Showing posts with label flowers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label flowers. Show all posts

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Photographing Wildflowers in Missouri


Purple Coneflowers at the Park
Purple Coneflower

I love wildflowers and, in the spring and summer, they are abundant in Missouri.  It makes photographing them so very easy, I can find them in parks, along the sides of roads, on my neighborhood walks and even in my own yard.  When I am planning to go out specifically to take photographs, I usually bring my Sony mirrorless camera along with a 55-200 zoom lens.  It makes it easy to take pictures at a distance and also to zoom in for closer shots.  When I am taking my dog for walks in the neighborhood, I always have my iPhone handy, and I find that it takes great shots of the wildflowers I find in the neighborhood and at our park.

The photo at the beginning of this article was taken at O'Day Park in O'Fallon, Missouri. It is a purple coneflower, that is very popular in my area in the summer months.  It is one of my favorite wildflowers.  I took my granddaughters to the park and brought along my Sony to capture the wildflowers that were in abundance.  

O'Day Park Wildflowers

O'Day Park is a 57-acre park in O'Fallon that features a lodge, playground, camping and miles of paths and trails throughout the park.  Near the playground area, I discovered a paved trail that had lots of beautiful wildflowers along the sides.  They were in full bloom during our visit, and I was able to capture several different types of Missouri wildflowers. Here are some of my favorite shots.
Plains coreopsis in the park
Plains Coreopsis

Rough Blazing Star in the Park
Rough Blazing Star

Queen's Anne Lace in the Park
Queen Anne's Lace

Purple Coneflower with a Bee
Purple Coneflower with Bee

Around the Neighborhood

The photos in this section were all taken on my walks in my neighborhood.  They were all taken with my iPhone.
Trumpet Vine in a Tree
Trumpet Vine

Neighborhood flowers
Purple Coneflower and Golden Alexander

Lance Leaf Coreopsis in the Neighborhood
Lance Leaf Coreopsis

In My Yard

As I was looking at lists of Missouri wildflowers online, I noticed that many of the flowers in my flower beds are considered wildflowers.  I know that all of them were started with a single clump given to me by and friend and all have spread like crazy.  They make a colorful bordered on the side of my house.
Pink Primrose

Front Yard Flowers
Wild Geranium

Purple Bottle Brush
Bottle Brush Blazing

Black-Eyed Susan in my Yard
Black-eyed Susan

Learn More about Wildflowers

There are many books to give you tips on photographing wildflowers.  Here is one I found on Amazon.

Other Articles I have Written on Flower Photography

I love to photograph all kinds of flowers.  Here are some other articles I have written over the years.

Remember the best Camera for Flower Photography is the One you Have with You!  

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Review of Spring Flowers 2023

Photo of Daffodils in early Spring

 I love photography and, in the springtime, flowers make particularly great subjects.  Each year I have been trying to post some of my favorite flowers from that year.  In this post I will highlight some of my favorites from 2023.  The photo above is of some daffodils in one of our city parks.  It was taken in early March when they were just starting to bloom and since it was a rather cloudy morning the blossoms were "bowing down" waiting to be warmed by the sun.

A Few Tips for Photographing Spring Flowers

  • Cloudy days are great for showing off the colors in the flowers.
Bright Yellow Daffodils

  • Right after a rainstorm you can get some great photos including raindrops on the flowers.
  • Be sure to get some closeups and some wider shots of a grouping of flowers.
A group of Primrose Plants

Closeup photo of a Primrose

  • Look for unusual angles.
  • Set your aperture to blur out the backgrounds.
    Bright blooms on Spring Bush

  • Don't forget to photograph the beautiful blossoms in trees as you see in the photo above and the one below.
Bright Pink Blossoms on Bush

  • I like taking photos of the buds of a flower and then of the fully opened bloom.
    Early spring flower buds

    Pink flower Just Opening

Flowers around my Neighborhood

The great part about spring flowers for me is that I don't even have to travel far.  I can find lots of spring blooms in my own yard or on my neighborhood walks.
Yellow crocus Popping out of Ground

Pale yellow Daffodils

Hyacinths in Early Spring

Dark Purple Iris

Enjoy the Beauty of Springtime!!

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”

Sunday, June 12, 2022

A Tree Stump Vase - Great for Outdoor Decor

A Tree Stump Vase

Unfortunately, we recently had to have our gorgeous English Oak tree cut down. We've had the tree since 1994, so needless to say, it was a difficult decision.

After an Arborist confirmed it was dead, we had to call a Tree Service company to safely perform the sad removal.

We were given a choice to have the tree stump ground down or left standing.

We decided to keep the tree stump and decorate it with flowers.

Why Did We Choose A Tree Stump Vase?

We wanted to feature flowers on top, and since we weren't digging a cavern directly in the stump, we needed to safely secure a weather-resistant outdoor vase to the top.

