The Barefoot Photographer®

a photography blog

Sunday, May 25, 2008


For the past couple weeks I have been working off and on in the backyard – getting it up to par for summer. And getting it ready for a workshop here at the house on June 7. It has been an extra bit of work since over the winter I never cleared out what should have been. The butterfly bushes that I so severely cut down winter before last never grew much last year due to the heat and drought. I have not pruned them since – so they are pretty shaggy. There are also many 'volunteer' sweetgum trees all over that need removing. Oh – and those blackberries – they are everywhere! And yes, the lemon balm and lamb's ears are everywhere too – and I have even been pulling some of it up. Last year I had a beautiful volunteer morning glory grow near the pond and cover a chair on the patio. I hope it comes back!

The pink and white mixed dianthus plants that I planted under the deck a few years ago are growing strong. Those little flowers are very pretty and make interesting subjects for macro photos. This year I added a red dianthus plant in that area. The oxeye daisies that are nothing more than rescues are blooming like crazy – and coming up in the rocks – but I am leaving most of them. In the bed where I have an oakleaf and regular blue hydrangea – there is a very vibrant, orange Asiatic lily full of buds and blooms. The daylilies are just beginning to bloom – the yellow ones. I have dark red, purple, white, and this year I added pink to the collection. I see lots of buds on all of them. I replaced an old rose bush with a heartier rose and I am contemplating replacing my false indigo with a similar rose bush. The clemantis is growing up the side of the deck; so far I only see one big bud on the vine. Last year – due to the heat and the drought – I did not plant a lot and I have noticed a few perennials did not come back. One of my lavender plants and a mallow are missing in action. The phlox is back – but not looking very strong. On the fence I have a couple hanging pots. Last year I had purslane, or portulaca, in them – one pot had orange and one had hot pink. This year all I could find was the hot pink variety. You cannot beat this little flower for putting up with hot, dry conditions. There are a couple places in the beds that are not great for digging – roots and rocks prevent any good holes for perennials or bushes. In these places, I sprinkle zinnia seeds. The little skipper butterflies will flock to zinnias in the late summer. Another interesting feature of zinnias – those little crab spiders hang out on them and they mimic the color of the flower.

I have not planted any tomatoes – I am tempted. The reason I did not – tomato worms! Those worms really gross me out – so no tomatoes. My oregano, chives, and rosemary are doing very well! In a couple pots on the deck I have planted basil seeds and they are coming up thick – I need to thin them out. I have also planted some sunflower seeds in various pots. The squirrels/chipmunks have really torn up on large pot and dirt is kicked out all over the deck on a daily basis! I guess I can't expect any different since I feed them sunflower seeds all winter.&nb sp; Yesterday I checked the ground-level water dishes that I have out for the chipmunks, squirrels, and birds. They are all in good condition. Last week I found a tiny blue egg on the ground. I placed it in a pot in the yard so I would not step on it. This week it is gone.

There is a little turtle in the pond! There is also a snake (not so little) in the pond – and less fish – and no tadpoles! Yesterday while I was out working in the yard I saw a tiny bullfrog on a lily pad – it looks just like a larger one that I see there occasionally. I think the turtle is a red-eared slider or river cooter – I cannot get a good enough look to see. It is small – it would fit into my hand. As soon as I step on the deck and get close enough to see over the edge – it dives under the water. I see this little turtle and wonder – how did it get here, how did it find my little pond – and I hope it does not tear up the liner! The baby fish are growing. It is much easier to see them from up on the deck now.

The dragonflies are back in force. Yesterday I saw one giant dragonfly – but it did not hang around. The blue dashers are around the pond all summer. They fly around and light on the cannas or the rusty heron statue near the edge of the water. There are a few damsel flies sticking around too. This spring I have added some pickerel weed, lizard's tail, cannas, and iris near the edge of the pond – actually the iris is in the pond. The white water lily has been blooming for a little over a week. I have not noticed any buds from the pink one yet.

The hummingbirds have been busy for weeks now. While I was out looking for anything interesting for the yard – I spotted a little bright yellow and red hummingbird feeder – so I added another in the yard yesterday. The one I always have had is on the upper area of the deck. The new one is on a garden hook near one of the butterfly bushes. At a local art show – last weekend – I picked up a large, rusty metal sculpture of a flower. I added a hanging strand of glass, marbles, and copper wire to it yesterday.

All of the work in the yard will pay off later when I want to take some interesting shots. It is easy to practice when you have good subject matter close at hand. Just as in the winter months – I would buy cut flowers at the grocery store – now I can just walk down the deck steps and have a myriad of choices. The biggest problem to deal with here is the harsh sunlight. That is when an umbrella comes in handy – or get out early or late in the day.

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