I was really hoping for another good sunset this evening. There were lines of clouds in the west and it had the look of shaping up to be quite nice. By 8:40 or so, however, most of the clouds were gone and there were just a few, low in the sky and mostly behind the trees and houses of our neighborhood. This photo was taken at 8:51 and there is a little color on the clouds but this isn’t the sort of sunset you call your family out to see. I took pictures and got what I could, but it wasn’t what I had hoped for. Maybe next time.
I was down at my mom’s after work and looked around for something to photograph. There isn’t really anything in bloom in her yard right now, but the leaves on the fig tree that dad planted caught my eye. The common fig, Ficus carica, is not completely hardy in our area but planted in a protected spot and given some winter protection, it can be successfully grown. My grandparents, in southern North Carolina, got a lot more figs off their much larger tree. This tree never produced enough figs on its own to make any significant quantity of preserves so mom had to supplement it with figs bought at the market.
When Dorothy was born and we gave her the middle name Rose, a friend gave us a small Rose of Sharon plant. We had that in a container until we moved to our current house and then Cathy planted it in the garden along the south end of our back yard. It has flourished and indeed it is something of a constant chore to pull up the seedlings that appear around the yard, but I will confess that I like the flowers on this large shrub or small tree. They appear over a long period, from early summer well into fall. The Latin name for the plant, Hibiscus syriacus, implies that it comes from Syria, but that appears to be false, being a native of eastern Asia instead.
My grandmother carried a bouquet of Queen Anne’s lace (Daucus carota var. carota) at her wedding. For their 50th anniversary party we gathered bucket loads of the stuff from empty fields and had it all round the room. You are probably familiar with the flowers, as it’s a pretty common plant all across the United States and bordering provinces of Canada as well as Europe and Asia. This is the wild carrot from which our cultivated carrot descended. It is reported to have been first developed in Afghanistan. It is a biennial plant, blooming in their second year.
This is Iris domestica, often called blackberry lily or leopard lily and formerly known as Belamcanda chinensis. It’s a perennial plant that we have in various places in our garden. We gather the seeds most years and spread them in areas we would like it to grow, although I don’t know if we’re doing as well as the birds when it comes to actually spreading it. As you can see, it has vaguely lily-like flowers and they are quite lovely. They each last a day but they are born in clusters, blooming one after the next for quite a while. In case you were wondering, the genus name Iris comes from the Greek goddess of the rainbow.
Sometimes you can see things lining up to make a nice sunset. Of course, even when things look right, it doesn’t happen, but this evening I could tell it was coming and it came. I took a few pictures of the clouds before there were any colors, just in case, but the colors came. The color extended pretty much over the entire sky from west to east. This photo was taken looking almost straight up with a 10mm lens (which on my APS-C-sensor camera is equivalent to a 16mm lens on a full frame sensor). The top of the tree showing at the top of the photo is behind me.
Along our back fence, the garden has really gotten out of control. With the work we’ve been doing on our mom’s houses, we haven’t really had time to give it half the attention it needs and deserves. Consequently, it’s got goldenrod, poke weed, and thistles growing in abundance. Three of our planted perennials are doing quite well, however, including the bee balm (Monarda didyma, also known as Oswego tea or bergamot) and the butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) shown here. The other, not yet in bloom, is obedient plant (Physostegia virginiana). All three are native to the area and extremely tough. The bees love them and I followed this common eastern bumble bee (Bombus impatiens) for a while as he moved from flower to flower.
The genus Hosta has about 70 species native to Japan, Korea, China and eastern Russia. They are shade loving perennials grown mostly for their foliage but they have nice, if somewhat understated flowers, as well. The name Hosta is in honor of of Austrian botanist Nicholas Thomas Host (1761-1834). My parents had these in their garden and growing up I knew it as Funkia. That’s because the genus was renamed to that in 1817 “in honor of botanist Heinrich Christian Funk under the belief at that time that Hosta was an invalid name.” Early in the 20th century the name was switched back but the plants are still referred to as Funkia by some (including my parents, evidently).
This one is growing in a container just outside our front door. There are generally two pests that eat Hosta plants. Slugs can do significant damage to them, eating holes in the leaves. In our garden, that’s generally not so destructive that we worry about it, although it can make the leaves a little less attractive. The other culprit is deer, who really seem to love Hosta leaves. Although we see deer in our yard and often see signs of their presence, they don’t seem to come too close to the house. So, we keep the Hostas close and that seems to be enough. We also put up deer repellent although I don’t actually know how much help that is. It certainly doesn’t do any harm.
