Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder . . .

Impomoea purpurea 'Grandpa Otts'
Impomoea purpurea 'Grandpa Otts'

Or, of the camera, as it were. My Nikon D90 with its multi-purpose 18-70 mm lens has been at the doctor (all the way to Nikon itself) for most of the summer.  I’ve been getting by with my very old Olympus 3.2 megapixel Camedia C-3020.  It was my first, digital camera which HH gave me for Christmas, 2001.  Although digital cameras have improved by leaps, bounds and pixels, surprisingly, I found that the Olympus still takes great pictures (although its large, outdated Smart Media card only fit in one reader in my house).

The Susans with Phlox paniculata 'Bright Eyes'
The Susans with Phlox paniculata 'Bright Eyes'

I bet you didn’t even notice that the photos weren’t as good.  (Smile.)  For example, all of the photos except the one below were taken with the Nikon.  The Cuphea/Gaillardia combo was taken with the Olympus.  In a blog, more pixels aren’t as necessary, because the blog owner usually re-sizes the photos to be smaller so that readers can load the page more efficiently.  Narrowness of space is another issue.

Gaillardia with 'Tiny Mice' Cuphea
Gaillardia with 'Tiny Mice' Cuphea

The Nikon photos are sharper, but . . . when focusing on the morning glories above, I found a comparison.  ‘Grandpa Otts’ is a variety much beloved by some for its intense depth of color, and yet, it is a simple morning glory with normal, morning glory ways.  In other words, it can spread everywhere and become a nuisance.  I remember a back-of-the-magazine editorial one time about ‘Grandpa Otts’ wherein the author made very clear her displeasure with this simple vine.  It first charmed her and then took over her garden.

HH came in the other morning and said, “You have the most beautiful vine growing up the birdfeeder,” and he was right.  Just look how the sunlight shines through those fine-as-bone-china petals.  I must pull up the seedlings all of the time, but what price beauty?

Gardening, like photography and deciding how much technology you really need or want in your life, is subjective.  WordPress has a motto: “Code is poetry,” and it is, being beautiful (to code writers), and mysteriously obscure to the rest of us.

Salvia with red and pink blooms
Salvia with red and pink blooms

Gardening to the uninitiated is just as unclear.  In the spring, when all of the garden centers are full of brand-spankin’-new plants, it looks simple enough.  Buy the plant in the pot, or the seeds in the paper package, and put them in the dirt, ‘er soil, water them and stand back.

Magic will happen, they seem to whisper.

When the seeds don’t germinate, or the plant dies, I can just see the new gardener standing there leaning against a hoe, scratching his/her head muttering, “Why?”

Why does my plant have these spots? Probably a bacteria or virus, but that just leads to more questions, which is why writers are still writing about gardening after all this time.

Why doesn’t my rose bloom? The heat.  Don’t worry, it will look better in September.

What are these black spots all over my roses? Blackspot.  What’s the white stuff? Powdery mildew.

Why did my cucumber plant wilt and die? If he watered it, and he assures me he did, cucumber beetles.  My squash plant? Squash vine borers or squash bugs.

Where did the petals go on my Echinacea ‘Tiki Torch’ that I only planted yesterday? A Grasshopper ate them.

Echinacea 'Tiki Torch' sans petals.  Blasted grasshoppers
Echinacea 'Tiki Torch' sans petals. Blasted grasshoppers

Probably. I write probably because unless given a lot more evidence, we’re never sure.  How do you tell someone how to look for a cucumber beetle without their having ever seen one?  That’s where the code = poetry comes in.  Because the Internet is full of such photos, and I can usually give them a link to one, or upload one of my own from my garden.  Code makes that possible.

No wonder would-be gardeners (especially in Oklahoma) often give up after the first, true summer.  Sometimes, I want to join them.  Even with experience, I still have questions of my own, just not as many as I once did.

Verbena sp. 'Princess Blush'
Verbena sp. 'Princess Blush', an example of harsh light on a light and pretty flower

I’m sure photographers get similar questions.  I know I have them. 

Why is my photo blurry? Out of focus, or you forgot to wipe the water spots off the lens (true story).

Why are all the colors bleached out? You took the photo during the middle of the day.  Too much sun.

Like the beat, the list goes on and on.


