GGW Picture This Photo Contest – September 2009

– Posted in: Garden Photography

Schizachyrium scoparium on ice 3 Dec 14 07

 With September’s Picture This Photo Contest, we continue selecting the best of the best of our colleagues to judge what has quickly become a great place for budding and experienced photographers alike to share photos and in some cases, to be singled out as winners for the month.  And so it should come as no suprise to any of you that Nan Ondra, our judge this month,  has chosen ornamental grasses as the subject. Nan has written a widely read and highly respected book, Grasses: Versatile Partners for Uncommon Garden Design. She is the ideal person to come up with the criteria upon which the photos will be judged, offer observations and select the winning photos. Nan is also the author of the recently published book, The Perennial Care Manual: A Plant by Plant Guide: What To Do And When To Do It, (as well as over a dozen other books), the co-creator and manager of GGW, a horticulturist, renowned gardener and can also be found writing on her own blog, Hayefield.

And the prize for this month? Our dear friend, David Salman at High Country Gardens, has selected  a collection of ornamental grasses that will have your fall garden  swaying in the breeze with texture, color and movement (photo and description to be posted soon).

025“I’m both delighted and daunted to take on the role of judge for this month’s Picture This photo contest. Let’s be clear up front: I’m not a professional photographer, so I’m not going to be judging the rest of you on your technical brilliance. I’ve never taken my own camera off of the ‘auto’ setting since the day I unpacked it, and I don’t know an F-stop from a doorstop. So, those of you who have hesitated to enter before have no excuse this time. There’s no need to be embarrassed if your photography skills aren’t as advanced as you’d like.

Amsonia hubrichtii Muhlenbergia capillaris Panicum Northwind Oct 22 06So, what am I looking for? I guess the best answer is that I’ll know it when I see it. There are simply so many ways to capture the beauty of ornamental grasses, it’s hard to pinpoint just one. It might be a fabulous combination of a grass with one or more partners, or it might be a grouping of several grasses. It might be a mass planting in a landscape, or a grassy meadow. It might be an image of a grass from ground to tip, or a tight closeup of stems, flowers, or seedheads. It might be a shot with stunning backlighting, or with ice, snow, or dewdrops. Grasses have a such a magical way of making wind visible that I’d probably give bonus points to an image that can capture that, but it’s not a requirement. Anything from the grass family counts, so sedges, rushes, and true grasses are all fair game.

Zea mays japonica early July 05I can’t even begin to guess how many thousands (or maybe hundreds of thousands) of images I’ve reviewed over the last 19 years in garden publishing. The vast majority of them were very pretty and more than adequate for whatever book project they were submitted for. The thrill of the hunt was finding the images that really captured the essence of a plant, a combination, or a garden: the ones that instantly made me say ‘Yes- that’s it!’. And that’s how I’ll be approaching this month’s contest, looking for the image that tells me it’s The One.”

For those of you who are new to Picture This or just need a reminder on how it works, here’s the drill:

1. You’re allowed to submit one (1) photograph:  add the photo to your blog or website and then link it back to September’s Picture This post. Any photos sent to one of our e-mail addresses or from your e-mail address will be excluded. Also, I know it’s difficult to choose your favorite photo but please don’t send in more than one entry.

2. The deadline is 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on Tuesday, September 22nd. Again, we won’t be accepting any entries after that time,  no exceptions.

3. With the increasing number of entries each month, choosing just one gold medal and one silver medal has become increasingly difficult. So this month, we’re going to open the possibility of awarding multiple gold and silver medals, with one grand prize winner chosen from the pool of gold medal winners.

4. As always,  please have fun when taking photos! Picture This was created so that all of you have a place where you can share photographs and hopefully learn how to hone some of your skills. Each month, more and more of you are participating in the contest, and we love it. Keep it up!

Stipa tenuissima

One final note: GGW’s Picture This has its own page on Facebook. Check out the Picture This page and become a fan to get contest updates and reminders.

Fran Sorin

Fran is the author of the highly-acclaimed book, Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening, which Andrew Weil, M.D., recommends as "a profound and inspiring book."  

A graduate of the University of Chicago with Honors in Psychology, she is also a gardening and creativity expert, coach, inspirational speaker, CBS radio news gardening correspondent, and Huffington Post Contributor.

Learn more about Fran and get free resources that will help you improve your life at

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Fran Sorin
46 comments… add one

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Joy September 5, 2009, 8:35 am

I would love to enter this contest .. but I totally understand that High Country can’t send anything this side of the border .. but this is a subject matter close to my heart .. grasses are a special love of mine in the garden : ) I am hunting down some of Nan’s books and can’t wait to read them over the winter !
Joy : )

C’mon, Joy, enter just for the fun of it! And, of course, for the high honor of displaying the gold or silver medal badge on your blog if you win. Surely that’s tempting enough?

jodi (bloomingwriter) September 5, 2009, 10:17 am

I don’t enter these because I’m outside the US, but I love seeing what others are photographing. Very inspiring.

