⬆︎ Slide Show: Click any image to open slide show. Click on the “X” at the top left, or hit the “ESC” key to return.
Use the keyboard arrows to navigate. Click on the link below the lower right corner of an image to view it full screen.


These flowers are the “usual suspects” from years past, all still growing in our garden by the pond, but less formally portrayed this year, perhaps, than in earlier posts. The Shasta and ox-eye daisies were late, so they’re not here. The herbaceous peonies were spoiled by the rain, so they’re not shown, either. (The latter are cultivars, and have always been less hardy than our traditional Chinese peonies.)

I’ve been asked about the difference between “herbaceous” peonies and “tree,” or “shrub” peonies. The latter have woody stems and stand up by themselves. The former usually require the help of metal hoops for support. The former also die off in the winter, and return in the spring.

The Thalia Jonquil is a bit out of scale in the slide show. That is, its image is relative to those of the other flowers is quite large, and so belies the petite size of the living flower. As large as it is, that slide show image only hints at the wealth of detail revealed when it is viewed full-screen. The low, soft sunlight models the translucent petals, revealing an exquisite delicacy.

On close inspection, the Chinese peonies may appear to vary slightly in color from frame to frame. Although blooming at different times, these peonies grew on the same shrub, and usually exhibit the same color. That apparent variation is due to subtle differences in the color and brightness of the outdoor light when the photos were taken. Such ambient light, as it is known to photographers, can vary from day to day, or even from hour to hour. Admittedly, such color differences are subtle and may not be noticeable on some computer screens, those that over-saturate colors, this, those that render them intensely. Adjusting a flower’s color in the photo-editor is possible, but not easily done, and can make the flower look artificial.

In point of fact, all colors we see — whether indoors or out — vary with changes in the ambient light, although our brain usually compensates, and hides such variations from us. One notable effect is too great to hide, however — that of low, late afternoon sunlight that renders any scene before us gloriously golden.

Less obvious, and almost as hard for the brain to hide, are the effects of overcast or cloudy skies (my favorite light sources, especially for shooting flowers). Such skies can be gray and dull, emitting a flat light of little use to photographers. Or, they can be deceptively bright, bathing the subject in a lively, shadowless light, usually with a cast of blue, red or orange. These colors are not always discernible when we look up at the sky (the brain, again), but they do influence how we perceive a flower on the ground, for example.

If you start paying attention to these color effects, you’ll soon adopt the careful habit of seeing that is common to artists, photographers, architects, designers, naturalists, and anyone whose stock-in-trade is visual observation.
Related: Daylilies After Rain*, Spring Garden 2013*, Siberian Iris*, Chinese Peony*.


2 Responses to Spring Garden 2014*

  1. Stephanie LaGreca says:

    Beautiful photos as always, Ron! Thank you for sharing.

  2. Jim Fett says:

    Great photos and narrative Ron – thanks!

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