Tag Archives: gardens

“Star of Bethlehem – 2018”

“Star of Bethlehem -2018”

“If only these treasures were not so fragile as they are precious and beautiful.” 
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I find myself surveying my gardens, as the cycle of spring takes a firm hold. Tulips and daffodils are now dried remnants, these once beautiful ‘first’ colours. They welcomed the first few mild days with their bright faces and filled our sense of smell with their sweet fragrance.

Now, the next wave of flowers fills these spaces. Among them, Star of Bethlehem, with its delicate white blossoms. This is one of many plants retrieved from my mother-in-law’s gardens when she moved out of her house a few years ago. We really had no idea what we were bringing home, only that her plants were a very essential part of her and we welcomed them to our gardens.

Since then, every spring, a new mystery blossom would surface and wait to be identified. This plant was among them and is a very lovely addition to our flower beds.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mmm
1.6 sec, f/40.0, ISO 400 

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)
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“Flowering Dogwood – Square Dance” – Royal Botanical Garden

“Flowering Dogwood - Squaredance” - Royal Botanical Gardens

“A lie has many colours,
while white is the only faithful colour of truth.”
― Munia Khan

This year has been an interesting shift for me, photographically. I tend to lean towards natural places, such as forest trails, rivers, and lakes. This year I’m finding myself also taking in more man-made gardens and cultivated flowers.

Perhaps this is because I’ve been spending more time in my own backyard and going to botanical gardens with my wife for gardening ideas and simply to enjoy the blooms. Of course, I’ve had my camera with me to capture and share those experiences.

Till now, I had not paid much attention to all the flowering trees. It seemed to me that the flowering phase lasted only for a short period, yet now I’m seeing blossoms will into June.

Dogwoods hold a special appeal to me, since I first witnessed the Sierra Dogwoods blooming in Yosemite National Park a few years ago. There is something about the bright green leaves and delicate large blossoms that draws me to them, especially the bright white ones. The variety pictured above is a hybrid called “Square Dance” because of the blossom shapes, they almost form a perfect square. This particular plant was found in the Rock Gardens section of the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington, Ontario.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD
 @ 200 mm
1/320 sec, f/9.0, ISO 200

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“Dawn Redwood” – Edwards Gardens, Toronto

"Ancient Redwood" - Edwards Gardens, Toronto

“The redwoods, once seen, leave a mark or create a vision that stays with you always. No one has ever successfully painted or photographed a redwood tree. The feeling they produce is not transferable. From them comes silence and awe. It’s not only their unbelievable stature, nor the color which seems to shift and vary under your eyes, no, they are not like any trees we know, they are ambassadors from another time.”
― John Steinbeck

This is the second dawn redwood (Metasequoia) I have seen in Ontario recently, both were in a botanical gardens setting. The first was at the Niagara Botanical Gardens and the specimen above was at Edwards Gardens, in Toronto, the home of the Toronto Botanical Gardens. They look like living fossils but are actually fast growing and not as old as you would suspect.

The species was discovered in Lichuan county in the Hubei province of China in 1944 and was soon adopted in North America as a popular ornamental. That would explain why they are found in various botanical gardens. Also, because they get so large, they would not be suitable for residential properties.

This one is said to have been planted in 1960, on a site chosen to ensure it would would be bathed in the early morning sunlight on June 20 each year, the birthday of the wife of the gardener who planted it.

I felt this would look nice as a painted piece, so took some artistic liberty with Photoshop, mainly to hide the ugly chain link fence directly behind the tree and to enhance the texture of the bark.

As John Steinbeck states so well above, there is a ‘feel’ to redwoods that is difficult to communicate.

Nikon D800
Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 @ 82 mm
1/160 sec, f/2.8, ISO 220

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“Dawson’s Magnolia” – Edwards Gardens, Toronto

“Dawson’s Magnolia” - Edwards Gardens, Toronto

“It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.”
— Rainer Maria Rilke

A final visit to the magnolias of Edwards Gardens in Toronto, at least for this year. I so enjoyed my day of walking the grounds and enjoying all the wonderful flowering trees. This is a great time of year. There are splashes of pinks, purples, whites, and purple among the new foliage in its multiple shades of green. The world around me is fairly glowing with new life, and I love it!

The tree above stood out above all the others I saw that day. Delicate blossoms cling to teh dark leafless branches in a spectacular display. The blossoms almost seem too big for teh slider tree to bear. All this against teh backdrop of new greenery and a slightly cloudy blue sky. It just says, “Spring” to me.

Nikon D800
Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 @ 82 mm
1/160 sec, f/46.3, ISO 200

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“Pink Magnolias” – Edwards Gardens, Toronto

“Pink Magnolias” - Edwards Gardens, Toronto

“You saw a fluttering fan before her face and magnolia blooms and sleepy lakes under the moonlight when she walked.” 
— Zora Neale Hurston

The last time I visited Edwards Gardens in Toronto I must have been about 6 years old. It used to be a favoured destination for my family, as both my father and grandmother were avid gardeners. I vaguely recall the place, remembering only the amazing patches of colour   of mid-summer blossoms.

I went back yesterday, with my wife, as part of our 25th wedding anniversary celebrations. My goal being to conjure up old memories, and make some nice photos, as well as taking her to a place from my past that she had not visited yet. Not surprisingly, there were lots of tulips and daffodils but I was pleasantly surprised at how many of the park’s numerous magnolias were still showing off many healthy blossoms. Most of the trees in my neighbourhood had already shed their blooms and progressed to leaf.

The subject above was just starting to fade in patched but for the most part was still in glorious bloom. Having visited so many years ago, and in summer, I was not really expecting to see this wonderful colour and I am glad we dropped in here for a stroll among the trees and flowers.

Nikon D800
Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 @ 200 mm
1/200 sec, f/7.1, ISO 200

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“Last Year’s Blossoms” – Niagara Falls, Ontario

“Last Year’s Blooms”

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”
 – Wayne Dyer

April is a strange time to visit a botanical garden, since there are no blooms to enjoy. Yet, if you look closer, vestiges of last year remain in tones of brown, gray, and yellow. Yet, amid shrivelled shells and dried branches, hints for life begin to emerge.

I can’t recall the variety of tree that this is, but the bright yellow skeletons of last year’s blossoms glowed in the sun and drew my eye towards them. It was not till I looked closer that I saw the fresh green buds beginning to show, reminding me not to allow first appearances cloud my vision in all aspects of life. Nature has so much to teach us.

Nikon D300
Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 @ 180 mm
1/160 sec, f/6.3 +0.33, ISO 200

For more images like this, please visit my Facebook page:
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