Me, My Camera and Macros

A few (!!) years ago I was given a Nikon DSLR camera for my 60th birthday.  For months afterwards I took it everywhere with me, annoying the life out of friends, stopping to take photographs and trying to get everything just right.

Most of them consider me to be a bit of a techie, but I still can’t get to grips with apertures, ISO, focusing and shutter speeds.  I even went to evening classes on How to Know Your Camera.  Sadly obtaining the correct modes continue to allude me.   Whilst I appreciate the joy of finding the uploaded photograph is exactly what I wanted (a rare occurrence) I chicken out and resort to the point and click routine.  My iPad and iPhone, with a little cosmetic tweaking courtesy of editing, produce what I feel are adequate but not perfect photographs for my blog.  I upload them with the slight disappointment they could be better – I think I am a latent perfectionist.

I have decided after all this time, I will not let my DSLR languish at the back of the cupboard.  With Silent Sunday in mind I left my iPhone in the house and ventured out into the garden to practice macros.  Actually this was the first time in 4 days I have been out there in the daylight and a lot has happened since then.

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What a delight it was to see the beautiful little Iris Reticula, a vivid blue in the sunshine and glistening with raindrops.   They are in the flower bed by the house which, when deciding where to plant bulbs last autumn, I chose to pack with spring bulbs.  The Iris are the first to bloom and I am hoping that shortly there will be an impressive display of colour with daffodils and tulips.

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I played around with the ISO, focal length and aperture, without a clue of what I was doing. According to the photo properties the f-stop is f8 and the focal length is 45mm all of which still mean absolutely nothing to me.   With a little bit of help using the edit program and the vignette I produced the above.

There is particular Iris I am very fond of and that is ‘Katharine Hodgkin‘, it is so delicate.  Unfortunately, only two flowers appeared this year, but they were last years bulbs left in a pot so I was lucky to get anything.

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This is another photo of ‘Katharine Hodgkin’ which I played about with and used the vignette mode.  I can’t quite work out how to get one photo posted on WordPress as a circular, it seems that you can only do this when posting multiple pics, but if anyone has any ideas please let me know.

Finally, getting a little more confident with twisting and twiddling the lens and buttons on my Nikon I took several photographs of the Hellibores in the garden.  I love the circle of little seeds that look like a wreath.

You can see that this post became more than Silent Sunday!

 

Eruptions in the Garden

A little late in comparison to recent years, the garden is at last erupting with spring delights.

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Watching the soil in the pots  by the kitchen door, as the shoots push themselves through, it struck me it is like watching a cake rise.

Although I’ve tried to be careful and label all my pots, over time some labels have disappeared and it’s a lottery as to whether I am going to see tulips, daffodils or iris.

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These pretty multicoloured tulip leaves are ‘Tulip Botanical Mixed’ and their colour is unknown.  I bought a pack of 25 bulbs from my local garden centre, and label just says ‘mixed colours’ so I am in for a pleasant surprise. I didn’t plant all 25 in the pot, most are in the flower beds.

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The above pot has a vivid yellow  tulip called ‘Tulip Candela’, a large creamy  ‘Tulip Purissima’ and ‘Orange Breeze‘  which as it says on the label is orange.  Fingers crossed this will be as fabulous a display as envisaged when I planted them.

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A few months ago I came across a large bag of mixed daffodil bulbs, which I didn’t remember buying.  At the time the ground was so hard I couldn’t plant them in the flower beds so searched out a number of odd containers languishing by the shed.  This particular trough was a draw to an animal, or two, having great fun digging up the bulbs as fast as I kept putting them back, hence the sticks which acted as a good deterrent. It’s heartwarming to see so many shoots – this is going to look good!

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Away from the pots, everything is also coming to life in the flower beds.  Hoe in hand, I stood looking at the garden this morning in the welcomed warm sunshine and didn’t know where to start.  It is all too easy to go at the soil in a gung-hoe fashion with a hoe (excuse the pun) and slice off the tops of emerging shoots.  I decided, as we have been promised some good weather over the next few days, I will work on my knees, with a hand trowel, and tidy one section at a time.

Above, is the Agapanthus – it is a deciduous variety with a very pretty blue delicate flower.

