Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Favorite Photos 2016

 Les at Tidewater Gardener has posted his annual meme challenging other garden bloggers to present their 10 favorite photos of the year. I was surprised to find I have 3779 images in my photo files for 2016;  I probably ought to do my annual winter image clean-up since many are sub-par or near duplicates and just eat up space on my external hard drive. It was actually fun to go through them all and try to pick out 10, it brought up great memories of gardens and landscapes visited, and reminded me that there were actually some positive aspects of 2016. These are not necessarily the best, but they are those that have meaning for me.


 This was taken in April at a wetlands trail in south Napa County. Napa is known for wine, vines and food, but we have a beautiful network of wetlands that feed into the San Pablo Bay and to some extent reach east to the Sacramento River Delta. I have really neglected the rich photography opportunities here and hope to capture more in 2017.



 I took a boatload of pics at the Ruth Bancroft Garden in 2016, and could have easily filled up my top ten from those. This was taken (I think) at the spring plant sale and I just like the simple placement of the yellow flower on this Opuntia against the blue sky.



 This is our friend Doobie who left us this year. He was a sweet boy, and lived a fine life full of kitty treats and pleasant days in the garden.


 This is a Boophone I processed as a black in white , taken at UC Berkeley Botanical Garden in January. I have severe Boophone lust, thus this image was selected.



 Another from the Ruth Bancroft Garden; I like the juxtaposition of the dead palm fronds and the vibrancy of the blooming Aloe.



 This was taken at the entry to Round Pond winery in Rutherford. I was shocked to find that every one of these beautiful Agaves had been removed when I drove on this back road last month.


And speaking of Agaves, I took this at a photo workshop at the Bancroft.


  Mendocino Botanical garden in July. How I love this garden and I try to visit at least once a year. I took almost 300 photos this day and it was hard to pick one. This may not be the best, but to me it really displays the atmosphere of the garden.



 This is the Great Beach at Pt Reyes National Seashore.


 And finally, I give thanks to this lady who walked through these grasses at the Pacific Horticulture Summit  visit to the Reid garden in Sebastopol Ca. I turned around and there she was in her purple cape against the golden grasses.




Saturday, December 31, 2016

Fall Photos From The Ruth Bancroft Garden

 Back in September , I attended a photography workshop conducted by John Ricca at the Ruth Bancroft Garden. I had attended another class of Johns back in 2013 and that led to a 3 day Yosemite National Park workshop with John and Keith Walklet that completely changed the way I approached taking photos.Though I have been taking photos now for several years, I'm by no stretch an expert and no matter the difficulty level of a class I always learn something useful. This particular class was described as for beginners,but the opportunity to get into the garden at 8am was compelling and I expected this would be casual, with those needing more help getting valuable one on one assistance while more experienced photographers could work on their own and obtain Johns' advice and counsel when needed.Our friend Gerhard of Succulents and More was in attendance as well, and he shared some of his photos from that morning here. On January 28th, another 8am workshop will be held, and I have signed up for that as well, hoping for some blooming Aloes and good winter light conditions.

 I took almost 300 photos that morning in September, and am sharing here some of those I liked the best.
  The backlit Agaves displayed an inner glow that was fun to capture, one of the great benefits of early access to the garden.












 I love this area of the garden and usually take many photos here .





Some Aloes were blooming and some were bloomed out, nevertheless they are beautiful in any season.







  My Aloe-naming skills are horrible, but I'm very fond of the red toothy-action on this one.



 The garden also features a collection of Eucalyptus .




Wider views of sections of the garden.








Plant portraits







 Even the expiring Agaves are worth a photo.



Thursday, December 22, 2016

In The Rear View Mirror-Spring Visit to Marcia Donahues Garden.

 I like to look back on gardens visited as the year-end draws near. I'm already done with winter even though it just started today, after a particularly nice fall. We've had an encouraging amount of rain thus far here in wine country (between 9 and 10 inches  depending on your location in the valley) and the frost arrived this week with temperatures dipping into the high 20's. I recognize that my version of cold is pretty tame compared to friends that live on the east coast and midwest, but as I rush around moving plants into the garage and covering those that are marginal,  I am aware that I can drive less than an hour and be in a place like Berkeley that has an enviable, perfect frost-free, heat -free climate.
 Artist Marcia Donahues' garden in Berkeley was on Garden Conservancy Open Days in April , and I visited with my friend Gerhard of the excellent Succulents and More . It had be a few years since I visited Marcias' garden and have  blogged about it here. Gerhard produced a really nice post about our visit here; as is his custom he is detailed and will give the reader much more background information than I present in this post.
 As often happens to me when I get into gardens that speak to me in a strong way, I become distracted and take a whole bunch of really bad photos. These weren't too awful , but I have  resolved to visit again in 2017 with a more attentive approach.

Front garden...



Back garden...


Both are magic. Really magic.

On your way to the back you  see the neighbors'  wall, accommodatingly painted to provide a nice color background to the plants in this narrow side yard .Here lives the famous bowling ball mulch.





 Art can be an awkward addition to a garden if it's not done well, and at Marcias' the pieces blend quite seamlessly into the mature plantings and enhance the scene before you.



Many of the pieces are plant based with a deeply organic color palette that compliments both the architecture of the house and  the jungly vibe that surrounds you in the garden.






See how the ceramic beads (tennis ball size) meld effortlessly with the tree that hosts them.


Because the garden is so densely planted and mature , the winding paths create a sense of mystery and anticipation for what lies just beyond.


 Maybe it's this...


 Or this...

Or this ...

 The light filtering down into the garden is compelling , and creates a sense of peace and tranquility. I recall observing Marcia sitting with a garden visitor; the visitor had one of the chickens on her lap , stroking the feathers as one would a cat. They were quietly chatting about the garden , and the moment was so serene I never considered taking a photo, feeling that it would have been intrusive. The image has remained in my mind , evocative of this garden.



The chickens are extremely friendly .

If you look up from inside the garden you might see this.

Passing through a shady thicket you might come across this at eye level.




  And the hell strip..