Picture This Photo Contest for July: Flowering Trees

– Posted in: Garden Photography


The theme for the Picture This Photo Contest for July is (drum roll please)  flowering trees. We’re delighted that the judge for this month is Rob Cardillo, a colleague and friend of several of us at GGW. Rob has been photographing gardens, plants and the people who tend gardens for the last 20 years. Formerly the Director of Photography for Organic Gardening Magazine, Rob now works for major publishers, landscape designers and horticultural suppliers throughout the year. To learn more about Rob, check out his website and his blog, Little Green Pixels.

Before Rob tells us what he’s looking for in a winning photograph, how about a quick look at the prize for July? Once again, our friend and colleague, David Salman of High Country Gardens, is offering up a juicy reward: it’s a collection of 8 cold hardy succulents. Here’s David’s description of the plants:

Gardening-Gone-Wild-070209-High Country Gardens July 2009 prize for Picture This

2 of Sedum sieboldii (October Daphne)

2 of Delosperma Kelaidis  (Mesa Verde hybrid Iceplant)

1 each of Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’, Yucca bacata (Banana Yucca), Yucca rostrata ‘Sapphire Skies’ (Beaked Yucca) and Cotyledon orbiculatus (South African Pig’s Ear)

David writes: ” This varied assortment of cold hardy succulents will bring color and structure to your garden or your containers. With the exception of the Cotyledon, all the plants are suitable for planting out into USDA zones 5b (-10°F) to 9. In the Midwest or New England and north, the Yucca and Cotyledon are best grown in containers as a patio plants (so they don’t rot in soggy early spring garden soils). 

Detailed descriptions and photos of each plant can be found at High Country Gardens by putting the plant name into the “Search” box in the upper right hand corner of the homepage.”

Please note that the photo of the  Yucca rostrata ‘Sapphire Skies’  in the 2nd row on left hand side is the work of ©Joshua McCullough at Phyto Photo.

Now that you’ re salivating over July’s prize, back to the ‘how tos’ of capturing the winning photograph.

Rob chose flowering trees as the subject which is perfect for this time of year. In Rob’s words, this is what he’s looking for:

RCP_090410_8585[1].jpg-magnolia-resized“I’ve been shooting a lot of flowering trees this season for a magazine assignment and have found a wide range in how they express their blooms. Some (like stewartia) bloom sparsely over an extended period of time, others don’t flower regularly every year (like cladrastis) and some pump out zillions of blooms within a few days creating an eye-popping extravaganza that can make our heads spin (magnolias, crabs and redbud). These super floriferous trees are actually more difficult to shoot because of the overwhelming choices they present for the photographer.  Where do you begin? And when do you stop? I recall spending an hour within the skirting branches of one large saucer magnolia finding sumptuous goodies everywhere I turn.

So now that I’m nearing the end of my quest (I still have franklinia and heptacodium on the list) I’m asking all of you to submit some of your favorite photos for this month’s GGW contest.  Anything goes and you can even submit flowering shrubs if you like.  Close-ups, overviews and anything in between are all acceptable. Here’s what I’ll look for:

RCP_090521_5316[1].jpg-resized1) The standard stuff like strong composition, appropriate focus, and good exposure. Also, creative use of color, line and volume will be considered.

2)  Light. The nice thing about flowering trees is that you have so many angles from which to choose so you can often find a nice interplay of light if you look long enough.  And their delicate blossoms usually allow for pretty back lighting.

3) A thing I call botanical gesture which is capturing the essential qualitites of a plant in one picture.

4) Anything fun, novel, wacky or unexpected.


For those of you who are first timers to Picture This Photo Contest, here are the rules.

1. You’re allowed to submit one (1) photograph:  add the photo to your blog or website and then link it back to July’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 midnight, Wednesday, July 22nd. Again, we won’t be accepting any entries after that time. Rather than procrastinating (do I sound like your mother??), try to submit your entry as soon as possible: I’m sure that all of you have some drop dead photos of spring flowering trees. Go through your files, choose the one you’re entering, place it on your blog and send us the link. Another plus for sending in your photo early: more GGW readers will have the opportunity to check your entry out while the contest is running.

3. Most importantly, have fun! Picture This was created so that all of you could have a forum where you can share photographs and hopefully learn more about photography and how to hone some of your skills. Remember, a picture speaks a thousand words! You’re doing your gardening pals a favor when you participate. And the competition, well, who doesn’t like to win, especially with the roster of prizes so generously offered to us? But again, remember, the reasons that all of our Regular Contributors participate in GGW is to facilitate you in stretching the limits and going wild in your garden, to suggest ways of acquiring expertise, to offer information, and as importantly, to feel endlessly passionate and inspired about the act of gardening, as we all do. So, fly free, take a risk, participate in the contest and have a blast!

