Category Archives: Flora

Dogwood

Dogwood Bloom Against Japanese Maple
Heatherwood Spring

As I stroll along in our Heatherwood Garden, I always have a camera, at least my iPhone, with me. This Spring, our variegated dogwood only had a few blossoms and they were 7-8 feet from the ground. I looked around to see if I could get a good sky background, but all we had were grey nondescript clouds. I stood on my tip toes extended my arms and tilted the iPhone down just a bit to pick up the deep red of a Japanese Maple as a background. It pays to be tall.

I don’t have to go far for a photographic safari. Everything I need is in our back yard.

Place to Rest and Contemplate

Leu Gardens
Orlando, Florida

One of my focal areas for photography is public and private gardens. I couple this interest with collecting ideas for our own landscape development of Heatherwood. Many of my photographs are simple records of interesting things elements. For others, I try to create an image that reflects the feeling I have for a specific garden design. Yet, for those special ones, I try to create an image that provides a unique perspective of what I see. My adventure through a garden is multi-dimensional. Many times I come up with ideas, but no real “keeper” images. Other times I leave with a nice portfolio of images that presents the beauty of my visit. Other times I come up with a few (maybe one) images that I feel illustrate a little creativity.

The above image is one where I am trying to create the feeling that I experienced when I saw this vignette. It is a peaceful setting where I could relax in the shade, enjoy the beauty of what is around me, and contemplate what is right with this world. It represents a design element that I am trying to create with portions of our Heatherwood landscape. Of course, here in Central Washington, the moss covered trees and tropical vegetation will be replaced with conifers, local trees, and understory vegetation.

Shin Deshojo

Shin Deshojo Japanese Maple
Heatherwood Japanese Garden

How fast things change. The initial color of the first emerging leaves of this Shin Deshojo is a light pinkish red. Within a week they had turned to this brilliant red. Now, a month later, the leaves are a greenish-red color. Soon they will be a medium green. And then in the fall, they will be a brilliant red again. What a wonderful show this little tree gives us over the year.

The different and changing colors of our 26 Japanese Maples consistently catch my eye. Every time I walk through the garden, I look for something different. It is easy to find.

Crabapples, A Look to the Future

Crabapple Grove
Yakima Arboretum

The Yakima Area Arboretum has one of the largest and oldest crabapple collection in the country. In the Spring, the blossoms create a mass of whites, pinks, purples, and reds. The trees are all mature and the blossom display is gorgeous.

The Yakima Arboretum collection is the stimulus that has led me to try to develop a little crabapple grove as part of our home landscape. This Spring, we planted a small grouping of six crabapples, all different varieties. Being young, their spring bloom was just a harbinger of what will be in the next 10 years or so. Over the coming years I look forward to watching them grow and mature. I plan to gradually develop an understory that will pull the grove together and complement the individual trees.

Shapes, Textures, Tones & Patience

“Hosta, Japanese Maple, & Ground Cover”
Fountainville, PA Garden

Tones, textures, and shapes all combine to provide vignettes of enjoyment for me. Simple things perk my interest. I first see the bright chartreuse of the hosta jump out at me. I stop, focus, and follow the lines and shapes of the leaves. I am drawn into the details. The dense and darker ground cover creates a base supporting the hosta leaves. I raise my eyes and see the small, delicate leaves of the Japanese Maple trickling down over the large hosta leaves protecting them from the bright sun. What a wonderful moment I experience just enjoying the simple beauty of a garden.

It took many years to create this vignette. First, we dug up a portion of our yard and added a good quanty of fill dirt and top soil to create a planting bed. We edged the bed with Pennsylvania blue stone to keep the dirt from flowing over to the grass and gravel walk way. Our first planting was a bed of petunias. They were beautiful but took a lot of maintenance to keep them looking neat. After a couple of years, we planted a Sango Kaku Japanese Maple on the corner of the bed. We planted several sun loving plants around the base of the maple and patiently waited until the maple created enough shade to plant shade-loving plants. We gradually pulled out and transplanted the sun-lovers and replaced them with hostas and other shade plants. Over the years the ground cover spread as the hostas grew. The bottom branches of the Sango Kaku flowed down to provide the shade the hosta needed. Fifteen years after we moved in, we had a beautiful bed with Japanese Maples at each end, medium sized shrubs in the middle, and all the ground covered with ground cover and shade-loving plants. Small vignettes were scattered all around.

Now on the other side of the country, we are starting over to develop a landscape that will have a similar feeling. Now we have small trees and shrubs and a lot of sun-loving plants. The areas between are covered with bark. We patiently will wait for nature to do its work to develop the mini environments to create vignettes like the one above. We celebrate the little things that make up the wonder of nature and life.

Happy Mother’s Day

Crabapple Blossoms
Heatherwood Spring

Mother’s Day is synonymous with the full Spring bloom. In the areas that I have lived, Mother’s Day weekend is the time to start planting annuals. I can visualize Mom bending over on her hands and knees working in her garden.