We talked about a metal vase and a plain plastic vase; however, neither seemed safely practical.
The tree stump is located between two driveways; thus, we needed something lightweight yet durable should it ever break loose after we secured it to the stump and gawd-forbid damage our cars!
Here's a peek at the tree stump vase secured to the stump:

This tree stump vase is painted with weather-resistant UV paint to prevent fading and weathering. It's also designed to insulate plants from extreme heat or cold.

The one we purchased measures 10.5 inches in diameter and 9 inches high. They do come in other sizes. We verified the diameter of the tree stump beforehand. Also, we didn't want anything that stood too tall.

Here's another look at the tree stump with the flowers lifted.

We choose a tree stump vase primarily because it's lightweight, blends with the existing stump, and looks good without flowers. 

In the fall, we'll change the flowers, and come winter, we'll come up with something creative to fill the tree stump vase.

The finished look with the Tree Stump Vase filled with flowers

We selected flowers that trail over the stump. They still need to do some growing.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Nature Photography Day

pink flowers photo by mbgphoto

June 15th is Nature Photography Day.  This holiday was first started in 2006 in North America but has since spread to people throughout the world.  It is a day to study, reflect, enjoy and photograph nature.

While reading about Nature Photography Day online, I discovered numerous suggestions on how to celebrate the day.  Here are a few that sounded interesting.
  • Grab your camera and go for a walk in your neighborhood.  Experience all the beauty in nature that you can observe every day.
  • Share your photos with families and friends and spread the word that it is Nature Photography Day.
  •  Enjoy a local park or a nearby creek or river.  Photograph the beauty of nature.
  • Participate in efforts to preserve nature.
  • Start a photo competition of nature photograph.
  • While you are doing any of the above take the time to breath in all the peace and serenity that nature provides.

Favorite Flowers from my Nature Photography Files

single pink rose photo by mbgphoto

I love to photograph roses.  There is something quite striking about a single rose bud.  In the photo above I tried to isolate the rose bud by using a 6.3 aperture and focusing on the rose bud so that the background becomes a bit blurry.  It is important to keep the background simple so that the focus is on the flower.  The photo was taken in the early evening when the light was soft.  Early morning or evening are great times to take floral photos.  Cloudy days also enhance the colors in the flowers, so they are a good time to photograph.

flower photo by mbgphoto

Here is another photo taken in the early evening and with an aperture that gives the blurry background that enhances the flowers.

purple iris photo by mbgphoto

Another good technique for photographing flowers is to find an interesting background to set off the blossom.  In this photo I found some purple irises in front of a brick wall.  I kept my aperture so that the background would be a bit blurry, and I zoomed in on the flower.  I love the effect of the bright purple against the brick.

fuscia plant photo by mbgphoto

Another time I love to photograph flowers is right after it rains.  It seems to really bring out the colors and the raindrops look refreshing.  The above photo is of a fuscia plant hanging on our deck.

Combining Birds and Plants in Photos

male red cardinal by lilac bush photo by mbgphoto

I particularly enjoy capturing flowers and a bird in the same photograph.  In this photo I saw a Cardinal sitting on our fence and the lilacs were just starting to bud out in the foreground.  I focused on the Cardinal, so you will note that the lilacs are slightly out of focus.

Photographing Backyard Birds

One of my favorite pastimes is photographing the birds in our backyard.  Here is a Hawk that was sitting high up in the tree at the edge of our property.  He sat still for a long time, and I was able to capture several shots.  I zoomed in for the long shot and was quite pleased with the result.  I was able to get him framed in the surrounding branches.

cooper's hawk photo by mbgphoto

A great way to enhance your skills in nature photography is to first study the works of other photographers and then practice, practice, practice.

Happy Nature Photography Day on
June 15th!  Grab your camera and get out and enjoy nature.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Review of Sunflower Facts and Photographs

field of sunflowers photo by mbgphoto
Fields of Sunflowers

Each year during the month of July, I anxiously wait for the sunflower fields to bloom.  Several years ago I discovered some sunflower fields in the Missouri river bottom land about 10 miles from my house.  My granddaughters were visiting and I took them to the fields to take some photographs.  I wrote this article telling about my experience in photographing the sunflowers. Photographing Sunflowers   

Before they Bloom

In reading about sunflowers I have found that there are actually five stages in the life of the sunflower.  Three of those stages take place before they bloom.
1.  The first stage, the germination stage, takes places when the seeds are planted.  This stages takes about eight days.  After the seeds are planted the roots develop and seep into the ground and then a shoot will start peaking out of the ground in search of sunlight that it needs to grow.
2.  The second stage is called the vegetative phase.  During the first 13 days after the seedling starts its  growth toward the sun it is in the vegetative emergence stage.  Then the first leaf comes and it is now in stage 1 of the vegetative phase, a second leaf comes and it is now in stage 2, this keeps on as  more leaves are added to the stalk.
3.  The third stage is called the reproduction phase.  In this stage a bud will form between the cluster of leaves.  It will initially be star like in appearance but in time will grow into the tall beautiful plants with bright yellow flowers that we know so well.  This whole stage takes about 30 days.  In our area I know that this stage should be coming to an end in mid to late July.  This year I was out with friends in mid July and we decided to take a drive to see how the sunflower fields were coming along.  They were right in the middle of the reproductive stage and I got some nice  photos of the flowers in this stage.

