Early morning garden - Buddleia flowers
Buddleia blooms at the bottom of our garden; 10 July 2014.

I’ve waddled down the garden a few times early on these soft and wonderful summer mornings, and enjoyed the stillness and lushness immensely.  Yesterday, in addition to the Swifts screaming overhead, there was an unknown song from the jungle on the other side of the back fence.  I gently hissed and pished at it a bit, and in due course a male Blackcap popped into view to see who I was. 

Pished?  Its a birding technique most effective in North America, where hissing and making “pish” noises drives warblers crazy, such that, otherwise obscure in dense vegetation, they at once spring into view.  And it works here in the UK a bit too, and in Africa.  This Blackcap’s provenance is uncertain.  He may be one of the increasing number that remain in the UK throughout the winter, or he may have made the journey up from sub-Saharan Africa just to breed in the thickets behind our back fence.

And I’m really not a gardener, but I did hear that severely pruning Buddleias in the spring brings of floods of blooms later on and so, having made a note an age ago in my diary, I got out there and hacked it to blazes awhile back, and we’re now reaping the rewards.

D800 with 50mm Nikkor used in DX format at 75mm; 800 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Film Noir 1 preset and selectively restoring colour

About Adrian Lewis
Photographer working in monochrome, colour and combinations of the two - with a great liking for many types of subject, including Minimalism, landscapes, abstracts, soft colour, people, movement, nature - I like to be adventurous in my photography, trying new ideas and working in many genres. And I'm fond of Full English Breakfasts and Duvel golden ale, though not necessarily together.


  1. LensScaper says:

    Yep – the hard prune does seem to work. We have three in our garden and they have grown massively despite pruning this year. The flower spikes are now so long that they are bending and snapping in places. The mountain ash has produced red berries already. What’s going on? – the season is in a mighty hurry.


  2. Hi, this is a great shot. Did you use fill flash to get the black background. I have a buddleia for two years and it barely grows at all, just spindly attempts, but it’s in the shade. I have a very small walled courtyard/garden so there’s a lot of shade. I’m going to move it to a large pot on the south facing wall this Autumn and perhaps if I hack it to pieces, next year it will be reborn. I love the sound of swifts. It’s the personification of summer for me. There are a group that hang out around the farm buildings here and I’d like to get some shots, but my only lense is 18mm – 105mm. I’m thinking of dragging a step ladder to where they usually are in the morning, but it keeps raining 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Hi Henrietta! I really have very little gardening expertise, but looking at the Buddleia that lurks at our garden’s bottom, I’d wonder about any pot being able to contain one of these monsters! But hacking seems to work – early Spring is the time apparently.

      No I didn’t use flash for this shot. I don’t know much about flash, and really prefer available light. This is a colour shot that has been taken into black and white by Silver Efex Pro 2, and then had some of its colour restored in SEP2. The background was shaded anyway, but since it is essentially a black and white image, I’ve been able to turn the shading into darker tones. And over on the left, you can see that paler tones are in fact greys, rather than colours. I use this “mono + colour” technique a lot – it provides the choice of which colours to restore, and to what area, brightness and saturation.

      Oh yes, swifts, aren’t they just wonderful? One of the loves of my life! But going at them with an 18-105 is a challenge! If they are breeding on the farm buildings, they will be flying in under the eaves at one or more regular spots. With such a short lens, I think your best bet is to identify such a spot, manually focus on it, and then catch the birds as they zoom in, pressing the shutter just before they land – flash would also do it, maybe better in fact, as the birds’ dark plumage would be better illuminated. But this is no good if you scare the birds away from their nest – so some sort of hide or something, so that you’re not obviously a person? And erect the hide and leave it there for a day or two to habituate them to it.

      Glad you like the shot – thank you! Adrian


  3. Meanderer says:

    You’ve managed to make buddleia look dark, mysterious, and brooding – like long-faced creatures peering out of the dark.

    I left the house the other day and was greeted with a smell like honey. I couldn’t figure out where it was coming from – it wasn’t a perfumed rose smell. Yesterday, I realised what it must have been: buddleia from a distant garden. The smell is wonderful and alluring.


    • Adrian Lewis says:

      I like the long-faced creatures idea – thanks – some colourful but doleful, nocturnal beasts! Have I trolls at the bottom of my garden???

      I’m not good at smells (how’s that for candour?), but I think you’re right about Buddleia, I was conscious of an all-enveloping, sweet smell in the garden.

      Today’s a bit too hot and close for me but I think rain’s on the way later – and we’re out for -what else? – curry, later, along with grand daughters. How is your little man doing? I hope he’s well and blossoming. A


  4. They – are – BEAUTIFUL!


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