  1. Gail says:

    Lovely to read post Dee! …and the photos are perfect. Blurry photos are getting to be a regular thing for me…either I need trifocals or the camera needs to go into the shop! gail
    .-= Gail´s last blog ..Sitting In The Garden =-.

  2. Debra says:

    Hi Dee, thought I’d mosey over for a peek at what’s on your mind these days. First of all, I am so pleased to see photos of your beautiful blooms. They are spectacular. Are you using a tripod in the garden with either camera? More than the technical skill of snapping the right shot, you are employing your excellent “eye” at observing and seeing. A necessary tool for a gardener and writer alike. Thank you. xoxo Debra
    .-= Debra´s last blog ..Hurrah for Julie and Julia =-.

    Hi Debra, glad you stopped by. Shhh . . . don’t tell anyone, but I don’t use a tripod for either camera. I just rest my elbow or hand on something steady. Usually, this works o.k. If I’m using the zoom lens though, I do need something more stable. Thanks for your sweet words. See you in September I hope.~~Dee

  3. Beegirl says:

    Hi Dee- I tried replying directly to your comment on blogger and I don’t think it worked. Just wanted to say thanks so much for stopping by the Burbs and sending Kathy my way. Went to her blog asap! Thanks again!
    .-= Beegirl´s last blog ..Chinese Takeout =-.

  4. Jean says:

    So true Dee. I sometimes wonder how folks new to gardening have the guts to undertake it, given the strange weather we’ve all been having. But maybe they don’t know any better and that’s okay. 🙂
    .-= Jean´s last blog ..Do As I Say, Not as I Do, and Other Random Thoughts =-.

  5. Sweet exploration, Dee. 🙂 I’m appalled at your grasshopper’s appetite! And I’m charmed by the morning glories. I must never have had an aggressive one. I have some that look quite similar. I almost never know subcategories. I am lucky enough to know it’s a morning glory. Oh, wrong. It’s probably heavenly blue. Didn’t’ people think they were psychedelic in the 60’s??
    .-= Kathryn/´s last blog ..Center Stage: Hydrangea! =-.

  6. tina says:

    All your photos are beautiful so I sure did not notice that some were taken with different cameras. Gardening is surely a wonder-perhaps it has a poetry all of its own even to the uninitiated?
    .-= tina´s last blog ..Hiding Those Unsightly ‘Knees’ In the Garden =-.

  7. Hi, Dee — I love your photo of the morning glory. Would it be OK if I based a watercolor on it? If it turns out well and I post it online, I’ll give you credit as the photographer. Thanks! Debra

    Hi Debra, thanks and yes, you sure can use it. Thanks for asking first. 😉 ~~Dee

  8. Whoops, it tried to submit before I commented. This is a lovely post, Dee, one of your finest. Cameras and gardeners were just meant to go together, weren’t they? I’ve taken great photos with old low-pixel cameras and lousy ones with my digital SLR. Just depends on the day, the light, my attention and patience…;-)
    .-= jodi (bloomingwriter)´s last blog ..Quite a year for Hydrangeas =-.

    Yes, Jodi, you’re right, cameras and gardeners do seem to be made for each other. You all don’t get to see all of my lousy photos. LOL. I just hit the delete button.~~Dee

  9. Pam/Digging says:

    Very nice post, Dee. Perhaps starting a garden is like starting a family. If you knew all the heartache involved, you might never do it. But then you’d also miss all the joy. Anything worthwhile has equal helpings of both.
    .-= Pam/Digging´s last blog ..More pond beauty =-.

    Yes, Pam, I think so. I wouldn’t give up my being a parent for anything in the world, but some days I wonder why I had these children. LOL.~~Dee

  10. Jenny B says:

    How funny–the grasshoppers torched your Tiki Torch Echinacea. I know it’s not really funny, I just have a strange and twisted sense of humor. I know you will be very happy to get your camera back from the doctor.

    I am always a little perplexed by the attitude of gardening by some. They expect to plop a few plants in the ground and then never have to do anything ever again. I think pulling up errant Morning Glories is a small price to pay for the big pay off of gorgeous color–but then, I would! 😉
    .-= Jenny B´s last blog ..The River =-.

    Me too, Jenny, and by the way, I love your ‘Tiki Torch’ joke. It’s a good one.~~Dee

  11. Helen says:

    Lovely photos. I really struggle with small flowers and getting close ups as the flowers usually go out of focus.

