Phoneography Challenge: Nature (Longwood Gardens and Summer’s Morning Light, Part One)

05 August 2013


1. Coleus Leaves, iPhone 4s, Longwood Gardens, July 2013; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2013

1. Coleus Leaves, iPhone 4s, Longwood Gardens, July 2013; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2013

2. Canna Leaf, iPhone 4s, Longwood Gardens, July 2013; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2013

2. Canna Leaf, iPhone 4s, Longwood Gardens, July 2013; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2013

3. Canna Leaves, iPhone 4s, Longwood Gardens, July 2013; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2013

3. Canna Leaves, iPhone 4s, Longwood Gardens, July 2013; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2013


Gracie (, Polly ( and I began the iPhoneography Monday Challenge in February. Recently, we had a re-launch that made the challenge open to everyone who uses their Smartphones as their lens–exclusively, experimentally, frequently, occasionally, or back-up. If you’d like to join the fun, please click here for details. Please use the current badge until a new one is created, which will be ready sometime this month.  

Mother Nature has been incredibly wrathful this summer. I cannot blame her  seesaw personality. Her performance is very much a reaction to human intervention; we’ve really done a disservice to ourselves and the planet. Selfish, selfish creatures that we are.

In the throes of a plan to go to this place or that, weather is a key. Especially here in the Mid-Atlantic the temps can easily be trumped by the ridiculous spikes in humidity that seems to linger far too long. Mostly, I’ve been able to fulfill destinations scheduled, but not entirely.

Fortunately, I picked the best day of the week to visit one of my favorite horticultural centers, Longwood Gardens, which is sightly over the border between my home state of Delaware and Pennsylvania. I planned my arrival to coincide with the doors opening; I wanted to take advantage of the morning light.

The forty-five minute drive through the countryside is a heavenly prelude. With both my Nikon DSLR and iPhone 4s, I spent a blissful morning following the sun’s dramatic display. Oh, and the gardens were designed impeccably.

For me this season’s plantings at Longwood are some of their most memorably-designed beds. Many plantings strut large leaves and they’re spectacular, especially with radiant morning light pushing through those luscious-veined gems of splendid colorations.

This post is the first of two or three from my meanders. Mostly, I used my Nikon DSLR. In the Lens section are eight that I took with my iPhone. The light was so cooperative that I was bouncing here and there to follow its charm and translucence.

The trio of my photographs gives you a flavor of the leaves and their showiness, exhibiting how the rays lit their attributes. Cannas and coleus are two of the plants that welcomed the beams of morning sun. In “Longwood Gardens and Summer’s Morning Light, Part Two,” you will see Thai Elephant’s Ear, which were my favorites from this visit. That will be posted soon.

Truly, this photo shoot was sealed by nature’s colorful and sculptural magnificence. I found exhilaration and tranquility in the choices and designs of the seasonal gardens.

As time moved, the crowds grew. By noon I was seeking quiet in my car, and headed toward home. This first half of the day gave me much to contemplate. The most marvelous part of this jewel of the Brandywine Valley is its never-ending story. No matter how many times I visit Longwood Gardens, there is always a sense of the new–a new narrative that is built upon nature’s character and enchantment.

Tip of the Week: Last Sunday’s New York Times had a fascinating article about Travel Bloggers called “Travel Blogging Today: It’s Complicated.” While my blog does not have a travel theme, I certainly spend time on the road at photo shoots and on holiday at distant and regional havens. I perk up at hints that help me be better at what always seems “slightly chartered and unchartered” territory: the blogging life. The article has many ideas that can be applied to any blogger’s journey. It definitely perked my attention. Here is the one that stood out: “Many successful bloggers believe that the best way to both thrive and maintain a level of professionalism is to keep the focus on the reader.” Click here to read it. Hopefully, you’ll find a tip of two that will benefit your cyberspace life.

Note: As always I welcome comments about this post or any part of my blog. If you want to read more about Longwood Gardens, click here. If you are traveling to the East Coast, I encourage you to visit this national treasure. There is something to please everyone’s taste. As you admire, you will be inspired.

See other entries:

Here’s a reminder of the weekly schedule and themes for upcoming Phoneography Monday Challenges:    

1st Monday: Nature

2nd Monday: Macro

3rd Monday: Black-and-White

4th and 5th Mondays: Challenger’s Choice (Pick One: Abstraction, Architecture, Food Photography, Night Photography, Portraiture, Still Life, Street Photography, and Travel).

This entry was posted in Gardens and Gardening, Human Nature, Mobile Photography, Photography, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

38 Responses to Phoneography Challenge: Nature (Longwood Gardens and Summer’s Morning Light, Part One)

  1. says:

    Great link to the NYTimes article!

  2. KOH  says:

    Wonderful coloer~

  3. Nature is a living Art, which you captured in its pureness today.

  4. You have brought out great tonal values in these macro shots.

  5. Gallivanta says:

    Love the first photo of the Coleus leaves. Took me right back to my childhood when I spent hours admiring them and trying to draw them.

  6. munchow says:

    I love how the forms and textures of the leaves and the light and shade creates a deep intensity and three dimensionality in these pictures. Great colours too. All three pictures are excellent, but my favourite is the last one.

  7. I really like your colors this week Sally and what a wonderful garden. If I get a chance to travel around your area I will definitely make a stop to see Longwood Gardens.

  8. Pingback: Phoneography Challenge – Nature | 40again's Blog

  9. My favorite was Canna Leaves 3 because of the architectural look of the leaves and the rich color.

  10. says:

    I give up! It won’t link and I don’t know how to PING , but here it is!

    Lovely challenge!

  11. Angeline M says:

    Beautiful photos, Sally! And once again, thanks for the wonderful links you always provide in tips for the week. Travel blogging is a goal I’d like to shoot for in the near future, so I really appreciate this link.
    Here is my entry for nature:

  12. Nicely done, Sally. Great colors really shine through in the the effort. Here’s my NATURE take: Phoneographic Phlora and Phauna –

  13. I didn’t see anything about native plants on the Longwood Gardens website, so I called and was told there isn’t a specific section dedicated to natives (though apparently there are usually wildflowers in a meadow that’s in the midst of renovation). I sent an e-mail encouraging Longwood to create an area to promote the native flora of your region. If I get an answer, I’ll let you know what it says.

    • Oh, I so agree with you. I’m always asking the staff if they are going to incorporate natives into seasonal gardens. The truth is that many of the trees and other species are natives. BUT the duPonts brought seeds and plantings with them, and much of their mission was to preserve the property and open space. I’m hoping that they’ll develop a space devoted to natives that can be used as an educational model. Thanks.

  14. livvy30 says:

    I’m back and joining in! I like the 3rd image best. Here’s mine.

  15. Gracie says:

    Very nice shots, Sally! Love the shadows on the Coleus Leaves and the patterns on the Canna leaves.

  16. Beautiful photos, Sally, with wonderful light and texture. I’ll go back and read the commentary later. We’re on vacation and I’m trying not to be on the computer too much. 🙂 But I’m chronicling the trip on my blog, which is fun. Slow connection, though, makes it more difficult.


  17. Oh I like #1 the best. It’s complex because of the light patterns on the colourful leaves that I had to look at it for quite some time to trace our the details, interesting image 🙂

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