Tuesday, May 25

Gratuitous Photos: Two Favorite Spots

I'm sure that there are some downsides to having a west-facing house.  The wind whips against my front door something fierce in the wintertime, and the late afternoon sun beats down on the porch every summer.  But having some amazing garden backlighting is definitely one for the "pros" list. 

I've tried to take advantage of this location by planting some warm-toned foliage to add fire and sizzle to the garden as viewed from the porch.  Here are a few views of the first of my current favorite garden spots... the little tapestry of texture and color around the Japanese maple:

Even the glowingest of the photos above doesn't really do this area justice.  The peach-y and jewel-red heucheras, along with the Japanese maple leaves, just seem to beam their own bright lights as the sun goes down.  A few other plants throughout the garden do the same, like this purple ninebark that looks like glowing embers with some backlighting, but is more of a flat purple from above:

The front yard heucheras all have a fiery glow, it seems, but the bronze carex buchanii both lights up and grounds the eye all at once:

I've shown photos before where the sea kale, stipa tenuissima, and 'Purple Knockout' salvia lyrata all gleam, too... but when they disappear in the shade, the flat colors and contrasting textures still provide a lot of interest:

Heading to the backyard, evening light means flat color, as you see with this 'Looking Glass' brunnera and 'Dawn' hosta:

Although some plants have somewhat twisty foliage that picks up a little bit of backlighting, and casts interesting light patterns, all at once:

And of course you can always turn around, back toward the house, to get some good backlit shots in these gardens:

But the flat evening light really deadens a few areas of the garden, like the "Blackberry jungle" we're approaching here:

Viewing this photo is kind of like seeing a garden photo in black and white.  My first thought was, "Wow, there is almost zero interest here with all of this fine texture!"  (Okay, no... that was probably my second thought.  I'm pretty sure that my first thought was actually, "YAY! I'm going to have so many blackberries this year!"  :)  I think that I need a few more large-leaf plants, like the 'Sagae' hosta you see in the corner here, behind the 'Caradonna' salvia:

Or at least some plants that have finer texture but a relatively strong form, like the chives that are getting ready to bloom in front of the arching blackberry:

Even these would not be so impressive, though, if not for the fact that they were planted en masse, in a straight line that echoes their own lines.  But you lose that linear echo when you just look at them from above:

Ah, well, there's not much to be done with that area right now.  So let's move on to more successful combinations, like the one in my other current favorite garden spot.  Behold the back end of the grape arbor:

Yeah, I know, it doesn't look like much more than a whole lot of fence on first sight, does it?  But I really like the light-and-dark play of the evening sun in this area.  And I recently trashpicked a chandelier that will be painted in a crazy bright color and hung in the empty visual space here.  The grapes will eventually grow over to that side of the arbor, too.  For now, though, you need to look down for the visual interest:

And I adore the huge leaves of the 'Sum and Substance' hosta, especially as a counterpoint against the delicate-looking painted ferns and the leptinella that meanders between the recycled sidewalk stone pieces that make up the arbor floor.  In reality, all of these plants back here are tough as nails... so it amuses me that it looks so lush, cool, and restorative. 

The ruby tones of the orach pick up the veining of the painted ferns, as well as the burgundy color of the arbor stain.  There are also some 'Copper King Strain' trumpet lilies nearby that have pinkish buds and a pinkish orange streak on the back sides of their petals--the orach matches it very well.  As you can see, this "mountain spinach" is a rampant reseeder... but it's hard to mind that when you can "weed out" the poorly placed seedlings for dinner.  (They really do taste like spinach.)

Edible or ornamental, tough or delicate, sunny or shady.... what are some of your favorite garden spots in the late spring?  Some links to posts that show your favorites would be appreciated for later reading, once the sun goes down!  (But for now... time to get back outside and PLANT!  'Tis the season!)


growingagardenindavis said...

It's always so interesting that you have some things doing the same thing at the same time as I do...like the chives blooming. Maybe because you've had my warm spring and I've had your cool one!

Philosophical Karen said...

Love the light on the hostas. No wonder it's one of your favourite spots. I have a spot like that too, where the early morning sun provides the backlighting. It's magical.

Entangled said...

Your photos are so inspiring. I so often see red-leaved plants sprinkled here and there in gardens with nothing to relate to, but yours are a composition. If I ever get back to ornamental gardening, I'm going to reread all your posts before I plant a thing! (and I'm only half joking here)

Unknown said...

Leslie, I bet that's right! Usually, you are WAY ahead of us--I think your wild and wonderful wisteria is long done by the time I see any blooming in the neighborhood.

Karen, I saw that post of yours with the pretty photos in the early morning sun! Buildings block most of my early morning sun, along with the back fence--boo.

Entangled, I'm blushing. And I'm not even half joking... thank you for the lovely compliment. Just remember that I'm horrendous at self-editing, so you might want to just stick with looking at the pictures only instead of wading through all of my wordy text! lol.

Commonweeder said...

Back lighting is such a boon to the photographer. And I must have some sea kale. I never saw it before this spring - and now it is turning up in a number of gardens. Beautiful. Sculptural.

Gail said...

Sometimes I can catch the perfect lighting, but now that the trees have filled out it's more difficult...Winter is better. I would so like to be a bird on your roof looking down on your lovely hot and silvery tapestry! gail

Heavy Petal said...

Wow! You're not kidding - that light is amazing! (Although I think your plant-combining skills have an awful lot to do with how awesome your garden looks!)

I'd love to share your garden with my readers. Would you consider submitting some pics to the Heavy Petal garden tour? http://tinyurl.com/233b6on

Anonymous said...

What great color and textural combinations you have created in your garden. Jennifer

chuck b. said...

Your neighbors must really enjoy walking past your house, assuming they take walks. It occurs to me that your palette is very Pacific Northwest. Your garden would be right at home in Portland or Seattle.

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