09/12/16

Late Summer Flowers

Late Summer Flowers

The Earth Laughs with Flowers ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Late summer flowers in the Middle Rio Grande Valley of New Mexico are magnificent.

late summer flowers

Cosmos in Corrales

Visiting with friends Tim and Laurie is always fun. Visits usually include Tim and I photographing, and Laurie sketching. This weekend was no different. Our “photographic expeditions and excursions” are on temporary hold. However, we make the most of what is locally available. Their property always has great photo ops, but their Lively Meadow is especially lively in late summer.

A forest of sunflowers greets the arriving visitor. As I was driving into Corrales, I almost stopped to photograph some sunflowers growing along the highway. I laughed at myself as I drove into their property. I was also glad I did not stop along the highway!

late summer flowers

Sunflowers

The tall sunflowers provide a natural backdrop for the cosmos.

late summer flowers

Sunflowers and Cosmos

Cosmos are a riot of color. The little blue flowers are morning glories.

late summer flowers

Colorful Cosmos

Laurie sketched while Tim and I photographed.

late summer flowers

Laurie Sketching

Later, as we always do, we went back to the house and deck.

Tim and Spunk:

man and cat

Tim and Spunk

On the deck and outdoor kitchen:

man hat coffee

Tim Relaxing

woman

Laurie

I don’t know how or why, but something a little special and always unpredictable seems to appear at just the right time. I love this beautiful, sparkly little damsel fly that visited the butterfly bush as we were enjoying conversation on the deck.

damsel fly

Damsel Fly

A beautiful late summer day with friends and flowers.

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06/27/16
gardens friends

Gardens and Friends

Gardens and Friends: A Day in Corrales with Friends and Family and Friends of Friends

Gardens and friends – gardens are such a wonderful gathering spot for family and friends in the summer. Regular readers here know how much I love to visit with the Price family in their Corrales garden, as well as our “photographic expeditions” to various places. We frequently end those travels back at their home and garden. I have rarely shown all the socializing that goes on in that garden and on the deck. Yesterday was a day for being in the garden and visiting with friends and with friends and family of friends. It ended, as it always does, with wonderful food, drink, and conversation in the outdoor garden kitchen.

I always love driving down the little lane to Tim and Laurie’s home – it is so Corrales!

gardens and friends

Trumpet Vine on the Lane to Tim and Laurie’s

Once there, it was a time for friendships in the garden and at the table. Nothing more needs be said.

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07/30/15

Photo Challenge

Photo Challenge

Photo challenge to myself – go photograph some things you frequently photograph, the way you frequently photograph them. But, use only the jpg, with no editing other than cropping and applying a copyright watermark.

Recently some photographer friends and I had one of the very common discussions floating around since the advent of digital photography. Is editing a raw file (digital negative) kind of “cheating,” or absolutely necessary to realize the full potential of digital photography? Anyone who knows me at all knows that developing my own raw files is something I do as part of my standard workflow, and overall will continue to do. It is one of the things I really love about digital photography!

The discussion with friends, however, made me want to go out and see what I would get with jpg rather than raw files, with the only editing being cropping to an 8×10 ratio rather than an 8×12 ratio, and the application of a watermark.

These are the results.

photo challenge

Miniature rose, ‘Climbing Earthquake’

photo challenge

Cosmos, with “imperfect beauty”

photo challenge

Green bee with pollen, on cosmos

The challenge to myself was a fun exercise, but I am a confirmed “photograph in raw” person, just because I truly enjoy the editing process.

LightStalking has a good discussion of the benefits of using raw files rather than jpgs.

