Lantana Bonanza!

Earlier this spring, I added some Chapel Hill Yellow Lantana to a large pot in the center of my courtyard garden. It didn’t grow much at first, but as the daily rains we were getting in Georgia subsided, the plants started getting more sun and the blooms are now popping. My garden is mostly a shade garden with lots of ferns and hostas — in the ground and in pots — but I’ve learned over the years how to take advantage of those areas where the sun does get through for a few hours each day. I’ve experimented quite a bit with flowering plants like lantana, some sun-loving vines (and even a couple of grapevines) that may not flower but grow well anyway, hydrangeas placed to catch early morning or late day sun, and a mix of sun annuals that make it through the summer pretty well.

The Chapel Hill Yellow Lantana, I learned, is a cross between Miss Huff and New Gold lantana varieties, all popular in southern gardens for their hardiness and persistent flowering throughout late summer and even into autumn. The floral symmetry of lantana flowers fascinates me; I learned that this type of flower shape is called an umbel — evocative of umbrella given that it’s overall shape is supported from a single point by “umbrella like” ribs. As the flowers first emerge, they look to me like tiny pillows arranged in concentric circles, changing from pale to brighter yellow as they grow, then developing into a rich yellow with a dark orange center. Using a macro lens and some cropping, I’ve tried to show that transition in the images below, as there were suddenly plenty of flowers at different stages of growth to show the early buds, mixtures of buds and emerging flowers, and some clusters that were fully in bloom.

Select any of the pictures below to see larger sizes in a slideshow … and thanks for reading and taking a look!

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Bluebird Hydrangeas from my garden

A couple of years ago, I planted three small Bluebird Hydrangeas in an area of my courtyard garden that gets filtered sun in the early mornings and an hour or so if low-angled, more direct sunlight in the afternoons. I always liked the lacecap blooms, and the three small plants have easily tripled in size since I planted them. Below are a few pictures I culled from dozens I took over the weekend; the flower petals are just beginning to open and it was a good time to get a look at the structure of the emerging blooms.

Taking closeup and macro photos of blooms like this can be challenging, especially getting the blooms and the unopened cluster of flowers in reasonably good focus. I didn’t use a tripod for any of these, but I think I will when I take another round of pictures as the buds continue to open — to allow for greater depth of field in these low-light conditions. The bud clusters have both purple and blue scattered throughout them in real life; the color mix tricks the eye (and the camera) and sometimes it’s hard to decide whether the original colors were blue, purple, or a variation of both. With more sunlight, the blue became more purple (or did the purple become more blue?), and it was fun to play around with white balance and shift between the two colors. Many of the leaves and blossoms were also dotted with spring pollen; it was also fun to pick out and remove little pollen spots from the leaves, wherever they seemed distracting when the camera caught them as little circles of white light scattered throughout the photos.

You can start a slideshow by clicking on any of the images below. You can read more about Bluebird Hydrangeas at Gardenia.net and the Royal Horticultural Society. And for a historical perspective, take a look at this article about hydrangeas from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica (one of my favorite research resources).

Bye for now!

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“This is my message to you …”

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Six Portraits of Two Baby Birds

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