Posted tagged ‘garden’

SEATTLE ARBORETUM: Wild Things

March 10, 2011

Male Gadwall in a small arboretum pond

I came to the Washington Park Arboretum to photograph colorful garden flowers; alas, spring seems to be a bit late this year, so I spent most of my early March afternoon photographing wild visitors to the park.

Today was a birdy day, with a knot of half-a-dozen Ruby-Crowned Kinglets, a Golden-Crowned Kinglet, a Brown Creeper, and lots of Black-Capped Chickadees.  Robins were doing unmentionable things deep in a flowering forsythia. A pair of Gadwalls fed on a tiny pond and didn’t seem to mind that strange photographer laying on the ground and pointing a lens at them.

Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, a tiny bird constantly in motion, pauses a split second for a portrait

Mosses were lush and feathery to the touch on this spring day. A few people were happily walking dogs, jogging, identifying birds, and taking pictures. As a counterpoint, in thick brush I happened upon a grief-stricken informal memorial to a child from an anguished parent. It reminded me of a passage from a Dave Mathews song:

Lying in the park on a beautiful day

Sunshine in the grass, and the children play

Sirens passing, fire engine red

Someone’s house is burning down on a day like this”

The good and bad, happy and sad, swirl around us in a cloud of molecules and electrical impulses every day as we go about our lives.

A parent’s sad memorial to a son. Among other touching words, the driftwood sticks are inscribed “In Memory: My son and best friend … You beat us there, but we’ll meet you there … We love you.”

Woman walking with her dog on a beautiful spring day

Indian Plum (Oemleria cerasiformis), a native shrub, lights up the March woods with its candle-like flowers

Extreme closeup of beautiful moss; I have never had training in moss identification, so I don’t have a clue as to the species

The graceful base of a huge old rhododendron

Water play, or so it looked to me

Female swimming among beautiful reflections

Adult female Gadwall with an orange bill. The female was more actively feeding than the male–within about four feet of me at times. She would sit in one place on the water, vigorously “paddling” downward with her legs, causing her to rock rapidly back and forth. Then she would “tip up” to feed, with tail stuck into the air. I believe her rapid leg motion helped to stir up matted aquatic plants so that she could more easily harvest them when she stuck her head underwater, but it is also possible that she was after aquatic insects. The male Gadwall kept a wary eye on me as I watched the female feeding.

I had always thought of male Gadwalls as rather plain ducks–especially in comparison to Wood Ducks–but the barred feathers have an understated elegance of design up close

The shape of a Gadwall’s head is interesting, with the fat cheeks and narrow head

In case you hadn’t guessed, I love photographing ducks from a low angle, though it gets increasingly difficult to haul myself up from the cramped position when I’m finished

Beautiful and subtle colors and patterns adorn the male in breeding plumage

Cone and needles of a Weeping White Pine (Pinus strobus ‘Pendula’)

A male Ruby-Crowned Kinglet showing a bit of its scarlet crest, which is often hidden

Turkey Tail Fungus (Trametes versicolor) growing on a fallen log

Patch of moss growing on the bark of a fallen log

I have posted several previous blogs about the Washington Park Arboretum in Seattle.  Go to:

Azaleas in SeattlePretty in Pink, Spring in Seattle, and Monet in Seattle’s Arboretum.

To see my web site, which includes photographic prints for sale, please go to LeeRentz.com. I also have some inexpensive, smaller pieces for sale at an Etsy Website.

To see thousands of my photographs in large file sizes for use in magazines or other printed materials or electronic media, go to my PhotoShelter Website.


AZALEAS IN SEATTLE: The Grand Finale of Spring

May 12, 2010

Azaleas in bloom in the Washington Park Arboretum

Seattle’s Washington Park Arboretum began its transition to spring way back in January. It has been a long and lovely seasonal journey, but like any great fireworks show, there is a Grand Finale that provides an amazing end to the season, and that time is now. The azaleas along Azalea Way were absolutely stunning when I visited on May 6, with intense colors sprayed together in ways not otherwise found in nature.

The oak trees were also leafing out, with the Golden Oak, a garden variety of the English Oak, an unexpected highlight. When the oaks are entirely leafed out, I consider it the end of spring. So the end is near.

View to Azalea Way from the Golden Oak

Finally, the wisteria were in bloom around the Graham Visitors Center. With their vivid color and intense scents, they are always a fine show. But what caught my eye on this visit was how the shadows played on the rafters of the pergola–looking almost like ancient calligraphy.

