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). Â While wandering through the Chicago Botanic Garden, I spotted an in-progress plein air watercolor:
Sadly, the artist was nowhere to be found, so I couldn’t chat with them. Â Just the same, I liked this composition…
Interesting things, flowering cacti — they give a photographer such a list of contrasts to work with. Â Bright vs. muted colors.
Spiky vs. soft shapes.
Angular vs. rounded shapes.
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. Â Not sure what’s going on there…
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:
Of course, you’d better have your wits about you. Â Things come up fast, and you can miss a number of interesting sights in the time it takes to swap lenses.
A.k.a Pohe Haole (Tropaeolum majus), brought to you by the Limahuli Garden & PreserveÂ (part of the National Tropical Botanical Garden system) on Kaui, Hawaii:
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). Â Beautiful views, lots of great plants and flowers to see and shoot, and you get a bit of history in the mix as well. Â Nasturtium was introduced to Hawaii in the 1800s, so this was shot in the “Plantation era” part of Â the garden.
A bit of color for your week, courtesy of a planting on the stairs up to the Coit tower in San Francisco:
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. Â You’ll climb some amazing, steep steps from either Greenwich or FIlbert St. Â Along with the exercise, and the beautiful views over the Bay, the local residents take fantastic care of their flowers along the way. Â So keep your camera handy for a little flower photography when you’re pausing to catch your breath!
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. Â But hell on roses (and grapes, and birch trees, andâ€¦).
Japanese beetles are apparently not a big problem in Japan — they have many predators that help keep their numbers under control. Â 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. Â Courtesy of the warming climate, they made it to Colorado a few years ago. Â Luckily beetle traps are available via the internet, since local home and garden stores apparently haven’t taken notice of their arrival. Â Yet.
Seen in the War Memorial Rose Garden; Littleton, Colorado.
Known in Hawaii as ‘ilima, and popularly used to make lei, this is a beautiful flower:
This is one of a handful of native species surviving on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.