VERBENA or SHRUB VERBENA (Lantana)

I, finally, have to be honest.

The reason I haven’t shared many flower images from my archives recently is that I can’t decide which ones to post.

I have too many photos………still……..after deleting thousands a couple of years ago.

THIS IMAGE LOOKS A LITTLE SOFT IN FOCUS (TO ME).

I look in each of my old iPhoto flower folders, all named and identified with their common and botanical names at the top, and then, at the images and think……that’s not very good.  Or, that’s not in focus.  Or even, that’s too dark and needs the contrast or shadows reduced (or something).

The 2 images below had such a dark background, they almost looked black.  I lightened the backgrounds this morning.

I’m my own worst critic.

In recent times, on reviewing many of those early archival images, they ALL seem terribly dark.  Must have been something to do with the lounge room where I had my desk and computer, which, while lovely and cool in the summer, fell in to deep shade for all but 2-3 hours in the middle of the day.

I must have altered the exposure on the computer images to fit what seemed right in the dim night-light when I did the reviewing.

I lived 2 streets away from the Royal Botanic Gardens up to May 2015 and that dark living space must have influenced my photo editing to some degree.  I’ve mainly done a little cropping or ‘tweaking’ the exposure, contrast, sharpness and colour saturation (until I set up a Custom Picture Style in-camera).

In Winter, the room was even darker.

NOTE: I do even less editing these days.  I usually just press the AutoCorrect button in the El Capitan photo editing section of my Mac Pro – Exposure AutoCorrect, Sharpness AutoCorrect and the Autocorrect button for Definition.  Sometimes I reduce the colour saturation a wee bit as my Custom Picture Style on my 2 DSLRs can make colours too bright depending on the light of the day and season.

Melbourne (and the rest of Australia probably) has very bright harsh sunlight in the warmer months.  Something to do with the hole in the Ozone layer over the country I suspect.

I never get up early enough to catch the soft early morning light.

I’ve tried a few of the different Picture Styles on the Sony a6000 e.g. Autumn Leaves, but don’t like their over-saturated colours much.

I LEFT THE BACKGROUND DARK FOR THESE WHITE LANTANA FLOWERS.

On the other hand, maybe I discovered very early on in my flower photography that most flower blooms had better definition if a little under-exposed with a dark background.

Either way, I now live in a light, bright space with floor-to-ceiling windows and a relatively large, hot, sunny west-facing balcony.

I can now get a better sense of exposure on my large computer screen.

But, dare I say…….. I’m always hot these days  😀  (after living in what my friends used to call ‘freezing’ cold).

NEMESIA (Nemesia fruticans)

I bought a small pott of Nemesia in Winter to add a splash of colour to my balcony garden and its prolific flowering has been a cheerful sight for many months.

Normally I’m not a fan of brightly coloured flowers, preferring mainly blue (or white, or pastel), but I can’t deny these medium to upright plants are a winner.

 Even the Fairy-wrens and House Sparrows seem to like its young green shoots, (or I assume that’s what they’re pecking at).

We’ve had such strong winds, heavy rain (and even a dust storm last week) recently and I went outdoors between rain showers last Friday, to re-photograph the flower blooms to share online.  For the umpteenth time, I had to cut off broken branches and dead-head some spent flower blooms too.

The gusty wind is not kind in my area.

I had to wait for several wind gusts to die down to capture them in focus though.

(Have you ever noticed, that wind gusts, like waves down at the beach, drop or change approximately every 7th? gust or wave.  Seriously.  If you like photographing flowers and live in a windy area, watch carefully and you’ll be able to work it out).

Like many of my herbs and other plants, it seems to love my west-facing balcony with hot sunny afternoons, but did well in overcast Winter days also!

This morning I was reading Nemesia is a genus of annuals, perennials and sub-shrubs which is native to sandy coasts or disturbed ground in South Africa and there are quite a lot of hybrids around.

I haven’t bent down to smell them, but the plant nursery label says they’re lightly perfumed.  They come in a range of colours from white, pink and magenta to dark blue and purple.  They’re ideal for garden beds and borders, pots and containers, can take full sun or partial shade, but do need well-drained soil.

I’ve a mind to buy some more in different colours now that I’ve down-sized my garden to much smaller pots.  I’ll wait and see if the Harlequin Beetles are attracted to them this Summer before doing so though.

(The pests demolished almost every leaf on every plant last year – even, the pungent or bitter-leafed herbs).

Note: I upgraded to larger pots in the last 2 years, but found the need for about 6 heavy watering cans to water my garden every evening, (even in Winter), tedious, so now have down-sized pots (as well at reducing the plant pot number) this past Spring.

I tend to be a little over-ambitious when it comes to gardening, but next year, I need to sit down and think more seriously about just how much time and energy I want to put into my green oasis.  Living in a rented property means scrubbing the seepage stains and bird poop off regularly to maintain the balcony tiles and fence to what a rental contract and most Landlords require (in the ‘neat and tidy’ clause)  😀

LARGE WILD IRIS, FAIRY IRIS (Dietes grandiflora)

LARGE WILD IRIS or FAIRY IRIS – ROYAL BOTANIC GARDENS, MELBOURNE (this image was made with a Canon 100mm macro lens at aperture f3.5 for anyone interested).

