Backlighting And Updating

It has been noticed that when the sun is shining a certain way, the colors in the garden change drastically. Even Kitty noticed.

When it is overcast and cloudy, the japanese blood grass, Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra’ is nearly brown, with only a hint of its formerly vibrant red self showing. Really past its prime. But when the sun is shining with the softer lower angle, the grass shines as if it were springtime again. Here is the first update: The self sown seedling in the trough planter that was trialed for foliage color to see if the reddish hues lasted through the warmer summer months, they did, has been named Heuchera ‘Faire Piecrust’. It has not produced any offsets yet that can be planted out and about in the garden, but the tiniest beginnings of new plants are showing along the stem. Thanks to all for the help with the naming, which can be seen in comments here.

The long view from the deck, which is also the view we see from inside the addition through the sliders, lets the north facing slope be illuminated by the western sun in such a way as to light the hillside afire. The muhly, Muhlenbergia capillaris at the top is a palomino tan when the golden orb hides behind cloud cover. The golden Acorus gramineus ‘Ogon’ along the step stones by Alas Poor Yorick helps accentuate the reds and pinks along the wall.

Standing at the foot of the steps that lead from under the garage deck to the upper gardens the Spiraea bumaldi ‘Magic Carpet’ can be seen turning from golden honey to royal ruby. The sun enhances this colorway even more.

From the vantage point of under the garage deck, the Bongo Congo family sitting in the shadows along the wall must be getting pleasure from the whiffs of the backlit fruit sage, Salvia dorisiana when the breeze catches the fragrance and tosses it their way.

The promise of yet more perfume in the garden is held by the balls of buds hanging from the magically transformed chartruese leaves of Edgeworthia chrysantha. In real life these leaves are a solid dark green.

Behind the knot garden bench, new growth on bronze fennel, Foeniculum vulgare ‘Purpureum’ sparkles.

Amidst the fallen leaves of the nearby silver maple, the Carex testacea ‘Orange New Zealand Sedge’ newly spread on the left slope promises to add plenty of winter interest when the sky is clear. To the left is Euphorbia dulcis ‘Chameleon’.

From between the fingers of the same silver maple that drops the majority of the leaves here at the Fairegarden can be seen its reflection in the window of the shed. Fothergilla ssp. remnants are backlit for last of the season frivolity.

Another update: The site of the tree formerly known as Ferngully has been tidied up. The rock wall was rebuilt and the honeysuckle, Lonicera sempervirens awaits a new trellis of some kind. This shot was so dreary with the shades of brown and grey that we added a little art on the piece of lumber that is keeping the larger limb bits from rolling onto the landscape covered path. Just like Jackson Pollock, don’t you agree?

For those curious about the fruit pods of the Cobaea scandens hanging on the arbor, here is what they look like. Nowhere close to mature or ripe or whatever has to happen for them to open to release the seeds I would wager. They will be watched for signs of opening so there might be a harvest to start this vine in the greenhouse just in case it succumbs to the cold temps of our zone seven winter. The leaves and tendrils are nicely backlit. A twofer.

Red raspberry ‘Caroline’ has been producing amazingly sweet berries of late, along with her golden sister ‘Anne’. The brightly lit yellow leaf shows the sun working its magic back in the veggie bed in addition to the hillside gardens.

Before we leave you to enjoy a very happy American Thanksgiving with our hungry hordes of family arriving soon from scattered parts of the universe, we wish to show this final update. The fishnet pantyhosed encased pumpkin is still growing, the vine is even still producing flowers after several frosts. The arbor clad in massive Cobaea vines must have some potent protective charms with those wrappings.


May you share in fine food and family fun this holiday, wherever in the world you might be.


This post is one of a series on photography tips. Our tip with this one is to site your plants so they may be backlit by the sun in your own garden. Whether you are taking pictures of them or not, it makes for spectacular viewing. I suggest grassses with multi hued blades, such as the blood grass or acorus to bring a smile even when there are no blooms about. Deciduous shrubs with good fall color, spring color or any color, and yes, green is a color too, become much more dramatic when backlit.

