Lots of great discoveries around the web this week!
I’m guessing most of you are familiar with the simple Google image search. You type in what you want, you get to look at lots of pretty pictures. It’s great for figuring out what might look good next to that sleek orange grass you just bought, or narrowing down which variety of Alstroemeria you have. But the Google image search by image feature’s a new one. You can drag any image into the search engine, and Google will find images that are similar to it. Lots of possibilities for gardening. You could:
When I searched for the spirea, it actually suggested a “best guess for this image”. Ding ding ding! It was Spirea ‘Neon Flash’. Google got it on the first try!
It also, interestingly, showed me “matching images”; places where the full, un-cropped photo had appeared. Google wins.
Next, I dropped the Alstroemeria image in. It was less successful, suggesting again that I perhaps have a Spirea ‘Neon Flash’ in the image. Well, yes Google, but there’s also a great hulking orange thing in there. What might that be?
I added the word Alstroemeria to my search in the “describe image here” box, and it came up with eight visually similar images, two of which were – ding ding ding! ‘The Third Harmonic’.
One more try. This is a snapdragon a client bought at Annie’s Annuals. I dropped it in, and got a fascinating array of images:
None of them are a snapdragon, but you’ve got to admit, they are definitely visually similar. In fact, I found the array of colors it picked out of the snapdragon kind of inspiring. It wouldn’t have occurred to me to pick out some of the tones it found, but upon closer looking, the colors are certainly there.
I tried clarifying by writing Antirrhinum, the botanical name for snapdragon. It didn’t find an exact match, but the results were now all snapdragons. But interestingly, when I began typing Antirrhinum, Google auto-suggested some possible search terms:
Well, OK Google, let’s see if your first suggestion is correct. I selected “Chantilly Peach” and found the exact match over at Annie’s Annuals. It took a little doing, but in the end, Google helped me get it right.
The verdict for plant ID? If it’s a really common plant, or if you have some guesses as to what your plant is and just need a variety name, Google image search by image can help you out. If you’re totally clueless or it’s an unusual one, take the photo to the nursery for some ideas first.
I mean, yeah, Carex testacea does go well with pizza and box turtles, but I’m not sure how to use that in my garden. I found the mosaic-like pattern the most inspiring. I adore that deep purple, and the cream and beige are good possibilities too.
I tried narrowing down the search by typing, in turn, “ornamental grass”, “foliage”, “flowers”, and “plants”. Here are some of my results:
Great! Now I have a lot of potential ideas – Leucadendron, Phormium, breath of heaven, coneflower and yarrow hybrids, black Anthriscus, Japanese forest grass, pitcher plant, and milkweed.
The verdict for design ideas? Lots of inspiration, if used with some simple text terms to get Google looking for plants.
- figure out which variety of flower you have
- see which colors harmonize well with a flower or foliage color
- find plants with the same color or texture for repeating a theme within a garden
- find furniture or other accessories that match your garden
Plant IDFirst, let’s try to ID a plant. I cropped the following image into two parts, so I could isolate the individual plants I wanted to ID. From this: To this and this:
Design inspiration:Next, I wanted to get some ideas for what to plant with this Carex grass: My first search was just odd:
Finding garden accessories:Let’s try one last experiment. I want a purple hose. Like, this color purple: The results? With the descriptive text “garden hose” added, so Google knew what I was after, I found one absolutely perfect hose. A very small image from Kerry Michaels over at about.com: The verdict on finding accessories? I think I got lucky on this one, since Google wanted to show me photos of purple flowers and green hoses, but I’m going to give it to them.
That was fun!It was a productive set of experiments, and I anticipate using this search function often when I’m needing color inspiration. My only complaint is that with high-resolution images, it took some time to upload the photo, but my lackluster internet speed is hardly Google’s fault. Special thanks to Zogdo.com for tipping me off to this new search feature. And in case it’s not obvious, all of the search results featured are copyrighted to their respective owners. I show them only to give you an idea of how the search function works, but you can see them in their original contexts by repeating my searches.
