Neighbourhood watch

Back at the beginning of June I wrote a post entitled  Once around the block.  It was all about how, having a wander around your neighbourhood could help you choose plants for your own garden.

Since then, I’ve  gone one better and have been asking neighbours if I may take photos in their gardens. They have kindly obliged. It’s been great fun and I’ve heard many stories of how certain plants found a home in their gardens. One neighbour told me how some of his plants, including his wonderful Agapanthus, have been holiday souvenirs from Madeira.

 

 

He went on to tell me all about the Madeira Flower Festival which sounds spectacular. Another garden has a Fuchsia that had been brought back from Cornwall and is now of sentimental value, in remembrance of a much-loved sister who has passed away.  In another neighbour’s garden, is  wonderful display of roses which I have spent many a happy hour admiring and photographing.

 

Nowadays, I just pop into neighbouring  gardens when I see something I like the look of, so get out there, get chatting and see what’s blooming in the neighbourhood. Here of course, is a  slide show with a selection of photos from gardens which I’ve visited.

 

 

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Kirkcudbright’s hidden gems

While I’m on the theme of my locale, I thought I’d take you for a walk around the centre of Kirkcudbright and share with you one of my horticultural treats.

I begin my walk at MacLellan’s Castle and from there, amble up Castle Street, and as I go, I look down in between the houses through slatted gates, to see what lies behind.

 

 

What I find there, are some of Kirkcudbright’s hidden gems – namely the closes. Here you can see  much to entertain you. A most wonderful display of flowers and artefacts.

At the top of Castle Street, I turn right onto the High Street and follow it back round to the castle. Enjoying the sights and wonderfully named closes. Names like Police Close, Cannons Close, Greengate Close,  and my particular favourite Mouncey Close. Taking my time, I stop to enjoy the ambience, photographing at will, trying to conjure up something of the atmosphere to share with you. I’m intrigued by the objects d’art, wondering about the uses they were put too in times gone by.  All in all, a great way to while away the time. and one for your itinerary, should you ever visit Kirkcudbright.

Just to tempt you here are some photographs of what I saw.

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Watch out, watch out there is an interloper about!

A little while ago, I took a division from a Leucanthemum or Shasta daisy and brought it home. I thought it would look nice blending with my other herbaceous perennials the following year.

 

 

Luckily I popped it into a holding bed, (always a good idea), and my caution was repaid when a few weeks later, a few leaves of ground elder appeared.

 

 

 

Now, the job will be to remove everything, and detach all the roots of the ground elder. This often happens when someone gives you something, so putting them in ‘quarantine’ is never a bad idea.

One for your Garden – Colchicums

 

 

 

I’ve been enjoying the Colchicums in recent weeks. One plant can produce up to seven flowers from each corm, and spread well. During the spring months, you’ll notice the bulbs come into leaf and then die off, before flowering begins in September. As with many blooms they prefer moist, but well-drained soil in a sheltered spot. What’s not to like? Enjoy!!!

 

Flower photography – open wide!

There is no easy way to put this, but if you want to get the images you see in your mind’s eye, you have got to master the camera’s controls. I know, I know,  but take heart if I can do it, you’ll have no trouble. My advice is take your time, read the manual from back to front, but in short bursts. It’s overwhelming at first but there’s nothing to lose and as you go along, things will start to make sense. I’ll cover things as we go, but today I thought I would  mention Aperture and how it relates to taking pictures of flowers. Sit back, relax and let it sink in slowly.

The basics are these. The aperture is an opening just behind the lens that controls how much light is let into the camera. With me so far? I won’t go in to it any further. Now what the aperture controls in terms of your photograph is how much of the subject is  in focus that is to say how much depth of field a photo has. A wide aperture produces a shallow depth of field and a narrow one a longer depth of field. Below are some examples.

 

The first image has a blurred background because it is shot with a wide open aperture (lower number). the second image is clearer because it was shot with a narrower aperture (higher number).

You may get confused

It may get a bit too much, but there is one more thing to understand about how aperture is numbered, and this is topsy-turvy. The lower the number the wider the aperture. The higher the number the narrower the aperture. The best thing to do is get a piece of paper and draw yourself a diagram to help you learn the system.

All you need to remember is, the wider you open your aperture the less of the subject will be in focus. This is great for blurring backgrounds for flower portraits.

 

AV Mode

Luckily, there is a setting on your camera called the Aperture Priority mode (look in your manual). This allows you to set the aperture size and the camera will do the rest.

Try the following excercise. Find a flower you like, it should have a background of other flowers. Using Aperture Priority mode take the same shot five times with these apertures 5,6, 8, 11,16 and 22.  Inspect your photos and you will see that, as the aperture number gets higher more of the background is in focus

Try it you’ll like it!!

You can even practice without a camera simply look at photos and try to determine whether a wide or narrow aperture was used. Here’s a video I made to help you.

Well that’s all for now,  but before I go, can I just say a big thank you to everybody who visits the blog. it’s so much fun to record my adventures and I hope you all enjoy reading about them.

In the near future, I will be revealing news of my latest photography project, garden inspired of course. I’ve been doing some test shots and think it will be most interesting, so watch this space as they say.

But until next time, (Thurs 11th Oct 2018) best wishes and happy gardening, Dave.