Backlit is beautiful

While I’d like to think that our garden looks OK throughout the day, it shines in the early morning and late afternoon. That’s when the sun is low enough to backlight plants to great effect, often making them appear like they’re glowing from within.

Backlighting and side lighting are the easiest way to create photographs that stand out. Here are some recent examples from our garden:

A perfect example of backlighting: ‘Winecraft Black’ smokebush, ‘Harmony’ kangaroo paws, and ‘Louis Edmunds’ manzanita

View from the front porch

Self-sown dogweed (Thymophylla pentachaeta)

Self-sown Mexican tulip poppies (Hunnemannia fumariifolia). They’ve popped up in different spots over the years, and I let them do their thing wherever they feel like it.

Encephalartos friderici-guilielmi, a cycad from South Africa, with a new flush of leaves – the first flush in two years. These cycads are sloooooow, but so beautiful. 

Silver torch (Cleistocactus strausii) is a perfect example of why cacti are so spectacular when backlit

Silver cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa) and Cochemiea maritima

Creeping devil (Stenocactus eruca)

Aloe erinacea, one of the most agave-like aloes

Orthophytum magalhaesii, a terrestrial bromeliad from Brazil, with its characteristic green bracts that hide the small white yellow flowers inside. These “flowers” last upwards of six months.

Texas rainbow cactus (Echinocereus dasyacanthus)

I could post dozens of backlit cactus flowers, but I’m limiting myself to two from the last couple of weeks. This is Echinopsis ‘Napaea’. If you’re interested, here are more cactus flowers.

Echinopsis ‘Daydream’, photo taken at around 9 a.m. (same with the photo above)

Agave ‘Blue Glow’ and naked buckwheat (Eriogonum nudum ‘Ella Nelson’s Yellow’)

Echinoagave albopilosa

Agave chiapensis

Aloe ‘Tangerine’

Dorstenia gigas

As we’re marching toward summer with temperatures in the 90s and above, being outside in the middle of the day is becoming less pleasant. But having that hour or two in the morning and again in the evening when the garden seems to glow makes up for it.



© Gerhard Bock, 2024. All rights reserved. To receive all new posts by email, please subscribe here.

Comments

  1. I love to take photos of backlighting of plants especially cacti with sparkling spines. Sometimes I see a beauty and run inside for my phone and when I get back the moment is gone! Yours are so enjoyable to see!

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    1. You're right, these moments don't last long - just like most cactus flowers.

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  2. Gorgeous! I agree, it's almost a different place when the sun is low. "View from the front porch" is so good!!! Love the Agave chiapensis. I'm always in the mood for cacti flowers.

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    1. This year has been an insane year for cactus flowers. I think it's because I fertilized them in April with Osmocote 14-14-14.

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  3. Beautifully illustrated, Gerhard. We're lacking the early morning light these days but, for now, I'm happy to give it up for the "air conditioning" provided by the marine layer. Stay cool.

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    1. Marine layer: I'm envious, in a perverse way. I'd love a few days of gray. But not more than a few days.

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  4. Clocking the new name for Agave albopilosa! Two hours every morning in the garden, as close to sunrise as possible -- so essential! It's not called magic hour for nothing. Love the photos.

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    1. Echinoagave echinoagave echinoagaves. Repetition, that's how I learn :-)

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  5. Aloe erinacea and Echinopsis ‘Daydream’ are my fav, but they're all lovely. A couple of my Orthophytum magalhaesii are blooming too, I love them. Does blooming mean death for the plant?

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    1. The last Orthophytum magalhaesii I had bloomed for 6+ months. I believe the flowering plant dies eventually, but it should produce pups.

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  6. Yes, those are beautiful photos! I love to play around with the light, too. The lighting here in the north in autumn is fun...as it angles in from the south. Stunning views: The Echinopsis blooms are incredible!

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    1. I can imagine how beautiful your autumn light must be. You don't get that kind of light at any other time of year.

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  7. Do you have the Orthophytum in the ground Gerhard? Love the pictures.

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    1. No, in a pot. Last winter, I left the pot outside on our covered front porch, and it was fine (very mild winter). But in the past, I've killed Orthophytum magalhaesii when I left it out in the winter. I don't think they're hardy much below the mid-30s.

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