25 April 2010

Seeing rather than looking: a weekend miscellany

A few highly productive but also very busy days around here. The weather, as I mentioned last post, has smartened up significantly, leading me to get up early, write/work like a demon til lunch or early afternoon, then go outside to tackle the garden. Just on Friday, I wrote over 2500 words for assorted projects, including, of course, The Book, which seems to be coming along well.

Likewise, the garden is coming along well. It's actually leaping ahead at an amazing rate, sort of worrying because I wonder if everything is going to be early and thus done early. But on the other hand, I've been enjoying welcoming the arrivals of plants that I had thought might be spleeny. And I do greet the discovery that they've made it through the winter with great joy. "Welcome BACK, Anemone 'Vestal.' Nice to see you again, Echinacea 'Coconut Lime'. Hurray, you've made it through, Eryngium 'Jade Frost' (above photo)." And so on.

I love going outside to take photos with my small digital Canon, which has an interesting macro feature and sees things that I didn't notice. I might be fixating on the myriad shades of colour in the hellebore petals (actually sepals, but we won't quibble) and fail to notice the wee insect making its way toward the flower's centre, perhaps to pollinate.

Along with writing The Book, I'm providing the photos for it, and have been taking extra shots in case images I have from other years aren't enough. The most frustrating flower to photograph has been this Orange Konigin epimedium, because each flower is so small, they open at different times on each stalk of blossoms, and they're just not cooperating. It wasn't until I was looking at these images blown up that I noticed the wee hairs on each flower's stipe. Also the cat hair and/or spider web festooning this plant, courtesy of the two elderly cats who do go outside and who like to help me in the garden.

Love the venation in these pulmonaria blooms. Of course, I've mentioned my love of pulmonarias before, and will again. They're just so wonderful, and pollinators adore them too. Given that I was talking about pollinators to a group of gardeners in Dartmouth on Saturday, it's small wonder that I have them on my mind.

Magnolias are in bloom in other parts of Nova Scotia, and some report frost damage from the cold nights we had a few days back. Only a few of my flowers are beginning to show on the stellata, and most are still nestled inside their protective bud covers (the proper name of which completely escapes me tonight.)

This seems to be the week of rainbows, too. Thursday evening's was nice, but Saturday evening we were given the present of a double rainbow over my neighbour's old house. After taking some photos, I sat out behind our place and just let the intermittent rain spatter on me while I watched the rainbows, which went on for probably twenty minutes.

And I was thinking to myself as I looked at this sedum emerging from its winter sleep, how much I like the look of some perennials as they push through the ground. I almost wish this one (which is one of the taller varieties, possibly 'Matrona') would stay small and tidy and lovely. Almost.

Something about the geometric beauty of this hellebore's flower, surrounded by the rosy sepals, really, really pleased me. So did the condition of the soil in the lower garden where the hellebores are and where I was weeding the past couple of days. It's turned black, rich and friable from all the compost I've added to it over the years since I first took on the challenge to deal with what was red clumpy clay. So it can be done, friends. It really can. The dedicated work we do, whether in the garden or on other projects, really does pay off.

So, what has come back in your garden that you've been really pleased about? What has seemingly gone to sleep, never to awaken again?


  1. I think that magnolia bloom shyly tucking out of its fur wrap is just the cutest thing I've seen this week. Hope your weekend is bright and springy! :-)

  2. Seeing is important! Recently when I am more busy, I tend to look, but not see - there are cherries blooming now, but I tend to not see it - even when I am in the garden :) Ha. But few times a day I tell myself 'woman! see it, enjoy it - this might be last day of your life'.
    Thanks so much for your words about the recent sad events - appreciated a lot.

  3. I agree, Jodi. Photographing flowers, bugs and gardens has made me see them in a whole new and more intimate way. (Is "sepal" the word you were looking for?)

  4. Love that rainbow photo! O_O I'm so happy that everything's bloomed early as well, but I feel like I wished so hard for spring and now it's passing too quickly! :(

  5. Beautiful tour of what is blooming in your garden, I am happy to see my Nannyberry tree is going to flower for the first time, seems to me I planted it years ago, but really it was only 4 years ago and it was a baby. Hope you have a wonderful day and take care.

