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Archives for June 23, 2014

Girl Scouts create Butterfly Unity Garden in Callahan Park

Beautiful butterflies are expected to flitter about a new perennial garden that was created Sunday by a group of Girl Scouts in Callahan Park.

The Bradford Butterfly Unity Garden (BBUG) was designed and created primarily through the efforts of Girl Scout Troop 20029 in Bradford. 

Michelle Nagle, manager of Girl Scouts Western Pa., said the troop members are part of the Challenge and Change Girl Scout program funded by a grant through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. She said girls in the troop range between 12 and 17 years of age. 

“They had to pick a sustainable project and the girls had to come up with the idea,” Nagle said. “They wanted to bring the community together and they felt kids their age needed to be a part of something that is nurturing. They thought this would be a good place for kids, adults and seniors to come and reflect and relax in a stress-free place.”

She said the youngsters and adult volunteers began working at approximately noon and completed the majority of the work at 4 p.m. 

“This area was actually grass and then Karl Belser from Belser Excavating came and excavated the ground for them,” Nagle explained. “Bill Graham from Graham’s Greenhouse brought the plants and donated his time” by assisting with planting the perennials and a flowering crab apple tree. The troop also raised additional money to purchase a wooden swing for the grounds as well as bird feeders that will be placed on shepherds hooks. The troop will also install a sign and hope to raise additional money for more benches in the garden. Members of the Key Club, which is the Kiwanis Club youth group, also helped with shoveling mulch for the grounds. 

Bonnie Leposa, Troop 20029 leader, said the girls researched the types of plants needed to attract butterflies to the garden. 

“We have rhododendrons, black-eyed susans, strawberry seduction, hastas, cone flowers and roses,” Leposa said.  

Girl Scouts who were on-hand at the event included Mandi Droney, who said she thought it was “fun spending time with all different people in the community.

“There were a lot of groups that helped out … so it was a lot of fun,” Droney said.

Another Girl Scout, Donna Good, said she liked working on the project from beginning to end. 

“I liked watching the whole project unfold from writing down ideas, doing sketches and making lots of plans,” Good said. “It’s nice seeing it materialize.”

Her boyfriend, Brandon Henry, was pulled in to help with some of the manual labor, but found he enjoyed the project, too. 

“I liked seeing this come together and helping the girls out,” he said. 

Girl Scout Taylor Keyes said she “liked the whole process of working with my friends on this beautiful masterpiece.”  

Twins Makayla and Makensi Belser said they enjoyed picking out the plants and choosing where they would be placed on the grounds. 

Hannah Leposa said she also enjoyed seeing everyone work together. 

“I like seeing different groups coming together … it was nice having everyone here,” she said. 

Emily Keltz, who will be in the eighth grade next fall, was the youngest Girl Scout at the site as all the other girls will be in 11th or 12th grade. 

“I liked working with these people because it will help me with my team work (and organizational) skills,” she said. 

Nagle said the Girl Scouts hope to offer a tour of the grounds to the community sometime in the fall.

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Much Work Remains To Refine ‘Ecodistrict’ Concept For Bethesda

SW D.C. Ecodistrict rendering, via National Capital Planning Commission via Montgomery County Planning

County planners had a tough job last week.

Their aim last Wednesday night was to introduce the emerging, but loosely defined planning concept of an ecodistrict to the public. Without actual ideas for how an ecodistrict might apply in downtown Bethesda, many in the room seemed miffed.

Those who came to the meeting learned an ecodistrict could look like many things. The word itself is written in many ways, depending on which city or organization is describing it. (There are ecodistricts, Ecodistricts, EcoDistricts and even an ecoDistrict, for example.)

The basic idea is the same: It’s more effective to set goals for energy reduction and sustainability measures for an entire neighborhood than individual properties and developments.

An ecodistrict could look like the SW D.C. Ecodistrict Plan approved in January 2013 for 15-blocks of massive, aging federal government buildings south of the National Mall.

Otto Condon, an architect at the firm of Zimmer Gunsul Frasca, worked on that plan and presented along with county planners on Wednesday at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center.