field of sunflower buds photo by mbgphoto
Reproductive Phase

sunflower bud photo by mbgphoto

Blooming Stage

During the blooming stage the sunflowers are in full bloom. During this phase you will see lots of bees busy fertilizing and pollinating the flowers.  This stage will only last for about 20 days so I knew I had to get back to the fields quickly if I wanted to see the fields in full bloom.  Fortunately about a week after my first visit a friend posted some photos  showing the flowers in full bloom.  I grabbed my camera and hopped in my car and headed right out to take some photos.  I was rewarded with the following glorious sights.

sunflowers photo by mbgphoto

sunflower photo by mbgphoto

field of sunflowers photo by mbgphoto

sunflowers photo by mbgphoto

Harvesting Phase

After the blooms are finished the seeds are harvested.  You will want to wait till the flowers turn brown and start to bloom and then you cut the stems about 4 inches from the head of the flowers. Sunflower heads should be stored upside down in a dry and breathable bag.

Sunflowers are annuals so they must be replanted each year.

Fun Facts and more Sunflower Photos

The Sunflower has been named the plant of the year for 2021.  In her review of this information, Olivia Morris shares more fun facts and photos about the Sunflower.  Hope for the New Year Sunflowers Plant

Zazzle Products from My Photographs

I enjoy making cards and other Zazzle products from my photos.  Here are a couple I hope you like.

Here some more Zazzle Sunflower gifts from my photographs.


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”

Monday, August 9, 2021

Reviewing Growing Annual Sweet Pea Plants And Flowers

sweet pea flowering plant growing on wrought iron

Of all the annual flowers I think sweet peas are my favourite. I love the beautiful flowers and the delicious scent. They are climbers and so great to have flowers that take up very little space. They are also so beautiful in a vase in the house.

They are annuals which means that they set seeds, grow and produce flowers and seed pods, then die all in one year. You cannot usually keep them from year to year, but you can buy new seeds each year quite inexpensively. 

Sweet peas are so easy to grow and care for and are worth anyone having a go. This article is about growing and enjoying sweet peas, not growing them for showing or breeding which is more specialised. 

sweet pea flowering plant

 Buying Sweet Peas Seeds

 You can buy sweet pea seeds from many places. Here are a couple of things to look out for.

I love my sweet peas to be scented so if you do want scent make sure it says scented on the packet.

Some scents are stronger than others and that is a personal choice. Check carefully if you prefer a floral, fruity, musky, fresh or heavy scent. 

If you are wanting a particular colour then you will need to look specifically for that colour. I often buy a packet of just white or cream. If you are planning to pick them for a wedding these colours are particularly beautiful. 

Many seed packets are mixed colours but you may choose from pinks and purples to burgundy and reds. 

Some Sweet Peas are the older or even heritage varieties, others are more modern so again it is a choice of what you enjoy. There really is something for everyone! 

sweet pea plant against wood fence

 Sowing Your Sweet Pea Seeds

 There are a huge variety of sweet pea seeds for sale. You can buy them in multi-colored packs or packs of for example cream or white only. Check the packet carefully for if they are fragrant or not as well.

Some will have longer stems than others so if you really want to grow them mainly for the house it is better to choose long-stemmed varieties for vases. Otherwise, it does not matter. There are heritage and new varieties and really we are spoiled for choice! 

 Once you have made your choice or like me decided you cannot choose so buy several different packets, you can sow seeds in Spring or in Autumn. 

The autumn sowing will mean earlier flowers but you will need to look after them over autumn/winter. This means you will need a frost-free place for them to be all autumn and winter and will need to keep an eye on them.

 The Spring sowing will result in later flowers but the whole process is during spring and summer and you will not need a special place for them.

 I generally sow in Spring but if I had space in a greenhouse or cold frame I would do an autumn sowing as well to prolong the flowering season. 

 Sweet peas are not too fussy about soil. For the seeds, I use a mix of any ordinary compost with some grit added for extra drainage.

 Sweet peas generally germinate well. I sow mine in either small pots or plug trays or even in toilet roll holders. They do develop long roots so a taller container is better.  Any container that is not too large but is long enough for nice deep roots to form is good.

pink sweet pea flowers

 Planting Out Sweet Pea Plants

Once you can see the roots have formed well and the plants have several proper leaves we can think about planting out. However, it is very important that we only plant out after the frosts have finished for the year. This can be tricky to predict but know your local weather conditions from year to year.