This may or may not be the final photography post of this year. That is the beauty of blogging, you are your own boss and there are no deadlines.

Here are the previous posts:

About The Light-May

About The Light-June

In Need Of A Focal Point (July)

Look Up-Look Down-Look All Around (September)

Photographing The Blue Chairs (November)

We would also like to enter this post into Pam of Digging’s foliage day for November, if that is okay. All the shots feature foliage, so it seems to fit the meme.


This entry was posted in cats, Garden Bloggers Foliage Day, Photography. Bookmark the permalink.

45 Responses to Backlighting And Updating

  1. Lynne says:

    It is interesting to see the cobea scandens (or cup-and-saucer) vine with its seed pods. Here is New Zealand it is on the banned list because it spreads so rampantly by seed and is a threat to our native forests.

    Hi Lynne, thanks for visiting and welcome. That the Cobaea is invasive in frost free areas comes as no surprise. I have never seen a plant grow so quickly from seed, except maybe the uber thuggish kudzu that is a bane here in the southeast US. Even kudzu has a beautiful flower as well. We shall wait and watch to see if this plant survives our winter temps, the lowest being around 10 degrees F. That will surely kill all of the foliage above ground, sadly. We wanted something that would cover the large arbor to give us shade under there and this really did the job.

  2. Anna says:

    I feel all sunny and warm just after reading this post Frances. I like your new heuchera – it’s amazing how many of them contain some reference to food in their names. Hope that you enjoy Thanksgiving with your family – have a great day!

    Hi Anna, thanks. A very big happy blogaversary to you! It was fun thinking up a name for the volunteer heuchera. Food names are easy to remember. Food…. I had better start cooking soon! πŸ™‚

  3. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Good Morning Frances, I liked this photo tip series. I plant caladiums and sometimes elephant ears in my window box so when I look out the window it is like looking through a stained glass window with the sun streaming through the leaves. Another show stopper being backlit is the Japanese Maple tree. Its red leaves are gorgeous this way. I hope you and yours have a Happy Thanksgiving. Safe travels are to yours too.

    Hi Lisa, thanks. I am glad you are liking the photo tips, since as you may know, I am simply a point and shoot on auto kind of photographer. It is ironic that I would give tips about it, or should that be arrogant! HA I remember shots of your stained glass window box leaves, lucky you to have that siting. Happy T-day to you. πŸ™‚

  4. The power of light!

    Have a very happy and healthy Thanksgiving.

    Well said, Deborah! Thanks for that and the same happy wishes back to you. πŸ™‚

  5. Tiziana says:

    Lovely the first photo with you kitten!!
    Adorable the first photo with your kitten!!
    What a beautiful atmosphere that he breathes through your images. Good! Thank you!
    Hi! Tiziana

    Hi Tiziana, thanks so much and welcome. I am so glad you enjoyed your visit. Kitty does appreciate the garden. πŸ™‚

  6. lynn says:

    Always does my heart good to visit your blog, Frances πŸ˜‰ LOVE the bloodgrass in the backlight! I do try to keep that in mind when I pick a plant with foliage interest. Enjoy your T-Giving!

    That is too sweet, Lynn, thank you! The bloodgrass has proven to be the star of the garden in many seasons. Looking at past records, it has been cut down many years by Thanksgiving, and used as kindling to start the fire in the firepot. A very happy holiday to you and yours. πŸ™‚

  7. Les says:

    At first glance I thought your attempt to channel Jackson Pollock was hiding somehthing you did not want the world to see. Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

    HA Les, thanks. There are easier ways to remove unwanted things from the photos! Good thing my computer drawing skills are not trying to put bacon in the pan. Have a happy T-day yourself. πŸ™‚

  8. Darla says:

    The lighting of Mother Nature does give a different ‘view’ of the garden. Well done Frances! The pantyhose pumpkin is looking good..

