Saturday, July 18, 2009


click photo to enlarge
How do you choose the plants that you have in your garden? Like most people I select plants on two main criteria - usefulness and beauty. Let's take usefulness first. That's a quality that applies to everything that goes into the vegetable garden because here the plants are either edible or they provide flavour (herbs). But usefulness extends beyond food plants. A large flowering cherry provides us with welcome shade in summer, offers food to the blackbirds at the same time, and is a good place for a nestbox and bird feeders. It also, of course, offers beauty all year round, but especially when it is in blossom. Other useful plants are the trees and shrubs that screen areas, or mark boundaries, or act as wind-breaks,. or give fruit.

Decorative plants - flowering annuals and perennials, foliage plants, etc are chosen mainly for the beauty that they bring to the garden. Some have an extra quality being suitable for cutting and displaying indoors in vases, but in the main they earn their position by how they look.

However, there is one further criterion that influences the plants I choose for the garden (and to have in the house), namely is it a good subject for photography! Flowers that grow from bulbs are often large, distinctive and photogenic, consequently bluebells, tulips, narcissi, etc proliferate in our borders. Climbing plants and trees that have blossom are also good subjects for the camera, and they too are found in numbers. But plants with distinctive leaves such as New Zealand flax, hostas, begonias, and many perennials also offer something worth photographing.

We're currently doing some work in one area of the garden that is overhung by trees, and it's likely that more heucheras will be planted here. These evergreen plants with leaves of varying colours and upright, delicate flowers are quite tolerant of shade. We currently have a few in a different location that is also under trees, and they are proving their worth, offering something for the eye (and camera) right through the year, so it seems a good idea to use them elsewhere. Today's photograph shows one of them, a dark leaved variety, after rain, the gloss on its leaves adding to the shine of the water droplets.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 35mm macro, (70mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f3.5
Shutter Speed: 1/200
ISO: 400
Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On