And Nan, your new book arrived last week. I’m getting unburied from to-dos and hope to review it in our paper soon. It’s a must-have, in my opinion. Bravo, as always!

Ok, we can’t offer you a fortune (in the form of great plants), but we can offer you fame (which, ok, you don’t need, because you have your own). How about entering just for fun? And hey, thanks for the kind words about the maintenance book.

Caroline September 5, 2009, 2:09 pm

Here’s my entry. I look forward to seeing the other entries!

Lovely pennisetums, Caroline. Thanks for being our first entry this month.

Yvonne at Country Gardener September 6, 2009, 3:52 pm

Hi Nan: Grasses is a topic dear to my heart, so here’s my entry, posted at my new WordPress blog. (this blog is still in its infancy).

Thanks for the opportunity of sharing our favorite grassy images.

Welcome to WordPress, Yvonne! Your new blog looks great. And oh, what a treat to see snowy grasses. Thanks for your entry.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter September 6, 2009, 6:58 pm

Great subject for September. The grasses really shine this time of year.
I’m trying to decide which Panicum I want to plant in my garden (there’s room for only 1) so I’m hoping there will be lots of photos of different Panicums.

Just *one* panicum? Sigh. There are so many choices, and each one could be perfect, depending on what exactly you’re looking for in the way of height, habit, texture, and color.

Nancy Bond September 6, 2009, 9:13 pm

Another Canadian entry, just for the fun of taking part. 🙂

Phenomenal! If I was seeing this ‘moment’ live, I would know that I was in the presence of God! What grass is it?? Fran

Yvonne at Country Gardener September 6, 2009, 10:22 pm

@Mr. McGregor’s Daughter: If you only want one Panicum, may I recommend my favorite, ‘North Wind’. Of course, it’s hard to stop at one, second is ‘Dallas Blues’. They are both outstanding plants.

What an outstanding, compelling photo! I love the plethora of grasses in the background that echo those in the front. Good, good luck! Fran

teza September 6, 2009, 10:25 pm

Greetings Nan:
Well, you’ve convinced another Canuck to give it a try. Here is the link

And we’re glad you did. With the sun breaking through on the plantings, your photo is a fine one. And even though you’re a Canuck, you can still receive a Gold or Silver Medal Award to place on your website if you’re a winner! Good luck! Fran

Pam/Digging September 9, 2009, 1:16 pm

Grasses are a perfect fall topic, Nan. But I decided to go with a spring-blooming grass for my entry. Looking forward to seeing all the beautiful pictures of grasses!

Dear Pam…

Your choice of Nassella tenuissima, dotted with all of those dainty perennials sprinkled among them, is just delightful. And your other photos are inspiring as well. Good luck! Fran

ESP September 12, 2009, 12:15 am

Hi Nan.

Here is my entry for this month’s competition. Ornamental grasses…can you ever have enough? ESP.

Dear Philip-
Your photos of Mexican feather grass is breathtaking. With the light shining on them, it almost feels like a photo, especially with the light streaming through them. They are one of my all time favorite grasses. Am assuming that it is the first photo that you are using for the contest. Fran

Heirloom Gardener September 12, 2009, 9:35 pm


Thank you for the inspiration, as I never really focus on photographing my ornamental grasses. Here’s my snapshot of Miscanthus sisnesis ‘Adagio’:

Heirloom Gardener,
Am so glad that you took the time to start photographing and your close up of Miscanthus sinensis ‘Adagio’ is a welcome one: unique and stunning! And loved the fact that you showed your own ‘history’ of photos you sent in for GGW’s past contests.
Good luck! Fran

-Heirloom Gardener

Debbie/Gardenofpossibilities September 14, 2009, 7:09 am


An inspirational choice for September’s topic. But rather than use a photo of one of my grasses in the fall I decided to post one taken during the winter.

Here’s a link to my post:

Best of luck to everyone that’s entered so far, your photos are amazing.

Dear Debbie-
I’m so glad that you’re using more ornamental grasses in your garden. Most come into their prime in fall and into winter….your photo their straw colored with snow nestling in between is a fine one. Thanks for participating! Fran

Scott September 14, 2009, 12:31 pm

Here’s mine!

Love your choice of grass in the snow…most unusual. Which grass is it? Fran

invisiblebees September 14, 2009, 7:50 pm

You all seem like such nice people and inspiring gardeners and photographers, I decided to introduce myself and a photo to the mix.

Several years ago, I read somewhere the idea that ornamental grasses are like Mother Nature’s tresses. The poetic metaphor has stuck with me. I think of it often when I’m out walking near my home here on the High Plains, like I’m nosing about in the comfort of a lover’s sweet smelling hair.

