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  • Angie C
  • October 19, 2017 01:00:58 AM
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A Little About Us

Random thoughts and ideas about general annoyances and little ways in which the world could be made better

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  • Annual Regular Membership: 1 Year Term 2020-10-18 17:00:58 (264 days left)
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    Where to Find Single Images for Your Website or Blog

    Places to find single images to use on your website or blog without having to commit to a subscription or package

    Searching for the Right Image (image obtained from Pixabay)

    (This post contains some affiliate links, which simply means that if you make a purchase after clicking on one of these links I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you)

    I like to use my own photos for my websites whenever possible.  But sometimes I don’t have quite the right image for a particular post, and need to find one online.

    Of course there are lots of excellent microstock agencies out there which can provide every type of image imaginable.  But many of these require you to take out a subscription, or buy credit packs which can be used to purchase a number of images.  Which is not really helpful if you just need a single photo.  So where can you find single images when you need them?  Here are some places to try.

    Pixabay

    Pixabay is always the first place I look (and where I obtained the image above).  They have over a million images, most of which are completely free to download and use, with no attribution required.    You can make a small donation if you wish (I don’t do this every time I download an image, but do sometimes because I appreciate the service).  It is a great site, and can often provide the image you need.

    If you can’t find what you want on Pixabay, here are some other sites to try.

     

    Pond5

    Pond5 is best known for video footage, but they also have millions of still photos.  All of which can be purchased individually.  Photographers and artists set their own prices, and the price then varies depending on the size of image you choose.

    Royalty-Free Stock Video at Pond5

    Many of the images are excellent quality and very reasonably  priced indeed.  I have purchased images here a few times, and am amazed that this site isn’t better known as a source for still photos.  It is definitely worth checking out.

    Mostphotos

    Mostphotos claim to have over 26 million images from over 90 thousand contributors.  So you should be able to find something to suit your purpose.

    All images are available to purchase individually, with prices depending on image size and the type of license required.  Standard prices are currently $11.90 for a medium sized image or $35.00 for a large image, with extended licenses also available.

    Anyone can contribute images to Mostphotos, and there is no vetting process.  Therefore images are of variable quality, though many are very good.  You may have to search for a while to find something suitable, but chances are you will find something to fit your needs.

    Alamy

    Alamy is a very well known agency, with a massive number of stock images to choose from (apparently over 150 million!).  There are so many that the biggest problem here will probably be narrowing the choice down to find the one you want.

    All images can be purchased individually, without subscriptions or credits, with prices depending on intended use.  The standard price for website use is currently £29.99.  So they are not the cheapest, but with such a massive collection you should be able to find the perfect image.

    Clickasnap

    Clickasnap is a great community of photographers, many of whom offer their images for sale as digital downloads.  Although the range of images on offer is much smaller than the microstock agencies above, it is growing rapidly.  Photographers set their own prices, and many are very reasonable indeed.  Quite a lot of free downloads are also available.

    Cloudy sky through bare tree branches

    You are probably less likely to find the perfect image for your project here than in the large microstock agencies, but it is always worth a look.  And you might find a real bargain!

    Artist/Photographer Website 

    Of course, buying direct from an artist’s or photographer’s own website is the best way to support them.  If there is an artist or photographer whose work you admire, try searching for them to see if you can find their website.

    Some only sell prints or other products, but many do sell digital downloads.  It is possible that you may get a better price by cutting out the agency, though this isn’t always the case.

    If you would like to see a selection of my images (which are mainly flowers and nature), see Galleries.  All are available to purchase as digital downloads, and most cost £2.50 for personal use (which includes use on websites and blogs, but not resale or reproduction on products).

    Pink peach blossom

    These are the places I go to when I need an image – if you know of any other useful sources do let me know (use the comments box below) so I can add them to this post.


    Selling Photography on Print On Demand Sites

    A review of four major print on demand (POD) sites, based on the experience of a new seller, with tips for selling photography on these sites

    (This post contains some affiliate links, which simply means that if you make a purchase after clicking on one of these links I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you)

    I have been supplying images to microstock agencies for a couple of years now, with moderate success.  (See Selling Your Travel Photos and Microstock Agencies on my travel website, Self Arranged Journeys).