    Thanks Darla. I marvel each day at that hanging by the crotch pumpkin. HA πŸ™‚

  9. gittan says:

    I also like to take pictures in the garden with backlite, it makes the colours glow! Love that picture of your slope – it looks amazing (as always) with that kind of light. I wish you a happy Thanksgiving with your near and dear once / kram gittan

    Hi Gittan, thanks for visiting. Your lighting situation in the garden really lends itself to backlighting, how wonderful! Thanks for the good wishes and may you have a wonderful holiday season yourself!

  10. Joy says:

    My favorite picture aside from that handsome kitty is of the fennel .. there is just something about the delicate foliage in that light that does it for me. Then again grass has a special atmosphere of its own as well .. gorgeous !
    PS Have a Happy Thanksgiving girl !

    Hi Joy, thanks and Kitty says purrrr! I am so glad you liked the fennel, it is not as showy as some of the others, but is a favorite plant in every way here too. I know you already celebrated the Canadian Thanksgiving so I will say happy holiday season! πŸ™‚

  11. Lzyjo says:

    Amazing backlit photos, Frances, this is definitely something to experiment with. Have a lovely Thanksgiving with your family and don’t work so hard you can’t enjoy it!

    Thanks Lzyjo. I hope you have fun fiddling with the lighting, if only the sun would come out again! You too have a wonderful Thanksgiving and holiday. Have you been talking to my family? I do tend to get overwrought and plan to try and slow down and just enjoy the moments this year. πŸ™‚

  12. rosey pollen says:

    Very striking! I guess that is one of the things we amateurs need to learn about and that is the lighting. You are opening my eyes to a whole new vista! Thanks for the tips on photography. Is that cat hunting a vole for you???

    Hi Rosey, thanks so much. The light is super important when taking garden shots, or probably any kind of shots, but I only have experience with the garden ones. Kitty is waiting under the bird feeder nearby for a bird to fly into his mouth. I wish he would show more interest on the millions of voles that traverse behind the walls. He is not hungry enough for that I guess. He needs to be shown how much fun playing with a vole could be maybe. πŸ™‚

  13. Sweet Bay says:

    The autumn sun is really lighting up the colors in your garden. It looks beautiful! There really is something special about the autumn light, and you’ve captured the essence of its beauty so well in your pictures.

    Hi Sweet Bay, thanks. When the sun shines, it has been rare lately, the hillside really changes colors. I think I need a SAD light. πŸ™‚

  14. Back lighting definitely enhances the picture! I’m amazed you still have pumpkins growing. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your clan!

    Thanks Dave, and the same back to you and yours. I guess the pumpkin next to the vine covered arbor is in a protected space. We’ll see how it fares after Friday night temps forecast to be well below freezing.

  15. Gail says:

    Frances, Your back lit grasses and flowers are among my favorite fairegarden scenes….They really do have a magical glow to them. I hope you know how very much your photos and your garden have inspired me to plant more grasses and to consider how the sun hits them at various times of the year. Thank you! Love the heuchera and its perfect name…It looks fantastic with the bloodgrass~~a perfect marriage! Have a wonderful holiday visit…Talk with you soon. gail

    Thanks Gail, that is so sweet of you. I hope your holiday is the best ever! πŸ™‚

  16. Janet says:

    Your lighting is super. The backlighting really makes the foliage glow. Beautiful.
    So is your new Lonicera sempervirens a coral one or yellow? My edgeworthia’s leaves are yellowing and falling already.
    Happy Thanksgiving to you as well.

    Hi Janet, thanks. The honeysuckle is coral and was planted when we cut Ferngully down to the large stump, so it has quite a root system. I was going to dig it out, but chose to cut it down and rig some kind of trellis for it. I know a good welder… The Edgeworthias are only a couple of years in the ground. This will be the first blooming, I can’t wait to see and smell them and to discover when they bloom here. A very happy T-day to you and yours. πŸ™‚

  17. Jean says:

    Frances, you’ve inspired me to get out there in the garden NOW and snap some photos. I always love the light this time of year. Your bloodgrass is just amazing.

