Black and White Photo Study

The intimate nature of a Gunnera leaf

Here are a few black and white photos I took last weekend. What do you think?

A mallard duck paddling into the distance
A mallard duck paddling into the distance
Close-up of a chunky post
Close-up of a chunky post
Gunnera leaves
Gunnera leaves
Eryngium alpinum flowerhead and bracts
Eryngium alpinum flowerhead and bracts
Backlit head of an Umbellifer
Backlit head of an Umbellifer
Gunnera leaf with rain droplets
Gunnera leaf with rain droplets

Black and white photos can be so soothing. Not all photographs will work as black and white but I think these do. They are particularly good when there is texture involved and that texture has many shades of grey.

Do you take black and white photos?

Annette

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Seaton Park, Aberdeen – As Beautiful as Ever

Grass heads in front of a rose

Despite there being lots of works on at the moment to improve the park, which at first glance may seem messy and destructive, Seaton Park, in my opinion, is looking as beautiful as ever. All thanks, of course to the hard work and patience of the gardeners, the local council and The Friends of Seaton Park. I hope these photos do it some justice.

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Seaton Park by the River Don
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Umbels beside the river
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View up the River Don from Seaton Park towards Donside Village
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Slate river effect
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Flowering Cornus (Dogwood)
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White-edged Hosta is reflected in these airy white flowers (Crambe?)
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Lady’s Mantle and this Nepeta work well together
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Lady’s Mantle glowing
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Grass flowerheads
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The formal walkway in Seaton Park
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People enjoying Seaton Park
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Views towards St Machar Cathedral from Seaton park
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The hanging basket display at Seaton Park
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Vibrant red Begonia
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Clipped box line the path to the fountain
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Memorial for the fountain
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Festuca and this old rope work well together
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The many colours of Carex
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Rope fence detail
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Driftwood and grass planting towards Hillhead
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Catching the light
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Glowing umbellifer
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Glowing fern

 

Plant Focus: Meconopsis (Blue Poppies)

On a recent visit to the Scottish Plant Hunter’s Garden (The Explorers Garden) in Pitlochry I was lucky enough to see their famed Meconopsis collection pretty much in full bloom. This post was a few weeks in the making as I had a few more photos to add.

Although also know as Blue Poppies, they actually come in many colours. Generally Meconopsis like cool, fairly moist, sheltered conditions and as such I’ve never had much success in my sandy, slightly windy garden. Some are monocarpic – that is they flower once and die, others will form perennial clumps. I should also note that the trusty Welsh Poppy (M. cambrica) also belongs to this group and is an easier one to grow.

Unfortunately I didn’t see too many labels, which, in a genus plagued by naming difficulties was a little disappointing. This could be because they were hidden or because I missed some. I thought I might be able to name some of them post photograph but there’s nay chance!

So you will pretty much have to mostly enjoy photographs of them which is fine because they are so beautiful!

Meconopsis napaulensis - yellow/cream version
Meconopsis napaulensis – yellow/cream version
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Meconopsis napaulensis – pink version
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Meconopsis ‘George Sheriff Group’ Crewdson Hybrids
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Dark blue against the stone wall
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I think this one was Meconopsis ‘Dalemain’ if my notes serve me correct!
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Meconopsis ‘Inverewe’
Meconopsis x sheldonii
Meconopsis x sheldonii
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Meconopsis baileyi ‘Alba’ (aka M. betonicifolia ‘Alba’)
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Such a beautiful range of shades on this Himalayan poppy. This is probably my favourite photograph.
M. grandis (2)
Meconopsis grandis – check out all those anthers!
Meconopsis Huntsfield 1
Meconopsis Huntsfield 1
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Gentle nodding head of a Himalayan Blue Poppy

It’s also worth looking at other parts on the plant in detail. Some have furry stems, others smooth.

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Furry stemmed. It’s amazing how many colours there are.
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Smooth-stemmed ‘Alba’ form

 

Plus how cute are these seed pods with their little waistline belts and furry jackets?

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Meconopsis seed pods

There were a couple which hadn’t yet flowered which is always interesting to know if you’d like to extend the season.

And some which are over such as Meconopsis quintuplinervia – how many times do you think I had to check that I had spelt this right?

As usual I like to give some ideas of what to plant them with.

Here’s some planting ideas mostly from the Scottish Plant Hunter’s Garden:

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They look fantastic under trees.
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I couldn’t get enough of these blue and white forms against the mossy stone wall.
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These Meconopsis were interspersed with Primulas.
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Meconopsis planting which looks straight out of a show garden.
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Look fantastic with bright yellows which highlight the rich orange anthers.
Meconopsis napaulensis and Aquilegia vulgaris
How lovely does this M. napaulensis look with these purple wild-seeded Aquilegia vulgaris?
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This Meconopsis was standing tall against a Tibetan Cherry Prunus serrula. Note the self-seeded Foxgloves behind too.
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A late-flowering Rhododendron makes for a great backdrop for these blue and purple poppies.

I hope that this inspires you to grow some if you have the right garden or why not have a go and find out. If not get along to the Scottish Plant Hunter’s Garden in Pitlochry to have a look. Also the National Collection is held by Holehird Gardens near Windermere in the Lake District – now would be an excellent time to see them!

 

Annette

Candelabras and Hostas

Dark pink Candelabra Primula

Candelabra Primula and Hosta form a perfect enlightening planting combination for a cool, damp and shady spot in the garden. These two plants together will really lighten up a dark hole. Fend off any slugs which can munch away at these plants using a nature friendly homemade garlic repellent spray.

