Plein air

On our recent trip to Chicago, we did our usual tour of the local botanic gardens (one of the benefits of being married to a garden-loving woman).  While wandering through the Chicago Botanic Garden, I spotted an in-progress plein air watercolor:

Plein air

Sadly, the artist was nowhere to be found, so I couldn’t chat with them.  Just the same, I liked this composition…

Coming to a point

Interesting things, flowering cacti — they give a photographer such a list of contrasts to work with.  Bright vs. muted colors.

Coming to a point

Spiky vs. soft shapes.

Nipple cactus, redux

Angular vs. rounded shapes.

Nipple cactus close-up

These are all shots of a “Nipple cactus” (Coryphantha sulcata, a.k.a. Pineapple cactus), seen at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas. At least, that’s how it was labeled — but all the online information on this species shows it to be both smaller and bearing yellow flowers.  Not sure what’s going on there…

Wall of color

One of the particularly nice things about Austin’s River Walk is that if you catch a boat taxi, you can just sit as it carries you past all sorts of beautiful and photogenic scenery — take this view, for example:

Wall of color

Of course, you’d better have your wits about you.  Things come up fast, and you can miss a number of interesting sights in the time it takes to swap lenses.

Nasturtium

A.k.a Pohe Haole (Tropaeolum majus), brought to you by the Limahuli Garden & Preserve (part of the National Tropical Botanical Garden system) on Kaui, Hawaii:

Nasturtium

The Limahuli Garden and Preserve is a neat little place to stop by should you ever find yourself up on the north end of Kauai (get to Hanalei, then continue west until the road ends).  Beautiful views, lots of great plants and flowers to see and shoot, and you get a bit of history in the mix as well.  Nasturtium was introduced to Hawaii in the 1800s, so this was shot in the “Plantation era” part of  the garden.

Vibrant

A bit of color for your week, courtesy of a planting on the stairs up to the Coit tower in San Francisco:

Vibrant

If you’re passing through San Francisco and looking for a workout, there are few to beat the stairs up the east side of Telegraph Hill from the Embarcadero to the base of the Coit Tower.  You’ll climb some amazing, steep steps from either Greenwich or FIlbert St.  Along with the exercise, and the beautiful views over the Bay, the local residents take fantastic care of their flowers along the way.  So keep your camera handy for a little flower photography when you’re pausing to catch your breath!

Unwelcome visitor

This is a Japanese Beetle (Popillia japonica), in case you’re unfamiliar with them — beautifully colored, with their iridescent shells offset against the flower petals’ colors.  But hell on roses (and grapes, and birch trees, and…).

Unwelcome visitor

Japanese beetles are apparently not a big problem in Japan — they have many predators that help keep their numbers under control.  But since their arrival in the U.S. early in the 20th century, they’ve been expanding their territory from their original “beachhead” in New Jersey.  Courtesy of the warming climate, they made it to Colorado a few years ago.  Luckily beetle traps are available via the internet, since local home and garden stores apparently haven’t taken notice of their arrival.  Yet.

Seen in the War Memorial Rose Garden; Littleton, Colorado.