    Hi Jean, thanks. If it is sunny, dash out there! You always take such beautiful shots. πŸ™‚

  18. Tatyana says:

    What a palette of colors you have Frances! Great pictures! I need a look at sunny pictures, especially now, when we don’t have sun!

    Thanks Tatyana. Our own sunny days have been few and far between too, I feel your pain. Although I see the sun is trying to peek through the clouds today, I wish I could send it your way. But still keep some for my family. πŸ™‚

  19. Rose says:

    The long view from the deck is beautiful, Frances–amazing all the bright color still in your garden. I’m reading through blogs rather quickly this morning before starting on a day of cooking, and I read the part about the site of the late Ferngully as being “dreaMy” with all the browns and grays. I looked at the photo again, thinking well, if Frances says it’s dreamy, ok. But then I reread it again:) Yes, your Jackson Pollock reproduction definitely brightens it up:)

    Good to see the pumpkin still hanging in there in his fishnets; guess he won’t be part of a pie tomorrow, though.

    I hope you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

    Hi Rose, thanks. It really is still very colorful here for some reason. We have not had a hard frost yet, it is coming this weekend they say. Thanks for rereading to notice the fine work of art by Ferngully. HA As long as the vine is green I assume the pumpkin is still growing? Interesting look in the fishnets. HA Have a very happy T-day and don’t work too hard. Today I am making stuffing (muffins!) and pumpkin pie. πŸ™‚

  20. Sylvia (England) says:

    Frances, I think you well on the way to achieved the garden of your dreams. Piet Oudolf would be impressed. I look forward to hearing your plans for next year.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you, I hope you have a lovely weekend. Best wishes Sylvia (England)

    Hi Sylvia, thanks so much. Constantly tweaking is the fun part now that the major planting is done and beginning to mature now. You are bringing in the big guns with that compliment though, you are much too sweet and wonderful. You too have a wonderful rest of the year, it is one big holiday here in the states from Thanksgiving to Christmas to New Year’s, they all run together. πŸ™‚

  21. commonweeder says:

    Your way with light is one of the reasons your photographs are so beautiful – and I thank you for all the photography tips you pass along. Under your guidance and inspiration, I think my photos have definitley improved. I am grateful to have such a generous mentor.

    What a nice thing to say, Pat, thanks so much! We are lucky with the siting of the slope and the angle of the sun. Blogging and photo taking has helped me to realize it, I had no idea before. πŸ™‚

  22. nancybond says:

    Beautiful shots, Frances — how wonderful to have so much colour in the garden at this time of year. And that raspberry! Mmm…. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. πŸ™‚

    Thanks Nancy. Believe me when I tell you that the raspberry was berry delicious. Thanks for the good wishes, and I hope the coming holidays treat you well. πŸ™‚

  23. tina says:

    The backlighting is simply wonderful. Even ferngully looks great. You have a great Thanksgiving.

    Thanks Tina, the same back at you. Good luck with the craft sale, your wares look fabulous. Poor Ferngully, but he left behind, or has turned into some very nice humus. πŸ™‚

  24. ourfriendben says:

    Ah, Frances, what a visual bounty! And of course I can picture the joyous Thanksgiving celebration with your family. Wishing all of you a wonderful, memory-making convocation with great food, great conversation, and great views of the garden!

    Hi OFB, thanks. The time is drawing closer to when the house will be full of chatter and laughter with the occasional childish squealing and running through the rooms. May you too have a wonderful holiday with those you love. πŸ™‚

  25. Jen says:

    Backlit gardens are magical, actually any backlit plant is magical. My most favorite time of the day.

    Everything looks so beautiful.


    Hi Jen, thanks. I agree, all plants benefit from being backlit. People too. πŸ™‚

  26. Hi Frances, so beautiful pictures, loved your pots, how the blue chair looks through and the image with the slope and the stone wall. ItΒ΄s pretty much like my slope, but mine is more like a mountain. We always have to make stone wall to contain soil to make a garden.
    Muchos cariΓ±os
    MarΓ­a Cecilia

    Hi Maria, thanks so much. I am so glad you like the images, it was a beautiful sunny day when they were taken. Your slope is much grander and more majestic than mine, our stone was brought in, yours was always there. Beautiful. πŸ™‚

  27. Hello Frances,

    I love your point that the garden can look so different depending on the time of day and the weather. I love the starkness that the autumn lighting gives many of my plants.

