Where: Missouri Botanical Garden
When: February 2016
I’m not positive I don’t like orchids, but I don’t think I do. Every February through March the Missouri Botanical Garden has its annual orchid show. The first time I photographed it I used my Nikon D7100 with the only lens I had a Nikkor 24-85mm zoom, the one that I bought with the camera. The next year I was excited to go again because I now had the Sigma 105mm macro. Long story short (you can read it here), I screwed up and went with the 24-85mm zoom again. So the next year, February 2016, I made sure I got it right. Finally I was going to get some nice macro shots of the orchids.
Somehow I only have three shots from that outing. You go to an orchid show with a nice camera and lens and only have three photos to show for it (and one isn’t even an orchid), you must not like orchids. I don’t remember why I have only three photos but there’s something in the back of my head telling me I wasn’t that excited about that session. But why, I don’t know. The show opens again in three weeks and four days from the date of this post. I’ll give it one more shot. Maybe it’ll turn out that I do like them.
If you have followed my blog for any length of time you know that too often I see things in flowers that aren’t there. It’s kind of like seeing faces, animals, and things in clouds. I should probably just keep my mouth shut and let you enjoy the flower, but I can’t. In this shot I see a red hooded alien with a humongous nose that almost covers his entire white face. He’s loosely enveloped in white petals with red polka dots and leaning forward with his little yellow dinosaur arms resting on on flower petal.
I don’t know if these are orchids but they were on the same role of film, so to speak.
Now this is obviously an orchid. It’s also a picture of a huge nose with a yellow mustache wearing an elaborate pointed hoody and surrounded by a large headdress for a Mardi Gras parade.
Complete Change of Subject
This past summer I got a small garden going. I let a plot of dug up ground marinate from late August through the winter until mid-May. The garden is heavy, heavy clay at least as deep as my shovel’s blade. The marinade that I started in late summer the year before consisted of the zoysia grass that I turned under and chopped with my shovel. That twas a lot of hard work trying to chop ten to twelve inch spade fulls of zoysia and clay. The second layer of the marinated was some sort of chemical I bought from a nursery. Next came several grass catcher bags of lawn clippings over a three week period. This was topped of a couple of bags of barely mulched leaves from the mower. (NOTE: If you have holly trees in or near your yard avoid getting those leaves in you mulch. If you don’t you’ll find that trying to work with the soil with your bare hands will similar to trying to massage a cactus. It can be done – you just don’t want to do it.)
On a weekly basis, and occasionally twice a week, I worked on chopping up my marinating clumps of clay. Again, although the garden was very small, this was a lot of hard work. Initially I did this with a shovel or hoe. For Christmas I got a chopper to do the work. I looks like a hoe where the blade has been bent straightened out to look a bit like a small flat shovel. They come in all sizes and weights and are built for different purposes such as using it like a push broom to lift tiles off a floor or shingles off a roof, to chop and chip away ice on a walk or driveway, or as in my case to chop roots. Mine is all steel, handle through blade, weighs 13 pounds, and has a seven inch wide blade. If needed I could probably use it to chop up a Mini Cooper in ninety minutes or so. If Carrie Underwood knew about this tool she would have never needed that Louisville slugger for both head lights. Because of the nature of the clay I could only chop the marinade a couple of days after a rain. If the ground was dry it was like chopping a rocky creek bed. If I didn’t let the ground dry out some, the wet are very damp clay would just stick to the blade of the chopper. With just the right dampness working the clay was almost like working normal soil. Almost because I couldn’t get it chopped smaller than chunks one to two inches in diameter. That’s be cause the clay clods do not break up into loose soil like normal dirt. The only way to get the small clumps to the loose soil state is to wait for it to dry out completely and then bang each clump with a hammer. Over time the addition of vegetation will get the clay to a more soil like condition. I hope.
I bought some seed and a few perennial plants well in advance. Also friends gave me a few to help get the garden going. I actually had too many plants and seeds for the size of garden I had. For various reasons, most having to do with weather and varmints (squirrels and rabbits), I was late with the seeds and a couple of the plants. I did get a cone flower and a black-eyed Susan planted in mid to late May and a week or so later brought out a lily we had received as a gift at Easter.
Right away the rabbits and squirrels thought how lucky they were that I had delivered meals for them. I had a tiny bit of fencing I found in the garage that I used to protect what remained of the cone flower. The other two plants were pretty much goners. Because of the varmints I was afraid to plant the remaining perennials or to transplant my seedlings which were about two inches tall at this time. Then came rain, then came fear of planting food for squirrels and rabbits again, and then came rain again, and the fear again, and so on, and so on. During this time the seedlings (two different types of zinnias and cosmoses, and rudbeckia) had grown to four, six, and even eight inches tall. They had to get planted. I had a huge tray and a large disposable flower pot full of the seedlings and I went crazy stuffing them everywhere. I surrounded the birdbath and had heavy concentrations in the new garden. I pretty much haphazardly planted the three remaining perennials.