The SW D.C. Ecodistrict vision includes reuse of stormwater for flush loads and irrigation, solar thermal systems on the roofs of buildings, a solar panel canopy above the L’Enfant VRE Station and cisterns in the dead space under 10th street to collect 92 million gallons of stormwater each year.

The goal is net zero energy, meaning the total amount of energy used by the buildings in the area is about equal to the amount of renewable energy created on the site.

It’s a plan on a scale that downtown Bethesda very likely wouldn’t be able to match. But there are many other examples, including redevelopment of low-income housing, an established central business district and the site of a power plant.

Over a 20-year period, the NCPC hopes the plan will result in most  of the area’s energy, water, and waste being captured, managed, and then reused. Greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced by 51 percent, even with the potential addition of 4 million square feet of development.

Potable water consumption would be reduced by 70 percent, all stormwater will be managed and 80 percent of waste could be diverted from landfills.

It’s those types of goals that county planners are vetting with stakeholders before making any specific recommendations. Tina Schneider, an Environmental Planner on the project, said an ecodistrict could consist simply of landscaping in public right-of-ways to capture rainwater.

The presentation on a future Bethesda ecodistrict emphasized stormwater management, green building initiatives and carbon reduction as areas where existing county regulations could come into play.

After the presentation, planners asked attendees to split into groups and identify which sustainability measures were most important to them in four general areas: Woodmont Triangle, Bethesda Row, the Wisconsin Avenue Corridor and the Pearl District — a new idea envisioned by property owners along East-West Highway and Montgomery Avenue.

Planners hope to present their recommendations for the Bethesda Downtown Plan this fall to the Planning Board.

Rendering via National Capital Planning Commission via Montgomery County Planning

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READER SUBMITTED: Burger Bash And Home Landscaping At The Library


12:10 p.m. EDT, June 23, 2014

Join us for a Burger Bash and Home Landscaping inspiration at Hall Memorial Library, 93 Main St., Ellington, on Wednesday, July 16 at 6:30 p.m. when we welcome the return of Chef Ray Amabile with his Tri-Burger Bsah. Join Chef Ray as he demonstrates making his Turkey, Salmon, and Beef Sliders indoors. After the demo, we will move the party outside and learn techniques for perfect charcoal grilling every time. And yes, there will be samples.

Local author Jeff Hutton will present a talk based on his book “Inside Out: The Art And Craft Of Home Landscaping. Jeff will discuss the importance of form, line and texture in bold and beautiful landscape design, as well as “transitional landscapes” for the family. The ideas he will present are all within the ability of any homeowner to dream about and then create.

All library programs are free, but online registration is required at You can also call the library at 860-870-3160.

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Duneland gardens featured on Garden Walk 2014 Saturday

From a bayou to a
dry creek bed, Porter County Garden Walk 2014 offers a wide variety of
garden settings to view and enjoy.

A large number of
unusual trees, Japanese maples, hydrangea and conifers are found throughout
the gardens. Artistic accents — including metal sculpture, fountains and
whimsical yard art — abound.

Colorful perennials
for sun, and textured ferns and hostas for shade, ramp up the energy in
borders and beds. Vegetable gardens, both prominent and hidden, will be on

The event takes
place Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and features four private
Chesterton-area gardens as well as an historic local mansion. Four
residential gardens in and near Valparaiso also will be open to the public
with an additional stop at a large community garden. The garden walk is
sponsored by Porter County Master Gardeners, who will be on hand at each
garden to answer questions. Find a favorite plant along the way and there’s
a good chance they can tell you what it is.

Some shrubs, trees
and perennials are recovering from the effects of the harsh winter. But that
makes it possible to notice other garden gems that otherwise may have been

One Chesterton
garden has an international flair with seven themed beds bordered with 420
boxwoods. A woodland planting defies the misconception that shade gardens
are boring, and another area that wine bottles are only good for bottle
trees. Don’t miss a massive tree thought to be over 150 years old and a line
of trees imported from Holland and planted in 1901.

Opening its gate to
visitors is a Porter garden with unexpected trees like hickory pignut,
pink-flowering Hawthorn and four types of oak. Featuring both sun and shade,
this garden boasts award-winning hydrangeas, plant selections for extended
color and interest, and a collector’s touch for the unusual.

