This is a very nice Coreopsis (tickseed) growing in a container on our back patio. I like these larger-petaled Coreopsis flowers more than the fine-petaled varieties. I suppose they both have their uses but these are so much bolder and brighter. They certainly make a good show and outside the kitchen door is a nice place for a big splash of yellow. These are reliable blooms and come ahead of the sea of black-eyed Susans that fill our backyard later in the summer. For now, these are the sole source of this color in our garden (there are a few yellow irises but they are a much paler yellow).
Spiderwort (Tradescantia virginiana) is one of my favorite perennials. It’s easy to grow, it does well in sun or shade, it can take fairly dry conditions, and it blooms for a nice, long while. We have one with leaves that are very pale green, almost yellow. We have one with flowers that are much more pink and some that are nearly pure, deep blue. Each bloom lasts for a day only but there are a lot of them, following one after the other.
From the Missouri Botanical Garden page:
Genus name honors John Tradescant (1570-1638) and his son John Tradescant (1608-1662), botanists and successive gardeners to Charles I of England.
Specific epithet means of Virginia.
When the stems of spiderworts are cut, a viscous stem secretion is released which becomes threadlike and silky upon hardening (like a spider’s web), hence the common name.
In yesterday’s post I mentioned that this is not the year for the huge brood of 17-year cicadas. I also said that there were, nevertheless, a noticeable number of cicadas about, mostly obvious from their exuviae (their shed exoskeletons) on small plants all around the yard. Well, I got a pretty good picture of an adult cicada today and I’m pretty sure this is a Riley’s 13-year cicada (Magicicada tredecim). It is identified as a periodical cicada by its red or orange eyes (the annual cicadas have black eyes). The orange patch between the eye and the wing identifies it as Magicicada tredecim.
The last time we had the huge brood of 17 year cicadas was in 2004. Well, that was 13 years ago. That means that this admittedly smaller brood of 13-year cicadas happened to coincide with that larger brood, making 2004 an especially huge event, more than either of them would be on their own. So, in four more years, the 17-year cicadas shouldn’t be as bad as they were in 2004. That’s good to know.
By the way, if you are of a mind to try one, they don’t taste like much. Just saying.
I went out into the yard after work today and took some pictures. I started with some yellow irises that have started to bloom. From there I moved on to take a few rose pictures, the multiflora rose, ‘Blush Noisette’, and my newest, ‘Cutie Pie’. The cicadas are out in significant numbers. This isn’t the year of the largest local brood, which isn’t due until 2021. But there are still quite a few of them. Finally, I took some pictures of this small spider web in the dying Colorado spruce in our front yard. It’s not as sharp as I would have liked, having been taken in somewhat dim light and without the aid of a tripod (and the branch was moving a bit int he breeze.
I went out into the woods next to my building late this morning. There wasn’t a lot that I found interesting but I took a few pictures. Before I went back inside, though, I thought I’d walk over to the pond on the other side of the building and see if the ducklings were still there. They were not but this great blue heron (Ardea herodias) was and I was able to get a few decent pictures before he flew off. I also watched a couple tiger swallowtails (Papilio glaucus) fluttering around and getting water from the mud at the pond’s edge. All in all, a nice, relaxing outing to break up an otherwise uneventful day at the office.
My pink multiflora rose is in full bloom. I suspect it isn’t 100% R. multiflora, because those have white flowers and this is clearly not white. What the rest of its genetic makeup is, I really couldn’t say. R. virginiana would be a reasonable guess. The color is right. The leaves are definitely R. multiflora and it’s got the requisite resistance to black spot. It’s possibly a bit less vigorous, but that’s probably something in its favor. R. multiflora will generally take over and this is large, but fairly well behaved. Pity it only blooms once, but then, the same can be said for the azaleas.
I know, I know. There are those among you who would be happier if I would just stop taking pictures of spiders all together. I’m sorry, but I think they are fascinating and beautiful creatures and I don’t see myself stopping any time soon. This one, which I think is a dwarf spider (subfamily Erigoninae), is quite safe to be around. Her body is probably 3 to 4 mm long and her jaws are not likely strong enough even to break your skin. So, no problems here. And don’t forget what spiders eat. If you don’t like flying insects, then spiders are your friend. I get not wanting them all around in your house but in the garden, please let them be.