With spring on the way, there’s nothing more important for me than actually capturing it all in photos. Not only for the pure enjoyment of looking back on it all, but also for practical reasons. How vexing is it when in August, you wish to plant a shrub in a bare spot, but can’t recall exactly where the spring bulbs all were? You gotta document these things. I’ve discovered a number of wonderful articles and resources online for taking great garden photos, from choosing a good camera, to learning to use it and capturing that perfect shot. I’ll start with choosing a good pocket camera. Turner Photographics has a very helpful article that shares all the features in a digital camera and what they all do and mean. Since my camera is a bit on the large side and I’m always considering a smaller one to take on the go, this simple rundown of what to look for in a pocket camera was great. In another article, Mark Turner also shares how to use some of these settings, and his advice on which settings are most effective in which circumstances. Next, David Perry is one of my favorite garden bloggers, not only because his photography is so stellar, but because his writing is such a perfect blend of funny, thoughtful, insightful and sweet. I loved this poem about loss and letting go, and this post about men and their flowers. He recently spoke at the Seattle Flower and Garden Show about garden photography, and he was kind enough to share his handouts from that lecture with all of us. He has tips for making the most of your camera and using all the settings, as well as compositional tips for getting the shot you want. Go, read. Lastly, Studio G has an ongoing series about garden photography from Stacy Bass. Stacy shares how to compose, focus, and capture the best images possible from your garden. The articles have gorgeous photos that illustrate the concepts she teaches perfectly. Just out of curiosity, what are you all shooting your garden photos with? Is it a simple point and shoot, or a more advanced camera? Do you understand the settings or just click and hope? Let me know in the comments below. (I have a fancypants canon borrowed from a family member, which I use via the click and hope method!)
YouTube’s always been cool for us gardeners. Where else can you find gardening tutorials, product reviews, and adorable animal videos all in one place? This week, I’ve got a few favorites to share. Billy Goodnick, the Garden Wise Guy, cheers us up with his adorable music video about getting rid of lawns. Yes, people, I have been singing “takin’ out the grass is a gas, oh can you feel it?” all. Flipping. Day. Thank you, Billy. I needed something to get the latest Ke$ha song out of my head. [Read more...]
Great Plant PicksThis week I’ve re-discovered a fantastic resource for Pacific Northwest Gardeners: Great Plant Picks. Plant info online can be hard to rely on – either nurseries are stretching the zones and touting a plant’s greatness so they can sell more of them, or home gardeners are giving anecdotal information that is useful, but may not hold true in other gardens. It’s a pleasure to have a strong resource like this that has been selected by a committee of leading professionals. I haven’t found anything on the site that I disagree with, which is rare and delightful. If you’re in the Pacific Northwest and looking for an outstanding and reliable plant, definitely check out these lists of Great Plant Picks. [Read more...]
The garden blogging world seemed to take a short hiatus from posting cool stuff when spring first arrived, but now they’re back in force, with all kinds of new ideas, hot photos, and inspiration we can bring back to our own homes and gardens.
The last couple weeks have seen some great lists of gardening folks on Twitter:@containergarden (Kerry Michaels) is the about.com guide to container gardening, and she posted a list of her favorite tweeps to follow here. @Michelle_at_FG (Michelle Gervais) is an editor at Fine Gardening Magazine, and she’s posted a list of her favorite gardening tweeters as well. [Read more...]
Gardening is often a solitary hobby, only shared with friends when they come by for a tour or to take some of our extra zucchini off our hands. But every so often during those marathon weeding days, don’t you wish you had some goofy gardening buddies to keep you company? I mean, the dog’s cool and all, but he doesn’t crack jokes about rude-sounding botanical names, now does he? [Read more...]
I’ve seen so many great articles this week that I had to share them with you all. I’ve been out in the garden, trying out some new tools, listening to a delightful new audiobook and enjoying (finally!) a bit of sunshine to garden in. While I’ve been outside, everyone else has been posting some great stuff…
A rare look into the private garden of two exceptional designersRebecca Sweet just posted a virtual garden tour of a really stunning garden: that of Freeland and Sabrina Tanner of Napa, CA. They are both professional landscape designers, and their garden has so many exciting touches – you can just FEEL who they are from looking at their garden. (I am so taken with the garden gate and the cypress arbor!) [Read more...]
Besides the Timber Press book Gardening with Hardy Heathers by Wulff and Small, my favorite heather resources have been two slender booklets published by the International Heather Society and given to me by our local Heather guru Maria Krenek. The books are about how to care for and grow heathers successfully, and which heathers they recommend most. Until now, ordering those books required getting in touch with the Brits and figuring out exchange rates and all of that… Kind of complicated for such tiny booklets! Imagine my pleasure then to notice that they are now offering these booklets as free PDF downloads! You can read them online or save them to your computer to read or print out as you like. Enjoy!
Want to read more about heathers?Heathers and heaths: the three kinds and how to use them Video on how to prune heaths and heathers Fall-blooming heathers for autumn color
(Photo inspired by Luke of Callus and Chlorophyll, below!) Daffodil Planter, one of the funniest new writers on the garden blogging scene, tagged me to write a list of seven things about myself. Not wanting to hog the spotlight, I instead decided to shine the light on seven of the gardening articles I have read and re-read over the past year. [Read more...]