Friday, June 1, 2012

First view

I found Town Mouse and Country Mouse's blog recently, and the idea to do a "first view" of the garden on the first of the month with the specific intention of doing wide angle shots.  I almost never do wide angle shots for two reasons.  First, I don't think I'm as skilled photographically with them -- the photos just don't really pop or draw me in like the ones in books and magazines.  Second, my garden isn't really up for it.  I have a lot of lovely flowers in my garden, but my garden has grown "organically" (so to speak) as a bit of a hodgepodge while I've been learning what grows here and what doesn't.  It's only recently that I've spend much time thinking about the big picture in my garden beds... and thinking about it doesn't mean I automatically have any skill.  Both of these demerits are things I'd like to improve on, so forcing myself to shoot a couple wide angle shots of the garden once in a while can only help. 
Above is the main bed in the backyard, what we have always called the butterfly garden.  This is the first bed I started and my main goal was to attract butterflies.  We do get a lot of butterflies, but this was also the only place I had to try out new plants so there was quite a random assortment.  Early this spring, I undertook a reformation of the butterfly garden, taking out some thugs that had taken over, moving some things elsewhere, and putting in some new plants.  But I don't have a great head for garden design, so my idea was to first attempt to make it look good in the summertime -- peak butterfly season-- and then when I see how that looks, work backwards into spring by adding some more plants where possible.  The bed already has some fantastic late summer and fall plants, asters and sunflowers.  It's not much right now though.  Verbena-on-a-stick attracts a lot of butterflies, but it doesn't make a garden all by itself.  The one shown below is the second pipevine swallowtail I've seen here.  The blue color on the wings made my mouth drop open.  When I figure out where I can put it, I guess I ought to plant a pipevine!

I have discovered that one great way to get a lot of color is with self-seeding annuals.  The butterfly garden is just about to explode with annual black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta), like the one in the foreground of the first shot.  The photo below is the front garden.  I hesitated for a long time before putting a garden in the front, since I didn't want my mistakes on display for all to see.  But this is where the sun is -- and the existing plantings from the previous owners were hideous -- so eventually this garden got put in.  Self sowing annuals bring a lot of color to this bed, and right now it is a riot of larkspurs.
There are some perennials here, the clematis of course on the inside of the fence providing the most intense splash of color.  In the middle of the photo is a mass of catmint.  It's not showing up that well in the photo due to my lack of wide-angle skills.  This is my least favorite lens as well.  Maybe if I get a new wide angle lens I'll be a better photographer?  Well, I can always dream.  I love the sort of cottage-garden look of the self-seeding annuals but I'm glad I came up with the idea of the half-fence to give this garden a little structure.  It encloses a patio and some small garden beds and gives structure to these beds on the outside of the fence, but there is still a wide strip of lawn in between this and the sidewalk as a nod to tradition and to avoid boxing in the whole yard and isolating it from the neighborhood.  The fence is shorter than normal as well, just enough to give a feeling of enclosure without actually blocking our view of people going by.  I think it functions a lot like a wide front porch, which we in our neighborhood are not lucky enough to enjoy.