Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Why should flowering plants get all the attention?  With the fresh new growth lighting up the conifers, now is the time of year to visit our Pinetum.  This collection of dwarf evergreen conifers was a gift to the Rodebaughs in 1972 from horticulturist Phillip A. Livingston. He wanted his collection to be preserved, and it is certainly thriving at Welkinweir.  
The Pinetum includes more than just dwarf conifers.  There are several unique species and cultivars with variegated, golden, or blue foliage.  The new growth and colorful cones are absolutely stunning this time of year. 
Taxus sp.

Tsuga canadensis 'Pendula'

Picea abies

Juniperus sp, variegated form

Abies concolor
I absolutely love this plant.  In my college plant identification course, the professor invited us to bite down on one of the needles.  It is surprisingly citrus in flavor.

Pinus cembra 

Pinus mugo

Pinus strobus 
Picea pungens
Picea orientalis

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Show Goes On

These are photos of what was blooming before the Photo Walk.  I've been out of town so got a little behind on my blogging.  I thought 50 pictures was too many for one blog post.  Most of these were taken before the photo walk taught me how to take pictures, so don't judge me.

Left: 'Ben Morrison' azalea. Right: fragrant yellow azalea

Lonicera sempervirens 'Major Wheeler' 



Chionanthus virginicus, white fringetree

Styrax obassia, fragrant snowbell

Mazus reptans

Kalmia latifolia

Philadelphus sp., Mock-orange



Robinia pseudoacacia, black locust

Tradescantia sp., Spiderwort

Tree peony

We planted a variety of Delosperma this spring. 

This unusual purple double columbine and the red and yellow one below are located near the Barn Ruins.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Photo Walk

Saturday I had the opportunity to walk the grounds with two skilled photographers to get tips on how to improve my own photography.  I learned a little about light and got to experiment with a diffuser.  It was early in the morning so the sun was backlighting the flowers and making them glow.  I am far from being a professional photographer, but I learned a few things about what makes a photo and what breaks a photo, and I will share a few of those tips with you.  

The picture on the left is superior to the picture on the right, but can you determine why?  One of the elements of good photography is using light to your advantage.  In the picture on the right, the light is so bright that is has detracted from the subject of the photo: the orange azalea.  It becomes a distraction.  The sharp contrast of light and dark, or distracting bright spots in images, can be softened with a light diffuser.

Another way to control light in a photo is to adjust the exposure compensation manually on the camera.  This will work to darken the background to keep it from distracting from the subject of the photo, which in this case is the pink azalea.

Because I take pictures of flowers all the time for this blog, I wanted to try photographing something else.

Cercis canadensis 'Silver Cloud'  
Sometimes stark contrast contributes to the photo.

Cercis canadensis 'Forest Pansy'
The only difference between these two photos is a little Photoshop tone adjustment.  The photo on the left was too washed out.  Rather than take 15 pictures trying to get the lighting right, I took 15 seconds to edit it in Photoshop.  Another example of how a little contrast makes a photo.

Chionanthus virginicus, white fringetree
I like the photo on the left better. Why?  I don't know the answer to this one.  Usually I don't like blurred photos, especially when that wasn't my intention.  I can just imagine the flowers fluttering in the wind.

I spent a lot of time under this fern leaf beech, trying to get the perfect picture. I think there was more than one right way to do this.  In the pictures above, I focused on a single leaf.  The picture on the right is probably better because it minimized some of the distraction of the surrounding leaves.

 In the next two pictures, I let the blue sky show a little more, and tried to offset the photo a little so the eye was drawn somewhere besides right to the middle of the picture.  These pictures work because the blue and green compliment each other.

I tried again with Acer palmatum 'Butterfly'.  The top two pictures have too much distracting light and branches in them.  The bottom two portray the delicate, variegated leaves as I intended.  
If at first you don't succeed, click, click again.

This is an example of how not to photograph a hosta... 
Sometimes I just have to admit defeat.  A diffuser would have helped in the picture on the right.  And if someone would cut down that large and distracting tree trunk...

'June' was more fun to photograph. I spent several minutes there because the light kept changing and the leaves looked like watercolor.

The oakleaf hydrangea nearby, Hydrangea quercifolia 'Little Honey', complimented the yellow in the hosta nicely, so I snapped way too many pictures of that as well.

I really like this one.  Check out the texture on that hosta leaf! Still, a diffuser wouldn't have hurt.

And finally, a demonstration of what a diffuser does for a photo.
No diffuser. Beth's shadow.

No diffuser. Full sun.

Cropped. :)

To find out about events like this photo walk, visit our website: http://welkinweir.org/