Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Bright, Brighter, Dazzling - challenges for garden photographers

Monday brought warm sun (for about the third time this summer) and the return of Our Great Leader from France. No-one is allowed to travel without bringing back a treat for coffee break - Jim included - and the Pineau de Charentes plus cake went down very well.
Jim pours the Pineau, Adam supervises
Warmer, but not warm enough
The warming effects of sun and Pineau made working in the garden a pleasure and flowers were popping open all over the place. I couldn't help looking my gift horse in the mouth, though: if only we could have had a sunnier summer! The lack of warmth and sunshine has meant that the Brugmansia sanguinea which I grew from seed (last year) and planted in the massive Orange Pot on the well has had a mere three flowers this summer. Its leaves are impressive, and the bright red Pelargonium 'Paul Crampel' with it is working hard but I am disappointed with the lack of red and yellow trumpets.
Giant Orange Pot overflowing with Brugmansia sanguinea, Abutilon megapotamicum, Pelargonium 'Paul Crampel'
Lysimachia nummularia and Oreganum vulgare 'Aureum'
Brugmansia sanguinea flower
But I want more!

The Brugmansia produced those three flowers back in July and has remained stubbornly quiet ever since. I know that these are relatively young plants so I can't expect too much but I couldn't help getting excited when I saw the first buds.

This planting still makes a good centrepiece for the courtyard, on Monday evening Jim and I included it in some photos for a possible magazine feature - we spent a long time moving pots around and getting shots set up only to find out later that Jim had had the wrong setting on his camera and all his pictures were BLUE! Ah there's nothing like wasting a rare warm evening to make you curse.

One of my Monday evening snaps. Here's a game for you: how many pots can you see?

Dahlia 'Geerling's Moonlight' aka 'Vlad'
Another flower I welcomed with enthusiasm this summer is Dahlia 'Geerling's Moonlight'. This is a preposterous colour, the high vis jacket of the flower world. As I am only a very basic photographer I find it an extremely difficult plant to photograph.

Call Buffy!
The picture on the right does it no justice; Liz Eddison, our garden photography guru, could probably tell me how to capture it, I'll have to ask her next time she is here for one of her garden photography day courses. I do have a sneaking feeling it is like Dracula, impossible to photograph, leaving a blank space where its crisp petals should be.

I did try sneaking up on it with some garlic for a close-up and the picture below is the best I could get. If you really want to know what it looks like look at the picture of Miss Babs in 8th June's post. Many people will find it unpleasant (the dahlia, not Miss Babs) but I love it for its unapologetic dazzlingness and was so pleased that one tuber survived last winter.

Dahlia 'Geerling's Moonlight'. Looks quite tasteful in this photo.

Ferns and burns
It is usually easy to get an interesting photograph of the Seraphim Pot, whatever the planting. This year I have a fern in it (please don't ask me which one, I'm very bad at ferns) plus seed-grown Cuphea ignea with its incandescent orange cigars, Begonia 'Glowing Embers' and Coleus (or Solenostemon) Giant Exhibition 'Limelight'. I am very smug about this planting, not just because it glows nicely against the dark wood of the pottery building but because of the fiery names. Silly really because most people will be oblivious to them but I must take these little moments of self-satisfaction when I can get them.
Seraphim Pot looking serene even with fiery contents

Cuphea ignea and Solenostemon (or Coleus) Giant Exhibition 'Limelight'

Let's cool things down a little with this detail from a well-weathered large Swag and Acanthus Pot, the leaves are from Pelargonium 'Lady Plymouth'.
Venerable Swag and Acanthus Pot

Bad news: summer is nearly over. Good news: it's nearly bulb time.
And finally - Jane and I have been slaving away checking the details of all the spring bulbs which will soon be arriving at the pottery for our Bulb Sale. In spite of my reluctance to think about the end of summer I do find myself daydreaming about next winter/spring's plant combinations...
April brightness at Whichford Pottery this year


  1. Harriet, this "bright, brighter, dazzling" post certainly brightened up my day as I'm sitting here in the middle of hurricane Irene (yes, miraculously with the power still on) hoping that the garden doesn't completely blow away! Some gorgeous pics and oh, those wonderful pots!


  2. Oh Joe I hope you are OK! My husband would tell you that I never stop moaning about our weather but I am so glad we don't have quite the extremes that you get. My fingers are crossed for you and your garden...