The Wild Iris or Fairy Iris (Dietes Grandiflora) is grown in Australia in public parks, gardens, alongside office blocks and even roadsides in residential areas, (just as it is in its native South Africa).

My brother even has one growing in the corner of his horse paddock up in country Victoria (below).

They seem to almost take over whole garden plots, but their ability to withstand both drought and frost makes them a worthy addition to any garden requiring low maintenance.

While they’re considered an ‘environmental weed’ in parts of Australia (Western Australia, Queensland and Lord Howe Island), in my urban area, they spread so quickly, I’m almost tempted to call them a weed down (south) in Melbourne also.

But they do grow in dappled shade as well as full sun, so who can blame anyone for planting them to create a lovely display in Summer, when they flower in profusion.

(note: I had a couple of great photos of their mass planting at the nearby tiny park on the main road, but can’t find them and for the umpteenth time, I wish I had time to file all my photos in the current El Capital software Photo library.  

My old Yosemite iPhoto library  has about 600 folders with every image filed via name – flower, bird, park, garden, nature reserve, beach and so on and it’s a dream to find anything to illustrate a post. That library is actually where the images in this post came from).

WALLFLOWER (Erysimum)

Wallflowers (Erysimum) are some of the prettiest garden flowers around and the images below, made in The Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne in October 2013, show some of their lovely colour.

The Gardening Australia website says…

Wallflowers have simple, narrow, green to blue-green leaves, and are mainly evergreen. Flower stems, tall in the larger species, appear mainly over spring and summer, and also in winter in mild climates. The heads carry dense clusters of small 4-petalled blooms that are often richly fragrant. The petals are usually yellow but may also be orange, red, or mauve, and the hybrids extend the colour range further.

WALLFLOWER (Erysimum)

Wallflowers are mostly hardy, but they do best in a climate that offers cool summers and mild winters. They should be planted in a sunny open position in moist well-drained soil. Though they can be quite drought tolerant, they will reward with abundant flowers if they are watered regularly – particularly if it is done in conjunction with regular feeding, trimming, and deadheading.

This flower bed was in the back garden of The Plant Craft Cottage 

The Cottage, built in 1850/51 to house one of the Gardeners, is only open at certain times, but visit the website above and check out the images in the Header as they show the wonderful array of crafts that Craft members make.  It’s well worth a visit if you’re either a local or a tourist.  In fact, not many locals know about it.  I often used to buy small gifts or hand-made Christmas Cards there at the Gift shop (manned by volunteers) and we always had wonderful little chats about the area, history and array of craft classes taught at the Cottage.  I thought about joining, but like all things in my life, didn’t want to get up early for classes.

If you like English cottage garden plants, do visit the  The Royal Botanic Gardens Website to find out more.

Now, of course, I live too far away.  In fact, just this week, I received a Public Transport email advising that my 3 bus routes to that side of the city have been partly discontinued.  If I didn’t catch a taxi direct (which is fairly expensive), I’d have to catch 2 buses (or a tram and bus) to the city, and then…………walk down to the main south-bound tram route leading out of the city.  There is no longer a tram going past my favourite RBG entrance either.  I’ll bet the tiny group of shops and cafes near that entrance are well and truly missing the trade.

It’s not that I can’t get there, so much as, these days, I prefer not to waste half my day on public transport and then a long walk to get anywhere.  So easy when I lived and worked next to The Royal Botanic Gardens for over 25 years, but my life has changed now in retirement and after 2 apartment moves.

I like to think of it as ‘not worse‘, as many chronic pain sufferers might, merely ‘different‘.

It’s all in the Mind you see.

A finger points at the moon, but the moon is not at the tip of the finger. Words point at the truth, but the truth is not in words.

——Huineng

 

 

BIRD OF PARADISE (Strelitzia retinae)

I had walked to and from the local medical centre yesterday.

(is it really 1.25am Tuesday morning and I’m still awake 🙂 ).

It only took me 40 minutes to make the 10 minute journey as I had to keep stopping to photograph the gorgeous flowers along the way.  The Cherry blossoms in the tiny park near the local supermarket were the main objective in walking with a painful hip and knee, but the fresh air was so invigorating and the pain slowly receded as I discovered each new Spring bloom.

Despite feeling a little unwell, I decided to walk home again and this short journey took me an hour.  LOL  😀  How can anyone make such a short walk into such a lengthy journey?

Only a photographer of course, although I must admit when I was standing at the highest point of the river valley below me, looking at the city of Melbourne’s office and apartment towers in the far distance, it really was an interesting landscape.

There were many Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia retinae) in front of an apartment block but most were dead or dying, so it took me a while to find a flower worth photographing.  Then with a busy background I stepped back and forth trying to find a neutral background – in the end, a concrete column.

Stelitzia flowers are at their best when just opened and looking very fresh and colourful – the one above was just starting to brown off and wilt.