    Hi Helen, if you have a digital camera, there is probably a button somewhere on it with a small flower symbol. If you engage it, it will pull your subject in and blur the background. It has to do with aperture I believe. HTH.~~Dee

  12. Joy says:

    I have to say I have 2 Olympus cameras .. the 55OUZ and the 59OUZ and both take great pictures of different aspects .. 59OUZ of the sky..clouds, sunrise etc .. but my older 55OUZ is amazing for up close flowers/plants .. go figure eh ? LOL
    .-= Joy´s last blog ..Holy Bat-ography Batman !!! =-.

    Hi Joy, I think all cameras have their strong and weak points. Some of mine take better closeups than landscapes, and some are more difficult to use. Like with the garden, you just need to find your balance and then run with it.~~Dee

  13. Robin says:

    It can be disheartening sometimes. I lost all four of my young lilac shrubs this summer and I haven’t a clue why. I planted them two years ago, so , no warranty either. Glad you were able to get your lens fixed.
    .-= Robin´s last blog ..Goldfinches on Sunflowers =-.

    Gosh, Robin, now you’ve got me wondering why too. I’m so sorry. I love lilacs.~~Dee

  14. CurtissAnn says:

    Honey, your photos are stunning. It is your skill and talent. Just as a good rider can get amazing results out of even the poorest horse, so, too, can a good photographer take a cheap, single-use throw-away camera and bring glimmers of beauty from it.

    .-= CurtissAnn´s last blog ..Blogging at Goodreads =-.

    Thank you dear, you flatter me~~Dee

  15. Les says:

    It seems I sometimes spend the entire day answering people’s plant questions. If I don’t know right off what is wrong I start asking a list of questions, but sometimes you just have to say “there are good plants and there are bad ones, maybe you had a bad one”.
    .-= Les´s last blog ..Walking (and Biking) Denver =-.

    Yes, Les, sometimes, I don’t even know why my plants die. You’re smart to ask questions back to clarify the matter.~~Dee

  16. Great post – very contemplative! I think your old camera takes great pictures. I’m such a novice at taking pictures that I’m just happy if they come out at all. -Jackie
    .-= Jackie@Ellie Mae’s Cottage´s last blog ..An Empty Nest =-.

    Thanks Jackie. I appreciate it.~~Dee

  17. Cindy, MCOK says:

    The photos are blurry in my case because I step out of the air conditioned house into the heat and humidity of a summer day in Texas … the lens fogs up!
    .-= Cindy, MCOK´s last blog ..Through the Garden Gate: Monday, August 3rd =-.

    Well, as usual, you made me laugh, although I bet that’s about half true anyway.~~Dee

  18. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Yes, the more seasoned gardeners are more prone to big sighs rather than actually giving up. I think all of your photos are good and so colorful.

    Thank you Lisa. You’re kind.~~Dee

  19. MA says:

    It seems like we may be feelin’ the love for our gardens again, inspite of the damn grasshoppers, and the drought or too much rain.
    .-= MA´s last blog ..EAT IT UP! =-.

    Yup, Mary Ann, I think you’re right. 🙂 ~~Dee

  20. My photos are blurry because I can’t find my full-sized tripod, or because my little camera doesn’t selective focus on what I want it to focus. Ah, to have a digital SLR. I’m glad you got your good camera back. And why are there water spots on the lens? Don’t you know water & electronics don’t mix? ;^D
    .-= Mr. McGregor’s Daughter´s last blog ..Whaddaya Think This Is, A Wildlife Sanctuary? =-.

  21. This is quite “meditative” and “contemplative”. I often wonder how new gardeners keep at it, so much happens that we gardeners don’t control. If we “old” gardeners told them all that could happen, would any give it a try?
    .-= Carol, May Dreams Gardens´s last blog ..The Story of Coralberry =-.

    Carol, like Pam said, it’s probably like having children or getting married, or life in general. No one who hasn’t been there before can’ know what they’re getting into, and it’s better that they don’t.~~Dee

  22. Marilyn Jones says:

    I’m still a novice with the camera in the garden. I have a Kodak Z1015 IS, but it takes fairly good pics.

    Hi Marilyn, you don’t need a fancy camera to take wonderful pictures. You just need to take your time and think about composition and taking photos in bright sunlight often doesn’t yield the best results. I’m glad you’re taking pictures.~~Dee

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