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The Peony is well behind this year.  On checking previous blog posts for mid-February,  there are photos of the red shoots being at least 8 inches tall.  I wonder if this year I will have more flowers, it’s been a disappointing provider of blooms despite being at least 6 years old.   Taking another look of the photo as I type this post, I suspect there is too much soil over the root ball, I seem to recall it needs to bake in the sun, a bit like iris.  Time will tell.

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All the daffodils are coming through in the bottom flowerbed, despite being nibbled.  Last year something ate all the flowers which really did spoil the display.

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Wandering around to the front garden, the ‘tete-a-tete Narcissus are developing into a wonderful, welcoming display.  This is just one clump of three underneath my lounge window.

Finally, the snowdrops around the lilac in the front are now in their prime. The grass is courtesy of the bird seed from the feeders hanging in the tree, an issue I’ve not had trouble with before.  I have no idea of the variety, and assume they are just the common-or-garden type.  Nevertheless they are a wonderful bringer of spring delights.

End of Month View – January 2017


Not one of the best days for taking photos of the garden, it’s dull and drizzling, but I got out there for this January 2017 End of Month View  ( EOMV).

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The garden is very wet and I have done very little in the garden save for filling in holes in the flower beds courtesy of foxes and cats. I have spoilt the aesthetic look of the garden with sticks and chicken wire to try to protect all the bulbs, but sometimes even these don’t thwart the wretched animals.

dsc_0126The flower bed above I recently extended following the removal earlier in the year of the raised bed.  I have filled it with daffodil and tulip bulbs and hope that they will produce an impressive display.  The idea is to grow more flowers in 2017. 

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Taking photographs of the garden is an important way of seeing things differently.  The photo above has shown that I need to reshape the border slightly, I think it looks a bit odd.  However, although it is a small garden, I think I have proved you can still have an interesting walk around the garden and see things from different perspectives, rather than stand at the top of the garden and view everything at once.

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May 2004
Out of interest I thought I would add a photo of the garden taken in May 2004 – 13 years ago. There was a lot of lawn with straight borders.  The ivy is still on the Victorian stone walls but along with my neighbour we are beginning to eradicate it although it is a long job.

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There is a small bed to the left of the back patio which in the last 5 years had raspberry  bushes.  I am cutting out a lot of them, not only because they produce more raspberries than I can cope with they have taken over a flower bed in a great sunny position.  In the summer, after the strawberries finished, I moved them into this bed and they have taken to their new home.  I put a cage over them, again to protect them from being dug up.   This is another bed full of bulbs, covered with chicken wire.  It is my intention to have a small cutting patch here.

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Just to finish off the view of the back garden is a photo of the other border which faces north and has very little sun in the summer with none in the winter.

The side patio is full of spring bulbs filled pots with just a few green tips poking through.  Looking back they appear to be a little later than usual in past years and there is, disappointingly no sign of the Iris Reticulata.  Below is a photo of the very pretty iris from a post on 8 February 2015.  You can see from the photo how much further advanced the daffodils were then.

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The first week of February 2015 – Reticulata Iris
Finally a quick visit to the front garden.   Those of you who follow my blog may remember that the front garden belongs to the flat upstairs, although the tenants have never been gardeners so for the last 15 years I have been lucky to be its custodian.

Last year  (2016) was different because the tenant planted a tomato plant in the bed under my window, which is her prerogative, but it grew rampantly and unchecked so took over the bed and I was unable to plant any summer flowers, which was a shame.  I am wondering if she will do the same again in 2017, I expect she will because despite the dry west facing aspect, clay soil, never watering, or pinching out, she had an excellent crop of cherry tomatoes – very annoying!  At the moment, the Day Lillies are producing healthy shoots and the tete-a-tete narcissus are looking as though they have survived the tomato plant onslaught, although there are not as many as previous years.

Finally, I can’t complete a January End of Month View without showing the snowdrops in the front garden.   A strange thing has happened though.  I always hang bird feeders on the lilac tree, but this year the inevitable drop of seeds have produced grass!  This has choked some of the snowdrops and will give me another job to dig over this bed to remove the grass without disturbing the snowdrops.

The EOMV meme is hosted by Helen of The Patient Gardener.   Please pop over to her blog as many gardeners across the world contribute to this meme and it is really interesting to see how others are doing at this time of the year.