The February garden photography challenge for February given to us by SmallBlueGreenFlowers is ‘monochrome’.
In February I am looking for Monochrome
(black and white or tones of one colour. Look for texture, shape and patterns. The subject matter is entirely up to you, but should be loosely garden related.)
I’ve been wandering around for the last week trying to find something that would look interesting in black and white. Today I visited West Dean Gardens, near Chichester, and went into one of their greenhouses to warm up.
There laid out before me was a colourful array of gourds. The more I looked at them, the more I realized that they looked at their best in monochrome. When photographed in black and white you are not detracted by their colours but notice how the texture of their warty and patterned skins comes the fore. The photos below are my contribution to this month’s challenge.
As the challenge is ‘monochrome’ and can include photos of one tone, I am also showing a coloured photo of the really warty gourds. It’s probably not quite within the remit of one tone but close enough – I hope!
This has been wettest drought I can remember. It has been announced today that the Drought Orders in the South West, Midland and Yorkshire has been lifted but we in the South East are still waiting for the reservoir to reach the level they should be at this time of the year. Apparently, according to the Water Boards, despite the rain there is still a serious groundwater shortage. Maybe they would like to come and check my garden for any shortage of groundwater. Today it is warm and sunny, but the lawn continues to squelch as I walk on it and the water has not drained from the flower beds yet.
It was only a few days ago I tweeted that compared to my blog post Hope Grows Day on 6 May 2011, the Allium, Aquilegia and Astrantia are still nowhere to be seen this year. Everyone agreed that things are behind this year, or maybe it was just that everything was ahead last year from 2010. I had an idea that I was going write a post along the lines of contrast and compare but it should never be any surprise to see how quickly nature catches up on herself.
As I walked around the garden this morning, the Aquilegia are beginning to bloom, although only a few. These are in full sun (when it is out).
The other varieties that have scattered self-seeded themselves around the garden are still in bud so at the moment it is difficult to tell what colour they are going to be.
I find Aquilegia an exciting plant because the flower differs year on year, although the older ones are now all a dusky pink, but still pretty. The one variety that has come true every year is the lovely Nora Barlow.
However, this post is not all about Aquilegia, although I could wax lyrical about this favourite plant of mine – maybe I will save that for another day when more are out in bloom.
The Allium have just burst through in the last few days which is bringing colour to the garden.
Now for the contrast and compare bit – last year the Astrantia was flowering beautifully:-
This year, there is not a bloom in sight:
The Peony was just unfurling on 12 May 2011:
This year, it is just a mass of leaves and again not a bud in sight:
As for the vegetable patch, well raised bed really, I don’t want it to sound too grand! The carrots last year were in need of thinning out:
This year, they are looking very sparse, but surprise, surprise, putting the two photos together to compare, it could just be that I have been a bit more careful when sowing the seeds so they do not need to be thinned out:-
The sweet peas are chomping at the bit to get out into the big wide world and I suspect if it stays warm and sunny for the next few days, they may well find themselves in a new home by the end of the weekend.
15 May 2011 I posted Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, with photos of roses, poppies, hardy geraniums and Ceanothus all in full colour. This year, they will have to work hard to get to that same stage in the next 4 days because at the moment, there is an abundant of lush foliage only. It needs to warm up at night too, the weatherman has just forecasted cold nights ahead 3C to 4C, fingers crossed it won’t reach -0C that would be dreadful.
I leave you with a photo of the Sambcus Nigra which is beginning to flower so I am hoping that this year I will get a decent amount of Elderberries. Last year, I pruned it hard and there was hardly any blossom at all.
Is your garden behind from what it was this time last year? Please share so I don’t feel to dejected. Perhaps I can gain some assurance that the Peony and Astrantia will flower eventually.
So much has happened over the last week, with birthday celebrations and spending time with friends and family, it was only just now when reading The Patient Gardeners July End of Month View, I realised it’s the 1st of August. I then reviewed my earlier EOMV’s and saw that the last EOMV was the video at the end of May. I missed out June!
My Twitter friends will know I was bought a beautiful Nikon SLR camera for my birthday. There is so much to learn, it will take me many, many months to take photographs that are anyway near right and then there will still be more to learn. As practice makes perfect, all these photos were taken using the new camera. Some of the plants you will notice have droplets of water on them; I watered the garden early this morning, because, at long last we are due for a decent spell of Summer weather and it is expected to be hot today. Yes, it’s Monday and I have not given up work, or retired (if only), but have taken a long weekend as a break and that is why I am managing to write this post during the day.
Where to begin in the garden? The vegetables are doing well and the French Climbing Bean, Cobra, has served me (and my neighbours) well. It is still producing beans and flowering so I am hoping I will have a lot more.
I was very late with my tomatoes this year, and although I had planned to grow Gardeners Delight and Sungold, I have only grown Gardeners Delight. They are looking good and I have removed several of the lower leaves to allow the sun through to ripen them. None has ripen enough to eat, but there will be plenty when they are ready.
A neighbour gave me a yellow courgette plant and being honest I have to admit to not looking after it properly. I plonked it quickly in a pot with the intention of either moving it into a larger deeper pot, (last year I used Long Tom terracotta pots) or a Grow Bag. As is the way of things, it got forgotten and has not done too well. It is, however, still producing some courgettes but I am not sure how much longer.
After a warm and long dry Spring, the weather paid us back and we have had a lot of rain and it actually became quite chilly again for a while. This put paid to my chilli and pepper plants, they have been eaten down to the stalk by the snails and what was left never recovered as it has not been warm enough. Ah well, there is always next year.
One lovely surprise is the £1 stick bought from Poundland earlier in the year which is now producing raspberries. I didn’t think it would fruit until next year, so with a little bit of luck and the birds staying away, I should have a crop of raspberries soon.
In order to photograph the raspberries I had to lean past the Fennel, the flowers are just beginning to seed. I love the smell of fennel and must remember to collect the seeds.
The side garden/patio area is looking very colourful, with Montbretia, Fuchsias and Japanese Anemones all in flower.
When taking photos of the Japanese Anemones, I thought I should try my hand at the macro and exceedingly well timed a bumble bee turned up.
The other plants on the patio are my Olive tree, bought for me 10 years ago by my daughters as a 50th birthday present. This flowers and fruits every year but to date I have never had any olives large enough to pick. I have been told they would be very bitter anyway.
The £2.99 M&S Passion Flower, now in its 3rd year, continues to do an excellent job camouflaging the water butt by the kitchen door…
… and the Hibiscus at the bottom of the garden is flowering magnificently.
On a final note, the roses are still blooming and I found a grasshopper on one of them, who was most obliging and stayed motionless for me, while I clicked away!