Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Early Summer Garden

The first flush of roses is over, as are the peonies [sob, sob] but the astilbes are in their glory as is the crambe. Crambe has to be one of my all time favourites; really it looks like baby's breath on steroids and it smells of honey. There is one just outside the front door [1st photo] and just along from the sorbus I talked about here [link]. I realized I haven't taken any regular photos of the garden since I got the new lens and I love keeping a photo journal of the garden. Fun to see what's working, and what's not, when things bloom, who is having a tough year and whose year it is to sing. In the second photo is the studio garden, quite the change from the late May garden [link here]. The 3rd photo is my upper studio garden [link is here to May photo], and the last photo is what I call the Lower Pond Garden, a reference to a favourite book of childhood, The Little Engine That Could. Every trip we took to Gran's, while driving through Montreal's famous "Turcotte Yards", we used to chant, all 5 of us kids," Lower train switch, lower train switch". How my parents remained sane with 5 kids, a dog, a cat, no air conditioning and no seat belts is one of life's mysteries.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Drama Queen

I love nasturtiums; love their cheery colors, love the profile of the flowers, love their veined leaves, even love the peppery taste. I always plant a couple of big packs of seeds and they always grow, unlike some others I could mention, but they really surprised me today. It's been downpours all weekend so there has been a fair amount of rushing in and out of the house with the camera. In spite of the gloomy, gray sky I was surprised by the intensity of the photos. Who knew that the humble nasturtium was such a drama queen.

 nasturtium profile
 nasturtium leaf

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Testing, Testing

I'm the sort of person who learns best by doing. So taking friends advice and reading and re-reading the manual is a great start but I have to try this, look at the photos on the computer, go out, and try that, shoot some more, come in, look on the computer and so on and so on. It's a fun process and one of the joys of the computer is it tells you how you shot the photo. I have never even looked at this feature before, but whenever I get a shot I like, I can see the F. stop, speed ect. I am so impressed I mentioned F. stop with out grinding my teeth. Soon, I figure, I will have a magic formula  so that I can just set the camera and shoot, the Liz automatic.
Peony petals in early morning dew

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Happy Birthday Darling

I can get away with this because I know he is still asleep, and I felt it was only fair as I showed you photos of Zoe, our wonder dog. So here is my darling standing in front of one of his paintings.  I photoshopped them together; his paintings are not quite this large. He has been painting madly for the past year, getting ready for an exhibition this September, in Toronto, at Odon Wagner Contemporary Art. Shameless self-promotion, but if you would like to see more of his work click here. The splash page is a slide show that you need to click on the white dots to go forward and backwards. I need to update his site and will, as soon as the last painting is photographed. Enjoy.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

What's That?

Thanks so much Don and Leslie and JB for all your advice re. the new lens. I really appreciate it. I am still confused about some of the language but have taken to reading the manual. Will wonders never cease? Needless to say I am taking a zillions photos and one fun thing that keeps happening is seeing all the bugs, either collecting honey or doing whatever bugs do with plants. It's really busy around the plants and grasses and so I have unexpected portraits of some of the critters.

Grasshopper....I think
Lady Bug


Monday, June 20, 2011

Don't Forget To Breathe

The lens is amazing and after a full day of taking photos, I have realized there are a few things I need to learn. 1. Need to breathe in sync to pressing the shutter. If I take a breath, the camera and I move just slightly and I can't even see what I was trying to shoot. 2. This Macro world is so seductive; it's a slightly altered universe, a bit what I imagine deep sea diving is like, and all of yesterday I wasn't quite sure where I was in the universe. 3. Need to relearn F stops and depth of field, [ can you hear my teeth grind?]. Every time someone mentions F stops I feel a door in my brain clang shut, but I need to have more of the frame in focus, so please brain give me a break!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

New Lens

Wow. This is a tad intimidating but so exciting. I picked up the lens yesterday afternoon and could hardly bear to go to bed; up early and back to the garden. I will probably bore everyone to tears with all these photos but I am thrilled.
Silver Fern
Silver fern, even closer

Friday, June 17, 2011

One of Those Timeless Days

Time for very leisurely coffee while watching the early morning light change to morning light, time to weed most of the Moon garden, time for the studio, time for the first swim in the pond, time for burgers on the BBQ, time to drive to Sutton for ice cream, time to talk to old friends, time to smell the roses.
Some of my favourites, top left, Rosa Glauca, top right, Rosa Canina, botton left, Agnes, bottom right, Henry Hudson

