Monday, August 17, 2009

Where I'd Like to be Next Spring

For awhile now I’ve wanted to get over to the San Antonio Botanical Gardens, so when my friend Jenny called and suggested we get out of the house this is where I suggested we go. Jenny liked this idea, so on Saturday we each left our respective homes and headed down to the gardens with the goal of arriving before the morning heat came full on. We didn’t quite make it but the time waiting for her to catch up with me was spent familiarizing myself with the macro controls on my camera, a Canon Powershot A570 is.

What the manual told me was that I had a setting for foliage under the Special Circumstances mode and that if I pressed the control that looked like a tulip I’d get macro mode which would allow me to get within 2 inches of anything I cared to shoot. I was delighted to discover that macro mode was available on foliage mode, it isn’t in some modes, so my camera pretty much stayed on foliage settings the entire morning.

That’s the entrance to the gardens, taken while I was sitting there waiting for Jenny to arrive. The gardens are wheelchair accessible and we are looking at the ramp to the main entry way. Then I turned around and saw this gorgeous bougainvillea.

After Jenny got there, we paid for entrance and headed out into the gardens where I promptly found something to photograph, and discovered I had to change batteries. I gritted my teeth because I knew I should have switched them out and recharged the old ones before we left. Fortunately I always carry a charged set in the case. The problem this created was a possible limit on the number of images I could take while exploring the park. I recently read that doing preview mode on a digital camera quickly uses up your batteries so I decided I’d avoid that as much as possible. And off we headed to the rose garden.

The garden had tons of roses in all colors, but the one that caught my eye was this one. This is a trumpeter rose. I was enchanted by the variety of shades it showed on the same bush. You might think I’d be taking pictures right and left as I wandered, and if I’d been sure of my resources I would have. But since I didn’t know how long the batteries would last I took the best shot I could in each of the gardens and left it at that.

You could tell the gardens had been feeling the heat. San Antonio is on stage 2 water restrictions because of drought so we can only hand water if we want to do it daily. Watering by sprinkler is only allowed once a week. So there were volunteers throughout the gardens with hoses in their hands.

Because it was so hot and dry the prettiest sections of the gardens were the parts with plants native to Texas. And since it’s heading into autumn the butterflies are starting their migration although that probably won’t be in full swing till September. Even so, there were plenty of them fluttering around the garden and I tried to catch one. Those darn butterflies are fast and difficult to catch with their wings open. So I took exactly 2 shots and decided to give up thinking I’d been unsuccessful. When I got home and uploaded the pictures I found that while I’d been focusing on one butterfly, another had snuck into the shot and it was showing open wings. So here you go!

I guess that guy in the bottom of the shot wanted his 15 minutes of fame. LOL These look a bit like monarchs but their colors aren’t as bright as I remember monarchs being so I’m thinking it must be a different variety or perhaps a close cousin. A few steps further along, I came across this plant.

I really liked the laciness of the leaves and the airiness of this pretty flower. If I ever learn the name of it that will go on my list of plants for future gardens.

By this time the garden was heating up and I wanted to head for the cooler parts of the gardens. Those included a walk around a small lake on the property and a stroll through the climate controlled gardens kept inside buildings. On the way there we strolled through the area that the gardens use to hold summer concerts. And just at the entrance to the lawn there is the beautiful wisteria arbor. I took the following picture of the entrance to it.

It’s amazing how green this is as late in summer as we are and with hundred degree heat almost daily. But when I owned a house one of the plants in the garden was a Texas Wisteria so I think this might be covered with that variety. Then I went over and sat down on that bench on the right and took this next shot.

Isn’t that circular framing fascinating with those vines hanging off of it. This is where I intend to be next spring when the wisteria blooms. Wisteria is a beautiful bluish lavender bloom that has a very short season and I’m so looking forward to when those circles of vines will be strewn with gorgeous flowers.

After we sat there and rested for a bit we hit the lake and fed the ducks.

There are benches through out the gardens and I was sitting on one when I took this. None of the duck shots I took turned out well so I’m storing them for later study to see how I can improve my technique. From here we headed to the climate controlled gardens because it was no 11:30 AM and I wanted to see the air conditioned gardens I remembered from my last visit. Sure enough they didn’t disappoint!

These caught my eye because they were up above me where the man made waterfalls were coming from. They are gorgeous but I’ve no idea what they are called. If you know a name for them please leave it for me in a comment. One thing you’ll be able to tell from the pictures I’ve taken here is that red is my favorite color.

There’s a pathway through this garden. It’s very necessary because the place looks sort of like what I imagine a jungle or rain forest might look like. Plants are everywhere and very close together, pile one on top of another. There were several varieties of orchids, most of which were up high but there was one that was hanging down and had placed itself conveniently against a light colored background. Jenny spotted that one so it is thanks to her that I have this shot.

The intensity of color here has me wondering how hard orchids are to raise.

Before we left this cool and enjoyable area I noticed one more really intense red bloom. Jenny told me a funny story about her 3 year old granddaughter’s interpretation of what the stamen was. Seems the child thought the flower was “using the bathroom.” LOL Weird stamen or not, this color is intense.

Notice the white flower behind it? I know that if I had a faster shutter speed I’d have had a better chance of getting that flower in focus which was what I had hoped would happen. But I’m not that good with the elaborate controls my camera gives me. A smart photographer and blogger once said, take your camera out and use one control at a time till you get really good with it. I think that is what I need to do. Even though the white bloom is blurry I still like the color contrast.

The next few climate controlled gardens were desert, bromeliad, and the fern glade. These were not as physically comfortable as the previous garden so we didn’t stay long. It was in one of them that I learned what a tea plant looked like. I’d never seen one and the sign in front of it informed me that there is only one type of tea plant and that what you purchase. Whether it is black, green, or orange pekoe is all a matter of processing. The tea plant isn’t in bloom. I don’t know if it DOES bloom. But here is what provides our wonderful morning refreshment if you’re a tea drinker.