    Recently I decided to try another way of selling my photography, i.e. print on demand (POD) sites.  These are great.  They each have ranges of products, and you choose which products you wish to add your images to.  Then if a customer orders a product with your image, the product is printed, shipped to the customer, and you get a share of the proceeds.  Therefore you don’t have to worry about stock, printing, postage and packing, returns or any other time consuming and potentially expensive issues.

    Sunflower and Butterfly Serving Tray from Zazzle

    Of course the royalty you receive is quite small – typically around 10-20% of the product’s sale price.  But depending on the product this is often significantly more than a subscription sale on a microstock site.  And you can often set your own royalty rate, so you choose how much you want to charge.

    I thought I would write about my experiences as a newbie at POD, with regular updates to show new products and let you know how it is going.

    So, here goes.  Not being one to do things by halves, I recently opened accounts with four major POD sites (Society6, Redbubble, Fine Art America/Pixels and Zazzle).   I have been very busy uploading images ever since,  and have had my first sales.  Here are my impressions and experiences so far.

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    Society6

    Society6  have a great range of high quality products, which include wall art, home decor, kitchenware, phone cases, stationery, clothing, accessories, outdoor living and even some furniture.   I love the wood art, where your image is printed on nine wooden blocks, which can be spaced as you wish.

     

    Fern Wood Art from Society6

     

    Society6 focus particularly on excellent designs, especially in their featured products.  But many photographers as well as designers use the site, and some report excellent sales.  I made my first sale within my first month on the site – a sticker for which I received $0.40!

     

    Sycamore Tree Sticker
    Sycamore Tree Sticker -my first POD success!

     

    When you set up your account you pay a small fee of $1, and you can then upload as many images as you wish.  You choose which products you want to put each image on.  For art prints you can choose your royalty rate, but for all other products the royalty rate is fixed at 10% of the sale price.  Payments are made at the beginning of each month after the sale has cleared (which is 30 days from the date of the sale).   This can seem a long time to wait.  But the great thing is that there is no minimum threshold to reach – I received my 40 cents for the sticker in my Paypal account when the sale had cleared!

    Like all the sites, it is simple, but quite time-consuming, to upload your images.  I feel that it is worth spending time at this stage to optimise each image for each product.  What suits one product doesn’t necessarily suit another.  Changing the positioning or resizing can make a huge difference.  Once uploaded, your image will be available for the foreseeable future, so it is worth making the effort to get it right.

    Tall Grasses Coasters
    Tall Grasses Coaster Set available from Society6

     

    On uploading an image, you see a message saying that the image should be at least 6500 pixels on its smallest side.  Don’t worry if your images are smaller – it simply means that some of the products and print sizes will be unavailable to you.  You can still offer the smaller products and print sizes, and there are plenty of options.

    Tagging your images is hugely important.  This is, after all, how people searching the site will find your image.  Society6 limits you to twenty tags per image.  I try to think what terms people would use to search for a particular image.  I also think it is a good idea to have both specific and more general tags.  Thus for the blue cornflower below I included the tags ‘flower’, ‘blue flower’, ‘cornflower’, ‘blue cornflower’, ‘Centaurea cyanus’, ‘floral’, ‘bloom’, ‘plant’, ‘garden’, ‘petals’, etc.

    Blue Cornflower Art Print
    Blue Cornflower Art Print at Society6

    Society6 also have an excellent referral scheme, so you can make money by promoting the works of other photographers and artists on your blog or social media.

    My first sale may have been tiny, but I have high hopes for Society6, and will definitely continue submitting images to the site.

    To sign up with Society6, or to search their site, follow the link to Society6.

    To view my store follow the link to society6.com/angiec333.

    To join the affiliate program follow Society6 Affiliate Program.

    **********

     

    Redbubble

    Redbubble is a well known POD site, which attracts a massive number of visitors.  It is particularly known for clothing (especially T-shirts), and I feel that it appeals to a younger, more trendy audience.  Having said that, there is a hugely diverse community of designers and photographers who contribute to the site.  In addition to clothing, their range includes wall art, stationery, phone cases, home decor and accessories.

    Clematis Flower Tote Bag
    Clematis Flower Tote Bag from Redbubble

    Opening an account with Redbubble is completely free, and submitting your images is quite quick and simple.  It is easy to enable and disenable products, according to which suit your images, and to position your images as necessary.

    I particularly like the facility to tile images for larger items like shower curtains and blankets.  You select the tile grid pattern and adjust the tile size. Sometimes the results are surprisingly nice, like this closeup photograph of the centre of a red Dahlia flower.