  6. Lovely photos, Jodi. The macro setting is an amazing thing. I'm happy to see my potted Japanese maples and potted hosta varieties waking up. Thrilled that my experiment of winter hibernation worked.

  7. I've often wished my sedums would stay small as well. I really love the colors in your pulmonaria. Wish I could grow them. I love taking close-ups (wish I had a macro lens) and seeing the little things I normally miss with my eye.

    I'm particularly pleased that just about every plant I thought I had lost to hard freezes is back. Some are coming back VERY SLOWLY and may need a year to recover. Seems I only lost one plant, a Turk's Cap, despite the horrid winter!

  8. It's the time of year when we hover over the 'iffy' plants in hopes of miracles.

    Pride of Barbados has finally sent up shoots. Bulbine has dead roots. Pineapple Sage came back with zest. You just never know.

  9. Jodi your macro shots are lovely! I have come to appreciate the intricate beauty of plants and insects through my lens!

    I am surprised that I was able to keep the fuschia alive over the winter. I'm really hoping to see those blooms again!

  10. Lovely, Jodi. I especially loved the shot of the backlit pulmonaria blossom. And I do sympathize about the cat hair on the macro shot -- been there! ;)

    Everything came back here except for a rosemary in a pot which I ought to have assumed would have a tough time and brought inside, but didn't, and a lantana that was supposed to be perennial in this zone. We did have a very cold winter for us, though.

  11. Visiting your blog is like visiting my favorite nursery...but I can have a glass of wine while doing so! Like you, I have shot photos in the backyard only to come in, download them only to discover Baylee's hair hanging down like fringe! Too funny!

  12. I wish the weather here would "smarten up!" It's supposed to SNOW overnight. I was thinking we were finished for the year but I guess not. :-(
    Your orange Epimedium is fantastic. I was just trying to photograph my 'rubrum' so I completely understand the challenge. You did a great job!

  13. Jody - I came to a full stop when I saw your photo of the pulmonaria. Time to do some homework and see if it would be happy in IL. No wonder you speak so highly of it. :)

  14. It is wonderful how a camera can enable us to "see". I am glad I am not the only one who talks out loud to my plants, welcoming them back after a particularly long winter. Great pictures and prose.

  15. Lovely flowers and the photos as well. They really are beautiful and refreshing to the eye. Thanks for the post.

  16. I'm not a writer like you, Jodi, but just taking photos for blog posts has also made me look more closely at the wonders in the garden. I'm often surprised when I download photos to see a bee or other insect that I didn't see before.

    I also like the emerging sedum--they look like little cabbage roses to me.

    Loved all your beautiful April rainbows!

  17. Camera's teach us to look at flowers differently then we would with just our eyes.

    You have captured some great shots, and it is early. I keep forgetting how early, and almost missing everything.


  18. Besides being blessed with a double rainbow, you have a keen eye and sharp pen, dear Jodi. I'm sure your book will be amazing!

  19. Beautiful shot of the rainbow! Your pictures are fabulous! Full of little wonders!

  20. Isn't it a marvelous feeling to finally have a few of those highly productive days in the garden? I'm getting behind now because work at the nursery is keeping me so busy, but I'm longing to be out there, digging and tidying. I brought pansies home today :)
    Having a little "up-close" tour of the gardens is such a delight at this time of year, isn't it? I do the same thing...welcoming plants back:)
    The Konigin epimedium is so sweet, and the hellebores...so intricately beautiful! Yes, I love the sedums too!
    And that magnolia bud..exquisite!
    If it wasn't raining I'd run out and check to see if my pulmonaria blooms are open.
    A couple of pretty little Jonquils are opening their fragrant petals today...reminding me so much of my Mum...lovely!
    Your garden is shouting spring too, Jodi. Isn't it wonderful?

  21. Those rainbows appear to be flinging their colors all over your garden. Lovely.


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