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 www.fransorin.com.

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Fran Sorin
40 comments… add one

Leave a Comment

Meems @Hoe & Shovel July 5, 2009, 11:56 am

Sounds like fun… a gazillion possibilities! I’m heading to my photo files now…
Meems @ Hoe and Shovel

Hey Meems-
I agree that there are dozens of possibilities. Can’t wait to see which one you enter into the contest!! Fran

healingmagichands July 5, 2009, 2:18 pm

As I read the subject of this post, I just “knew” which image I had to use for this contest. Then I read the rest of your post, and in your advice I heard my earliest college professors telling us that it was so much easier to get a paper done if you just start on it as soon as it is assigned. That’s what I always did, and it worked for me in college. So, my post is already up! And I have to thank you because you provided me with a ready made blog post when I was struggling to figure out what to post today, and also because I got to revisit my files of flowering trees. It made me realize just how much beauty there is surrounding me here and how much better I could be at capturing it.


Healing Magic Hands-
My hunch is that you made the right choice with the photo of Cercis canadensis. It is a breathtaking closeup with the driplets of water on the blooms. This photo will certainly inspire those gardeners who are looking for an early blooming spring tree to check out Cercis canadensis. It is one of my favorites. Thanks for sharing. It’s a great entry. Good luck! Fran

Pam/Digging July 5, 2009, 11:27 pm

I’m in with a picture of a Mexican plum. I know there will be many beautiful entries for this theme, and I look forward to seeing them all.

Your close up of the Prunus mexicana is divine. Fran

Commonweeder July 6, 2009, 9:41 am

Every time I see a picture of the Cercis I wonder whether I could get one to grow on our cold hill, and whether I’m willing to gamble.

I don’t know what USDA Zone you live in. But if you’re in Zone 6 and up, I would definitely go for it. It is one of the most beautiful of all spring flowering trees. Fran

Kim July 6, 2009, 7:41 pm

Healing Magic Hands, that is a wonderful photo. I grow Cercis canadensis, and I love them. Your photo does them justice.

My photo is a view of one of our dogwoods through an early morning mist.


Whew…really, really love the dogwood standing out in the mist…so well defined…stunning. Thanks for participating! Fran

Heirloom Gardener July 6, 2009, 10:13 pm

Again, what a great topic. I love taking pictures of flowering trees, but seeing that I can only submit one picture, I’ve included a recent one of Styrax Japonicus. The reason why I like this photograph is for the “botanical gesture.” This picture was taken in early June in my garden in zone 6b.


Heirloom Gardener-
Stunning…you sure did capture its botanical gesture…the delicate and detailed close up says it all! Fran

franniesorin July 7, 2009, 3:50 am

Since there have been several comments about redbuds, I couldn’t resist copying this poen called ‘April in Ohio’ written by Denise Levertov. It seems to capture the mood for all of us who love redbuds.

Each day
the cardinals call and call in the rain,
each cadence scarlet
Among leafless buckeye.

and passionately
the redbuds that can’t wait
like other blossoms, to flower
from fingertip twigs,
break forth.

as Eve from Adam’s
cage of ribs,
straight from amazed treetrunks.

Lumps of snow
are melting in tulip-cups.

Wildsuburbia July 7, 2009, 11:35 pm

Couldn’t resist this topic. I went with a cheerful yellow Desert Museum palo verde, combining shade, structure, color and motion in a hot, dry garden.


Am so glad that you couldn’t resist participating. The form of the tree is beautiful as is the color…Great photo! Fran

Kimberly July 8, 2009, 7:42 pm

I’m new here, saw a link from wildsuburbia.blogspot.com 🙂 I took a lovely picture at Hakone Japanese Gardens in Saratoga, CA while tinkering with my new SLR: http://www.flickr.com/photos/starjewel/3355073798/sizes/l/

I tried to see your photo. Unfortunately, it sent me to yahoo where I need to become a member in order to gain access to it. In order to participate in the contest, you need to send the photo from a blog or website. It is just too time consuming for us to try to do it any other way. Am delighted you found gardening gone wild and decided to participate in Picture This. Hope you can find another way to enter! Fran

Kimberly July 9, 2009, 1:28 am

Darn, sorry. I thought that all of my photos on Flickr were public. Odd that it would prompt you to login. I’ve resurrected my LJ account just for this 🙂 Look here: http://starjewel.livejournal.com/108506.htm

Great photo….whether or not it’s a bauhinia, I’m unsure. Not like the bauhinia with which I am familiar. You might want to check it out on Google images. Thanks for participating and making the effort to get the link working! Fran

Diane McCarthy July 9, 2009, 8:53 am

I wanted to submit a Midwestern native but it appears that I don’t have any good ones! Shame on me! Instead, here’s a magnolia picture from Chicago. What I like best about it is the vivid colors; it was a glorious cloudless spring day and that blue sky lured me out of the office with my camera.