    Your garden is full of so much texture, which makes it one of my favorites.

    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving tomorrow!

    Hi Noelle, thanks. I like the light of spring and fall, so much softer than mid summer for us. Texture is something we did not start thinking about until the last few years. You know how it is with gardeners, first it’s all about flowers. May you also have a wonderful T-day! πŸ™‚

  28. Happy Thanksgiving.

    That Edgeworthia chrysantha is a new one for me. I googled it and somewhere stated that the bark was used in making high quality paper for Japanese banknotes. Worth a thought whilst carving the turkey.

    Thanks Rob. I am quite excited to see the Edgeworthia in bloom. Money from the bark? Allllrrriiiiiight! πŸ™‚

  29. Catherine says:

    Lighting does make such a difference how the plants look. I think I like the blood grass all lit up almost as much as the muhly grass. My ‘Magic Carpet’ is also looking so pretty while the color is changing. The sun is out here for a change, may need to go back out a take a few pictures.
    Happy Thanksgiving!

    Hi Catherine, thanks. I hope your T-day is a wonderful one too. For length of interest, April and still going, the blood grass beats out the muhly, but in all fairness, the muhly is having its best year ever. Must be the extra rain and longer fall with no hard frost, so far. Magic Carpet is just now turning here. I am glad, for it will be pretty well into December then. When the sun is shining, we run out with the camera too. You can’t have too many pictures, just like you can’t have too many bulbs. πŸ™‚

  30. dirtynailz says:

    I love those photographs, Frances. What do you think you will plant in place of Ferngully?

    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!


    Hi Cynthia, thanks and may you also have a great T-day. For now, the honeysuckle will be allowed to stay in the ferngully spot. It was planted when we had the tree cut down and has been a wonderful coral accent back there. Two dogwoods were planted on each side, very close to the rotting stump and were not sacrificed when the trunk came down. Azaleas and hydrangeas are packed in there already too. I knew the stump would not last and planted very close to it. There is a metal worker nearby that has made some things for me that we might speak to about some kind of metal trellis artsy thingey. πŸ™‚

  31. easygardener says:

    Find a patch of sun and you find a cat sitting in it. I’m a great fan of Jackson Pollock. I’d take that art work back indoors – I think it might be worth a few dollars πŸ™‚

    HA EG, you are too funny! And so right about the cats. They know the best spots in the house too, especially in winter. Kitty was waiting for a bird to fly in his mouth, since he was standing under the birdfeeder. It didn’t happen. πŸ™‚

  32. Happy Thanksgiving! I’m always trying for backlighting, but what I’ve discovered is the photos I like best are those such as your shot of the Edgeworthia that are backlight & have a dark background, which isn’t always easy to find.

    Happy T-Day to you and yours too, MMD. Thanks for that tip about the dark background. I did move around a bit to get the Edgeworthia with the dark Arborvitae behind. That hedge always makes a good backdrop for any photos of the garden. Must remember that. πŸ™‚

  33. VW says:

    Your grasses are certainly photogenic. You could make some beautiful pictures of the grandkids in amongst those backlit plants! Have a great day tomorrow.

    Hi VW, thanks, hope you have a great T-Day yourself. What a good idea for the family photo. We usually stand on a path with the camera on the garage deck railing. We will have to experiment with other venues. πŸ™‚

  34. Lola says:

    HAPPY THANKSGIVING, Frances. I hope all your family has a wonderful day.
    Love the “face” behind the kittie. Your garden back lit sure is good for tired eyes.
    Hope the pumpkin makes it.