Another featured
area gardener (who has a hosta named in his honor) rescued a stand of
conifers from a Wisconsin bulldozer and used them to border a hosta trail.

Large hostas are
the favorite but many varieties of eye-catching solid, corrugated and
variegated leaves grace this yard. A passion for hostas has expanded to
collecting and propagating its seed to beautify this hillside property that
overlooks a river’s original route.

Wee and winsome is
how another Chesterton garden is described.

Garden “rooms” are
used to maximize the yard’s impact and fool the eye. Both commercial and
personal ceramic art liven the beds. A dead tree is repurposed to support a
vine, a moist area was reclaimed through purposeful plantings, and learn
which plant is beaten with a broom in the spring.

appropriate selections are featured on a tour of a local mansion. The
gardener who tends the grounds will be present to explain his choices that
include castor bean, gas plant, blackberry lily and a surprise bed of new
plantings for the garden walk. Painted Tongue and Eyeball plants will bloom
later this summer.

The four
residential Valparaiso gardens run the horticultural gamut by featuring
non-spreading bamboo as a groundcover, an example of layered “lasagna”
vegetable gardening, how to combine privacy with pleasing views, and a way
to direct stem growth to increase a conifer’s “wow” factor.

There’s also a fern
collection to see as well as an ash tree with pesticide injection devices to
thwart Emerald ash borers. Featured this year is an award-winning garden
landscaped with native plants; specimens were selected to attract songbirds
and provide them winter shelter. This garden also has a rare Kentucky

In the Duneland
area, advance garden walk tickets are available for $6 at Chesterton Feed
Garden, 400 Locust St., and at Four Seasons Landscaping Nursery on U.S. 6
one mile east of Indiana 49. Additional sales sites are located throughout
the county.

Tickets will be $8
the day of the walk and may be purchased between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. in
Chesterton at the Westchester Township Historical Museum, 700 W. Porter
Avenue., and in Valparaiso at Fit City Community Garden, 3210 N. Campbell

For more
information call 219-465-3555 or visit

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Reason not clear for rise in rabbits in Broomfield this year

Rabbit repelling

• Surround deck, porch, or concrete areas with chicken wire or one-inch mesh, galvanized wire. This works best the bottom edge is at a depth of 2 inches and secured into the ground with landscape stakes.

• Make reusable fence panels to protect garden plants. Panels should be 18 to 24 inches tall and constructed with chicken wire or one-inch mesh, galvanized wire. Wire should extend below the frame to be staked into ground around the garden.

• Protect seedlings and young plants with cylinder guards made of one-inch mesh wire or chicken wire. Guards should be 18 to 24 inches tall and encircle the plant far enough outward to prevent rabbits from reaching through to the plant. Bury guards at least 2 inches deep and stake into the ground.

• Wrap tree trunks with plastic, paper or tin foil to keep rabbits from munching on the bark.

• Trim shrubbery to minimize places. Clean out piles of dead branches or wood and any other debris.

• Make homemade hot pepper repellant by combining a chopped onion, a chopped jalapeno pepper, and a tablespoon of cayenne pepper. Boil mixture for 20 minutes in two quarts of water. Let mixture cool and strain through cheesecloth. Apply with a spray bottle. Reapply every three to five days. Organic repellents also can be purchased at hardware and garden shops.

For more information about ways to exclude or repel rabbits from yards or neighborhoods, call the Broomfield Wildlife Master Hotline at 303-464-5554.

To some, rabbits are cute backyard creatures. To others, they are shrubbery-eating machines or a neighborhood nuisance.

Broomfield has seen larger numbers of rabbits in neighborhoods and open space this year, but the reason for the population increase isn’t clear. Wildlife experts are asking residents to keep an eye out for the animals and consider making landscaping adjustments if they want to keep the rabbits out of their yards.

Open Space and Trails coordinator Pete Dunlaevy said Open Space has gotten several calls from residents who have seen more rabbits in Broomfield this year. It’s hard to know how many are hopping around neighborhoods and open space, but based on calls to Open Space and the Broomfield Wildlife Masters program, there are a lot.

Dunlaevy said there is no clear reason for the increase, but there are several potential factors.