I think you made a wise choice selecting the Magnolia. The 2 outstanding flowers juxtapositioned against the smaller ones in the background really pops out at you….good, good photo. As far as the Carolina basswood, I also think the leaves are stand outs. As a matter of fact, they actually remind me of the flowers on a dove tree (believe it or not!!) Fran

Craig @ Ellis Hollow July 9, 2009, 8:28 pm

Salix sachalinensis ‘Sekka’ (Salix udensis ‘Sekka’):

I really had a hard time finding anything good. Made me realize how weak I am on the flowering trees and shrubs in my garden.

Whatever you have or don’t have in your garden, the photo you posted is very, very good. The variety of textures is really pleasing to the eye as is the ‘faded’ background!! Fran

Susie July 10, 2009, 5:01 pm

My entry is of my Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’ that I took last spring. I love the beautiful purple color of the new leaves. Kimberly it looks like you have a Magnolia x soulangeana…saucer Magnolia, very pretty…check out Diane’s entry….same tree. I loved all the beautiful entries, but Craig I like your’s best, because I have never seen this Salix, thanks for all the photos.


Am sorry for the delay in responding to your post. Although I had looked at the photos, I somehow forgot to respond. And boy, oh boy, Cotinus coggyria is one of my all time favorite bushes/trees. I used it in sevel of the gardens I designed. And yes, ‘Royal Purple’ offers such a rich color that it’s hard to beat. Your photo does it justice! Thanks for participating. Fran

ESP July 11, 2009, 3:14 pm

Hi and Here is my entry.

I chose this one because, well, a) it was the only flowering tree picture I had, and b) I like that the fuzzy browns of the flower and bee mimick each other.

Some great pictures already!


Love the close up of your Erybotria japonica: lots of detail. Thanks for participating and taking the time to check out the other photos. Good luck! Fran

jo July 12, 2009, 9:06 am

Fun I can do.
Botanically correct? Just about 😉
Luckily there is one tree in flower in my garden at the minute.

What can I say? Unique, creative with a beautiful, detailed specimen….can you share the name of it with us? Thanks for participating and good luck! Fran

abby July 13, 2009, 3:04 pm

There is no tree in flower in our garden at present, so I am showing a photo of a Magnolia tree we saw in the Spring of this year. I hope that is OK.

Such a surprise to see such a nice comment on my rose picture from June. I had forgotten to look in earlier.
I had not seen any of those things in it myself.
Thank you for making us take a disciplined look at our efforts.

Fabulous photo of Magnolia soulianga…with those large, soft blossoms juxtapositioned against the bare branches. Did you love Wisley? It’s one of my all time favorite teaching gardens. Thanks for participating! Fran

abby July 13, 2009, 3:06 pm
TexasDeb July 15, 2009, 9:14 am

What fun this is! I am so in awe of the talent represented in the photos already submitted but will take a deep breath and share this entry of a Redbud (Cercis canadensis var. texensis!) from several seasons back when we were hit with a particularly bad ice storm. It seemed the perfect “opposite” relief for our current heat and drought even if it is only a photo.


Texas Deb-
How terrific that your choice was one that shows the buds of the tree with ice overcoating it. It is beautiful! Thanks for participating! fran

TexasDeb July 15, 2009, 9:43 am

Jo, Fran, I may be off track but I believe that fascinating composite image may be of a Cordia Parvifolia?


Jo–I’ll take your word for it….unless Rob disagrees 🙂 Fran

jo July 17, 2009, 2:01 pm

Sorry, I wasn’t paying attention:
Do I need to give the name of the tree here as well as on my post?

Just in case: it is the NZ tree called Hoheria lyallii.

Thanks Jo…it always helps if you do so although we haven’t made it a requirement! Fran

Lynn July 19, 2009, 2:28 pm

Here’s my entry of the beautiful Cornus Kousa ‘Satomi.’ I love it any time of year!. Best of luck to all.



