A Few More from the Garden

Consider this the round-up from my early June backyard photo outing. The blooms on the ninebark shrubs are well and truly gone, replaced by little red berries. So these are the last two images of the tiny white blooms I’ll be sharing. Ever, actually, since we won’t be living in this house when these shrubs bloom next spring. Assuming they don’t get torn down with the house before they get a chance to bloom again.

I suppose that should make me sad, but it really¬† doesn’t. I’m not that emotionally attached to plants. I’ll be stealing all of the hosta out of the yard before we leave, because free plants. A lot of them have already been moved to my mom’s yard for safe keeping.

Honestly, I’ve really let the yard go to hell since we started building our new house. Maybe part of that is emotional detachment.

I’ve always been a survival of the fittest type of gardener. I stick stuff in the ground and if it survives, great. If not, I rip it out. Gardening is not for sissies. Yes, I get mad when the damn rabbits eat my plants, but I don’t get all boo-hoo about it. I also get mad at the Japanese beetles and the powdery mildew. I take these attacks as some sort of personal affront. Still, it’s good to be getting out and capturing my garden lovelies while I can.

It Is What It Is

We’ve realized for some time now that the September estimated completion date for our new home is a pipe dream. A couple of weeks ago, during one of our morning walks, I asked my husband when he thought our new home would be finished. I was surprised by his response, which was February. (He prefaced his answer by asking “Promise not to hit me?”) I was still thinking, or hoping I guess, that early November was not unrealistic.

I went for a site visit on Wednesday afternoon and was surprised to find more vehicles there than I had ever seen before, even when the framing crew was working. Turns out, our builder was touring the house with a home energy expert and a number of other people in the building trade. They seemed a little startled when I crashed their meeting, but managed to cover it pretty well.

After the meeting I talked with our builder and construction manager about the toilet situation (I’m over it now, I promise) and answered a few questions posed by the HVAC guy. The construction manager happened to be parked in front of me, so before I drove away, I stopped and talked to him for a few minutes. I wanted his opinion on a realistic completion date, which our builder has been reluctant to name.

He hemmed and hawed, of course and asked for another week before giving a solid answer, but when I shared my husband’s prediction of February, he agreed that January/February was probably realistic. Which means we’ll be on the March Parade of Homes. In a way, it’s a relief. I just want to have a real date that we can work with, instead of pinning my hopes on some fantasy. Looks like I’ll be booking tickets to Australia for March 2018.



More True than False

I went more than just a little bit crazy with photographing my False Indigo while it was at its peak. I just couldn’t get enough of it. You get to benefit from my exuberance.

I realize as I’m looking at these images that the color is not exactly true to life. The flowers are a deeper blue with almost a purple tinge.

I also realize that I’m posting way more of these images than I probably should. But this is the last time I’ll be able to post images of these beautiful flowers. While I’m planning to collect the seeds and establish them at our new home, it will be years before those plants bear flowers. False Indigo doesn’t like to be transplanted, so it’s not worth trying to move them. I’ll just have to be patient. Not one of my virtues.

When I made my second pass at the flowers, after photographing in the back yard, I found that a number of bees were busy collecting pollen. I don’t usually have a lot of luck photographing bees, so I was pleasantly surprised at how a couple of the images turned out.

It was like a going away present from the plant that’s given me so much enjoyment over the years. I won’t miss a lot of things when we move out of this house, but I will miss this beautiful plant.

Total Shitstorm

The toilet installation at our new home turned into a total shitstorm, pun intended. One of the plumbing conversations we had at our meeting last Tuesday was regarding the tanks for the wall mounted toilets we will be using in most of the bathrooms. We were told that they wouldn’t fit in the 2×6 wall cavities, so some additional depth needed to be built into the walls. This wasn’t an issue except for one location.

So we spent 20 minutes figuring out a solution. Then we went home and reviewed the specifications for the tank installation, which seemed to indicate that the tank should fit into a 2×6 wall cavity. When we met again the next day to start the electrical walkthrough, my husband had a side conversation with the builder and left thinking we were good and the additional framing was unnecessary.

We went to the site this Monday afternoon to find the framers making the changes we thought were no longer needed. Cue the shitstorm. After a series of terse texts and emails and more research into the tank installation, we found out that theoretically it could fit into a 2×6 wall, but it wouldn’t meet Minnesota code for the waste pipe installation and it wouldn’t work with our floor truss locations.

So after all that, we are left with losing several inches in each of our powder rooms, plus we had to create a “feature wall” with an art niche behind the toilet in our second bathroom. Why? So it wouldn’t look stupid that the wall comes out further than the adjacent tub wall. I just hate this shit. We knew from the beginning that we wanted these toilets and the design was supposed to accommodate their installation. Unfortunately, neither our architect nor our builder had previous experience with wall mounted toilets.

Now I have to cross my fingers and hope the workaround doesn’t end up looking kludgy. On the plus side, I get to find a piece of art that fits into the newly build niche.

The Magic of Green

The rapid fading of my shrub roses is a harsh reminder that summer’s beauty is ephemeral and I really should be getting out at least twice a week with my camera. Going nearly two weeks between visits to my own backyard is pathetic. Even when nothing is blooming, there are always some interesting green things to photograph. This image is of some goat’s beard in the shady back corner of our backyard.