Thanks for the opportunity to celebrate with all of you!

We’re so glad you joined us and your photo of Little Bluestem Grass is divine and dreamlike both! And yes, we also feel this Picture This has turned into a celerbation of sorts. And you are spot on, Nan’s book, Fallscaping, is absolutely fantastic! Fran

healingmagichands September 14, 2009, 10:24 pm

I have been haunting the stroll garden at The Havens hoping to capture an image that does justice to the incredible variety of grasses that are out there. Finally, I decided on one.

I love the name Petite Prairie for this area of your garden. Your photos capture some of the beauty of it. And love your chose photo will the low stone walls Fran

Dave September 15, 2009, 10:29 pm

I just posted my entry! Every picture I’ve perused so far looks great!

Miscanthus and the Big, Big Sky.

As does yours. Thanks for participating! Fran

Teresa September 16, 2009, 9:00 pm

There are so many great photographs here, I wouldn’t want to be the one to choose. Thanks to GGW for giving us this fun project to work on. Good luck to all who entered their pictures. I have my entry at:
Thanks very much!

Love the close up. Fantastic photo. Good luck! Fran

Susie September 17, 2009, 1:22 pm

What a wonderful group of photos & a fabulous subject this month! Here’s my entry:
Good luck to all,

You’ve captured the essence, shape and a sense of movement in this photo. Am impressed that ‘model’ homes has this type of plantings! Fran

Janet Davis September 17, 2009, 1:54 pm

Saw this contest on Yvonne Cunnington’s beautiful blogspot and thought I’d submit a shot taken in winter at Toronto’s Music Garden (even though I’m a Canadian….) I don’t have a blog — in fact, I’m pretty analog when it comes to digital stuff — but I do have a Grasses Photo Gallery on my website and this is one of my favorite shots on it.
I believe the grasses are Pennisetum ‘Hameln’ on the left and Miscanthus ‘Gracillimus’ on the right.

Breathtaking! Am delighted that you entered the contest. Good luck! Fran

Radhika September 17, 2009, 4:45 pm

Some of the other photos are really fantastic. I am going for composition here and trying out the very-slightly-out-of-focus-off-to-the-side butterfly with the main subject capturing the center. To see my entry, go to and just scroll down to the September entry. I left my August entry on the same page as a historical record. Thanks for this contest!

The close up of the Briza maxima juxtapositioned with the out of focus butterfly on the left hand side is fantastic. Thanks for entering and good luck! Fran

Janet September 17, 2009, 11:27 pm

I looked at some of the other entries — tough competition! Here is my contribution to the contest-
I do like ornamental grasses, what a variety of plant material!

I understand why you chose this photo, especially with the butterfly perched on the verbena in the foreground. It’s a beautiful shot. Thanks for entering. (Also, love your Kinky Friedman plug for Governor 2010…what a character he is!) Fran

Jill-O September 17, 2009, 11:53 pm

I really enjoyed the photo contest last month, plus I really learned something about taking pictures, so I’m excited about participating again this month. My entry is at

Your close up of the chasmanthium is outstanding! Am delighted that you learned from David Perry’s input last month and that you continue to participate. Fran

Frances September 18, 2009, 6:28 am

This topic is a good one. Here is my entry, it is the last photo.


Jennifer AKA Keewee September 19, 2009, 10:36 am

I have just started collecting grasses, the first being Japanese blood grass. I am looking forward to seeing all the other entries.

Town Mouse September 19, 2009, 1:12 pm

I’m kind of late to the party, but just couldn’t stay away. Here’s my photo of Stipa gigantea.

Of course I couldn’t help adding a few other photos, but they’re just for fun.

Town Mouse

Town Mouse,

Your Stipa gigantea is outstanding: one of my all time favorite grasses. And thanks for sharing the info. and photos of Festuca californica. For those of us from the East coast, we are not always familiar with, what for us, are non-hardy plants. Fran

Little Wing September 19, 2009, 2:13 pm

Here’s my entry- this one’s really showing off in my garden right now:)

Little Wing-
I can feel the panicles of your Miscanthus cabaret swaying in the breeze. Great photo! Thanks for entering the contest. Fran

Scott September 20, 2009, 12:21 pm

Hmmm…I think it was an Elijah Blue Fescue…but I could be wrong…it was a neighbor’s garden 🙂

Scott-I’ll take your word for it. Thanks. Fran

Craig @ Ellis Hollow September 20, 2009, 7:38 pm

Here’s my entry, along with some ‘also-rans’ from the archives:

Photo of variety of grasses from a distance. Gives a different perspective. Good luck! Fran

marmee September 20, 2009, 8:20 pm

i am not sure how to enter…but i put my photo on my sidebar with a link to ggw.
this is my blog.