For protection from the varmints I used a technique I found on the internet. I surrounded each individual perennial plant with plastic forks three to for rows deep. The handles were stuck in the ground with the tines pointed up daring the varmints to step in. I then put more out among the seedlings. I also used the little bit of fencing I had to surround a cone flower. I also spread some sort of pepper concoction on the ground to discourage digging. These varmints are regular little sappers tunneling their way under my Roman fortifications. As one final defense I sprayed some gawd-awful smelling urine on the plants and all around the perimeter of the garden. Julius Caesar did not have better fortifications during any of his campaigns in Gaul.
I’m sure Jules’ fortifications lasted longer. A few days after setting up the two “chemical” defenses a rain came that nearly wiped out all my tall seedlings and left the garden smelling spring fresh. Not to worry, I reapplied. Mother nature joined forces with the varmints again and attacked with a day of rain followed by two days of beautiful sunshine and a day of rain. I went online to see how much fencing would cost based on the current size of the garden and my modest expansion plans. I wanted fencing that would be attractive but blend in, allow air to circulate, and be strong enough to withstand the onslaught of the varmints and mother nature. Wow, fencing, other than cheap chicken wire, is a bit expensive. I then went to the dollar store and bought more forks. It was still a battle through October. The cold weather brought it to a draw but not before both my lily and brown-eyed Susan plants came back to life and started to thrive through late summer only to be nibbled to the ground again when I let my fork defenses drop. I’m building a fence in the basement during the winter. It’s made of white plastic lattice work that I’ll cut down to about knee high. I’m going to remove sod around the perimeter of the fence so that I can place, at ground level, some old antique bricks/pavers that will line the outside of the fence to prevent the sappers from burrowing under.
None of the above really has anything to do with the reason for posting this picture. It is a huge digression for which I apologize. Several times half way through the digression I stopped writing with every intention to delete what had been written but I just couldn’t. I’ve never been accused of being a “talker” but sometimes I get to writing and can’t stop. But I’m going to her, now and discuss this picture.
This is me and my garden. (It’s small but any larger and I couldn’t do all the work required to amend the clay.) About two weeks before this picture was taken we had a heavy rain storm that took down one of my larger cosmos plants. A week after that we had a wind and rain storm that took down another. This two incidents occurred after I had already noticed that some of the branches on some the larger cosmos plants plant looked like some one had tried to tear them off. That someone was a squirrel try to climb the plant. The day before this picture was taken I was walking out to the garage and out of the corner of my eye I saw a gold finch swoop in to land on a branch only to have it give way. So during about a fifteen day period my large clump of very tall cosmoses was slowly being destroyed.
I decided to take a picture to show the height of the cosmos plants before any more destruction took place. Prior to the destruction there were two or three more plants clumped together with what is shown making for a much greener and bushier grouping. In fact you couldn’t see the wood support stake then and the group almost looked like a tall bush.
I am 6′ 1″ in my shoes but the top blossom (arrow points to it) looks much taller than that. That’s because the garden is on a hill and I’m about two feet away from the plants. I didn’t measure them at this time but when I stood next to them they were just two or three inches above my head. Later in the summer I measured and the tallest blossom was 7 feet 3 inches. Based on memory of standing next to them and not actual measurements I think the cosmos was larger than any of the large sunflowers I had at my prior house. So, one reason for this photo was to document the heights reached by the cosmoses; gotta love that Miracle-Gro.
A second reason was to announce that I learned (or at least used) two features of the complicated Nikon D7100 that I had never used before. One of the reason I got the D7100 instead of one of the less expensive models was the fact that the D7100 had sensors for remote shooting on both the front and back of the camera. When I researching what camera to buy I was surprised by how few had sensors on both sides. Anyway, the D7100 does. That meant I could take a picture of myself (a long distance selfie) without having to make it back to the flowers before a timer went off. Next I tried to figure out how to make sure it was focused correctly. I could just press the remote and hope auto focus got me, or I could switch to manual and prefocus on one of the flowers. Neither seemed ideal but I was going to go with the prefocus.
As I was reading how to use the remote in my Nikon D7100 for Dummies book I noticed a page that reminded me the camera has a face recognition function for focusing. So I read up on it and got out a tripod, set the camera and tripod up outside, and then zoomed in to the area/flowers I wanted to show. Next I set things up for facial recognition which meant I had to turn on live view which activates the screen for viewing instead of the viewfinder. I double check that everything was still framed the way I wanted it and walked down to the garden. I had already gone into the menu system to active remote and put it on a two second timer so I could get my arm down before the shutter release after triggering the remote. So I took my spot at the garden, pointed the remote at the camera, pushed the little white button, and nothing happened. I’ll cut to the chase here. Turns out there’s a limit on how far away you can be for the remote to work. So I moved the camera and tripod closer, adjusted the the zoom for framing and took the picture no problem. So there you have it. That’s how I learned, or at least used, two new (to me) features on my terribly complicated Nikon D7100.
Thank you for stopping by and I hope my excessive digression in the last two halves of this post won’t discourage you from coming back next week.
All photos were taken with a Nikon D7100 camera. For the first three photos a Sigma 105mm macro lens was used. For the garden photo a Nikkor 25-85mm zoom was used.