Sunday Morning Garden Chat: At Home in the Midwest

From determined commentor Watergirl:

I really didn’t plan this other corner to be all purple, but I see that I have at least 4 different plants with various shades of purple in the other corner where the fox lives. Pretty sure you can tell that it’s not a real fox, but I fell in love with the fox and just had to have him.

I’m not a very good photographer, so I usually send close-ups. I mean, who can screw up a close-up shot of a beautiful flower? Not sure how successful I was, but this time I tried to get a bigger picture view. For next time, I will try again to use the panorama view on camera. Maybe third time’s the charm?…

Here are a couple of different views from the back porch I had built last year. As I said, not a great photographer. I was so busy trying to catch the view of the yard that I looked past the towel on the chair. (Can we just pretend that the towel isn’t there?) In any case, I am loving my porch!

I tried to catch a picture of some of the flowers along the back fence, and even got one that might give you some sense of what it looks like at night with the fence lights on…


Last up is my front porch. Try as I might – and I took over a dozen photos – I just couldn’t manage to capture my front porch. Every plant but one comes in over the winter. As you can see, I don’t have a very big house, so it gets to be a challenge – especially when the Christmas Tree is up! But it’s worth it to have some green inside during the winter and instant happy on the porch come spring.

The pink flowers you see on the left edge are dahlias. I don’t have a garage but a friend keeps the bag of bulbs for me in her garage all winter. I put them in the pot in the spring and up they come! The next 3 that you can see are my tropical hibiscus – peach, red and yellow. Next is the red dragon wing begonia. Next to that are two monsteras that I grew from tiny little things. (You can only see one in the photo.) They got crushed when the tree fell 4 years ago and I had to cut them back to a single leaf each, but they are doing just fine!

I have an idea for a garden chat sort of thing we could maybe think about for the winter months. I would love to be able to submit photos like these and get some tips from our BJ photographers on how to do a better job of capturing the bigger picture in garden photos. Maybe a one-a-month photography clinic, kind of like we have the monthly writer’s chats?

[More to come — those promised close-ups! — next week]

I like the idea of a ‘photography clinic’, but you’d have to be patient: Since I’m not around when the Garden Chat goes up on the front page (my ‘normal’ sleep cycle is 6am-2pm), any “Get Anne Laurie to give you my email”-type comments wouldn’t get forwarded until Sunday afternoon/evening. But we do have some excellent garden photographers here!

What’s going on in your garden(s) this week?

42 replies
  1. 1

    OK, first up, close-ups of flowers is NOT easy. It’s really hard to get it right; you’ve got so many variables and you need to figure out what kind of effect do you want. Do you want the background to be blured with the flower in focus and if so how do you get all parts of the flower in focus. Then there’s light and movement of the flower and if you correct for that by increasing ISO, then you end up with a grainy pic. Can you tell I’ve just been though this? Why yes, just last Sunday; here’s the pic I took. Now the background is a bit blured, but the part of the flower that sticks out(I think that’s the flower’s naughty bits) is out of focus.

    As far as getting the whole porch into the shot, you’ve got a few choices: back up(might not be an option), use a wider angle lens(this depends on the camera being used) or use the panorama mode(phones, point-n-shoots, and even DLSR’s have this mode).

  2. 2
    Mary G says:

    Gorgeous flowers and I love the fox! I have taken 50 pictures to get one good one, so I feel your pain. The back porch looks like a cozy place to read and the hibiscus are beautiful.

  3. 3

    @Mary G:

    I have taken 50 pictures to get one good one

    You should see how many pictures I shoot to get a couple of good ones, 500 maybe?

  4. 4
    eclare says:

    Love the purple!

  5. 5
    Suburban Mom says:

    Both porches are great. You must get good sun in the front to make the hibiscus bloom so profusely.

  6. 6
    Baud says:

    I want to hang out on your back porch and read a book. Or take a nap. It’s very peaceful.

  7. 7
    raven says:

    It’s great to see pictures of home!

  8. 8
    opiejeanne says:

    Very nice garden and porch. Beautiful.

    What towel?

  9. 9
    J R in WV says:

    Nothing wrong with a towel on your porch; where else would you have a towel?

    Great pictures of a wonderful garden. You have the good healthy light that those plants need. We have big trees all around our house, so our plants are woodland perennials mostly. They have to be able to get aong in the shade, dense shade.

    I have some pictures of a fox in the wild, in most of the pics he’s hard to see, but he stands out in some of them. I think it’s a fox… but it’s from the high desert, so it could be a rare mammal I’m not familiar with. I’ll send them in some time.

    Have a nice weekend day, all!