     

    Red Dahlia Shower Curtain
    Red Dahlia Shower Curtain at Redbubble

     

    Although I feel that Redbubble is aimed predominantly at a younger and ‘hipper’ crowd, I will definitely continue to submit images to the site.  It is free, easy to use, there are some great products, and the site attracts a huge audience.  So, what is there to lose?

     

    Anemone Flower iPhone Soft Case
    Anemone Flower iPhone Soft Case from Redbubble

     

    To visit Redbubble follow Redbubble.com

    To visit my store follow AngieC333.redbubble.com

    **********

    Fine Art America / Pixels

    Fine Art America is a very established and well-known company selling, well, art.  The site is widely used by photographers as well as artists.  And whenever you upload an image to Fine Art America, the image is also sold on its sister site Pixels, which operates more like a more typical POD site.  Between them the two sites offer all manner of wall art, home decor, tote bags, notebooks, mugs, T-shirts and phone cases.

     

    White Cosmos Flowers Wrapped Canvas Art from Fine Art America/Pixels

    You can open a free account with Fine Art America, but this is limited to 25 images.  A Premium Account costs $30.00 per year, and allows you to upload an unlimited number of images.

    There are other huge advantages to having a Premium account.  One is that it provides you with your own ready-to-use Pixels website, which is a fantastic way to showcase your images.  Any images you have already submitted to Fine Art America are instantly displayed, and new ones you upload are automatically added.  You can easily customise the appearance of your website as you wish, but if time is limited, it is attractive and fully functional with no customisation whatsoever.  Here is a link to mine (angiec333.pixels.com), so you can see how it looks – I have made very few changes to the appearance.

    Another advantage of the Premium account, which I haven’t tried yet, is that it allows you to add a shopping widget to your own website.  This allows people to purchase through FAA/Pixels direct from your site.  It sounds like a great idea, and if I get round to trying it out one day I will let you know how it works.

     

    Peach Blossom Throw Cushion / Pillow
    Peach Blossom Throw Cushion from Fine Art America/Pixels

     

    Of the four sites mentioned here, I find Fine Art America the easiest one to upload images to – partly because the product range is smaller than the other sites.  Positioning and resizing images is very quick and easy to do, as is filling in the image details.

    You can set your own mark-up for each product type, and easily override this for any particular image or product you wish.  If a customer buys a frame for one of your prints you also receive a proportion of the cost of framing.   If you don’t want an image to be sold on any particular product, just delete the mark-up for that product.

     

    Tree Branches and Winter Sky Spiral Notebook
    Before the Storm Spiral Notebook from Fine Art America/Pixels

    Fine Art America has a great community of artists and photographers.  There are loads of discussions, specialist groups and community contests to enter – mainly for fun but they do mean that more people get to see your images – always a good thing.  It took me a long time to get the confidence to join this site because I thought it was for professional artists, but I am so pleased that I have now joined.  It is a nice site to be a part of.

     

    Feathertop Ornamental Grass Framed Print
    Feathertop Ornamental Grass Framed Print from Fine Art America/Pixels

     

    I feel that Fine Art America/Pixels appeals to a more discerning audience looking for art for their homes, offices or even galleries.  Therefore I think that sales are likely to be occasional (unless you are very talented), but there is always the potential for a higher price sale.  I am hoping to at least recover the $30 annual membership fee, and who knows, a big sale could be just around the corner (fingers crossed……).

    To visit Fine Art America follow Fine Art America

    To visit my Pixels website follow angiec333.pixels.com

    **********

    Zazzle

    Zazzle is different to the other sites listed here.  Incredibly Zazzle have well over 1000 different products onto which you can add your images.  Therefore you can’t just add an image to everything in the product range and make any necessary adjustments to individual products – there are just far too many and the products are too diverse.  Therefore each image has to be added separately to each product.  Which is hugely time consuming.  (There is actually a ‘Quick Add’ feature which allows you to add an image to multiple products, but like many sellers I prefer to add each one separately to make sure that it is optimised for that specific product).

    Lacy Phacelia fridge magnet – my first sale on Zazzle

     

    Products range from key rings, jewellery,  clothing and accessories, home decor and kitchenware, all manner of cards and invitations, gift wrapping supplies, jigsaw puzzles, phone and laptop cases, pet products, baby products, etc., etc.  There are some really bizarre ones like ceramic door knobs, poker chips and even ping pong balls!