About three or four years ago, some of Broomfield’s foxes came down with mange, a skin disease caused by mites. Serious cases of mange thinned out the fox population, he said.

“You’re just not seeing a lot of foxes, and they are really good rabbit hunters,” he said.

Summer weather also might be a reason, he said.

As summer gets hotter and drier, some of the rabbits’ favorite areas tend to be neighborhood lawns and landscaped areas. Landscaping offers tasty tree roots, freshly-watered lawns and a lush buffet of summertime flowers.

Those neighborhood resorts are more luxurious habitats than drier, more exposed open space areas, he said.

“Neighborhoods have everything they need: Vegetation, cover, water,” he said.

Though some residents enjoy seeing the rabbits around, Dunlaevy said others have questions about what to do with so many of the animals.

Sheri Hoffman, a Broomfield wildlife master, said there are several techniques for keeping rabbits out of flower beds and gardens while minimizing conflicts between the animals and people.

“Now is a good time to check outside around the house for evidence of rabbits,” she stated in an informational column for the Broomfield Wildlife Masters program.

Making a few modifications to a home or apartment building’s landscaping can reduce the chance of rabbits taking up residence, she said.

Rabbits tend to have about three or four litters a year, and are attracted to safe areas, such as piles of leaves and twigs, and shrubs that offer shade and protection from predators.

Trimming bushes and clearing out piles of dead branches or wood is one good step to keeping rabbits away, she said.

Chicken wire also is a good tool, she said. Residents can put chicken wire around decks, encircle young plants in gardens and use it on fences, as long as the wire is embedded in the ground about 2 inches, she said.

Autumn is the best time to make changes to property and landscapes, since the babies are out of the nest by then, she stated.

Residents also can make natural rabbit repellant spray out of a mix of onions, jalapeno peppers and cayenne, which can be boiled and strained into a spray bottle to spray in the yard, she said.

Pest control specialists have varying options for how to handle rabbits. Some companies recommend trimming bushes and adding chicken wire to landscapes before calling pest control, but will offer to trap rabbits to be killed or relocated.

In April, the HOA board representing the Wildgrass townhomes decided to trap and kill rabbits, arguing the rabbits were overrunning the neighborhood and destroying property.

Some residents protested the decision because they did not want the rabbits to be killed.

One resident, Sally Tasker, offered to pay for the trapped rabbits to be transported to an animal sanctuary.

Since the rabbits were relocated, Tasker said she still sees rabbits in her neighborhood, and still doesn’t think trapping is a sustainable solution to keeping the animals away. She has done research about ways to trim landscaping and plant foliage that doesn’t interest rabbits.

“I love the rabbits and don’t mind if they eat my flowers, but some people do. I think we can be a little more mindful of what we’re planting,” she said.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife permits property owners to kill certain types of “nuisance wildlife” if the species is damaging property. Common animals on the state’s list include cottontail rabbits, mice, voles and squirrels.

If setting out traps, the animals must be captured live, according to the statute. The animal is later euthanized or relocated.

Cottontail rabbits can be relocated without a permit, but only if CPW is notified beforehand, the new habitat is right for the rabbits and the landowner of the new habitat has given permission, according to CPW regulations. A permit is needed to relocate the animals to an area that is more than 10 miles away from the capture site.

Contact Enterprise Staff Writer Megan Quinn at 303-410-2649 or

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Southview Design Examines 2014 Trends in Landscape Design

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Low maintenance landscape designs using native plants are growing in popularity

Low maintenance landscape designs using native plants are growing in popularity

“We have a lot of experience in creating robust northern landscapes that will thrive and grow, even in the most challenging Minnesota winters,” said Karen. Filloon, landscape designer with Southview Design.

Minneapolis, MN (PRWEB) June 23, 2014

Native plants and low maintenance landscapes are quickly growing in popularity, particularly among homeowners in Minnesota, according to Southview Design, a landscape/design build firm in Inver Grove Heights, Minn.

“Minnesotans may even lead some of the national trends in landscape design, such as the inclination toward using native and drought-tolerant plants and reducing lawn space for a low maintenance landscape,” said Karen Filloon, a landscape designer with Southview Design. “We are also keeping up with the national trend to create outdoor living rooms, even though our season is shorter than in other parts of the country.”