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07/8/15

Sunflowers and Birds

Sunflowers and birds of all kinds go together naturally and beautifully. Several years ago some “volunteers” came up from the seeds I had been feeding. The birds loved the fresh seeds that formed when those flowers finished blooming! The goldfinches preferred them over the expensive nyger seed. The house finches love them, and the doves hang around under the flowers waiting for the other birds to drop an occasional seed. Since that first year of volunteers, I plant sunflowers each year. Although I always intend to plant them right after average frost-free date, some years I don’t get them planted until mid-summer, giving me and the birds flowers and seeds in the autumn. This year I got them planted early, and the flowers have peaked and the birds are enjoying the seeds. Within the next couple of weeks I’ll be removing the spent ones, and resowing seeds for a second bloom in fall. While this past Fourth of July weekend was an extremely busy one, I did make time to relax one afternoon and photograph some of the birds enjoying the sunflower seeds.

sunflowers and goldfinch

Male Goldfinch

Sunflowers and Birds

Male Goldfinch

sunflowers and birds

Male Goldfinch Taking Flight

Sunflowers and Birds

Male Goldfinch

Sunflowers and Birds

Male and Female Goldfinches

sunflowers and birds

Male and Female Goldfinches

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06/28/15
Double Rainbow

The Golden Sky at the End of the Storm

Double Rainbow

Golden Sky and Double Rainbow after the Storm

Last evening Albuquerque experienced one of our famous summer thunderstorms – lightning, thunder, brief heavy rain that produced rivers running in streets, full arroyos, and some brief flash flooding. I got 1″ of rain in less than an hour, enough that there was standing water for a short time (I hope I’ll have a lawn again for a few days!).

Albuquerque is well-known for double rainbows after thunderstorms. But, this was late, and the clouds were heavy and the rain continued, albeit at a slower rate.

And, then, unexpectedly because it was late and still raining, I caught a glimpse of golden light out of the corner of my eye. Such light after a storm here often produces rainbows looking east toward the Sandias. But, there were no rainbows from the usual view. But, with that light, something had to be happening! This view is looking south. I have never seen a rainbow in this position in the years I have lived here.

The light, and thus, the rainbows, lasted less than two minutes. The time was short, but the image in my mind will last.

The tree that was lit is The Old Crow tree, so named after a brief visit by a crow in January.

insight new mexico 2015

The Observer, The Observed

The mystical beauty of the Southwest Desert!

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04/28/15
clematis and mermaid

Clematis and Mermaid: Great Companion Plants

Clematis and Mermaid: Great Companion Plants

Clematis and Mermaid make great companion plants. I have already shown this year’s ‘Nelly Moser’ bloom with ‘Mermaid.’ ‘Nelly Moser’ is the first to bloom. As that bloom comes to an end, a white clematis, whose name I do not know, begins its bloom. About the time that bloom comes to an end, ‘Mermaid’ will begin what can be a spectacular spring bloom. The white clematis is reaching the peak of its 2015 bloom.

Clematis needs “cool feet” to thrive, along with sunshine on the leaves. ‘Mermaid’ provides shade for the clematis roots, and a strong structure on which the clematis vine can climb.

clematis and mermaid

‘Mermaid’ with ‘Nelly Moser’ and a white clematis

clematis and mermaid

Closer view of white clematis and ‘Mermaid’

This third view gives you some idea of the size of ‘Mermaid.’ I have mentioned before that I prune it back in the fall (the only rose I treat that way!), and it has already grown a lot this year. After the spring bloom, I will cut it back again to keep it from filling up the entire yard! But, I really enjoy growing this rose.

clematis and mermaid

‘Mermaid’ with ‘Nelly Moser’ and a white clematis

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04/13/15
clematis and roses

Clematis and Roses

Clematis and Roses: Companion Plants

Clematis and roses can be excellent companion plants, particularly for climbing roses. When someone asks me to recommend a companion plant for roses, I first ask the type of rose. If the rose climbs, I almost always include clematis among the recommendations.

Clematis need “cool feet.” That is, the plant does not thrive if the roots at ground level are exposed to direct sun. But, in order to bloom well, the vines themselves need sun. Pairing clematis with a climbing rose provides that. The rose provides the shade for the base of the clematis.

The clematis vine needs a support structure. A climbing rose provides a marvelous support structure, and the vine does not choke the rose (as some vines might).

Regular readers here know my love of the Old Garden Rose, ‘Mermaid,’ a hybrid bracteata (1918). If left to its own devices, it would be at the top of the house and covering my patio at the end of a season (actually, during a season!). I learned the hard way I need to keep it trained and controlled throughout the season. Surprisingly, it seems to thrive that way. It usually starts to bloom sometime in May, although this year it appears it could be a bit earlier than that.