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Pink and Yellow Candelabra Primula
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White-edged Hosta great for damp shade
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Pink candelabra Primula of various shades
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Many different types of variegated Hosta planted en masse
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Lilac and yellow whorled Primula
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Dark pink and yellow candelabra Primula
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Light pink with dark pink centres and a Hosta in the background
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Hosta make great ground coverage for shadier spots.
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Hosta and Candelabra Primula planted together alongside a path.

Have you tried this planting combination?

Annette.

Visit: The Scottish Plant Hunter’s Garden

Candelabra Primulas

I have been wanting to visit The Explorer’s Garden (aka The Scottish Plant Hunter’s Garden) for many years but have never found myself around Pitlochry to make that visit. It was made better therefore on the day I was able to visit, that the OH wasn’t there to be bored while I walked around. And finally what was ideal was that it was at the time of year when the Meconopsis, for which this garden is well known, were in full bloom. Excellent! Oh and on another note – it was not raining!

Camera at the ready I paid my £4 to enter which I regarded as an excellent price. I was fully expecting to pay over £10. There is not much you’ll get for less than a fiver nowadays.

So off I set with my map…after a brief hello to the cat.

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Map for The Scottish Plant Explorers Garden

The first section was a lovely little landscaped section planted up with Saxifraga sp. whose frothy white blooms complemented the grey slate coloured organic forms well. In fact there were many lovely planting combinations throughout the garden.

There was also some lovely Aquilegia and Alchemilla mollis planting as you walked under the trees towards the main section of the garden.

There was a strong Himalayan theme throughout the garden, despite many regions being represented, probably because many of these plants suit the Scottish environment very well. Most of the Rhododendrons were past but there was one I spotted in full bloom. At first I thought they all had a bout of rust on all the flowers but looking closer I saw that it was part of its design – nice up close but not so much from a distance! Some of the Rhodies had shed their flowers in recent days and formed these wonderful pink carpets underneath. A little reminiscent of Japan perhaps?

Dotted around the garden were works of art, all of which I though went well within their chosen settings. I love outdoor art when it works in harmony with the surrounding landscape and planting. I particularly loved the Perspex mobiles with the names of plants and skeleton leaves incorporated into them along with the wonderful pagoda roof.

I also loved the composting toilet! It was a little space age when you went into it. Next door to that there is a lovely little room which would be amazing for a small wedding. On the day I went they had a photography exhibition from someone who had gone on a recent expedition to the Himalayas. I left feeling that I know that region of the world just a little better and also how magnificent the Meconospsis look in their native environment.

Speaking of such, they didn’t fail to disappoint! They were in full bloom. I couldn’t get enough of them against the wonderful stone dykes they have built there. The colours are so beautiful. I was however slightly disappointed that there weren’t many labels about (although looking through my photos I realised there was a section I missed, sob). There were a few which I spotted but I would have liked to have been able to see more for my next Plant Focus: Meconopsis. Many more images will be available in that post to come later. I’ll also do another post with more flower images as I have so many! Here is one to whet your appetite….

 

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Meconopsis close up photograph

 

I’d say the garden is definitely at its best at this time of year or earlier when the Rhododendrons are also out. I’m not sure what would be out after around the end of July. It’s open April-Nov, every day 10am-5pm and well worth a visit if you’re near the area. There’s plenty of information boards around which tell you all about the parts of the world the plant explorers visited to bring back many of the plants we have in our gardens today.

 

 

Hope you enjoy your visit.

AnnetteX

Co-ordinating Garden Colour

I love this time of year when everything is fresh and green and bright, vibrant, colour is exploding everywhere. Here’s some of my favourite combinations and colours in my garden at the moment.

 

Now for some spicier colours.

 

 

These Nasturtiums are just outside my back door and as long as I keep watering and feeding them they’ll keep going crazy and shouting “HELLO” everytime I go past.

 

Annette x

Plant focus – Hammamelis

This is my fist ‘Plant Focus’ post. I hope to cover an area each week which is relevant to what is looking good in gardens right now. This will be plus or minus a good few weeks depending on where you are in the country. I was hoping to call it ‘Focus Friday’ but I missed it for last friday and am too excited to post it so….here we go. My first plant is the Hammamelis genus or Witch Hazels.

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Growth habit for Hammamelis

At this time of year Hammamelis are covered in frost tolerant pale to deep yellow to vibrant orange-red flowers along bare stems and have a strong scent. Hammamelis molis has a stronger scent than Hammamelis x intermedia ‘Pallida’ but I would argue that the latter is more attractive. The cultivar ‘Pallida’ has an RHS award for garden merit (AGM) due to its wonderful pale glowing yellow blooms and easy growing habit. It looks fantastic against the morning sun.

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Hammamelis x intermedia ‘Pallida’ against the morning sun
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Close up of Hammamelis x intermedia ‘Pallida’

 

They can be planted in autumn to winter and look good as a specimen plant or mixed in with other shrubs at the back of a border.

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Hammamelis mollis as a specimen plant
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A young Hammamelis with snowdrops
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Another specimen Hammamelis which has a fantastic growth shape

Hammamelis can also look really good against other winter foliage. It looked particularly good against the dramatic lines of a variegated phormium – this could be a great winter planting combination. They also show up quite well with pines and firs as their glowing flowers brings the evergreen foliage to life in an otherwise not-as-exciting-as-summer month.

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Hammamelis against Abies procera
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Hammamelis against a variegated Phormium (New Zealand Flax)
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Hammamelis against a yellow variegated holly
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Showing up against winter shapes

 

So once I get round to replanting my garden, I’m going to put one of these in. I’m not sure which variety yet but possibly an orange-red one like Hammamelis x intermedia ‘Diane.’ I think choosing one with scent will be a definite. Check out the RHS page for more information on growing and pruning etc.

Do you have any Witch Hazels in your garden?