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Irvine, California

Pink Coneflower

 

 

Durango, Colorado

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…and other news. Here are a few stories that we’ve come across in the past few days that we think you might find interesting.

School Wildlife Habitats

We loved this one in particular. We all know about the life-enhancing lessons that kids take away from school (food) gardens. Well here’s another powerful way to engage them, help them learn, and improve their lives in the short- and long-term.

The Leo Politi Elementary School, in one of the most densely populated areas of Los Angeles, removed 5,000 square feet of concrete and lawn and replaced it with native plants and trees. Amazingly (or not, as most gardeners know), insects, birds and other creatures appeared so quickly that the principal said it was almost as if they were waiting for this oasis to appear. Not only were the kids fascinated with the activity in their new habitat, but the school’s science scores increased six-fold.

Let’s hear it for school gardens, both edible and habitat gardens. They enrich the lives of students, teachers and their neighborhoods by creating green spaces for all kinds of creatures. Read the whole story here.,

Historic Garden Photography

Anne Raver (one of our favorite garden writers) writes in the NY Times about a collection of garden photos taken from the late 1800′s to 1935 by Frances Benjamin Johnson. A catalog of her hand-colored glass lantern slides is available here. It’s a wonderful resource for anyone planning a new garden.

Conservation

Finally, here’s a thought-provoking editorial, Drop That Bog, that appeared in the NY Times on April 11. It’s a pretty convincing argument against using peat moss. We’ll quote it here in its entirety:

“To gardeners, there is something deeply gratifying about opening a bag of sphagnum peat moss. It’s the smell and texture, as well as knowing that peat makes a good ground cover and soil improver. But, like so many other things in our lives, peat moss looks different, and far less gratifying, when you take climate change into account.

What gardeners are buying in those compressed bags of peat is the remains of what was once a living bog. Extracting peat requires a kind of surface mining — laying back the top layer of a drained wetland and digging out the peat. The stuff you’re forking onto your garden is a broken-down version of stuff that has been used for centuries as fuel in Scotland, Britain and Ireland.

Here’s the trouble. Peat results when bog and wetland plants decompose partially in the absence of oxygen. Instead of emitting carbon dioxide as they decompose, they become the carbon in peat. In other words, peat acts as a carbon sink, trapping carbon that would otherwise have been released into the atmosphere. But once peat has been dug up — even before it is burned or dug into the corner of the garden where you’re hoping to plant blueberries — it begins to release its stored carbon, adding to the climate-altering carbon dioxide we are already pouring into the atmosphere.

Compared with the amount of carbon dioxide emitted when gardeners drive to the nursery, the problem may not seem that big. But every reduction helps, and there are easy alternatives. The best substitute for peat in the garden is compost, which you can make at home, unlike peat, which takes thousands of years to form. Peat should stay where it does the most good: in the place where it formed, beneath the complex ecology of a living wetland.”

That’s it for now.

P. S. Yes, we have been on an extended hiatus which was quite a bit longer than we intended, but we’re happy to be back. Tomorrow’s Tuesday’s Tips will be a primer on creating succulent terrariums. It’s super easy!

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We love our gardens and we love our photography, so what could be better than garden photography? Not much. We thought we’d be Santa’s little helpers and list a few items that would be sure to please anyone who takes shooting gardens even a little bit seriously. The only thing hard about making this list was narrowing it down to just a few items.

Barbara:

At the very top of my list would be a macro lens. I want to get up close and personal with every blossom and leaf in my garden and a macro is the way to do it. An AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm F2.8 would do the trick, though truthfully it’s at a price that would take several Christmases to justify. Still, I can dream can’t I?

Much more reasonably priced would be a 5 in 1 collapsible reflector kit. This is a great, inexpensive way to control lighting in the garden. Use the sliver or gold reflectors to add light to the subject, or use the translucent disc to soften the highlights and shadows — instant overcast lighting.

There are so many books on my list. At the top is one that Mary Beth recommends as well, Beane Flowers. Christopher Beane shows you flowers like you’ve never seen them before. I also like The Art of Flower and Garden Photography by Clive Nichols. This book is out of print, but you can buy good used copies here.

By the way, you don’t have to spend a fortune on books. I’ve been checking gardening and photography books out of the library by the armload. Happy as a pig in you-know-what!

 

Mary Beth:

First - Mapplethorpe The Complete Flowers. I saw this beautiful book in Open Shutter Gallery here in Durango a few months ago. I was mesmerized. I plopped myself down on the floor and got lost in it.  If you are interested photographing flowers or just want to look at some beautiful photographs check it out. This book, by the way, is the only present I’m asking for this Christmas. If the price is too hefty, another beautiful book would Beane Flowers — gorgeous.

Second on my list would be a BlackRapid Sport sling for my camera. I want one of these for when I go snowshoeing or on long hikes. Then I wouldn’t have to worry about my camera slipping off my shoulder.

Third is a wide-angle lens; to be more specific the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8 L. I long to have a wide-angle lens to capture the wildflowers that go on forever here in the mountains during the spring and early summer.

Let us know what’s on your list. We love to talk equipment!

 

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Durango, Colorado

Irvine, California

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Durango, Colorado

Irvine, California

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Durango, Colorado

Irvine, California

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Durango, Colorado

Irvine, California

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