Wisteria shadows speak an ancient language

Azaleas are a type of rhododendron

An impressionistic view of the azalea garden

Girly colors look wonderful in the garden

Wisteria blooming on the pergola

Walkway next to the Graham Visitors Center

Vivid color combinations, even in a single blossom

Bright colors of almost any shade

Azalea buds starting to open

Dogwood flowering against an achingly blue sky

Golden Oak, Quercus robur ‘Concordia,’ a variety of English Oak

Up close and personal

Oak leaves in a growth spurt

Emphatically defining the word ‘vivid’

A sophisticated shade of orange

Courtyard adjacent to the Graham Visitors Center

A garden is a great excuse to toss together a panoply of color

Painting with petals

For more information about Seattle’s Washington Park Arboretum, go to: http://depts.washington.edu/wpa/index.htm. For my two previous 2010 posts about the arboretum, go to SEATTLE’S ARBORETUM: Pretty in Pink and Spring in Seattle.

To see my web site, which includes photographic prints for sale, please go to LeeRentz.com

To see thousands of my photographs in large file sizes for use in magazines or other printed materials or electronic media, go to my PhotoShelter Website



Spring in Seattle

February 12, 2010

Azalea blooming in early February

2010 has brought Seattle the warmest January we have seen in over a hundred years of record-keeping, which might seem odd to those dealing with record-setting snowfall in more southerly parts of the east coast.  This is an El Niño year, which brings strange weather patterns to the whole Pacific basin and over much of North America.  Our warm temperatures and Vancouver’s trucking in snow for parts of the Winter Olympics are part of this El Niño effect.

As a result of the warm weather, our first sign of spring, the flowering of the hazelnut trees, occurred just about the first of January, and I heard frogs croaking on warm days.  While jogging in Bremerton, I saw the first miniature irises in bloom.

In early February I made two trips to Seattle’s Washington Park Arboretum, located along Lake Washington near the University of Washington campus.  The arboretum is beautiful any time, but I especially love the flowering trees in spring, and this was my first opportunity in 2010 to see early witch hazels and azaleas in bloom.  Within the arboretum, the J. A. Witt Winter Garden is the focus for early spring color, as well as bright winter twig and bark colors.

In this portfolio you can see traditional approaches to garden photography–as well as some more impressionistic images that have their own beautiful aesthetic.  Enjoy the spring through my photography, even if you are trapped in a snowstorm!

Persian Violet (Cyclamen coum) around base of Tall Stewartia

Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick (Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’)

Scotch Heather (Calluna vulgaris ‘Robert Chapman’)

Early Azalea Blooming

Purple Hazel (Corylus maxima ‘Atropurpurea Superba’)

Chinese Witch Hazel (Hamamelis mollis)

Paperbark Maple bark (Acer griseum)

Impressionistic view of Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick

Orange Beauty Witch Hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Orange Beauty’)

Muskogee Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia x ‘Muskogee’)

Plastic Fence and Azalea

Wilcox Footbridge, built in 1911

Paperbark Maple bark (Acer griseum)

Peeling bark, backlit by a low winter sun, of Paperbark Maple (Acer griseum)

Ruby Glow Witch Hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Ruby Glow’)

Impressionistic view of backlit bark of Paperbark Maple (Acer griseum)

Bark detail of Paperbark Maple (Acer griseum)

Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata) branches casting shadows

Green-barked Dogwood (Cornus stolonifera ‘Flaviramea’) with Black Mondo Grass (Ophiopogan planiscapus ‘Ebony Knight’)

Colorful coppiced shrub dogwood (Cornus sp.); coppicing means cutting back branches to the ground each spring, which encourages new twig growth, and new twigs have brighter color

A lavender early-blooming azalea (Rhododendron sp.)

Ruby Glow Witch Hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Ruby Glow’)

Another view of Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick

And still another view of Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick

Patterned bark of Hers’ Maple (Acer grosseri var. hersii)

A cherry (Prunus sp.) blooming in early February

Moss on a huge tree glowing under overcast skies

For more information about Seattle’s Washington Park Arboretum, go to:  http://depts.washington.edu/wpa/index.htm.

To see my web site, which includes photographic prints for sale, please go to LeeRentz.com

To see thousands of my photographs in large file sizes for use in magazines or other printed materials or electronic media, go to my PhotoShelter Website