Sustainable and low-maintenance design is rapidly growing in popularity, according to the 2014 Residential Landscape Architecture Trends Survey conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects. Landscape architects who specialize in residential design across the country rated the expected popularity of a wide variety of residential outdoor design elements.

The interest in low-maintenance landscapes increased to 95 percent, with the majority interested in native or drought-tolerant plants (88 percent – up from 83 percent in 2013), food/vegetable gardens (76 percent) and organic gardens (64 percent). Sustainable landscape elements such as drip/water-efficient irrigation, permeable paving and reduced lawn are also gaining favor with homeowners.

“Our designers have a lot of experience in creating robust northern landscapes that will thrive and grow, even in the most challenging Minnesota winters,” Filloon said. “From the trees we plant to the walls, steps, driveways and patios we build, we want our customers to enjoy spaces that are both stylish and sustainable,” Filloon said.

While consumer demand remains strong for residential landscapes that are conducive to entertaining and relaxing, the survey indicates that functional priorities for outdoor landscapes have shifted slightly from last year. Outdoor living spaces with kitchens and entertainment spaces are still very popular, with a 92 percent rating. But compared to 2013 when outdoor kitchens ranked highest, gardens and landscaped spaces were the most popular in 2014, with a 94 percent rating. Outdoor recreation areas came in third at 76 percent.

Living in the land of 10,000 lakes, Minnesotans also mirror the national trend to favor decorative water elements such as waterfalls, ornamental pools, and splash pools, which received an 86 percent popularity rating, Filloon said. Spas (76 percent) and swimming pools (74 percent) are also popular among homeowners.

The vast majority of respondents (98 percent) rated lighting highly in 2014, and consumers also wanted outdoor seating/dining areas (98 percent), fire pits/fireplaces (95 percent) and grills (94 percent). Installed seating (90 percent) such as benches, seatwalls, ledges, steps and boulders as well as garden structures, terraces, patios and decks (98 percent) were high on their list. Fencing (89 percent), pergolas (82 percent) and decks (82 percent) also rated highly.

“A beautifully designed landscape usually increases the satisfaction and joy people have in their homes,” Filloon said. “When you go to sell, it adds to the property value and can contribute to a faster sale.”

The survey was conducted during January and February of this year, with 179 responding. For more information, visit The American Society of Landscape Architects.

For outdoor landscaping ideas and to schedule a free consultation, visit Southview Design at

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6 gardening tips (and lots of photos); legality of drones: SE and SW Portland news

Good morning Southeast and Southwest Portlanders! Happy Monday!

Check back at 9 a.m. for a story about a Portland native who is bringing regular fresh milk delivery back to Southeast. Within the next month, the dairy, bread, coffee and fruit delivery service will expand to the metro area.

Neighborhood news you should know about:

Nearly 20 residents in Foster-Powell opened their yards to strangers Saturday for the seventh annual Foster-Powell Garden Tour. Check out the photos above. I also asked participants for their best gardening tips.

If you’ve been following the news about the Eastmoreland president purchasing a drone with which to spy on Union Pacific and development projects, you might find yourself wondering about the legality of the flying contraption. So did I. Take a look at my findings.

Did you have trouble navigating in Southwest while Barbur Boulevard was closed over the weekend? Here’s what the workers were doing.

Janet Eastman has a list of competitions at the Oregon State Fair you can enter for free. The deadline is Aug. 7, so you might want to start on that tapestry now.

A woman is suing Honest-1 Auto Care in Southeast, claiming a mechanic created a phony problem.

Upcoming events:

The Portland Women’s Walk will loop around Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge June 28. The two-mile walk is one of the Portland Women’s Expo Foundation’s two major fundraising events, and it starts at 8:45 a.m. at Sellwood Riverfront Park.

Portlanders will attempt to break the world record for the biggest tree hug (again) at 2 p.m. July 12 in Hoyt Arboretum. Register here.

Have an event or meeting you’d like to see included in a roundup? Or a story you think deserves coverage? Please email me! I’m always looking for story ideas. You can also follow and interact with me on Twitter at @SEPDXreporter and @SWPDXreporter.