After this I headed to the water gardens because 1) they are beautiful and 2) Sandi has one and I wanted to share some of the flowers I knew would be there with her. So here are the water lily pictures. I took four of them, one of them a close up of the blooms that weren’t open but I hoped would be soon.

There’s a stepping stone pathway across the water garden and that’s where I stood to take this one. The next two I had to walk around the edge of the pond trying to stay off the lawn as much as possible because there wasn’t a designed trail but merely a place free from most grass that I think was created by visitors who wanted to get closer to the flowers just like I did.

Here’s flower number two. I shared this one with Sandi by email but I’d taken more than one shot of it and this one seems to show the flowers better although the other one has a better placement. It’s below. What’s your feeling about that?

For this one there was very little that I could do to avoid the obvious pond controls in the shot. However, I liked the bloom because it is on a much taller stem than these others have been.

It was a very awkward angle that I took this from. I stood at the very edge of the water and then just put the camera in my hand and held it out as far as I could towards the plant and got this next one for my efforts.

I couldn’t begin to tell you what made such a difference but my arm is about two and a half feet in length and I zoomed in as much as possible with a small prayer as I snapped the photo.

Now it was 12:30PM, the temperature was about 100 degrees, and we were both hungry and tired. So we discussed where to go for lunch on the walk back to the garden entrance. We decided to eat at the Carriage House, which is the garden restaurant, because I said if I had to drive anywhere I’d drive home.

On the way towards lunch I got two more shots. The first was this native plant, which once again I don’t know the name of. But purples and lavenders are my second favorite color so here’s a pretty shot of something I see a lot in the xeriscape gardens around here.

We even have some in the church garden.

I was feeling all sentimental when I took this last picture. It is of a plant my grandmother had in her garden when I was a child, although not this color. Which is why I took it!

Grandmother’s pomegranates were red in color. Just like the ones we are all pretty familiar with. I didn’t know that these lovely fruit came in orange and perhaps other colors. I also loved the bright red flowers that were growing next to and below it on the other side of the wall. What a nice image to close out my trip to the gardens with!

I hope you’ve enjoyed the trip with me. I also hope I get the chance to go again soon. I know I’ll be there next spring. Got to see that wisteria in bloom. Blessings!


Sandi McBride said...

Now that was some trip! The Botanical Gardens here are among my favorite and Swan Lake in Sumter is fabulous, especically when the Iris are in bloom. Thanks for sharing with everyone,'re a darned good photographer!

Lee said...

Thanks Sandi! If you and Mac ever get down here to Texas I'll take y'all there.


murat11 said...

A nice documentary of your visit over to the gardens, wonderfully enjoyed from the cool air conditioning of my computer nook.

I did, however, walk the labyrinth this morning, after Morning Prayer. Still "cool" enough, birdsong, vestiges of last night's rain on the stone under the feet.

Lee said...

Last night's rain was WONDERFUL, wasn't it Paschal! I woke this morning and opened the door to find cool damp air breathing into my soul. One of my favorite ways to start the day.

Glad you enjoyed the gardens visit. I'd like to have a membership someday. Or maybe find time to volunteer.

See you tomorrow!


Seamus said...

What a wonderful walk through the gardens. We're going to have to add this to our list of places to see here in Tejas. The wisteria is an amazing display! We are babying ours along and miss the lushness of the one we had in Seattle. I can only imagine the blooms in spring.

Lee said...

Thank you, Seamus! I'm sure you'll find it a delightful adventure. Don't forget your camera! :-)


Sharon Rose said...

Lee, thank you for the stroll through the gardens here. What a refreshing place!

I was scrolling through your blog and noticed you have a link to Oriah. Her book "The Invitation" caused me to look at my life and revise when it first came to the shelves.

I still go back and refer to it, even in my sermons.

Your blog is beautiful.

Lee said...

Thank you, Sharon! Oriah's Invitation gave me so many questions to consider that it was like turning on a light.

Glad you liked our gardens. :-) Also glad you became a pastor.



Beautiful pictures, Lee! I shoud know. I worked with professional photographers for more than 35 years as an art director. You have a photographer's eye.
I have not been able to blog much lately because of my back problems and therapy. I'm hoping to get back to more blogging soon. By the way, the Count Sneaky name comes from our first Bahamian cruise back in the very early sixties. The Count was the leader of a calypso trio that played on the deck. I thought it was one of the funniest most unique name I had I adopted it from him in his memory. We lost a great leader today with the death of Ted K. My best.

Lee said...

Thank you, milord! I'm delighted that you like my efforts at photography. Still wish I had my old Argus but this camera does almost as well.

Seems you've led an interesting life. How wonderful to work with artists all day long.

I've been to the Bahamas! It was on Mom & Dad's sailboat so no band playing for our entertainment. Lots of fun and beautiful scenery!

Yes, I had an interesting conversation with Sandi of Holding Patterns yesterday about his loss. He was an icon.


myonlyphoto said...

Thanks for beautiful trip to the botanical garden. Such a nice place to visit. Lovely photos, my fav the pond, so magical. Anna :)

Lee said...

You're welcome Anna! I'm glad you liked it. The pond is fun. I wish I'd had more time to take the shots.


San said...

Thank you for sharing your tour of the gardens. Simply stunning. In particular I like the flower that is "going to the bathroom."


Lee said...

You are so welcome, San! I'm delighted you found a favorite. I'm in love with them all.


Virgtastic said...

Your pictures are amazing! I love the picture of the wisteria overhang/bench and the pink water lilly.