Sunday, July 14, 2013

Gaillardia and cornflower

click photo to enlarge
One of the trees at the front of our house is a large, fairly old, crab apple. When we bought the house we looked at this tree and despaired at the treatment  (and lack of treatment) that it had received. As a youngster it appears to have been badly pruned causing a tangled knot of branches to erupt from the top of a relatively short trunk. It looks like neglect was the next course of treatment it suffered resulting in each of these branches shooting up and outwards like an exploding firework. But, the somewhat ugly-duckling appearance notwithstanding, the tree has promise. It is much used by birds, looks magnificent when it is in blossom, and produces a fine crop of crab apples in autumn that are much appreciated by the same birds. Consequently we instigated a programme of pruning to bring it to a better shape. We've raised the canopy a little each year, cut out some of the interlocking branches and restricted its spread. It is slowly improving.

However, it sits in the centre of a smallish flower bed which, from May onwards, the crab apple's spreading leaves make quite dark. Early flowers such as daffodils, tulips and even bluebells manage fine but perennials and annuals find the location more of a problem. Our recent solution is to treat it as a bed for left-overs, foundlings and self-seeded flowers. The resulting mix is a riot of leggy colour that a neighbour says brings a smile to her face every time she passes through our gate. I've photographed these flowers recently and found that my best shots come when I wait until the blooms are illuminated by the low, evening sun that gets below the tree's branches. This strong light produces bright colours, deep shadows and edging halos.

Today's main photographs show a small part of the planting and the main image showcases the complementary colours of the gaillardia and the cornflower. The observant will also notice some lemon yellow snapdragons and deep red poppies in there too. The smaller photograph is a contre jour shot of a section of the flowers showing the jumbled mixture of varieties and colours.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Photo 1
Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 300mm
F No: f5.6
Shutter Speed: 1/250 sec
ISO: 320
Exposure Compensation: -0.67 EV
Image Stabilisation: On