— Melissa Binder

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Joel Karsten’s tips will help you become a straw bale gardener – Pittsburgh Post

It was a childhood observation that changed the life of Joel Karsten, and in turn revolutionized the way many people grow vegetables.

Mr. Karsten, 44, author of “Straw Bale Gardens” (Cool Springs Press, $19.99), started the straw bale gardening phenomenon. Since the book was published in March 2013, thousands of gardeners from just about every country in the world have tried his techniques, which he pioneered shortly after receiving a degree in horticulture from the University of Minnesota.

“Necessity is the mother of all invention,” he said in a phone interview. “I was broke because I was young, right out of college and I just bought a house.”

He said he couldn’t afford to buy compost to amend the thin layer of top soil covering “this awful construction fill” at his new house. He got the straw bale idea from the thistles he saw growing out of broken bales on the dairy farm in rural Minnesota where he grew up. As a horticulture graduate, he knew the nutrients that tomatoes and peppers require are similar to what thistles need. He began to experiment.

“I’ve been doing this for 21 years. For the first 14, nobody really cared a whole lot,” he said with a laugh.

Then he was discovered by a local television reporter. First, it was local garden clubs asking him to lecture. Soon it was gardeners from across the country. Now his book is translated into 12 languages and is one of the most popular garden titles in the world.

In my own garden, I gave straw bale gardening a try last year with mixed success. After talking to Mr. Karsten, I realized I did just about everything wrong.

The first step is to condition the bale(s) with water and a high-nitrogen fertilizer such as what’s used for lawns. Organic gardeners can use blood meal. High-nitrogen fertilizers work because that’s what bacteria really eat, he said.

The bale is soaked every day for 12 days with the diluted fertilizer mix.

“You’re building up bacteria inside the bale and those bacteria are going to colonize the inside of the bale,” Mr. Karsten said. “They are going eat the straw and turn it into soil.”

At the end of the 12 days, it isn’t straw anymore. It’s pretty much the beginning stages of soil or compost. The idea is to maintain a sterile environment for new plants.

“We have no weed seeds, no disease (and) no insects from last year’s garden,” he said. “As long as you never put a shovel of soil on top of that bale, you’ll never introduce those issues to your bale.”

The system works with one bale, or many. Mr. Kartsen likes to arrange five bales end to end. Whatever number you use, be sure to leave the strings on. He said compressed straw decomposes faster. He also recommends finding the heaviest, tightest bales available; they will usually last two seasons.

“It’s raised-bed gardening without the raised-bed price,” he said.

The first year he grows crops such as tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, cucumbers, greens and just about anything you could plant in a conventional garden sans sweet corn. The next year, he focuses on root crops and others that grow inside the bale.

Mr. Karsten grows in both the tops and sides of bales. To create a planting hole in the side, “take your rake handle and punch right between the two strings at a downward angle,” he said, adding that herbs work well in the sides of bales.

He has a few other tricks up his sleeve. With tomato plants, he’ll cover the top with a thin layer of sterile planting mix and plant a whole packet of basil seeds. As they sprout and start to form roots, he moves them to the sides of the bale. The same technique could be used for greens, too, especially later in the season as things cool off.

During the season, he highly recommends using a drip irrigation system hooked up to a timer to water the bales. They need 1-2 gallons of water a day when it gets hot and there’s no rain. The key is to keep the bale consistently moist.

Mr. Karsten said he never imagined he would be traveling the world, showing people how to garden. He also has a website,

“It is a dream come true for a little country boy.”

Doug Oster: or 412-779-5861. Visit his garden blog at Twitter: @dougoster1.

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Pinspiration – tips on growing an herb garden

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Tips for photographing your garden

Making a habit of photographing your own garden – or gardens you visit – helps you seize beautiful moments, tell stories and bring your ideas into focus.

Taking pictures sharpens your eye for details: for the deeply quilted texture of a hosta leaf, the bubbling exuberance of a cluster of cherry tomatoes or the playful face of a pansy. It helps you to be more aware of the changing patterns of sun and shadow across your garden. Garden photography also helps you appreciate views and perspectives, and exercises your design sense.