    Yellow Verbascum Flower Key Ring from Zazzle

     

    Another feature which differentiates Zazzle from the other sites is that buyers can customise items by adding or changing text and images.  Therefore things that sell really well on Zazzle tend to be things like cards, invitations, and anything where text can be customised for a specific event or person.  (If you really object to the thought of your images being altered in any way, you can always disable the customisation feature, but this would limit your sales – people using this site expect to be able to add names or quotes to products they buy)

    So far I have just been adding my images to various products, and haven’t really got round to experimenting with text.   Despite this I have already had seven sales in the two months since I joined.  Admittedly two of these were postcards, for which the profit was a few cents, but two car air fresheners, a fridge magnet and a glass chopping board have also sold.   From everything I have read, these sales took place in the quietest part of the year.  And most sellers say that it takes a long time and a lot of products before you get regular sales.  I am therefore encouraged by these early successes, and hope to increase sales steadily as I keep adding more products and getting more followers.

    Clematis Design Soup Mug from Zazzle

    As I mentioned above, it is time consuming adding images and text to individual products, but with a bit of practice it becomes quicker.  You can set your own mark-up rate, and if your sales reach various thresholds you can earn volume bonuses.  Payments are made when your sales have reached $50.

    Zazzle make it very easy to promote your work on social media by providing easy linking and sharing tools.

    They also have an excellent referral program so you can promote the work of other artists and photographers and still make money.  If a design that you promote sells you receive a very generous 15% of the sale price.  Read more and sign up here.  If anyone would like to promote any of my products please feel free – if one sells I will receive around 10% and you will receive 15%!

    It is completely free to begin selling on Zazzle, and you can have as many stores on the site as you wish (useful if you want to sell very different types of products or images).  Each store can be organised and customised to make it uniquely yours.  I still need to work on the appearance of my store, but to check it out see AngieC333_Photoart.

    Pine Flowers Keepsake Box from Zazzle

    Despite the extra effort required for customising your store, choosing from the vast array of products, and uploading separately to each one, I really like Zazzle.  This is the one that I am the most optimistic about getting regular sales from one day.

    To visit Zazzle follow Zazzle

    To visit my store follow angiec333_photoart

    To join the affiliate program follow Zazzle Affiliates

     

    Shop & Create on Zazzle

    Final Thoughts and Tips

    POD is not a get rich scheme.  Unless you have images which go viral (which apparently does happen), sales will be slow, especially at first.  It takes time for people to find and share your work.

    It takes a lot of time and effort.  I have already spent many hours uploading, tagging and organising images, and will undoubtedly spend very many more.  But once uploaded, the images will be for sale for years to come.  So the time spent now may bring benefits well into the future.  I definitely feel that it is worth spending extra time now to get the images right for each product.

    Tagging is vital.  People searching the sites will only find your images if your tags match their search terms.  Not only this, but your title, description and tags may also be picked up by search engines, and this may bring extra people to your products.  Think what words and phrases people are likely to use to search for your design.  Read the advice given on the sites.  But always make sure any tags you use are relevant.

    Promotion is even more vital.  Of course you can just wait for people to stumble upon your images when they browse the sites.  But if you are new and haven’t made any sales yet, your images are unlikely to show up at the top of search results.  And there is a lot of competition.  All of the above sites have tools to help you share your creations on social media or blogs, and it makes sense to do so.  And all offer further advice and ideas for self promotion.

    Give it a Go!  If you have some decent images or designs lying around on your computer and some free time, why not give it a go.  You might make an occasional bit of extra cash, or it could turn into a regular supplementary source of income.

     

    Fritillary Flower Cross-Body Tote Bag from Zazzle
    Look out for future updates on how well it is going (or not!), as well as selections of new designs and products.

     

     


    Garden Update for July (2018) – Produce at Last!

    Latest garden update after the recent hot, dry weather

    (This post contains some affiliate links, which simply means that if you make a purchase after clicking on one of these links I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you)

    Strange Weather

    It has been such a strange season here in the UK.  I honestly can’t remember another period of hot and dry weather that was so prolonged – I literally can’t remember the last time it rained.  The grass is no longer green, and trees are beginning to shed their leaves.