  10. 10
    Raven says:

    @J R in WV: you should see the soil there!

  11. 11
    rikyrah says:

    Good Morning, Everyone 😐😐😐

  12. 12
    Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes says:

    Babysitting my oldest daughter’s kitten. She’s a sweet girl, and figuring out how to deal with my Tervuren and my kitten, and looking out the door at middle daughter’s feral.

    I’m afraid that I’m going to have to kill the dog unless he stops pacing manically about the house, harassing this kitten. As I speak the cats are actually fighting in my lap as the dog’s nails skitter across the floor. I’m going to have to consign him to the porch – he refuses to stop.

    Oh, and I think that I’ve cracked a tooth under a crown – it’s been bugging me all week, but I bit into a brat at the game yesterday and the sucker lit up. Every time I touch it, it lights up white hot. I probably am maxed out on ibuprofen and acetomenophen, and did get some relief last night from Orajel and some old hydrocodone I found in the drawer, but Monday and a call to my dentist cannot come soon enough.

  13. 13
    rikyrah says:

    The pictures are beautiful 😄

  14. 14
    Baud says:

    @rikyrah: Good morning.

  15. 15

    I will see your fox and raise you two live groundhogs. All year a couple have established a den in our backyard, at the top of the stone and concrete lip I built around and over the large drain pipe that drains water from the north side of our neighborhood under the embankment at the rear of our lot. They helped themselves gladly to fruit falling off my pear trees, I had to work to get to it before them. And I think they probably helped themselves to tomatoes, too. A few days ago I looked out the window from the top story of our house, and one of them was grazing in the grass, a huge, fat, happy groundhog. He apparently heard a noise from the house at one point, and stood up on his rear haunches. He was truly a portly, well fed groundhog, almost a caricature, as he stood erect staring at the house to see if he needed to flee into his burrow. I guess I am happy to be nurturing the local wildlife with my fruit trees and garden every year. I had turned the water scarecrows off a few weeks ago and pulled the tomatoes, bean plants, pepper plants, which were all done. The deer expressed their gratitude by chewing all the tops of the remaining row of beets. I need to dig them up and have roast beets, the last of the crop from the garden for this year.

  16. 16
    Raven says:

    Today is the Boolebark Dog Parade! 125 dogs registered and my bride has been off the hook with preparation. Lil Bit and Bodhi are going as Driving Miss Daisy and I get to push the cart that has been transformed into a car!!!

  17. 17
    Spanky says:

    @Raven: Is she organizing more than one parade, or has it been a year already?

  18. 18
    Baud says:

    @Raven: Sounds like a blast.

  19. 19
    satby says:


    I want to hang out on your back porch and read a book. Or take a nap. It’s very peaceful.

    that’s the first thought I had too! It’s on my bucket list to go visit Watergirl and enjoy an iced tea or glass of wine with her on her screened porch! 💙💙

  20. 20
    satby says:

    @rikyrah: Good morning! Sending you sunshine, because it’s been raining non-stop 🌞

  21. 21
    satby says:

    @Raven: I will be awaiting pictures again this year! Looks like such a fun event.

  22. 22
    satby says:

    @Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes: Hope you get in and get relief first thing tomorrow.

    @HeartlandLiberal: I have groundhogs too, my yard is riddled with tunnels and walking on it feels like walking on a sponge. I spread repellant earlier this year and got two of the sonic stakes that are supposed to drive them away, but they’re back. I have to be more diligent about putting the repellant down all year for a while, to see if I can get them to move away permanently.

  23. 23
    debbie says:

    Beautiful garden, WaterGirl! My love of dahlias has come late in life, but is as intense as my love for irises, hydrangeas — basically every other single flower.

    My friend bought a home where a fake deer had been positioned at the edge of ajacent woods. She left it there and almost every spring, she’d look out and see a real deer trying to hump it. What an exercise in futility!

    The marathon is passing by my apartment this morning. It’s amazing how many running styles there are. I always try to catch the lead runners, but for some reason, I tend to get weepy when the first woman runner zips by.

  24. 24
    debbie says:

    P.S. Nice porch!

  25. 25
    debbie says:


    Pictures please!

  26. 26
    oldgold says:

    A fox is a wolf who sends flowers.
    Ruth Brown

  27. 27
    oldgold says:

    Or, a more modern and perhaps better description of a fox – dog hardware running on cat software.

  28. 28
    Kristine says:

    Love your flowers and the fox. Also, porch envy.

  29. 29
    Starfish says:

    Your garden is beautiful, @Watergirl.