Mother’s Day has always been a special Holiday for me. It’s been a time when I would do little things that brought a bright warm smile to Mom’s face. All of us kids would fuss over Mom and thank her for all that she did. We could have never asked for a more wonderful, warm, supportive, and loving mother. She was always there for us, no matter the situation. She was the balance in my life as I was growing up and also as I faced challenges throughout my adult life.

So on this special day, let’s all cherish all that our mother’s have given us. Reflect, be thankful, and give Mom all the love in our hearts.

Happy Mother’s Day Mom! My love is always with you!

Patience Pays Off

“Viburnum in Full Bloom”
Heatherwood Spring

Remember back in a previous post (March 22) I presented a viburnum that was just getting ready to bloom? I thought it would burst open the next day. I kept going out every day checking for its progress. Leaves started to come out, but nothing seemed to be happening with the blossom buds. Then last week, all of a sudden the whole plant burst open in bloom. Well it took almost 4 weeks for the viburnum to reach its full bloom. Patience pays off! One week later, most of the blooms have been blown off the plant. Oh well … It was beautiful!

Sweet Blossoms

Crabapple Blossoms
Yakima Arboretum, Washington

Walking around the Yakima Arboretum’s crabapple collection is a real treat. I made three trips there this Spring. One day I noticed a young lady walking around and taking closeup images of the crabapple blooms with her i-Pad. Her partner was patiently sitting on a bench waiting for her to finish. The next day I came back again and saw the same lady taking more photos with her i-Pad. And, her partner was sitting on the bench again. Beauty attracts photographers. If it weren’t for “social distancing” I would have asked her if she was just enjoying the beauty of the garden like I was, or was she doing some special project.

The beauty of the majestic ancient crabapples in the Yakima Arboretum has inspired me over the years. It is one of the largest crabapple collections in the country. Almost all of the trees are very old. Some are on their last leg. Over the years the Arboretum has not added new trees to take place of the ones which are past their healthy prime. This will be one of the challenges that the Arboretum will address in the new Master Plan. Anyway, the grove still inspires me to the point that I have decided to create a small crabapple grove of my own in the “lower 40” of Heatherwood. One dark pink crabapple was planted in the garden by the previous owner. It anchors the northeast corner of our house. This spring we will plant a white weeping cherry to complement it. On the “lower 40” we are planting a mini-collection of seven different crabapples to frame in our meadow area. Some are blooming now, so we can get a glimpse of what is to come in the years ahead.

To All Us Bleeding Hearts

“Bleeding Hearts”
Heatherwood

Here is a little bit of brightness for your day …

Bleeding Hearts (Dicentra) have always been one of my favorite spring flowers. It was one of Dad’s as well. I can remember when I was just a little tyke, Dad would grab me and take me out to see the first blooms. I can remember him planting the Bleeding Heart in our small garden at the “little house” up at the ranch. When we moved into the “City” (Selah, WA), we built a rock garden in the back yard by our patio. A Bleeding Heart was one of the first plants Dad and Mom planted.

After I was out on my own, it was many years before I planted my own Bleeding Heart. I planted one in our first house in Seattle. our house in Bothell, our house in Fairfax VA, our house in Kent, our house in Woodinville, and our house in Fountainville PA. We were in Fountainville for 17 years where our Bleeding Heart grew into a rather large plant. It provided a beautiful contrast among a bed of pachysandra under a blue atlas cedar. It was the highlight of the spring bloom in its own corner for Karen and me.

The first plant I planted when I moved back to Selah was the Bleeding Heart. I did not have a good shade location to plant it, so I planted it next to the house in a little corner between rhododendrons and sword ferns. It is making its home there, but it is a little hidden. As we finish our Japanese garden, I will find a place for it where it can shine.

Over the years, I have photographed our Bleeding Heart from many different perspectives. I have made several greeting cards using it as the subject. They always come in handy for that special greeting to someone that means very much to me.

Getting Ready …

Dogwood Bud
Heatherwood Spring

I have been keeping a close eye on our dogwood tree buds. A few are getting ready to start their bloom. The sepals on this bud are starting to pull back. Soon the blossom will start to appear. The yellow blur in the background is a Wintersonne Mugo Pine. I had to stand on my tip toes to line the bud up with the Wintersonne. It was hard to keep the camera steady on my toes. (I was too lazy to go in and get a tripod.) I took a million images to get one that was reasonably crisp. It was a good way to pass the time!

The last couple of weeks, I have been spending way, way too much time sitting around. My excursions have been short trips to the garden to take a few images. I have made a resolution to be much more active in April as we will be pretty much staying at home.

  1. I will take a daily walk or mini-hike with Mary around our neighborhood and hills around our home.
  2. I will work/play a bit each day in our garden to get it ready for spring.
  3. I will experiment with new techniques and approaches with my my camera to improve my overall skills.

And above all I will make the most of each day as I enjoy the wonders of the world around us!