I received the Cacti & Succulent book I’d ordered in the mail the other day and I’m labouring my way through the photos trying to match some of my unidentified cacti images (made in Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens) with the book.
I was very disappointed to find that there are no Common Names mentioned.
How extraordinary I thought to myself.
Both my Australian Plant Encyclopaedias and Weeds in Australia book list the Common Name first (with the Genus, species and family second).
All I can say is that at least it might give me some clues to narrow down my cacti identification without labouring through multiple websites.
In the meantime, my photos of the Peruvian Torch Cactus (Trichocereus peruvianus) were already identified from a name plaque at the base of the plant in the RBG. Not only are the flowers stunning on this fast-growing columnar prickly cactus, but the flower buds are equally interesting.
I’ll leave you to look up more about this plant if you’re interested, as this blog is about Nature Photography, not Gardening or Botany per se.
Melbourne’s RBG (Royal Botanic Gardens) were only 5 minutes walk away from where I used to live and work on the south-east side of Melbourne’s main river for the benefit of those new to my nature blog. So when I had to take ‘early retirement’ due to ill-health in 2010 and bought a camera and took up Photography as a hobby, it was initially my main source of photo subjects. But I already knew the RBG intimately BC (Before Camera), as I walked in and around its many paths for something like 25 years. When you live in a small apartment, who can complain about having no garden or backyard of your own, when a 38 hectare site with some 55,000 plant is on your ‘doorstep’.
The white-flowering small bushes at the top of my steep road are in flower at the moment.
Although I’ve made the occasional photo at their varying stages of growth, it wasn’t until last week that I saw a plant label attached to one of them and was able to identify it.
I know little about common garden plants and have always had to rely on Mr Google images or my 2 Australian Plant Encyclopaedias to identify anything. I even keep the plant labels of the potted plants I buy for my balcony garden as I forget the Botanical names almost as soon as I plant them.-
Photinia Robusta (Photinia x fraseri) is a spectacular fast growing dense evergreen shrub.
Dark glossy green leaves with brilliant red new growth and clusters of dainty white flowers in Spring make this an attractive hedge plant, and clipping throughout the year will flush on new growth to repeat the bright show of colour. It can be kept clipped to around 1.5 m tall and wide.
They are suitable for a full sun to part shade position, frost tolerant and requires little water once established.
There are about 4 plants in a row in front of a green-painted power junction box (which feeds this housing estate I suppose – I’m guessing). The 2 images below were made late afternoon with the power box between the sun and the plants, throwing them into deep shade quite early in the afternoon.
I love the glossy red leaves that contrast so vividly with the green. Even the tight flower buds are attractive in their own way.
At the top of my short steep road is the back entrance to a townhouse and a clump of Arum Lilies. It’s expanded from its original 3 flowers last year to several this year and was the first photo stop on my short walk yesterday. (note: these plants are considered a pest in Western Australia).
I love the swirling edges of the flower rim and nearly always photograph them with a very shallow DOF (Depth Of Field) or large aperture. My Sigma 17-50mm f2.8 lens set at about f4.5 gives me the effect I want, but the first image in this post is set at f11 to give a bit more detail.
Sadly, my back pain precludes me from both bending down low and kneeling and twisting these days, so I had to edit the images to increase the mid-tones and give the flowers some more definition. This threw the colour saturation a bit out-of-whack, but I haven’t the interest or time to spend on photo editing. I can no longer always do flower photography at angles that I would like, but I know long-time followers understand my limitations.
It certainly doesn’t stop me enjoying my Photography Hobby.
For those interested, I bought this lens about 3 years ago as I could never get quite close enough with my Canon 50mm f1.4 and the Sigma’s 17-50mm gives me that little bit of zoom that covers the gap in the 4 lenses I now own. If you put the Sigma 17-50mm on a tripod, or can hand-hold your camera very steady, you can almost get a macro, or very close to an insect, which is good enough for me. The Canon lens is extremely sharp and excellent in low light, but the Sigma is not far behind it.
The ‘nifty fifty‘ as the 50mm f/1.4 lens is often called, is rarely taken out of its soft pouch now and I’d sell it, except that they bring so little money second-hand and mine is in perfect condition. I refuse to sell good lenses for peanuts.
I think the header image on my B & W Blog was made with the ‘nifty fifty’ and I cropped and turned it slightly to give the abstract quality and composition I wanted.