I have two different clematis plants growing with ‘Mermaid,’ and both usually bloom before ‘Mermaid.’ ‘Nelly Moser’ is the first to bloom, and as its bloom ends, a large white clematis whose name I do not know begins its bloom. About the time it finishes, the rose begins its bloom.

‘Nelly Moser’ has begun its bloom, and the images with this post are of ‘Nelly Moser’ growing as a companion plant with ‘Mermaid.’

clematis and roses

‘Nelly Moser’ as companion to ‘Mermaid’

Closer view of ‘Nelly Moser:’

clematis and roses

Clematis ‘Nelly Moser’ with rose ‘Mermaid’

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03/20/15
Harry Lauder's Walking Stick

Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick

Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick, A Fun Plant in the Garden

Harry Lauder’s walking stick is a fascinating plant to have in the garden. The contorted limbs add interest in winter. Leaves are lush green in the summer. Flower arrangers like to use limbs in their arrangements. My mother, an outstanding arranger, has grown this plant in her yard for some time, and it has been one of her favorites for line material.

In the spring, “Harry Lauder,” as it is commonly referred to, can put on a spectacular display of yellow catkins, the male flowers. My mom’s plant is in “full bloom” this week, and I managed to photograph it before the rains came. I love it for creating images as much as arrangers love it for line material.

Harry Lauder's Walking Stick

Male Flowers, the Catkins, of Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick

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03/14/15
Flower Bud

I have no idea exactly what this is, other than some wonderful bud I photographed at the ABQ BioPark last fall.

Flower Bud

Flower Bud

This is an example of why I do not delete digital negatives that I do not particularly care for the first time around. I had fun developing it today.

And, now I know what an “Aside” post looks like. 🙂 )))))))

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03/12/15
prune roses rose hips

Still Too Early to Prune Roses

When to Prune Roses in the High Desert – A Constant Dilemma

When to prune roses is a constant dilemma in the High Desert. Although this blog is titled “Southwest Desert Gardening,” there are so many different environments in the large sense and microclimates in the small sense, that no universal recommendations are possible. Roses are already reported to be blooming in Tucson, Arizona, and the good folks in Santa Fe will prune their roses even later than we do here in Albuquerque. My mom lives less than a mile from me as the crow flies, and she has already pruned her roses; her yard runs 5°-10°F warmer than mine. Within my very small yard are several microclimates. It is very warm against a south-facing wall, and quite cool against a north-facing wall; that is always the last place the snow melts in my yard.

The “Average Last Frost-Free Date” has generally – in the past – been agreed to be April 15. That has to be seen as truly an average for a large area, and it may not apply to many spots in that large area. It probably does apply to where I live, but I have friends in Corrales who regularly get freezes well into May, and sometimes even later. I generally prune around the beginning of April, and do not fertilize until well past mid-April. There have been years when I lost a lot of new growth in May from a late freeze.

A couple of weeks ago we had several days of very warm temperatures for February. A lot of my roses sent out new growth in response. Then we got a significant snow, with a few days of colder temps. Much of that new growth died. Had I pruned those roses, there would be many fewer spots for new growth to replace that killed in the cold. As it is, when it is time to prune, the result will be “no harm, no foul.”

The combination of warm days, plus too early to prune roses, has produced some wonderfully interesting photographic opportunities this year, however. I have already shown a variety of rose hips and “winter beauty.”

The images for today’s post are from the modern shrub rose, ‘Route 66.’ The flowers are purple with a white eye, and have a strong, very pleasant scent. It is one of the first in my yard to bloom in the spring. As I was looking things over, I spotted a bud from last year that froze in the fall before it ever completely opened. You can tell, even as dried as it is, that the flower would have been purple. Because it did not bloom, a true hip did not form. I also found a “spray” of hips on ‘Route 66.’ When I do prune roses, this will be one of the first.

rose hips prune roses

Frozen, dried bud of shrub rose, ‘Route 66’

prune roses rose hips

Rose hips from spray of shrub rose ‘Route 66’

prune roses

Fully formed hip of ‘Route 66’ with lush new growth

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