Our gardening by walking around continues. Today’s encounter is Rosa ‘Lady of Shallot’, a shrub rose with “striking apricot-yellow, chalice-shaped blooms.” David Austin introduced this rose in 2009, and it soon won the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit. It’s a good choice for the Monterey Bay area gardens.
We continue our exploration of three categories of gardening activities that are suitable under social distance constraints and rewarding to the gardener.
1. Care for Your Garden
A natural accompaniment to gardening by walking around is garden photography. With very effective cameras included in our ever-present cellphones, frequent documentation of garden plants can be achieved with little effort.
Depending on individual interests, the gardener could pursue various objectives for garden photography:
- Developing an inventory of plants in the garden
- Following plant development (cellphone cameras record each’s picture’s date)
- Showing parts of the landscape that look fine or that need change
- Recording landscape vistas over seasons
- Sharing digital garden photos with friends via email or social media
- Printing photos for storing in an album or sending to friends (use a color printer and paper for glossy prints, available from office supply stores)
- Creating artistic images
Currently available cellphone cameras, when used in the garden under common conditions, automatically produce photographs of very good technical quality. Here are five basic guidelines for achieving pleasing results: (1) fill the frame with your subject by moving in close; (2) position yourself with your back to the sun (but avoid shadowing your subject); (3) experiment with natural lighting effects shortly after sunrise and shortly before sunset (noontime sunlight can be harsh); (4) take several different shots of your subject (multiple photos are essentially free); and (5) keep only the best.
Remember that guidelines can be ignored in favor of convenience or imaginative urges.
Also remember that your practice and regular critique of results will build your skills.
2. Advance Your Gardening Knowledge
While garden photography is an accessible pursuit without prior study or training, there is always more to learn. The first resource is the instructions for your cellphone camera. These might have been provided on paper with your cellphone, but more likely they are available online. Search the Internet for the make and model of your cellphone, then browse for “photography.”
You could also search the Internet or a local bookstore or public library for books on photography in general, or garden photography in particular.
A highly accomplished and widely published garden photographer, Saxon Holt, has self-published his “Think Like a Gardener” series of e-books on garden photography. I have previously recommended these inexpensive books for their guidance in conceiving and composing garden images.
For a wide range of other online opportunities to advance your gardening knowledge, visit Garden Design magazine and search for “online classes.” This magazine, which recently evolved into a digital publication, has provided an impressive array of fee-based short courses on several aspects of gardening.
3. Enrich Your Gardening Days
One of the many pleasures of gardening is the “butterfly phenomenon,” which is simply the natural spectacle of the colorful creatures flitting among the flowers. They truly enrich our gardening days.
If you have even a few flowering plants, you will probably see butterflies around them, but you have the option to further enrich your garden by growing plants that butterflies want, need, and will find.
Monterey Bay area gardeners living within five miles of the Pacific coast, should not plant milkweed, which would encourage butterflies to breed at the wrong season. Instead, select nectar plants that bloom from late fall to early spring. These months are the butterflies’ overwintering period when flowering plants are in limited supply. They will thank you for it by fluttering by.
For lots about the importance of California Milkweed (Asclepias californica) and the Western Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus), see a fine article by Hillary Sardiñas, Thomas Landis, and Jessa Kay-Cruz, posted by the California Native Plant Society.
Enjoy your gardens and gardening and stay healthy.