Haven’t been here in a while…

In the meantime, I sold my ground-floor apartment (the one with the “aiuole rialzate”) and purchased a half house (bifamiliare) with some actual garden space (YAY!)

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Aiuole rialzate

A few pics, quality not too great:

Front of house, this morning.

Front of house

I had pruned the Parthenocissus nicely so as not to bother the neighbor. Then the neighbor snuck out at night and cut off a large branch above my doorway, hence the hole 😦

New aiuola in opposite corner:

New Tropical corner

This area is named “Miserable Corner”, due to the triple misery of

  1. Very wet and shady in the winter
  2. West / Northwest exposure, gets scorched in summer afternoons
  3. Wind-tunnel effect caused by surrounding buildings; gets pummeled in a storm

So, after some thought I decided my strategy here would be to put a bunch of indestructible plants: bamboo, ornamental grasses, Leycesteria, Hollyhocks.

But then I bought a fern, realized ferns like me :P, bought more ferns…

Then I got bold and decided the Miserable Corner will become a Tropical Oasis, or something. So I bought a bunch of other stuff. Oh, keep in mind that I wracked my brain – and the webs – to find as many evergreen plants as possible; I don’t want to see a bare wasteland half of the year. Padova is zone 8a, this corner could be 8b or higher; the major problem here is not the cold, but the nasty semi-frozen wetness of our winters.

See what you think:

Miserable Corner - Left

This is the sunniest part of the corner.

  • Miscanthus sinensis ‘Rotsilber’
  • Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’, Althaea rosea nigra behind
  • Carex of some kind, variegated, not small (I’m gonna have to move it)
  • behind the carex, Equisetum hyemale, in its own pot to keep it extra moist.
  • Leycesteria formosa, with a small Campanula and Carex grayi in front

Miserable Corner - Center

Starting from under the Leycesteria:

  • an evergreen fern, looks like Dryopteris erythrosora
  • in front; two Astilbe chinensis and a few more small Campanula
  • behind them a Hosta ‘Sun Power’, they say it’s particularly sun tolerant for a hosta
  • behind it another hollyhock, double white flowered, probably in too much shade, two Carex pendula and the bamboo (I believe a Pseudosasa)
  • next to the bamboo a Fatsia japonica, in front of it another fern (Cyrtomium of some kind) and another Carex grayi

A number of these guys will become quite large with time. Not only that, there is another “monster” which is currently not visible:

Zooming in on center area

Yeah, a Colocasia esculenta (Taro), right in center stage! I’m setting myself up to do a lot of plant moving in a year or two!

Finally,

Miserable corner - right, detail

This is the righthand area, the least sunny, with my first fern, a Polistychum polyblepharum, which has grown fantastically in the two years since I bought it.

[have to remove Phormium from there, not enough sun]

The wonders of Photoshop

I’ve worked with Adobe Photoshop since my years at the University of Michigan, mostly on web-related graphics. Yet it has been only recently that I discovered its photo retouching features, which for the most part have always been there (hence the name).

I am working on a collage of old photos, to be printed on a large canvas. My current “guinea pig” depicts a couple at a restaurant, circa 1950s.

The photo is taken in black and white. After reading some of the excellent tutorials at RetouchPRO, I re-scanned it with the following characteristics:

  • Full color (RGB) scan, 1200 dpi, all scanner software effects off;
  • 8 bit depth, forced by my scanner at this resolution
  • Saved as TIFF

Here is the result:

After working on it a bit with Photoshop, here is my current version:

Some of the salient tools used here involve a number of layer masks, the fantastic Levels filter, Dust & Scratches (admittedly with a heavy hand), some vanilla-flavor sharpening (although I have tested separately the High Pass filter, which is IMHO a superior option);  I also created a separate Levels layer for the woman in the figure to correct some overexposure in the original.

The masking applied is a bit sharp; in some places the halo produced by the blurred layer at the bottom leaks through to the top. Still, I am stunned by the amount of information I could retrieve from this scan via the wonders of Photoshop.