Monday, July 20, 2015

SMILE! Photographing Your Garden

Thea McGinnis here. I find photographing my gardens a challenge - I’ll get a great shot and the background is distracting or an eyesore.   Or I just can’t get the close ups like I see them.  Or the angle is just wrong.  How about you?  I reached out to my writer/gardener friend, Judy Janowski, who almost every day, photographs what’s blooming in her lovely garden. Let’s pick her brain...

Judy, your garden photography is lovely.  I know you live in upstate New York and have a Zone 5 garden.  Tell us about your garden.  This 1/2 acre plot, which I have named "Rainbow's End", started out as a blank slate.  Over the past 30 years it has morphed into a vegetable garden with many flower gardens.  Many flower gardens started out as a rectangle but as more and more flowers were given to me, the rectangles became half circles.

One of the joys of gardening is growing a garden filled with plants given to me.  Special to walk around remembering who gave me what. I have learned to ask about the plant's characteristics as I have been given too many invasive plants.  Good reminder. I remember the first time I shared from my garden - it was golden rod but I thought it was phlox.  Oops! I heard about it for two seasons after!

What kind of camera do you use? I was given an Olympus D-560 when someone upgraded. 
Are you a professional photographer? No.  Point and click is all I can decipher. 

So, you never really played around with cameras or photographing flowers? This camera just fell from the sky into your gifted hands?  Prior to this camera, my only camera was a graduation gift from 1971!  The Olympus D-560 takes much better photos.  I am not a trained photographer.  The Olympus was an unexpected gift which has brought much enjoyment.
What’s the best time to photograph your garden? I take photos most anytime.  I like to go out when dew is heavy or after a shower.  Hostas and Lady's Mantle are especially pretty covered with drops.  The best time to photograph squash blossoms, which I affectionately call my "pots of gold" here at Rainbow's End, is early morning when the bees come to work.  Love to listen to their symphony.  All is right with the world at that time of the day.  

 I tend to go out around 11:00 when the sun comes around to take pics of the hibiscus stamen's shadow. 

Again, as the sun is setting, the accidental picture of the shadow of the rose bush on the garage siding reminds me of old fashioned wallpaper.  Consider taking the shadow of a tree's skeleton on the snow.  Photos taken facing the sunset shining through petals is enchanting. 

What about photographing vistas and landscapes?  To photograph vistas and landscapes, out comes the ladder!  Really.  It's one way to avoid distracting backgrounds.  I never would have thought of that!!
 Do you use any special effects? I especially like using the sky as a backdrop for sunflowers.  Take into consideration the color wheel.  Using the sky for a backdrop for sunflowers is an easy photo.

Using the sky for other flowers means squatting low and isn't necessarily comfortable.  Photos at dusk will automatically impose a dark background making the flower more pronounced. 

So - no special effects - do you use a flash?  The camera seems to calculate flash or no flash automatically. 
Do you edit on your camera as you go,  or after you download them to your computer?
I purposely edit as I go as this particular model only takes 24 photos.  I take shots then download to take more most days.
How close do you get for a close up shot - do you adjust the camera or take it right up to the petals?  I've learned if I'm too close the photo will be fuzzy.  This camera will pick up colors that the naked eye cannot detect.  The clematis looks dark purple but a photograph will show there's more than one color purple in its petals.

Judy, thank you so much for sharing your beautiful photographs and for all your great garden photography tips and suggestions. I can’t wait to try them out. Happy gardening!

Judy Janowski is a gardener, poet, author, artist and blogger. She lives in upstate New York. Visit her blog at to see more of her garden photography. Her latest book is Life Is a Garden Party Volume II.

(All photographs by Judy Janowski)

Thursday, July 16, 2015

What's Our Mission?

Teamwork matters. Jo Sellers, National Capital Area Garden Clubs, Inc. President (2015-17) and her board at the June 20 NCAGC Leadership Conference held at the National Arboretum.  l. to r. Shirley Nicolai, Joyce Skoglund, Robin Hammer, Lydia Barbour, Danielle Barbazon, Audrie Whitney, Cherie Lejeune, Anne Bucher, Poss Tarpley, Jo Sellers, David Healy, Paula Knepper 

What’s Our Mission?

Welcome to National Capital Area Garden Clubs Blog.  We are here to talk about our Clubs. And gardening. And landscape design. And floral design. And environment. And conservation. And civic responsibilities.  And how our clubs all work both independently and together in our commitment to the mission of our organization within our communities.  The National Capital Area Garden Clubs, Inc. mission is:

(1)  to coordinate the interests and activities of garden clubs, plant, horticulture, and speciality societies within in the Metropolitan Area of the District of Columbia, in accordance with the Certificate of Incorporation in 1958 and

(2)  to provide education, resources and national networking opportunities for its members to promote the love of gardening, floral design, and the civic and environmental responsibility, in accordance with the Mission Statement of the National Garden Clubs, Inc.

When you go back to look at the mission statement of your particular garden club, you will see that it reflects NCAGC’s mission and the mission of Central Atlantic Region. And National Garden Club, Inc.'s mission. And that’s important because every activity we do - work in community parks and gardens, local schools and senior centers, community beautification programs, plant sales, program speakers, flower shows, attending symposiums, floral design education events - they reflect back to your club’s mission and NCAGC’s mission.  

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Good Resources - Digital

What I like about this website is that it's a one stop site with listings and information about national, state and local gardens in Washington, D.C., Northern Virginia and Maryland, plus links to plant societies, garden clubs and garden-related events.  This website is a great resource for locals, out of town visitors, guests or those who have recently relocated to the National Capital Area (welcome!)  This informative site  is the brain storm of
Susan Harris, top voice for the D.C. area at Garden Rants ( )