    Putting the camera in the mode where it takes photos as long as you hold down the button to take photos is a legitimate strategy for getting a good photo.

  30. 30
    stinger says:

    Watergirl, I love the angled corner(s) of your porch. And the fox.

    The towel shows that the space is lived in. And no wonder — what a view!

  31. 31
    Benjamin Mays says:

    @Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes: Dude, it’s a Terv. Pacing is what they do. Alert, always on alert. Not quite border collie obsessed, but close.

  32. 32
    Elizabelle says:

    Meetup at Watergirl’s house. Love the photos, the fox, the porch, the towel. All wonderful.

    We can bring the wine and snax.

    Happy Sunday, jackals.

  33. 33
    MomSense says:

    So beautiful, Watergirl! Your house is perfect. The front porch is welcoming and the back porch looks like just the right spot to sit and read a book or take a nap.

  34. 34
    O. Felix Culpa says:

    Beautiful garden! We’re cleaning up after torrential rains and hail shredded the garden and churned it into mudfields. Thank goodness for autumn pansies to bring cheer and color back.

  35. 35
    StringOnAStick says:

    @Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes: Dude, I think you have an abscess in that tooth and you need to get some antibiotics now, not wait until Monday. If your DDS is like the guy I work for, call the emergency number, describe your symptoms and ask for a prescription to be sent to your pharmacist immediately. The pressure will keep building and the pain will increase dramatically, so do it now, not in the middle of the night when your pharmacy is not open!

    Your DDS won’t be able to do much to fix this tooth until the infection at the root tip is under control (infection makes the local anesthetic a whole lot less effective), so get the ball rolling now, don’t wait until Monday morning. Trust me on this…

  36. 36
    StringOnAStick says:

    Watergirl, what do you do to deal with any bugs that have hitched a ride on your lovely hybiscus into your house over the winter? I’ve always had trouble with fungus gnats or whiteflies coming in when I try to overwinter something inside and not had much success other than finally giving up and tossing the plant before the whole of the houseplants are infected. I try to keep the pesticides use down, and to use organic stuff but so far I’ve given up on the whole idea. What do you do for this?

  37. 37
    WaterGirl says:

    Looks like I missed the garden chat! It’s cold and wet here this morning and I ended up sleeping until 10:30. Wow, I never do that.

    @Raven: Driving Miss Daisy. I can’t wait to see the pictures!

    @debbie: Me, too. I’m not sure I even noticed dahlias until about 5 years ago and now I just love them.

    @Baud: Standing porch invitation for you and anyone else at BJ who makes it to central Illinois. It’s not South America, but it is peaceful and happy.

  38. 38
    satby says:

    @WaterGirl: Good morning, glad to see you again!

  39. 39
    WaterGirl says:

    @StringOnAStick: I try not to use chemicals in my garden, too, but bugs are not welcome in my house, so I make an exception for the plants that are coming inside. I go to the local garden center and buy the stuff in the blue spray bottle that kills spider mites and white flies and the other creatures who might be lurking on the soon-to-be inside plants.

    @J R in WV: Trees or sun, it’s a trade-off.

    My huge silver maple tree (the one that crashed on my house) used to shade everything in back except the fence lines. Now I have brutal sun in the back yard, but because of that I built the porch and now I have a lovely porch to sit in and a happy garden of bright sun-loving plants.

    A year later I took out one of my two big silver maple in front because it wasn’t healthy and I didn’t want a repeat of the tree crashing incident. The tee was close to the street, so the city took it down for free and planted the tree of my choice. That leaves me with one silver maple, and that’s what gives me the dappled sun that a lot of plants love so much.

  40. 40
    WaterGirl says:

    @satby: Good morning! You are welcome to come down and hang out on the porch anytime, but I’d say that at this point you might want to wait until spring. I think I’m going to send Anne Laurie a good picture of my porch to include next week – as usual, in trying to get a good view of the flowers you can see from the porch, I took a terrible photo of the porch itself!

    @stinger:I love my angled corners, too! I knew that would make a difference, but I really had no idea how much impact it would have. Because the corners give the view sort of a panorama effect, it kind of feels like you’re sitting in the middle of the garden.

  41. 41
    Gretchen says:

    Gorgeous. I had to look twice at the fox to see that it wasn’t real. I can see why you had to have it. And I’m so jealous of the porch and the garden lights! I’m retiring in January and hope to have enough time to keep my yard looking nice. It’s big and weedy and hard to stay ahead of.

  42. 42
    SectionH says:

    Your place looks *wonderful* – the garden is lovely, back porch inviting, and I love the clean lines of the front of your house/porch, plus the shapes and splashes of color of the tropical plants there.

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