    Same back to you Lola. I’m glad your eyes were made happier by the garden. It certainly makes mine happy. We will keep watch over the pumpkin. Surely his days are numbered as the cold weather is inevitable. Take care. πŸ™‚

  35. Frances I love your raspberry photo the best of all and I am so impressed with your fishnet pumpkin! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your loved ones. Carol

    Hi Carol, thanks so much. I hope your Thanksgiving was joyful. πŸ™‚

  36. Diana says:

    What lovely back-lit hues in your garden, Frances. I see your pumpkin is all dressed up in her fishnet finery for Thanksgiving. Happy Holidays to you and yours.

    Thanks Diana, thanks. The pumpkin is still hanging on, even with temps well below freezing. Hope you had a wonderful holiday yourself. πŸ™‚

  37. joey says:

    Love the focus on light, Frances, a beautiful post for highlighting the garden before the frost hits. Happy Thanksgiving.

    Thanks Joey. I hope your Thanksgiving was full of deliciousness. πŸ™‚

  38. Hi Frances, yes there is something wonderful about autumn light, I’ve always thought it gave the garden a special warm feelmpbm ./ bi…,
    Hello! This is Fiona. I’ve taken over the keyboard from my human. What do you mean *even* Kitty noticed? We cats are very perceptive and in tune with the natural world. Hello Kitty!

    Hi Monica, thanks. Hellow Fiona, thanks for visiting and weighing in on our blog. Kitty is sometimes oblivious to the lighting in the garden, it must be said in all fairness. He is more a touchy feely fellow than an appreciator of aesthetics, it might be a guy thing. He sends his best purr to you! πŸ™‚

  39. Teresa says:

    Good advice for photos, It is not always easy to capture the essence of the light we see. Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you are feeling full and happy.

    Hi Teresa, thanks for dropping by. The view of this slope area has given much happiness this November, with colors remaining longer than ever in the garden. We had a great visit with family, hope you did the same. πŸ™‚

  40. Jenny B says:

    Your Bronze Fennel looks very healthy–mine didn’t make it through our hellacious summer. Loved the pic of the pumpkin–very impressive, but I am most in love the the first photo, Kitty does look very pensive. Maybe he is contemplating what he will be feasting on for Turkey Day. Happy Thanksgiving!

    Hi Jenny, thanks. We have found the bronze fennel to be somewhat short lived, but it seeds around enough to always have young plants waiting in the wings to take over the show. Kitty likes to get into the shots as I am walking around the garden. I don’t mind at all. Hope you had a fabulous T-Day! πŸ™‚

  41. sequoiagardens says:

    Hi Frances!
    I loved this post and will exlore your other “photography manuals”. With a combination of artistry, good sense and good camera you can take subjects that might look scrabby in other photos and make them what is to me gardening photography of the highest order!

    Hi Jack, thanks so much. I do appreciate your kind words. Glad you found something useful here, or inspirational or both. πŸ™‚

  42. Mary Delle says:

    Great photography tips and wonderful to see your garden!!

    Hi Mary, thanks so much. Glad you enjoyed your visit.

  43. Town Mouse says:

    Amazing photos! Somehow, my backlit photos don’t come out quite the same, but maybe I just need more practice. Maybe tomorrow…This is so inspiring.

    Hi Town Mouse, thanks. I take hundreds, if not more, of photos to get one or two good ones. Keep trying! πŸ™‚

  44. Pam/Digging says:

    Your fall foliage is so beautifully lit in these photos. You must have worked hard on this post, with so many photos, so thanks for linking to my Foliage Follow-up meme. December may be a little more challenging for us, but there are always the evergreens and berrying plants.

    Hi Pam, thanks. We have been planting with foliage over flowers for several years. I look forward to December, loving a challenge! Thanks for suggesting this meme! πŸ™‚

  45. bloominrs says:

    November is long past, but I’m thankful I found this post this morning. Your grasses catch the light so perfectly. I definitley need some pink muhly. I love your backlit kitty in that first photo.

    Thanks, I am glad you found it too. We want the old posts to be viewed when someone feels the need to learn more about the subject covered. I didn’t start out writing the posts with that in mind, but have learned that it is important to do so. Kitty says thank you. πŸ™‚

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