This little Siberian iris was originally planted in our garden in Gaithersburg. When we were getting ready to move I dug up a portion of it and brought it with us. It’s been doing pretty well in our yard here for ten years. Like most Siberian irises and despite being named ‘Eric The Red’, this flower is purple rather than anything you could describe as red. Some Siberian irises are much bluer, of course, so it has more red in it than those. But it’s purple, not red. Still, it’s a happy little flower and quite content without needing much of any care to do well. In a bit more sun we’d probably get more flowers but it’s happy where it is.
Today is Mother’s Day. For many people that means buying cut flowers and taking their wife or mother out to lunch. For us it means a trip to the garden center. This is our third trip in two weeks and we now have enough plants to keep us busy for a little while. Mostly we buy annuals that Cathy will put into containers, including some at her mother’s house. On the two previous trips I bought a shrub each time but I didn’t get anything for myself this time (it’s Mother’s Day, after all). But I did bring my camera and while Cathy made up her mind what to buy, I took pictures.
They had quite a few Fuchsias in hanging baskets. Most of them were this variety, called ‘Dark Eyes’. There was another that had a white part instead of the purple here. I prefer this one over that. There were also a lot of really lovely gazanias and dahlias, which are always quite impressive. They have a few trees and one, a Japanese snowbell (Styrax japonica) was in full, glorious bloom. That’s a tree I should consider for our yard. Very lovely.
Cathy and I went to Stadler Nursery this afternoon and while Cathy picked out a few perennials, I took a bunch of pictures. Actually, I bought something, as well, a Camellia japonica ‘Kumasaka’. I’m not sure where I’ll plant it but I’m thinking that it might go in front of the house to replace the dogwood that’s much too close to the house and really needs to come out. This photo is of an Asiatic lily called ‘Tiny Sensation’ and it’s a stunner. We have a few Asiatics in the yard and in containers. They mostly have solid colored blooms but all are quite hot.
This is the first of our bearded irises to bloom this year. We have a few of this color scattered around the yard, as well as a few that are bright yellow. I love the way the water droplets look on leaves and flower petals. I guess that’s why they are so often subjects of my photographic efforts. I’m not sure they ever really capture them properly but this one is pretty nice. The color of this flower is nice, too, of course, being such a deep purple. I don’t have a lot else to say. I guess I hope speaks for itself.
I enjoyed taking pictures of these two having fun in the kitchen this evening. Grace did most of the flipping. They both did a lot of laughing. Grace posted a picture similar to this shortly after I got it off my camera and shared it with her. I’m a little late getting to it but I also have taken the time to make a few changes. First, I cropped the image a bit. Second, I replaced the image of Emily with one from a different picture that I think is better (her eyes are open, for instance). Getting the timing right so I could get the pancake in the air was the trickiest part, of course. It was much easier after she got more height on them, as in this image.
One of the shrubs that was in our yard when we bought this house is a large viburnum. It’s in the somewhat shady, northern end of the back yard next to a Spiraea. Some years the bloom isn’t anything to mention but this year is one of the best it’s had since we have lived here (over ten years). The individual flowers are not much to speak of the the entire bush, about ten feel tall and equally broad, is absolutely covered with them. It’s not quite pure white but close enough. The birds love this bush and right now, the insects are pretty happy with it, as well. Once the blooming is done, I’m going to do a bit of cutting, because it tends to get too big and it’s been a few years, but for now, we are really enjoying it.
Cathy and I went out for a later afternoon walk today. We just walked around my building a few times but I brought my camera, as I usually do. There were some ducks and ducklings on the pond but today’s picture is this spider, a Castianeira species of some sort. Castianeira is a genus of spiders with about 26 species in North America. They are members of the Corinnidae, the antmimics and ground sac spiders. This isn’t a particularly good picture, having been taken hand-held at 1/60 second in somewhat dim light in a parking lot. Still, it’s a new spider for me and one I’ll look for again when I have more time to get a good picture.
I follow a bunch of folks on Instagram who specialize in pictures of birds. These folks take amazing pictures and I’m a little embarrassed to post this picture which compared to theirs is pretty pathetic. To get good pictures of birds, the first requirement is a good telephoto lens, a tripod, and a significant commitment of time. Today I was in the woods next to my office with none of those things. I had a 100mm lens, hand held, and only a short time to grab a few pictures. I wasn’t thinking of bird pictures when I went out. But I wasn’t in the woods long when I noticed more than one Baltimore oriole flitting around among the trees. This is the best shot I was able to get and even this is only adequate to identify this as an oriole. Maybe one day I’ll get some of the fabulous photos of birds that I enjoy from others. But this is not that day.
