Chapel Hill Yellow Lantana: Gallery 1 of 4

Lantana is one of many flowering shrubs that are popular with southeastern gardeners, that also have relatives with a reputation for invasiveness when they grow outside of curated spaces. I have four varieties, three whose size is easily managed because they’re in pots, and one in a sunny corner of the garden that explodes into long stems during May and June, then blooms through the end of June and into July. By August, when most of the blooms have fallen off, the plant continues to add leaves and lengthening stems, which become thicker and woodier until early autumn when growth stops. I cut the entire plant down to just a few inches above the ground every fall, and some of the stems are so hard they have to be sawed off like small tree branches rather than just pruned. That’s when I can relate to what a burden it would be if it became invasive: the tangled lengths of stiff stems skewer off in every direction and present a challenge to cut back even in a relatively small, confined area.

In 2001, its reputation for wildness got Lantana a starring role in a melodramatic crime thriller named after itco-starring some humans — where an outgrowth of the plant was used to hide a body in an attempt to conceal a murder. Every fall when I hack mine back to the ground, I remember that movie, and the mood the opening scene created by panning from colorful lantana blossoms to a shadowy thicket of twisted stems, to gradually juxtapose the beauty of the blooms with the evidence that a crime had occurred.

This gallery — and the next three, coming soon — are photos of Chapel Hill Yellow Lantana (a few taken last year and reprocessed, most taken this year), growing in a large pot where it produces a substantial number of blooms with consistent blends of pale white, yellow, and an orange color that always reminds me of orange sherbet. I showed one of my varieties in last week’s Wordless Wednesday (Wordless Wednesday: Chapel Hill Pink Huff Lantana), and I’m working on images of Mary Ann and Landmark Citrus variations for posting later this month.

I played around with light and focus on these Chapel Hills to create different kinds of compositions; this gallery is representative of the next three, where the blooms will be shown as larger and more plentiful. The yellows and oranges seemed to pop nicely against the backgrounds, especially where I intentionally darkened greens, enhanced shadows, and applied some vignetting to isolate the blooms.

Thanks for taking a look!


Special Effects Coleus: Another Gallery

On Wordless Wednesday this week, I posted nine photos of three identical coleus plants I added to my garden this year, and the gallery below contains eleven additional images.

Coleus — typically a fast growing annual — is always notable for intense colors throughout its leaves and stems, making it a great subject for close-up photography. This variety’s name is “Special Effects” — that isn’t something I did to enhance the photos — because of the luminous whites, yellows, and reds throughout its leaves. The leaf in the fourth photo below, for example, appears to have added light; but that’s actually how it looks, even in the shade.

Select any image to begin a slideshow; thanks for taking a look!

Leave a comment

Exploring Photography: Hydrangea Gallery 4 of 4

The gallery below features the last of the four sets of hydrangea photos I started posting earlier in June. These blooms are Bluebird Hydrangeas, which I planted several years ago at the edge of a shade garden surrounded by holly ferns and hostas, where they seem to be thriving. The presence of the holly ferns created a lot of dark green in the shadows, and provided a unique background for the sixth and seventh images.

For these photos, I put some extra effort into getting appropriate focus where I wanted it, and I experimented with casting light from different directions to learn how that affected the images. The clusters of tiny, unopened blooms were challenging because they extended several inches behind the white petals, creating some confusion for the camera (and the photographer!) with even the slightest motion. I added some last minute sharpening to those sections of the photos only, so that those clumps would take on some shape rather than appearing as mushy blobs of alternating colors. To add light, alter its trajectories, and create a little drama, I simply placed an LED lamp in varying positions near the plants until I got an effect that I liked. All in all: great fun!

Here are links to the previous three sets in this series:

Exploring Photography: Hydrangea Gallery 1 of 4

Exploring Photography: Hydrangea Gallery 2 of 4

Exploring Photography: Hydrangea Gallery 3 of 4

Thanks for reading and taking a look!

Leave a comment