Stunning and an unusual choice. Am glad you decided to participate! Fran

Raji September 20, 2009, 9:13 pm

Wonderful entries..enjoyed browsing through each of them.
Here is my entry for the contest.

The close up of the hydrangea and what appears to be pennisteum panicles are delightful. Good luck! Fran

Barbara E September 21, 2009, 12:48 am

I love native grasses and have struggled to take pictures that do them justice. My entry is a picture of deergrass taken late on a winter day in southern California.

Other pictures that were in the running for this contest are shown in a slide show on my website:

I really enjoyed entering, and even more, seeing the wonderful pictures others submitted. Thanks for the opportunity.

The mulhenbergia in the foreground gleaming in the late afternoon sun makes for a sparkling, compelling photo! Thanks for entering. Fran

Louise @ Buddy Garden September 21, 2009, 8:59 am

What a great contest and I love ornamental grass!

Here’s my entry:

The one clear panicle cushioned by out of focus ones with the golden color in the background is really fantastic! Am glad you participated. Fran

marmee September 21, 2009, 3:10 pm

here is my link

Thanks. Was able to see it on Flickr. Fran

Nancy Bond September 21, 2009, 3:28 pm

Phenomenal! If I was seeing this ‘moment’ live, I would know that I was in the presence of God! What grass is it?? Fran

Hi Fran — I believe that the grass in my photo entry is Sea Spear grass, though no one I’ve asked seems to know for certain. It is a volunteer, native grass that grows on the perimeter of my parents’ property, very near the ocean.

Jean September 21, 2009, 3:55 pm

Love those grasses! My entry is the first photo in this post:

breathtaking: all of the photos. am glad you checked your back pictures and found these to enter! Fran

Linda Steider September 21, 2009, 4:21 pm

I”ve not had ornamental grasses long in my garden as I didn’t appreciate their beauty in the past. The other grass photos are great, here’s mine:

Your photo of Miscanthus ‘Morning Lights’ with the blur of the blue chairs and rudbeckia in the background makes for a ‘pleasing to the eye’ photo. Fran

Christopher C NC September 21, 2009, 6:36 pm

Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’ to add to the list. Just the beginning.

Never say that your photo won’t be chosen….you truly can’t tell how a judge will ‘see’ it. Thanks for the backstory of the monsoon like rains you’re receiving, your photo of Solidago canadensis as well as your beautiful photo of Miscantus sinensis ‘Morning Light’ …even as not yet matured grasses. They are still beauties! Fran

Phillip September 21, 2009, 8:31 pm

Thanks for the reminder! My entry is up at

Love your photo. The texture and movement of the pennisetum panicles in the foreground is outstanding! Fran

James Golden September 21, 2009, 9:28 pm

My entry is Panicum ‘Cloud 9’, a plant I’ve had a hard time finding recently. Seems to be going out of fashion with all the new panicum introductions. My entry is at

You certainly did capture the essence of Panicum ‘Cloud Nine….thanks for entering! Fran

Carolyn Parker September 21, 2009, 11:16 pm

What a fun contest! I’m going to wait ’til next month to enter. In the meantime, you might enjoy what I overheard, when I was in Denver, a few years ago, at a rose show. Two fellows were talking about a 15-mile stretch of road notorious for it’s lack of plant life. One guy says, “Yeah, the last time I drove on it, I saw a blade of grass.”
(I found out about High Country on that trip.)
Beautiful photos!!

Great story…thanks for sharing. And am glad you’re enjoying the contest. Please do enter next month’s. Fran

Meems September 21, 2009, 11:21 pm

Hi all…
My Florida native grass photo is up AND you inspired me to find lots more grass-es photos I published in a separate post.
This is such fun… thanks and can’t wait to click around to all the fabulous entries.

Melody September 22, 2009, 9:02 am

I have many ornamental grasses in my garden and my daughter takes pictures of them all the time. But I chose this picture of wild grasses that she took in the woods not far from our house because of the way the seedheads glow.

joco September 22, 2009, 7:54 pm

Late. Couldn’t make up my mind again. So many angles, so many possibilities.
My final choice is at

MacGardens September 22, 2009, 10:46 pm

Hi, I had fun looking at the options but finally decided on a novel grass (as an ornamental anyway). Please scroll to the bottom of the post at

Craig @ Ellis Hollow September 23, 2009, 6:57 am

I encouraged Miss Canthus to enter, but it was late and the language may have been a barrier. (That said, her English is better than my French.) She just made a great post with lots of pix of her grasses here:

No language barrier there. They’re beautiful.

Kathy September 23, 2009, 8:08 pm

I did not enter because I was not sure on the requirements, but here is my post with pictures of native grasses. If I could have entered, my entry would be the first picture in the post, or the last one if I could enter 2.

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