Professional photographers with expensive cameras and bags full of fancy lenses have an edge over enthusiastic amateurs, but great garden photography really starts with your own eye. You don’t need a high-priced camera to capture a great image – even the pros often shoot pictures with their phones, with beautiful results.

A picture-perfect day begins at sunrise, when the light is soft. The right light is crucial. Rob Cardillo, a professional photographer in Ambler, Montgomery County, who has been photographing gardens and gardeners for more than 20 years for magazines, books and newspapers, calls light “the magical seasoning” in garden photography. “You can make something out of nothing in great light,” Cardillo said. “You can make an average garden look stupendous.”

In early morning light, colorful gardens are at their best. Your eye can appreciate a garden in the bright light of the midday sun, but a camera sees things differently; that brilliant light looks harsh through a camera lens, and it washes out the colors. Get up with the sun, Cardillo suggested, and “exploit great light.”

Gardens also glow in the golden hour before sunset. Cardillo’s rule of thumb for afternoon photography is, “I don’t shoot until my shadow is longer than I am.”

Taking pictures in your own garden is a great way to think about its design and document its development. Walking around with a camera in your hand allows you to take visual notes rapidly and easily. What better way to catalog your collection of irises, asters or garden art? Use a camera to capture the colors and character of seasonal combinations of plants in flower beds or in pots, or to record the story of your vegetable garden through the summer.

Before-and-after pictures of garden projects are also useful. When you’re using your camera to document the construction of a pergola or the process of laying stepping stones, it helps to write down the important steps along the way and to shoot each one from several angles. The presence of people adds scale to these shots and brings the projects to life. Remember, you’ll have many opportunities to show how your new garden feature looks once it is finished, but you have only one chance to capture the excitement it as it is being built.

When you visit a botanical garden or go on a garden tour, a camera will help you think about what you see and what you like. Pathways naturally guide your feet, but let your eye and your lens wander away from the path to catch great views and shoot the details as you walk through a garden.

Keep the camera in your hands. Frame your shots carefully, defining your subject and blocking out distractions. Don’t just shoot randomly: If you spend a minute thinking about the best angle for a shot and then composing it through the lens, the results will be much more satisfying. Take your time. Wait for people to move out of the way.

On a garden tour, you might try to develop a running photographic theme, shooting different kinds of water features, for example, or designs for patios, or plant combinations in flowerpots. Of course, with a digital camera, you can keep several themes going at once and sort the pictures out later.

Cardillo likes to shoot from above, looking down on a scene, and from the low angles, through the greenery. These are bird’s-eye and worm’s-eye views. From above, you eliminate problems like electrical lines. A worm’s-eye view focuses on the foreground and makes even small plants look “grand and heroic,” he said.

Practice makes perfect, Cardillo said.

“Get one camera and use it. Make it second nature.”

Use the automatic settings while you get to know your camera, and “then learn how to tweak that,” he said. “Figure out how to take everything off automatic, and try manual focus and exposure.”

His images in “The Layered Garden,” by David Culp, with Adam Levine, unfold the beauty of Culp’s own garden, seen through many seasons and from many angles.

Using a point-and-shoot camera or a phone to take pictures is great practice, too. Shooting with a phone “keeps me on my toes,” Cardillo said. “It’s like I’m doing visual push-ups, keeping my eye active and strengthened by looking for photos everywhere.”

Cardillo’s favorite garden photography “captures a garden moment,” he said. These moments are more than a simple photographic record of the plants and lines of a garden’s design. A great series of pictures is a distillation of your passing experience of the color, texture and light in a garden: The photographs capture the mood and the magic. It won’t always be easy: You may have to get up on a ladder, lie down in the grass or wander off the beaten path. When the moment comes, grab it: Put down your trowel and pick up your camera.


To learn more about garden photography and get some practice, along with professional advice, take a class. Public gardens and botanic gardens often offer classes for photographers at every level of ability. Some even offer classes just for photography using cellphones.

Rob Cardillo and other photographers teach photography workshops at Chanticleer garden (, outside Philadelphia in Wayne, Pennsylvania. Longwood Gardens (, in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, also offers garden photography classes through the seasons. An Internet search on “garden photography classes” will lead you to many possibilities.

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