Go wild, photo tips for gardeners

November 12th, 2009 Posted in Uncategorized

Our lives transform when we become gardeners. One day, we simply go out to buy a little plant to decorate the porch, or a tree to shade the backyard. Then, faster than you can say “8 cubic yards of mulch,” we’ve joined a new social network (the garden) where the password is MORE4me!

Buff Beauty rose

Next, we glue a camera to our hand, only releasing it when wielding a traditional garden implement.

Turks cap

It’s a sure sign that we’ve crossed the line when we discover creatures we’d never really noticed before: tiny insects, secretive lizards, and darting anoles. When we spot a butterfly or hummingbird on one of OUR flowers, or a bird munching a berry on a shrub we planted, we race to get a birdbath, install a pond, and hit the nurseries for more plants to add to our friend’s list.

That’s what happened to Howard Cheek, CTG’s gardener of the week. A few years ago, he didn’t even own a camera. He wasn’t a big gardener. But this year, he was The Nature Conservancy’s photo winner for Waterhole Landing.

Howard Cheek

On our visit to Kempner with Howard and his wife Mary, you’ll see how creating a certified wildlife backyard habitat changed their lives, and brought the “talent” up close.

Howard Cheek

Howard shares a few of his photo tips for gardeners, including the secret behind this one.

Howard Cheek

This week, Tom and Alice Nance show how easy (and rewarding) it is to become a certified wildlife backyard habitat.


In my garden, I planted these Dianella (variegated flax lily) to contrast the Salvia guaranitica that attracts wildlife with late spring and fall flowers. Prune herbaceous salvias like this one after their first bloom cycle, and again in late August to renew flowers for hungry fall insects. In a few weeks (maybe?), they’ll freeze to the ground. Cut them back, and they’ll soon quickly be back on the job. I like the way this one passalong plant from my Dad’s friend Andy has made a nice thicket.

Salvia guaranitica with Dianella, variegated flax lily

Salvia microphylla ‘Hot Lips’ is evergreen, but in my garden, it’s just now gearing up again to fill a few mouths.  Like Howard’s, it attracts hummingbirds, too.

Salvia microphylla 'Hot Lips'

My groundcover in semi-shade, Wedelia trilobata, will rest this winter, but the oxalis beyond (along with other winter bloomers, seeds, and berries) will keep the wildlife gravy train on track.

Wedelia trilobata, oxalis
A progressive garden dinner makes for the best design, since we never lack for something interesting to watch.  So keep those camera batteries charged up!

Remember, you can now watch CTG anytime, anywhere on klru.tv.

Until next week, Linda

  1. 5 Responses to “Go wild, photo tips for gardeners”

  2. By Pam/Digging on Nov 12, 2009

    Wow, Howard’s bird pics are incredible. I look forward to hearing about his tips on CTG. Your pics look beautiful too, Linda. I like your combo with the Salvia guaranitica particularly


  3. By mss @ Zanthan Gardens on Nov 12, 2009

    Wow! Those photos are great. I’ve tried to capture both the rose ‘Buff Beauty’ and turks cap and my photos are comparatively mediocre. As for critters (birds, butterflies, lizards)–forget it. Look forward to seeing more of Howard Cheek and getting some tips.


  4. By Vertie on Nov 13, 2009

    I love those flax lily. I saw some on the Master Gardener tour and have been wanting them ever since. Looking forward to the photography tips.


  5. By Corner Gardener Sue on Nov 15, 2009

    I came here to see your bloom day post, and ended up reading more posts. I love this one. It’s so true, that one thing leads to another. That’s one of the reasons I’m not trying to Twitter or anything else, because blogging already takes up a lot of my time. I’ve heard of some of these videos like what you mentioned, and have thought about checking them out, but so far, haven’t gotten to it. I’m sure they are fun and informative.


  6. By Cathy on Apr 28, 2010

    Those have to be the most beautiful nature pics I have ever seen! I love the backyard garden too! I don’t think I would ever leave it if I lived there.


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