    Parched grass in a garden after a long dry spell, England
    Parched grass in the garden

    Thank goodness I installed the Hozelock systems earlier this year (see An Automatic Watering System) – otherwise I would have been spending most of my time watering.  That’s the downside of growing in containers – water and nutrients are quickly lost.  And carrying a heavy watering can around in the hot sun soon loses its appeal.  Especially in the greenhouse which has regularly been over 40°C.

    The two Hozelock systems I installed do have a few annoying problems.  Because of the limited choice of settings plants tend to be watered too little or too much.   And there are a few minor leaks where the thin tubing to the individual drippers connects to the wider supply tube.  For smaller pots I have found that it is better to stand them on growbag trays lined with capillary matting, and water the trays rather than the individual plants.  This seems to work well, and although some water will be lost through evaporation, it is better than it being lost by running straight through the pot and into the ground.

    Garden watering system
    Growbag trays being watered by the Hozelock system

    Even with these minor problems the system has been a huge success.  I just hand water any plants that I think need a little more, and wastage is minimal.  And I love being able to go away for a few days without worrying about my plants while I am gone.

    Tomatoes

    I seem to have been watching the tomatoes develop for ages.  I thought that the hot sunny conditions would encourage early ripening, but that didn’t happen.

    Developing tomatoes - variety Apero
    Developing tomatoes – variety Apero

    They are only just starting to turn red.  I have grown four varieties this year – Apero, Sungold, Romello and Money Maker.  The first three have started to ripen, and the Money Makers are now well on their way.

    Ripening tomatoes, variety Apero
    Ripening tomatoes, variety Apero
    Ripening tomatoes, variety Sungold
    Ripening tomatoes, variety Sungold
    Ripening tomatoes, variety Romello
    Ripening tomatoes, variety Romello

    I love trying and comparing different varieties – it is just so interesting seeing how they all turn out.

    The Sungold and Apero are small cherry tomatoes which are great in salads.  The Romello are small plum-shaped tomatoes – also good in salads and ideal for cooking in pasta dishes and sauces.  Money Maker, which I grew last year, are larger and perfect for sandwiches.

    On first impressions the Sungold seem to be the tastiest, though the others may improve with a bit more time.

    I have grown all of these tomatoes from seed which I sowed indoors in January and February.   I chose these varieties from the huge selection at Thomson & Morgan, and have been very pleased with the germination rate and growth.  Hopefully it will now be several months before I have to buy any more from the shops!



    Other Successes

    There have been a few other successes.

    I had quite a good crop of broccoli (actually calabrese) – mainly varieties Green Magic and Kabuki F1.

    Broccoli variety Green Magic
    Broccoli variety Green Magic

    Fortunately I managed to harvest many of the plants before the cabbage white butterflies appeared.  (The butterflies have now descended on the garden en masse, and are seeking out every Brassica in sight, so it is only a matter of time before the caterpillars start munching.  I am trying to remove as many eggs as possible, but I think it is a losing battle!)

    Cabbage white butterfly and eggs on a broccoli plant
    Cabbage white butterfly and eggs on a broccoli plant

    Beans are doing well.  I have bush varieties in various containers, which I have already been harvesting, and climbing ones on the trellis which are growing rapidly and starting to produce flowers.

    Beans growing on a trellis
    Beans growing on one of the trellises

    The carrots growing in the VegTrug are still small but doing really well.   The Trug makes it really easy to harvest them – no bending or digging.  A quick wash and they are ready to cook – great!

    First crop of carrots, variety Nantes
    First crop of carrots, variety Nantes

    Various lettuces and salad leaves are growing all over the place – in the VegTrug, in troughs in the garden and these under the staging in the greenhouse.  It’s great.  Whenever I want sandwiches, a garnish or a full salad I just pick whichever leaves I fancy – and in a few days they have regrown – magic!

    Salad leaves growing in bowls
    Salad leaves growing in the greenhouse

    I had a small crop from my “Ruby Falls” raspberry bush, but the raspberries were good, but not quite as sweet as I hoped.  This was the plant’s first year, and I am hoping it will produce a better crop next year.  I also have a blackberry bush which is now producing flowers, and a heavily laden blueberry bush coming along great.

    Ruby Falls raspberry bush
    Ripe raspberry

    Watering fruit bushes growing in containers might be a problem, but at least it is easy to protect them from birds and insects (see A Great Way to Protect Soft Fruit in Your Garden).  And if there is very bad weather in the winter I can just move them into the greenhouse.



