Posted tagged ‘garden writing’

The Custom Header as Art Form

June 26, 2010

One of the hats I wear at Landscape Projects is that of newsletter editor. About four or five years ago, its design got a long-needed update from a graphics designer who is a friend of our company president. And one of the things he did that pleased me the most was to use my photographs in “slices” at the top of several of the pages. You can see a sample of the newsletter here. So, for example, a rather routine photo of  the base of a beech tree

Beech tree roots

The original photo that was cropped for the newsletter "header."

could be used as a graphic element that could set off  a “slice” of another image with some of the same colors. (To see these two photos side by side, go to page three of the newsletter link here).

The adjoining photo, which was also cropped as a "slice" to go next to the beech roots.

I loved the way he used my photos and it inspired me to shoot with an eye for images that would look interesting cropped narrowly in a horizontal format. So when I started a blog at WordPress, I knew I wanted a theme with a customizable header that I could change whenever I felt like it, to take advantage of the same idea.

If you’ve been reading this blog (and my thanks to those of you who have!) but have come to it only recently, you may have missed some of the first headers. Here’s one I used around the holidays.

This is a cropped photo from a Christmas tree at Longwood Gardens. The font is Papyrus. Nice, but hard to read.

I use WordPress’  ‘Sapphire’ theme, which calls for images 740 pixels wide by 180 pixels high. I find a photo I like that has a background where type will be readable, crop it to these dimensions in Photoshop, and put my “Garden Shoots” header text on it. Then I save the cropped image as a low-resolution JPEG file and upload it as my header.

From the outset, I wanted to use headers that more or less corresponded seasonally to the time of year when I’m writing. That probably means fewer header changes in winter, and more in spring, summer & fall. I also decided to use a simpler font, and stick to white typeface whenever I can, although on lighter backgrounds I sometimes have to get creative, as with the iris header that was up last week:

I used a font color sampled from the golden yellow of the iris' eye to make the text stand out against the green background and white of the flower in this header.

Here’s one from early spring in the DC area, when the dogwoods were in bloom:

I tried white type on this header but it wasn't very readable. The font is Gill Sans MT.

The next one is one of my favorite headers so far. I took the photo at Brookside Gardens and cropped it so the the Nectaroscordum siculum is primarily on the left with space for the text on the upper right-hand side.

Another spring favorite was the allium with baptisia, a shot taken in a client’s garden.

Same font, this time slightly smaller to keep it from running into the allium.

The possibilities are endless, and can include larger garden scenes.

Sissinghurst Garden

A Sissinghurst Garden "slice" which could be used as a header. The upper-right hand corner of the photo is dark enough for white type, and just about the right size since the alstroemaria in the left side of the image are what's important.

I don’t want to give away what’s in store for the upcoming months so I will close here.

But here’s an offer for anyone with a customizable header and a photo you like. Send me your name, either by e-mail at or by leaving a comment on this post, and I will randomly select one entrant as the winner of a custom header for your blog. Details to be worked out later, but I promise to get it done within a month of the drawing. Deadline for submitting comments or sending e-mails is July 10, 2010. And thanks for reading!

The Blundering Gardener

April 7, 2010

I don’t usually do mid-week posts these days because of my general state of insanity due to work, but I wanted to share some big news with those of you who love gardening and excellent writing, with a dash of humor into the bargain.

The Blundering Gardener, Bonnie Blodgett, gardening writing, gardening videos

Bonnie in full gardening regalia (Drawing courtesy of The Blundering

My friend Bonnie Blodgett, who lives in St. Paul, MN, for years has published an award-winning quarterly newsletter, The Garden Letter. Recently she  started a new website, The Blundering Gardener, which has just gone live. On it she blogs, talks about her new book (see below), and offers wonderful short videos on everything from how not to get a large birch tree off your pickup truck when you just HAVE to put it in the ground that very day, to beautifying the  top of your garage with cedar shingles.

When I visited her last summer, she had just finished her new book, Remembering Smell: A Memoir of Losing –  and Discovering –  the Primal Sense. Can you imagine having that happen to you as a gardener – or to anyone, for that matter?  The book is due out in June and I just pre-ordered a copy from Amazon. You can check out some of the glowing advance reviews, including one from Bill Bryson, on her website.  While you’re there, you can also subscribe to The Garden Letter, which Bonnie is still putting out quarterly. I consider the issues required reading.

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