What can I say? Your photo is elegant, simple, clear…and yes, beautiful at any time of the year. Good luck!! Fran

donna July 19, 2009, 4:06 pm


This actually isn’t that great a picture, but I am in mourning for this tree right now since I just lost it to borers. My yard is so bare without it. There is a sucker that came up a couple feet away from the trunk that may survive, but it’s hard to say right now. The main tree is gone. It grew for many years and only cost me eight dollars to buy, and it even fruited a couple of years. I hate losing trees — to me it is like losing a friend….I do feel a tinge of sadness whenever a plant stops blooming, whenever something dies and I have to remove it from the garden. I console myself that they are making room for new things to grow, or stepping aside so other blooms can be the star for a while.

Am sorry to hear about the loss of your tree. I understand how you feel, especially when it’s a major specimen such as a mture tree. Keep on sending love and positive thoughts to the ‘sucker’…it may yet mature into a strong, blooming tree. Thank you so much for sharing. And the picture is lovely! Fran

Along the same lines:


Meems July 19, 2009, 8:51 pm

Thanks so much for the reminder to the procrastinators today. I needed one —since I have done just that. 🙂

I’ve entered a photo of a Southern Crabapple tree I fell in love with at my first introduction to it.
My post is up here.


Thank you for the challenge and the fun it is to participate.

Beautiful shot (as are the other photos on your blog). Delicate, fine, and clear….good luck. I had to change the link …the one you sent was broken (FYI). Thanks for entering! Fran

Sunita July 19, 2009, 10:48 pm

How very tempting! I doubt whether you intended this contest to extend to India but just for the fun of it, I kept reading on. Then , what a dilemma … we dont have a proper Spring to speak of in Mumbai. We have a milder weather that passes for Winter and then we drop straight into searing-hot Summer!
All the best to the participants anyway. And what a great idea to have this contest! I love the theme.

Unfortunately, we can’t send plant material to places outside of the U.S. BUT, we can make mention and give ‘bragging rights’ if your photo is selected as a winner. So, please do participate if you want. Fran

m. heart July 19, 2009, 11:51 pm

Hi! Here in New England I’m surrounded by flowering apple trees in the spring, and have been holding on to this photo for quite some time, waiting for a good reason to post it!


Dear M. Heart-

Love the photo. I can feel the sunlight glimmering through the branches. Good luck! Fran

Joanne July 20, 2009, 8:59 am

I nearly missed this and so enjoyed seeing the last one on roses. I thought I had added to my blog list but clearly didn’t, so now that is sorted here is my entry at Joanne’s Cottage garden http://joanne-orangecottages.blogspot.com/2009/07/picture-this-photo-contest-july.html

Having seen the other entries I very much look forward to the comments on photography I realise I have much to learn but oh what fun.

There are problems with your site. Internet Explorer can’t open it. Can you check it out? Thanks. Fran

Mr. McGregor's Daughter July 20, 2009, 3:01 pm

Here’s my entry. http://mcgregorsdaughter.blogspot.com/2009/07/silly-redbud-picture-this-photo-contest.html
Thanks for giving me an excuse to post this photo, which I took in May.

Mr. McGregor’s Daughter-
What can I say? One of the most unique photos of a redbud…blooms directly coming from the trunk of the tree. Love it! Good luck! Fran

Joanne July 21, 2009, 12:05 pm

Hi I am sorry you had probems with internet explorer regarding my entry of a Laburnum tree.


If you try again it might work. I know it doesn’t always not sure why.

If you can’t open I will just have to enjoy every one else’s. I have had many comments posted through blotanical so it clearly has been working

I was able to see your photo this time for longer than 2 seconds this time without Internet Explorer closing it down…perhaps there was something wrong with my computer. I just didn’t want to take the chance that you would be left out of the contest due to a glitch from your end. It is a wonderful photo….I am in love with laburnum. You captured its delicate and lush nature. Thanks for participating! Fran

Karen July 21, 2009, 9:08 pm

I came across this contest by chance and why I think I have a picture worthy to enter I do not know. But here it is: http://livethegoal.blogspot.com/?zx=8b0504899d6e829b

The previous owners of my home planted this tree in the backyard. It was about 3 ft. tall when I moved in 5 years ago and is now about 6 ft. tall. Each spring I am amazed how lovely it is.

Dear Karen,

You needn’t worry. The close up of this dogwood is just sublime…delicate, crisp and a lot more. Isn’t it the most wonderful thing to watch trees grow over the years? They are real markers of time. Am so glad that you found us. We love having new voices on GGW. Good luck! Fran

Raji July 21, 2009, 9:49 pm

Here’s my entry for the contest..I missed last month’s .


Thank you for the opportunity…it’s lot of fun and I enjoy going thru all entries..wonderful shots

Beautiful photo of Golden Rain tree along with the irises. What did you think of Longwood?? Do you live near Philly? Good luck…we’re glad to have you participating! Fran

Annie in Austin July 22, 2009, 12:49 am

Ooops! Feel like I’m sliding into base here tonight. Somehow goofed and thought the deadline was the 25th.