    Not So Successful

    Not everything has been doing well.  I seem to have had massive problems with greenfly and whitefly this year – perhaps because they need heavy showers to keep washing them off the leaves?  Or perhaps because of a lack of natural predators – I have hardly seen any ladybirds this year, and none in my garden.

    My chilli plants, which have been so successful the last couple of years, have been really suffering.  The leaves are shrunken and the plants are horribly sticky with honeydew – despite me regularly spraying them with soapy water and manually removing badly infected leaves.

    My sweet pepper plants were even worse – so bad that I have given up on them.

    And I succeeded in growing all of three pea pods – some mystery disease caused my plants to wither and die.  Such a shame – they did fine last year.

    So Satisfying

    Despite these minor setbacks, I am really enjoying my experiments in growing fruit and veg plants.  When it works, and the plants produce, it is just so satisfying to pick ingredients for a meal just before I cook it.  I am cooking lots of pasta dishes and stirfries using my own brocolli, beans, carrots, spring onions, tomatoes and, hopefully soon, courgettes and baby corn.  I have an abundance of salad leaves for sandwiches and salads, and herbs and spices for flavouring.  And some tasty fresh berries are on their way.

    Salad leaves and tomatoes in a bowl
    A quick side salad

    If you haven’t tried already, why not give it a go?  You don’t need a large garden, and all sorts of containers can be used to grow things in.  Like me you can learn as you go along, and like me you just might become hooked…..

    Minipop sweetcorn growing in a pot
    Minipop sweetcorn growing in a pot

     

    10% Off Fruit Cages at Harrod Horticultural

     


    Wonderful Woods – A Photographic Celebration

    A photographic celebration of the wonderful woods we can enjoy throughout the year

    (This post contains some affiliate links, which simply means that if you make a purchase after clicking on one of these links I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you)

    Woods are such special places.  Of course trees are the major feature, but they provide a habitat for so many other forms of life.  Wild flowers, ferns, fungi, birds, small mammals, deer, insects and spiders, molluscs, and a myriad of other creatures.

    Yorkshire Arboretum, North Yorkshire
    Shady spot in the Yorkshire Arboretum

    Walking through woodland is always a magical experience, whatever the season.  What could be nicer than listening to birdsong surrounded by dappled light and swaying branches?  You get shelter from the sun, wind and rain, and there is always that feeling of not knowing what you might see next.

    Woodland at Scampston, North Yorkshire
    Woodland at Scampston, North Yorkshire

     

    We have lots of wonderful woodland around my home in North Yorkshire.  I have put together a seasonal collection of some of my favourite woodland photos from strolls in sites I visit often.  Most were taken not far from my home in York, though a few are from other sites in the North of England.

    All of these photos are available to purchase as digital downloads (Paypal account required).  Just click on any image for details.

    Please note that images purchased with a personal license are for your own personal use only (including use on your blog or website).  If they are intended to be resold or used for any other commercial purpose a commercial license is required.

    Spring

    Spring in woodland is characterised by the vivid green of fresh new leaves, and the wild flowers which flourish while light can still reach ground.  The birds sing and the bees appear.

    Path through the Yorkshire Arboretum, North Yorkshire
    Path through the Yorkshire Arboretum
    Fresh spring leaves
    Fresh spring leaves
    Sunlight illuminating the trees at the Humber Bridge Country Park, Hull, England
    Sunlight in the Humber Bridge Country Park, East Yorkshire
    Woods near Swainby in the North York Moors, England
    Spring light and bluebells in the woods near Swainby in the North York Moors
    Vivid green colours in the woods near Swainby in the North York Moors, England
    Vivid green colours in the woods near Swainby in the North York Moors
    Newly unfurled fern leaves
    Newly unfurled fern leaves

     

    Summer

    In summer the greens are darker and the canopy denser.  The shade is welcome on hot sunny days.  Though some of the insects are not!

    Track through the woods at Scampston, North Yorkshire
    Track through the woods at Scampston, North Yorkshire
    Giant redwood tree trunk
    Giant redwood tree trunk at Ripley, Yorkshire
    Woods near Swainby in the North York Moors
    Deep in the woods near Swainby in the North York Moors
    Path through the trees near Swainby, North York Moors, England
    Path through the woods near Swainby, North York Moors
    Humber Bridge Country Park
    Woods in an old quarry in the Humber Bridge Country Park
    Woods at Normanby Hall, Lincolnshire
    Woods at Normanby Hall, Lincolnshire
    Woods at Askham Bryan near York, England
    Woods at Askham Bryan
    Path through woodland at Beningbrough Hall, North Yorkshire
    Woodland path at Beningbrough
    Path through the woods at Fairburn Ings, Yorkshire
    Path through the woods at Fairburn Ings nature reserve

     



    Autumn

    Autumn is a season of dramatic colours and profound change.  Trees lose their leaves, nuts, cones and old wood, and creatures prepare to hibernate.

