruss’ pictures had on me and some of my readers.

I glanced back at the first two of her images and, this time, noticed what, I think, made them great. In each of the shots, she captured flowers in the foreground of the composition, i.e. she created perspective. Is that perspective a substitute for three dimensions and did it contribute to making the pictures so attractive?

To learn more, I contacted my photographer friend. He explained that there is a trick that some photographers use. When we look at pictures of open landscapes, he explained, our eyes fly all over the picture, never settling anywhere. However, when there is an object in the foreground, the eye grabs on and keeps the brain focused on it. Anchored to the foreground, our brain can now begin to explore and appreciate the landscape in the background. I hope I got that right.

The pervasive use of digital cameras among gardeners has made botanical photography an integral part of every day horticulture. In addition to learning how to use garden tools and gardening techniques, perhaps we also need to learn the tricks of the trade for successfully photographing landscapes. It is amazing how the continuous advances in technology touch our lives on so many levels.


Garden Photography:A Photo Shoot Full of Talent at a Flower Farm

About a year ago, I stumbled across a photo of a white cottage surrounded by deep and generous flower beds filled with white begonias; I marveled how effective the monochromatic white treatment appeared when it was anchored by a white building. Accidentally, I misfiled, or deleted the image. Now it is inaccessible and I am frustrated by my own fumbling. A blog that I prepared about white gardens was based on that very image, and without it the blog loses its punch.

Frantically, I began Googling all day Saturday and, alas, the image is nowhere to be found in cyberspace, where I first spotted it. However, I did find many photos of the White House and many gardens planted with white flowers. Unfortunately, the exact photo that I need to complete my story still remains elusive.

Because two of the key words in my Google search were flowers and white, several images by photographer Irene Jeruss popped up. They were flower garden compositions that the photographer had shot at White Flower Farm. I was smitten with her images and decided that they deserved to be shared .In a search to determine to whom the image accreditation belonged, I discovered that they were the property of a photographic website of the Smithsonian Institute, called click!, a site that encourages visitors to disseminate material and information found there, as long as it is not for commercial purposes.

Cottage Garden by Irene Jeruss

From 2007 through 2010, click! invited experts from a spectrum of professional worlds—innovators, image makers, writers, and public figures—to survey the ways photography has influenced the history, progress, and practice of each of their fields of interest. In addition, visitors to click! were also encouraged to contribute texts and images, and selected visitor contributor content became part of the project’s online content. 

Garden in June by Irene Jeruss

 The photo essay that talented photographer Irene Jeruss, posted to click! was accompanied by a delightful text. Please click here to read her essay. This photographer is based in Bristol, Connecticut, uses a film camera, and specializes in business and corporate, family, people, stock, travel and tourism. Other photographic specialties include Architecture: Interiors, beauty, bio-medical and scientific, horticulture, and portfolios.

Lloyd Border by Irene Jeruss

What has drawn me to her photos, and what has blown me away, is the manner by which the photographer set up her shots:  the perspective, the composition and, of course, the colors. These are the kind of scenes that some of us wish we might wake up to each morning.