Goat’s beard is not a particularly attractive plant. I’ve tried photographing it before and frankly, it looked pretty weird, not in a good way. So I quit trying to focus on any particular area of the plant and just tried to capture the feathery lines of the tall flower stalks. Lo and behold, that worked. These two images turned out the best. A mundane garden shade plant turns into an exotic jungle inhabitant via the magic of Lensbaby.

Of course, goat’s beard isn’t the only humble plant that can be elevated by the Lensbaby treatment. I pulled most of the overgrown stalks of lawn grass that had invaded my daylilies a few weeks ago, but this lone survivor escaped my notice. Now it’s taller than the daylily leaves. Again, in focus it’s a sad little blade of grass gone to seed. But when out of focus, it looks like a delicate flower against the vibrant background of leaves.

This is the same stalk from a slightly different angle. It’s pretty amazing when you can find this level of beauty in a lowly blade of grass.

It’s All Coming Up Roses

My William Baffin shrub roses were gorgeous when I photographed them just under two weeks ago. I went out yesterday to try again and they were toast. Which made me sad, because I was really hoping to get a third image to round out today’s post. Instead I’ll have to be satisfied with just these two.

Fortunately, they are pretty amazing. At least, I think so. These are the kind of photos I aim for with the Lensbaby. The first one is an ethereal close-up of one bloom just past its peak.

But it’s the second one really makes my heart sing. One tiny, nearly perfect bud just starting to open. I toned down the vibrant green background color quite a bit in order to make the pink rose really pop. Otherwise, I didn’t mess with it. Perfection.

Hosta, Hosta, Hosta

I am a huge fan of hosta. When we first moved into our current home (21 years ago!) there was a small, scraggly patch of hosta languishing under a spruce tree in our back yard. Over the intervening years, those plants have been moved and divided multiple times. The spruce is long gone, but the hosta now populate three more yards in addition to ours. They will be moving with us to the new house.

It was inevitable that I would turn my Lensbaby to the hosta.

These particular specimens are not the heirloom ones, however. They are a fancier variety that Bachman’s planted when they landscaped our yard. The leaves are broader and sturdier.

They make better photographic subjects. I tried a lot of different angles, trying to capture the beautiful curves of the leaves.

I thought these would work well as black and white, but surprisingly, they are really flat without the subtle color. I’ve barely scratched the surface here. I’ll be revisiting these beauties again.

False Indigo ala Lensbaby

I have a beautiful False Indigo plant in my perennial garden. It was in full bloom last week, so I spent some time trying to capture it with the Lensbaby. I started out trying to get one bloom in focus, but found I didn’t like how any of those images turned out. So I threw focus out the window and just started experimenting with degrees of blur. The pinkish bokeh in this image is courtesy of my William Baffin shrub roses.

The second image is from just a slightly different perspective, so the pink of the roses is no longer visible. The lighting is also a little brighter. Normally, I wouldn’t post two images that are so similar, but I really couldn’t decide which one of these I like better. So I’m putting them both out there for you to decide. I like the little bit of pink in the first one, but I like the brighter bokeh in the background of the second one.

Then, of course, I tried going a little blurrier. You can still see that there are flowers, but the shapes of the individual blooms are indistinct. I’ve been doing more and more floral images like this. I love doing “macro” floral images when the flower is substantial, but when there are a bunch of small ones, I think this effect is more interesting. It definitely falls into the painterly category.


Given the right subject matter, I could make these types of images all day long. Unfortunately, my False Indigo is no longer blooming. It puts on a spectacular show for a relatively short period of time and then the beautiful blooms turn into seed pods. This year I’m going to collect those seed pods and propagate them in our new yard.

Last of the Isles

Okay, time for the roundup post from our June 6th walk around Lake of the Isles. This one actually has a theme, however.

Sort of theme, anyway. First up is some cattails. The light was a little harsh, but I like the way it lights up the surface of the lake.

Then I have some iris along the shore of the lake.

I love lily pads and flowers. Just a few flowers were blooming, and most of those were pretty far from shore, but I got one decent shot. There’s probably a lot more blooming now.

Finally, one more iris. The background is pretty cluttered and would require an excessive amount of Photoshop work to clean up, but I really like the lighting on the flower. If I only posted perfect images, you’d only see one a month at best. That’s it from the lake walk. Next up is more images from our back yard. Warning: more Lensbaby images ahead!

Black and White Isles

Yes, I’m still posting about the walk we took a week and a half ago. What can I say? The weather got hot, we got busy and I haven’t been out with my camera much lately. I have to milk every outing.

To keep things interesting, today I’m featuring black and white.

All of these worked pretty well in the original color versions, but I haven’t posted black and white images for a while, so I’m going with the conversions. The first one is a detail of a bridge railing. It was a quick, turn around, notice something interesting and shoot one photo without thinking too much sort of moment. This is with my 300mm, so it only needed minimal cropping and some touch up on hot spots.

Next I have two different images of cattail reeds against the background of Lake of the Isles. If I had been shooting by myself, I would have ended up with 30 different images from slightly different angles and agonized over which one was best. My husband is patient, but he has his limits, so I only had a handful to choose from and these two were the clear winners. Sometimes working fast isn’t a bad thing.