Point-and-Shoot Heaven: Photographing a Flower Garden Just Before Dusk

rudbeckia, echinacea and liatris grow along  garden walk between a shingled house and a woods near minneapolis. Photo by Barbara Newhall

Yellow rudbeckia, pink echinacea and spiked liatris grow along a garden walk. Photo by Barbara Newhall

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

A little rain, a little dirt, a little sun, some red wiggler worms, and a few kitchen scraps and you’ve got yourself a flower garden. My Minnesota gardener friend makes it look that easy.

I’m pretty sure she and her husband put hours of back-breaking work into that garden — composting, planting, mulching, weeding, deadheading, chasing pests. But her garden doesn’t

Coral colored honeysuckle blosomss agaainst a backkgroiund of green foliage in a Minnesota garden in August. Photo by Barbara Newhall

Honeysuckle. Photo by Barbara Newhall

look like it. It looks like it just happened. Like it wants to be there on that slope between the house and the woods, just because.

And why not? Why wouldn’t rudbeckia and echinacea be blasting color every which way on this spot? Why wouldn’t hydrangeas be nodding their flawless white pom-pons just so over the stone pathway?

And how about that lone cluster of honeysuckle blossoms and those crinkling hosta

Pink and magenta Phlox blooming in a Minnesota garden. Photo by Barbara Newhall

The five-petaled phlox blossom.

A five-petaled Platycodon (pink balloon flower) growing in a Minnesota garden in August. Photo by Barbara Newhall

Platycodon, aka pink balloon flower.

Spikey stalks of purple Liatris blossoms grow in a Minnesota garden in August. Photo by Barbara Newhall

Spikey stalks of liatris, waist high.

Large pom-pons of white hydrangea against dark green foliage. Photo by Barbara Newhall

Fat white pom-pons of hydrangea blossoms.

Lush Sedum tucked away in a quiet spot. Photo by Barbara Newhall

Lush sedum tucked away in a quiet  spot.

White yarrow blossoms up close. Photo by Barbara Newhall

Yarrow blossoms with near-microscopic centers.

The underside of a speckled orange Lilium blossom. Photo by Barbara Newhall

The underside of a  lilium blossom.

A coral colored day lily growing in a Minnesota garden in August. Photo by Barbara Falconer Newhall

Day lily — pink, yellow, coral.

Yellow Rudbeckia blossom with a dark brown center, also known as black-eyed susan. Photo by Barbara Newhall

Rudbeckia. All photos by Barbara Newhall



leaves? Or the phlox blossoms, spiraling out five perfect, pink and magenta petals every time? Aren’t they inevitable?

The days are long on the outskirts of Minneapolis this time of year. Latitude checks out at around 44 degrees north. So when Jon and I and the kids arrived at my friend the gardener’s house just before dinnertime earlier this month there was plenty of soft northern sunshine still lighting up the place.

It was point-and-shoot heaven. Light was coming at the garden from every direction. And the

A weathered Adirondack chair sits in the midst of a profusely flowering garden with Liatris and day lilies. Photo by Barbara Newhall w

Nice Adirondack chair, but I have a feeling the gardener doesn’t sit much. Those round flowers on the left are blue globe thistle. Photo by Barbara Newhall

evening was still, no breeze, which meant my friend’s flowers could hold a pose long enough for my point-and-shoot to take its time getting them into focus.

It was a guilty pleasure for me. I’d been invited to a social event. Everyone else was indoors enjoying the hors d’oeuvres and the human companionship. And I was out here in the garden. Just me and my trusty point-and-shoot, elbow deep in nature doing what nature does – with some help, in this case, from my friend the gardener.

More garden stories at “In the Garden With the Grammar Geek: Is It Ever OK to Use the Passive Voice?” and “My Garden in Summer — But Is It Really Mine?”

A man-made waterfall on a garden slope in Minnesota. Photo by Barbara Newhall

Minnesota has lots of waterfalls. This one is home-made — pondless and recirculating. On the lower left, a big, leafy bergenia, which bore rose-colored flowers earlier this summer. Around the rocks are ajuga and sedum. The delicate, silvery plant is artemisia. Above it, top right, is burgundy heuchera. On the far side of the creek, more artemisia and a patch of hosta. Photo by Barbara Newhall

Hosta growing in a Minnesota garden in August. Photo by Barbara Newhall

Hosta, no blossoms, just amazing leaves. Photo by Barbara Newhall


FYI photography buffs: my camera is a Canon G12, which I bought a few years ago when my old Nikkormat film camera broke down. I thought I’d just use the Canon until I could get myself a fancy SLR or the like, but the G12 has proved so light-weight, handy and amazingly good at getting photos without any fiddling around with speeds and f-stops on my part that I have gotten addicted to it. One of these days I’ll read the directions and figure out how to use it manually . . . maybe after my book is finished, published and duly promoted.



  1. gorgeous, garden and photographs

  2. Liz Nystrom says:

    Wonderful job!!


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