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


I love this plant with its fabulous ability to draw lines. It uses last year's old wood [the silvery gray color] to curl around and twine with, and if it can't find any old wood it is quite happy to stretch out into space, growing madly, until it finds something to cling to. So you see these reddish tendrils waving in the breeze and the next day it has found something new to clamor over. A brave plant.
Hops, old and new wood

Monday, June 13, 2011

Getting Closer

In my ongoing attempt to get closer and closer to the structure of plants, I've  come to the conclusion a new lens for the camera is vital. It's moved form the "want list" to the "need /have to have list" so spent time talking with a friend, Jeff Bierk [see his work HERE], who is an amazing photographer, about options. So things are getting clearer unlike the photo below which is so enlarged that it has as soft and dreamy look. It's the clingy tendrils of a hops vine that grows in some of the more wild places in the garden and given its nature, is out to conquer/cover the world.

Saturday, June 11, 2011


The hard drives of images, which I so carefully organized last year, have become really messy. As I take shot after shot of the garden I just keep dumping them into one file and now there are close to 1000 images in the  file. What great about having them all together is seeing patterns, and preoccupations. I am fascinated by the shapes of all this growth in the garden, the underlying patterns of the plants, the shapes of their leaves, seeds and petals. A friend is coming down this weekend and I will be able to ask him about a micro or maybe that is a macro lens for the camera. I can't get as close as I want, as you can see below. It's the fuzzy bits of pistols and stamens that I want to capture. The name of this little gem is Trancendtia, commonly known as Spider Wort.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Peony Hearts and Fireflies

Walking about the garden late last night, I saw the first fire flies darting about; so of course I am hoping this is the start of a great season for them. In my mind they are always aligned to the summer solstice, that midsummer night of magic. In the distance, thunder is rumbling and I am also hoping for rain; soft, gentle rain, please, as the lupines are blooming around the pond. During the winter I read a lot of garden books and often gardeners talk about planting allées. Usually that would be trees but I thought lupins would be just fine. And they are until the 1st heavy downpour, when, en masse they dive into the pond. The tree peonies have let their petals go, heart shaped as they lie on the ground, their blossoms finished for this year ,while my very old fashioned garden type varieties are just opening and they smell divine.
Heart Leaf, tree peony

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Pine Needles

Love the pattern the pine needles make. It's always shocking to me how scratchy they are, when in the early morning slanted light they look so soft and fluffy, an inviting place to made a home.
Pine Needle Patterns

Sunday, June 5, 2011

By the Light of the Silvery Moon

There was the thinnest sliver of new moon last night as we walked Zoe, and I was thinking of my new work. Of how like a new moon new beginnings are; tentative, open, tender; of how hard it is to articulate what is happening, but building trust with each work. I love the garden and have used it for years in my work, as a layer, hidden; and now I am exploring ways so that it is the subject. What I find difficult is avoiding the obvious and making my sense of wonder, awe, joy visible. I have started to print the works on beautiful somerset paper and will then seal them with encaustic medium. This gives the paper a skin like translucency and makes the work easier to handle.
Silver Fern, image 20 x20 in. , support 24 x 24 in

Friday, June 3, 2011


I was getting worried this spring. The garden is usually full of the sound of bees going about their work and this wet and cool spring had been eerily quiet. Even when the apple blossoms were at their peak there were a few bees about but not the usual numbers. All that changed this week as the temperatures climbed and the sun shone. The bees are back in force. There has been a huge problem with colony collapse and these pollinators are so important to our food chain. In the late 90's a friend kept her hives in the garden and made us Rose Honey, It was heavenly and one of the most amazing tastes; the essence of the garden.
The bees are back

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Zoe, The Wonder Dog

Well that's what we call her, and of course we think she is utterly beautiful and smart and funny and creative. And did I mention she loves to play and swim and eat cheese and peanut butter, and oh yes, the occasional mouse [YUCK]. John tells me dogs are babe magnets as everyone talks to him [and pats Zoe] when he walks her in the village; and she adores these walks as croissants and bones are likely to come her way from the friends she has made. I thought it was only fair to share a photo with you all, as I talk about her a fair bit and I didn't want your only image of Zoe to be hiding in the cupboard during thunderstorms.
Zoe triptych