    Path through the woods at Gibside, Tyne and Wear, England
    Path through the woods at Gibside, Tyne and Wear
    River Derwent at Gibside, Tyne and Wear
    River Derwent at Gibside
    Autumn colours in the woods at Wallington, Northumberland
    Beautiful autumn colours in the woods at Wallington, Northumberland
    Autumn in the woods at Wallington, Northumberland
    Fallen leaves in the woods at Wallington, Northumberland
    Autumn sunlight in a wood
    Autumn sunlight in the woods at Wallington
    Shadowy trees
    Shadowy trees in the Yorkshire Arboretum
    Old horse chestnut
    Old horse chestnut at the Yorkshire Arboretum
    Autumn Glory maples
    Autumn Glory maples looking truly glorious at the Yorkshire Arboretum

     



    Winter

    I love the starkness of deciduous trees in winter – you can really appreciate their form and structure.  And coniferous woodland takes on a dark, moody feel which adds atmosphere and mystery.

    Bare trees against a moody winter sky
    Bare trees against a moody winter sky in woods near York
    Bare tree branches in winter
    Bare branches
    Winter light in the woods at Studley Royal, North Yorkshire
    Winter light in the woods at Studley Royal near Fountains Abbey, North Yorkshire
    Woods at Studley Royal, North Yorkshire
    Another photo of winter in the woods at Studley Royal
    Bracket fungus on a mossy tree stump
    Bracket fungus on a mossy tree stump

    You can see many more of my photos by visiting my portfolios at Dreamstime and Shutterstock (just follow the links).   

    Many are also available to purchase as wall art, stationery, phone cases, gifts and more – please see my shop at Society6.

    If you are interested in selling your own photos, why not give it a try – just follow the links to sell at Dreamstime or sell at Shutterstock.

    Looking up
    Looking up


    Garden Update – Exciting Times

    An update on the progress of various vegetable plants and flowers in my garden

    Potato plants growing in a bag
    Potato plants growing well in a bag

    (This post contains some affiliate links, which simply means that if you make a purchase after clicking on one of these links I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you)

    Many of the fruit, vegetable and flowering plants in various containers around my garden are really coming along now.  This time of year is so exciting – every day there are changes and new developments.

    So I thought it was time for another update.

    Tomatoes

    These really are coming along a treat, both in the greenhouse and outside in the garden.  Unlike last year, when I more or less let them grow as they wished, this year I have kept the cordon varieties under control by cutting off side branches and tying them regularly to canes, as you are supposed to do.  They look so much neater, and are now producing flowers, like the ones in the photo below which are on one of the Apero variety plants.  There is even evidence of a tiny tomato beginning to develop on the lowest flower!

    Flowers on a tomato plant
    Flowers on one of my Apero tomato plants

    I am also growing some bush-type tomatoes, which do not need supporting and side branch removal.  The variety is Romello, which I grew last year and was really pleased with.  It produces small slightly elongated tomatoes which are tasty and perfect for homemade pasta dishes.  Hopefully I will have some photos to show you soon!

    Bush tomato plant, variety Romello
    Bush tomato plant, variety Romello

    Strawberries

    The first of the strawberries have ripened, and we had our first sample the other day – so tasty!  The one shown in the photo below is variety Cambridge Favourite, bought as bare root plants.  Hopefully they will keep producing fruit for a long time.

    First strawberry of the year
    First strawberry of the year

    The VegTrug

    In its new position with plenty of sunlight, and regular watering due to the installation of the Hozelock irrigation system, the VegTrug is really coming into its own this year (see posts on Mistakes Made with a VegTrug and Automatic Watering System).  It is already producing several varieties of lovely lettuces, and the carrots in the deeper part of the Trug are coming along fine.