Where I live we are usually safe from late May/early June. Then it is simply a matter of digging a hole slightly larger than the plants' rootball and you can plant the whole plug out into the garden. Carefully fill in around the planting hole and gently firm in. 

 It is worth noting that If you have kept your plants in warm sheltered conditions then I would advise that you take them out in the daytime and back in at night for a period of one to two weeks to acclimatize them to outdoor conditions gradually before planting out for good.

a variety of sweet pea flowers

Do only plant out strong healthy plants. If they are too thin and weak or struggling they will quickly become prey to slugs and will not grow well or at all. So plant out only the strong growing healthy ones. The weaker ones can either be discarded or I like to give them a chance by continuing to grow on in a small pot. Give them all a really good soaking with water after you have planted them. 

I would advise planting out on a day that is not too hot and sunny just so that they do not get too stressed. A warm but not too hot day is about right. They do like moisture-retentive soil which is fine on our clay mix soil. However, if you have sandy or chalky soil it is best to dig a large hole much bigger than the area you are going to plant in and fill it with good compost, manure or similar to enrich the soil. Then put your supports in and plant the sweet peas. 

 Sweet peas can also be planted out into large pots and grown up a tripod in the pot. I think they look rather lovely this way and you can see all the way around the pot which makes for better viewing and easier picking. The soil can be ordinary compost with a little grit or perlite mixed in for better drainage.

Sweet peas do like a sunny spot if possible. In a large pot they will require much more watering than in the ground, so never let them dry out, the soil must be kept moist. 

deep red sweet pea flowers

 Tieing in Sweet Peas

Most sweet peas are self-climbers so they produce curly tendrils that latch on to any support and grow upwards. Some do need tieing in regularly as they have no tendrils. I usually buy the self-clinging ones and provide support for them to grow up.

Support can be anything from canes with string, a tripod with additional string, or another tall plant they can scramble up. I have grown mine this year up Bamboo canes and also alongside our Metal Garden Swing Seat tied in with ordinary string. 

I tie in a few stems to begin with to give them a good start, then every so often if they are growing too far out from the support. I just use soft string and tie loosely so as not to damage the stems. 

sweet pea flowering plant against wood fence

 Picking Sweet Pea Flowers. 

This is the beauty of sweet peas, you must regularly pick the flowers! For many plants, you have to make the decision to either pick the flowers for a display in the home or to have the flowers in the garden. With sweet peas, you get the best of both worlds!! You must pick the flowers in order to get more flowers! 

So usually once a week I go over all our sweet peas in the back garden. Then once a week on another day I pick all those in the front garden. That way I always have sweet peas in the garden and a vase or two of sweet peas in the house.

an arrangement of sweet pea flowers in a variety of colors

When you pick them use a sharp pair of scissors and cut right at the base of the stem so that you get as long a stem as possible. Put them in water immediately. I carry a jar of water with me and they go in straightaway. Then I can transfer to a prettier jar, glass, or vase in the house. 

 If you don't pick the flowers regularly they will quickly go to seed and you will see these seed pods like in the photo.
I left these without picking to show you and now there will be no more flowers on that specific plant for the rest of the year. So the motto is to keep picking the flowers!!  

sweet pea plant seed pods

 Watering And Feeding Sweet Pea Plants.

 If it rains regularly you may not need to water at all. However, we have been having a heatwave here and so I do water the ground thoroughly soaking it about once or twice a week. Do not water the plant's leaves only the soil.

Once the flowers start to appear I give them a fertiliser feed about once a week with a high potash feed, something like a tomato feed is good, but if I forget they are always just fine.

Sweet Pea Flowers In The Home

The flowers are so pretty and the scent is so gorgeous that it would not be summer without sweet peas in our home. They can scent a room beautifully and look so pretty. I just pick them with longest stems possible and pop them in a vase or as here in a wine glass. I like them to look natural and so I just pop them in the vase as they fall.

 Some people may want to do more flower arranging or make a gorgeous arrangement with other flowers which would be stunning.  I just pop them in a vase by themselves which I think looks pretty.  They last around a week in the vase then by then there are more from the garden. 

 Flowers are always fleeting though and so for a more permanent record of the flowers and plants in our garden and countryside, I do take a lot of photos each year and make some into greetings cards and gifts, you can see some of them on my Blog Raintree Earth Design. 

However you grow them in the garden or in a container, to enjoy in the garden or pick for the home, Sweet peas are such easy beautiful annuals to grow and enjoy. Adults and children can grow them and they are a lovely introduction to growing annuals.

 Their scent is so beautiful and there are many different scents, the colours are many and varied and you will never tire of them.

sweet pea flowers in a glass vase

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