This is a large and very easily grown rugosa rose that I’ve had in the yard since we first moved here. It’s about 9 feet tall and that’s the only real problem with it. It’s too tall to really be able to appreciate most of the blooms, which are all up at the top. If given more room the branches would arch over and more flowers would be accessible but it’s not sited well enough for that. I may need to move it but it is very happy where it is. Also, the blooms are quite visible from the kitchen, which is certainly a plus. The fragrance, as with most rugosa roses, it wonderful and strong.
As mentioned in yesterday’s post, we drove to West Virginia and spent the night at the PSC Field House in the North Form Mountain area. We got a reasonable night’s sleep and after a hearty breakfast, six of us headed off the Hamilton Cave. Ralph and Stephen are both experienced cavers but the rest of us were beginners. We’ve all been in the big, commercial caverns like Luray or Carlsbad (although I’d really like to see Carl’s Good cavern!). I’ve been in a reasonable number of caves in the USA, France, England, Greece, and Slovakia (although it was Czechoslovakia at the time). But this was the first time in a cave such as this. Hamilton cave has a pretty good maze of passages and I’m certainly glad we had two people who knew their way around.
After checking in at The Register, we made our way to our first goal, the Slab Room. This is named for the large slab of rock that fell in the distant past (well, probably recent in geologic terms, but it was more than a few years ago). Getting here involved passages where we had to crawl on all fours and a couple stretches where I had to take off my small day pack and push it in front of me while I slithered along on my front in what I know as an army crawl. You know the one, where you are lying prone and you pull yourself along with your elbow and push with your knees. It can be fairly tiring, especially for someone carrying extra weight and with not-terribly-strong arms. But we all made it through. There were other places where we could walk upright and they were very welcome, I can tell you.
There was an even tighter spot than those the required an army crawl. There is one place where the passage gets fairly narrow between two smooth, nearly vertical rocks. They are closest together at just the wrong height from the ground for someone about my height and with a larger than necessary midsection. If you know what i mean.
It was not quite Winnie-the-Pooh in Rabbit’s Hole but it was tight. Fortunately they didn’t hang dish towels on my legs. Getting through that required getting up on my toes so my largest part was a little higher than the tightest part, and then getting a bit of a push from Stephen. The second picture here is further into the cave than that tightish bit. It shows Seth sitting in a fairly large room as the others made their way up behind him. The last picture was actually taken between the other two. I don’t often take selfies but I thought in this case I would. So, that’s me in my caving gear. Looks as though I’ve been crawling in the dirt, doesn’t it?
As you can probably guess by the fact that I’m posting this, I made it out. We all had a good time and were certainly glad we went. I will confess to being glad to see the sunlight again and to be able to stand up without worrying about hitting my head on a rock.
Today was day one of our two-day, family caving expedition. The eight of us met up at Ralph’s and drove to south of Petersburg, West Virginia. We arrived before sunset at the PSC field house and got settled in. It’s not exactly four star luxury but then, we were not expecting it to be (it’s actually pretty nice, really). This is the view back down the road we came up. It’s certainly a good idea to have four wheel drive and reasonable clearance on that, especially the place where it crosses the creek. After a horrendously rainy morning, the drive was quite nice and we arrived to a beautiful, cool, breezy evening.
When anyone advertises anything as the ‘first annual’ whatever, you have to admire their optimism. I mean, anyone can have a ‘first annual’ anything but following that with a ‘second annual’ is the tricky bit. That’s not to say things just happen after that, but doing something twice on the same day of the year is a real milestone (or is it a millstone?). The National Day of Prayer, established in 1952 to be held on the first Thursday in May, was the occasion of the second annual Montgomery County Prayer Breakfast with over 100 in attendance. Many thanks to Paul and Janet for their efforts to get this going and for enlisting sponsors to cover the costs.
We have quite a bit of columbine (Aquilegia) growing in our yard. Many of the plants are seedlings and most look something like this. There are lots of quite fancy and brightly colored columbines among the 60 or 70 species (and many more varieties) but we’re happy enough with the slightly more staid, darker colors. Backlit by the sun the red comes alive and is quite bright. Growing mostly in the shade, however, it rarely gets this treatment. Still, it’s a good plant to have and isn’t generally bothered by rabbits or deer.