    Lettuces, carrots and a strawberry plant growing in a VegTrug
    Lettuces, carrots and a strawberry plant growing in the VegTrug
    Lettuces, carrots and a strawberry plant growing in a VegTrug
    Another view of the VegTrug

    Flowers

    I love these delicate little petunias, found at a local garden store, which I hope will eventually trail over the pot.

    Tiny trailing petunias
    Tiny trailing petunias

    And these big showy ones

    Dark pink petunias growing in a pot
    Dark pink petunias

    Our Cosmos plants in various pots are beginning to flower – I think they are really pretty.

    Cosmos flowers and buds
    Cosmos flowers and buds

    The Anemone de Caen bulbs I set around Christmas have been lovely, but are now beginning to fade.

    Anemone De Caen flowers in a pot
    Anemone de Caen flowers a couple of weeks ago

    And I recently bought some cranesbill geranium plants to set in a border.  The first delicate little flowers have just opened.

    Geraniums flowering beside a wooden fence
    Geraniums flowering beside a wooden fence

    Although my main interest is growing edible plants, it is great to have these little splashes of colour around the garden!

    Less Successful Attempts

    Not everything is growing as planned.  Last year I was really pleased with my first attempt at growing peas.  This year the peas germinated fine, but after a couple of weeks the plants began to look wizened with brown patches and holes appearing in the leaves.

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    Mystery disease in pea plants

    I don’t know what is causing this.  I haven’t seen any slugs or insects on the plants, but clearly the plants are not thriving, and I think I will have to give up on them.  If anyone knows what the problem is I would love to hear from them for future reference….

    My broccoli plants are also being severely eaten by something, though I haven’t seen anything on the plants.  They still seem to be growing, so perhaps there is hope here.

    Broccoli plant with leaves eaten by pests
    Broccoli plant with leaves eaten by a mystery pest

    I can’t believe that until a couple of years ago I had no interest whatsoever in gardening.  Now I can’t imagine not wanting to grow things.  And there are just so many different plants and varieties to try.

    I find that when I use ingredients I have grown myself I appreciate them so much more. Even though they do take so much more effort than popping into the supermarket.  Some taste better than those bought in the shops, and others, if I am honest, are less good.  But the fact that I have cared for them and watched them grow, usually from seed, just makes them so much more special.




    A Great Way to Protect Soft Fruit in Your Garden

    A simple way to protect soft fruit growing in your garden

    Popadome Crop Protectors
    Popadome crop protectors in my garden

    (This post contains some affiliate links, which simply means that if you make a purchase after clicking on one of these links I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you)

    If you grow soft fruit like blueberries and raspberries in your garden, you will need a way to prevent birds from eating your developing fruit.

    You can, of course, make your own protective covers using garden netting and canes.  But it can be quite tricky to do it well, especially in a small garden, and it can also make it difficult to harvest your fruit.

    A couple of years ago I came across an ideal solution in a local garden centre – a Popadome fruit protector.

    This consists of a strong mesh cover through which you slot a flexible frame.  The mesh is large enough to let pollinators through, but small enough to keep out most butterflies and birds.  There is also a copper strip around the bottom to deter slugs and snails, and it comes with pegs to keep it grounded.  A zip allows easy access for harvesting.

    Popadome fruit protector over a blueberry bush and dwarf raspberry
    Our original Popadome fruit protector over a blueberry bush and dwarf raspberry

    Now in its third year of use, my original Popadome is looking a bit faded, but still doing its job perfectly.

    Because my blueberry bush has now grown larger, and I now also have a dwarf blackberry plant, I decided to buy an additional Popadome this year.  It is no longer available in our local garden centre, but I found it available in a range of sizes online at Harrod Horticultural.  The price was good, and with an excellent delivery service my new Popadome duly turned up promptly.

    10% Off Fruit Cages at Harrod Horticultural

    The Popadome is easily assembled (and just as easily disassembled to store in its own bag for the winter).

    Popadome storage bag
    Popadome storage bag
    Popadome crop protector components
    Components of the kit
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    First flexible rod inserted during assembly
    Popadome Fruit Protector
    Our newly assembled Popadome covering dwarf raspberry and blackberry plants

    The front zip gives access to the plants, but to be honest I find it just as easy to remove the ground pegs and lift the whole frame off when I want to harvest the fruit – it only takes a minute.  And you can easily water the plants directly through the mesh.

    The Popadome is such a simple solution for keeping birds off soft fruit (and other) plants that I am amazed you don’t see these readily available in garden centres.  I wouldn’t be without mine.




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