Look up -- I mean down!

It's that time of the year again. The time when the castor beans are big and wonderful, the grasses are for the most part at their peak, and there's too much going on above eye level that I'm missing out on.

In other words, it's time for the bird's-eye view of the garden again! (Time for the camera to go up on the pole.)


I first did this three or four years ago, and the images were so impressive I've tried to do it every year since. It just doesn't feel right earlier in the season, because the castor beans are just so essential. It takes them a while to get 10' tall!

Here's something I've not done before though: shared the "I'm trying to get the camera settings right" shots...

...when the 15-second interval between shots catches me off-guard...

...and I've not quite gotten the hang of holding the pole correctly.


Things soon fall into place though, and the camera rises about 15' (4.5m) into the air.

Unfortunately I need to turn the flash on or I'll never know when the photo actually snaps...

...which results in some washed-out images, especially when the camera is right up in the top of the bamboo. (I almost never take photos with a flash!)

It's true that I love the castor beans, preferring the dark purple varieties with dark purple pods (these seeds were originally sold to me as 'New Zealand Purple' but I don't know if that's their true name)...

...but there are other purple plants that help to balance out the greens, like this ninebark.

I think this year the Pennisetum 'Vertigo' is the purple plant stealing the show though. They look amazing from this angle!

The Fargesia 'Rufa' also looks pretty great from the top:

But most bamboos do I think, like the glowing Pleioblastus fortunei...

I already told you that the veggie garden is a lost cause...

...but it looks quite nice from up here, the large leaves of some unknown squash (is that a luffa?) contrasting nicely with the feathery foliage of the volunteer cypress vines that keep the hummingbirds happy.

I don't get to see the cup plant from the top usually...

...nor the pond:

Wait -- I always see the pond from the top. I meant from this high up.

It's really quite difficult to aim the camera at this height...

...but the surprise is half of the fun of this technique! It harkens back to the film camera days, before even the advent of 1-hour photo, when you wouldn't know for days what sorts of shots you captured.

Sometimes you get something great...

...and sometimes not:

Or maybe it is. I actually think all of the shots taken from this height are pretty special. Like I've climbed a tree.

I told you most bamboo looks great from this angle!

This is where the garden starts looking a bit rough from this viewpoint, where the maypop vines are taking over...

...and the weeds have claimed more than their fair share of growing space:

But if you're looking at anything else except the castor bean, you're doing it wrong. (This is the one that is growing just in front of and below the deck. Imagine that I wanted to have three of these growing here!)

Moving up the south side of the house, the bed on the left is the one that I recently talked about with deer-resistant plants:

Another 'Vertigo' just steals the show though, doesn't it? This one has almost reached the bottom of the kitchen window!

I think that the papyrus loses some of its punch from this angle...

And yet another 'Vertigo' keeps the other pennisetums in their place. (Vertigo is king!)

If you're not sure where we are right now, those are the cactus beds at the bottom of that last image.

Moving around the front of the house to the walkway, this photo bends my brain and makes me a bit dizzy:

I think it's the way the two walks come together. This view is less troubling:

That is unless you like perfectly-weeded flagstone walkways. In that case avert your eyes!

Have you noticed that I love purple grasses?

The upright elephant ears (Alocasia macrorrhiza) look fantastic from above! Nice contrast with the Hakone grass too! That clematis on the left is climbing my newest copper pipe trellis (just like this one).

Finally, the driveway bed:

I don't know about you, but I just can't take my eyes off that 'Vertigo' grass! How amazing from this angle. (Click image for bigger version) You know, I didn't intend for this bed to be so purple, but the thicket of volunteer perilla is really a nice surprise.

So that's a look at my garden from above. If you visit and want the same view, you'd better bring three or four friends and have trained a bit in extreme shoulder standing. Or maybe checked Craigslist for some secondhand Uncle Sam parade stilts.

Any way you do it, it's a fun way to look at a garden!


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Lisa  – (September 10, 2014 at 5:36 AM)  

We have a neighbor who has been putting a camera on a kite for years to take aerial shots of the surrounding areas. He recently got some sort of drone that replaced the kite - he's a bit obsessed! But it is cool to see the resulting photos. Kind of like his own google earth!

Mark and Gaz  – (September 10, 2014 at 5:46 AM)  

It does look great taking photos like that Alan, and the garden takes on a different dimension, almost like looking at somebody else's garden! The Ricinus must look great, on the ground and above, as well as the Vertigo grass.

danger garden  – (September 10, 2014 at 11:29 AM)  

I was thinking along the same lines as Lisa's neighbor. I bet it isn't long before you've got a camera drone doing the work for you. BTW you are my castor bean hero! Love the shots.

Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (September 10, 2014 at 12:12 PM)  

I love aerial views. I've been wishing I knew somebody who had a drone so they could fly it over ours :-).

Your Alocasia macrorrhiza are particularly beautiful..

outlawgardener  – (September 10, 2014 at 1:19 PM)  

This polish photography is really interesting. I'm too lazy and simply go upstairs and lean out a window. These shots of your garden are cool!

Hoover Boo  – (September 10, 2014 at 5:44 PM)  

Ladder, man, ladder. The Ricinus is cool, but more fascinating is the 'Vertigo' grass--I want that one. It's fab-u-lous. A 'Vertigo' portrait also seems quite appropriate for a camera on a pole, doesn't it?

Denise  – (September 11, 2014 at 6:58 PM)  

It's true, the birds have the best views of our gardens.

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