We’ve been at this house just 5 years and have planted many kinds of young flowering trees but it had to be the redbuds for the photo. Your redbud poem was lovely, Fran!

Here is my post:

Thanks for letting us share our chorus girls!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Hey Annie-
I think you just might be the doyenne of Redbuds….3 different varieties. It’s a very good picture…and I think the only one in the contest that captures 3 flowering trees in one shot….unique for sure. Am glad you liked the poem Annie. I know what it feels like being in temps. close to 100 and with no rain. What can I say except….endurance and patience. Nothing that you can do but wait it out. The same here in Israel. BTW, I lived in Dallas for 7 years when I was growing up…loved it there. Good luck with the contest, Annie. And thanks for participating. Fran

Teresa~Gardening with Soule July 22, 2009, 1:08 am

For my photo entry I chose my favorite spring blooming shrub. It is simple but everyone loves lilacs.

Sublime….the lilac’s soft pastel colors offers a breath of spring: and the photo captures its fragrance (sounds strange, maybe, but true). Thanks for participating…and good luck! Fran

PS. BTW, where do you garden in Upstate NY??

Country Mouse July 22, 2009, 1:45 am

Thanks for hosting this blog event! Here’s my entry:
It’s a close up of a native manzanita growing wild in our “chaparral garden.” I love how next year’s buds form so early and are so pretty through year till they bloom in late winter. I’m looking forward to enjoying everyone’s entries too!

Country Mouse..
How beautiful! Unusual choice of tree and it is gorgeous, especially with the blooms ready to go. And you are making great headway with the restoration of your chaparral garden. Thanks for sharing. Fran

Sue July 22, 2009, 9:15 am

What a fun contest! I went with a vintage photo of my mom in East Texas just for the fun of it. Cool as a Cucumber

Dear Sue,

I love the photo with your Mom in the forefront and the tree in the background…it almost feels like its a painting. Thanks for participating! Fran

~~Rhonda July 22, 2009, 1:41 pm

Thanks for hosting the photo contest. Spring is my favorite time of year and I really enjoyed looking back through those photos. I chose a redbud tree for my entry. We have many in the yard, but this particular one is my favorite.


There are other photos in the blog post, but the first one is my entry.

Thanks to the others who have entered. Looking over their pics was a lot of fun.


Gorgeous photo….over 20 redbuds on your property? I didn’t know the blooms were edible. You have such a profusion of spring flowering trees….what heaven it must be when they’re in bloom. Good luck! Fran

Ilona July 22, 2009, 4:11 pm

The fun was seeing everyone else’s photos, mine is

-More for joining in than anything else, although it is an unusual choice: the Carolina ‘Silverbell’.

…just lovely entries, everyone!

Halesia is one of all time favorite spring blooming trees. With Cercis canadensis as the understory, the 2 are winning combination in a spring woodland garden. Your close up captured the beauty of this specimen. Fran

Double Creek Road July 22, 2009, 6:54 pm

What would summer in the south be without a crepe myrtle? This juicy beauty is in its second season in our backyard… it has survived drought and the antics of our two dogs – so I had to post it 🙂


Double Creek Road-
What can I say? The close up ‘show it all’, frilly, red, seed pods….and the list goes on. Am so glad you got in before the deadline. Good luck! Fran

Louise July 22, 2009, 9:16 pm


This japanese maple is also called ‘Maiku Jaku’ or ‘Dancing Peacock’ — likely for its brilliant red fall leaves, but it is just as gorgeous unfurling its feathers in spring. I love how well the red flowers look with the young red wood.

Louise- What a choice! Who would have thought of using a maple for a spring blooming specimen? Thank you….it is gorgeous….as is your website…love your projects!! Am glad you are participating. Fran

Teresa July 23, 2009, 10:55 am

Hey Fran,
In response to your question ,I garden in Binghamton, New York
We have an extra lot beside our house that is my gardening canvas. I just love having all this room in the middle of the city. And we are across the street from a beautiful 18 acre park with beautiful oaks and pine trees which gives us the one of the best front yards ever. Thanks for hosting this contest, it is so fun seeing through the eyes of all these gardeners. I really enjoy it!

Ilona July 23, 2009, 4:14 pm

Fran, you are so gracious 🙂 That combination sounds beautiful. Here, my redbud blooms with the burdwoodii viburnums, but the halesia would complement it better.

I’m not sure that halesia would compliment your redbud better than your viburnums….beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And like with all of gardening, you only know if something works a few years after it has been planted (isn’t that the fun of it??)

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