I didn’t have anything in particular to take a picture of today and didn’t get outside much, so I took this picture in our dining room. We’ve been moving things from both my mom’s house and Cathy’s mom’s house and adding things to what we already had. The photo in the center of this is a Winter & Pond photo titled “Lights o’ Juneau” On the left, the blue bowl filled with Easter Eggs is from Istalif, Iran. There are two sets of matryoshka or nesting dolls, one traditional (in the back and on the right) and one modern with (from largest to smallest) Boris Yeltsin, Mikhail Gorbachev, Leonid Brezhnev, Joseph Stalin, and Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (otherwise know as Lenin).
The gooseneck loosestrife (Lysimachia clethroides) is in bloom and that generally means I have an opportunity to photograph common eastern bumblebees (Bombus impatiens) like this one. I don’t recommend planting loosestrife unless you really enjoy digging up plants where they appear throughout your garden. It can easily get ahead of you. We sometimes joke about planting two aggressive plants in a container and waiting to see which comes out on top. This has got to be a contender. It does have nice flowers, though, and its attractiveness to bees speaks well of it. Nevertheless, if I could get rid of all we had, I wouldn’t think twice about it.
Cathy and I went for a walk along the C&O Canal today after church. We each brought a change of clothes because it was much too hot for even casual church clothes today. We walked west (upstream) on the tow path and enjoyed the fact that it’s pretty shady. With a temperature above 95°F in the shade, we certainly didn’t need to be out in the sun. We’re neither mad dogs nor Englishmen.
As you would expect, I brought my camera with me and we saw a little wildlife. First was this dragonfly. The female and the immature male of the eastern pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis) are an emerald green. The adult male, however, transitions to a dark, powder blue, as seen here.
I got some nice photos of buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), a flowering shrub native to the area. It’s a member of the coffee family, Rubiaceae and it has very interesting, spherical florets.
At the turning basin just above the aqueduct we saw a great blue heron (Ardea herodias) although the way it was lit and because it was pretty far away, I wasn’t sure that’s what it was. Of course, there aren’t a lot of birds that size around here. A little further on we saw a black-crowned night-heron (Nycticorax nycticorax). I had stopped to take a picture of a family of ducks in the canal, which was full of duck weed. That meant I was ready when the heron flew past and I was able to get this shot.
Some of the family got together for dinner this evening at mom’s place. This was our first family gathering at her new apartment and we ate at the dining hall. The food got mixed reviews, with some things being better than others, but none of it was bad, anyway. Of course, one highlight is seeing young Silas, now a little over three weeks old but still not quite up to his original due date. Cathy was happy to get a long turn holding him, and I took a few pictures while she did.
Like most babies, he slept some, cried some, and ate some. Also like most parents, Seth and Iris are pretty tired. Unfortunately he’s got his day and his night mixed up and is sleeping for longer stretches during the day. But he’ll get through it and so will they. In the mean time, he’s absolutely adorable when he’s asleep, as shown here.
As we were leaving, I took a few pictures of the sunset, which was quite nice. Nevertheless, sunsets are a dime a dozen when compared to pictures of babies.
About the time I got to work this morning I got a text from one person and an email from another asking if I had anything to do with the appearance of this little garden statue next to our parking lot. The text message was particularly cryptic, although I suppose if I had been responsible, I’d have known what it was about. As it happens, I had nothing to do with it. Later in the day, two other people asked me if I put it there. I think it’s a little funny that so many people think this is the sort of thing I’d do. Maybe it is, but not this time. One said, “well, okay, I’ll believe you, but I know you’re responsible for the geckos.” I have no idea what that’s about and didn’t even know about the wire geckos that someone has put in trees around the parking lot. But apparently I have a reputation, mostly undeserved.
In the shade garden at the north end of our yard, we have a few different ferns. This is the most prevalent and it is some sort of Dryopteris but I don’t remember which. Dryopteris species have various common names including wood, shield, and male fern. In with this is an ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris) and a Japanese painted fern (Athyrium niponicum) as well as a small patch of sensitive fern (Onoclea sensibilis) that was already here when we bought the house. There are two or three Astilbe plants scattered throughout and they compliment each other pretty well, although a slightly taller Astilbe might be a good idea, as these are almost covered by the fern. As a bonus, I got a bee of some sort on the Astilbe flowers, which I didn’t notice when I was taking the picture.
Tonight was the annual Erick’s Hope benefit dinner. Erick’s Hope (http://erickshope.org/) is a non-profit run by our friends, Richard and Donna, in honor and memory of their son, Erick, who died in 2008. Every year in the last week of June Richard and Donna have a fundraising event. For a few years it was held at The Golden Bull in Gaithersburg but more recently it has been at Montgomery Country Club in Laytonsville. We got to see friends that we don’t see as often as we’d like. Cathy bought two desserts at the dessert auction but we didn’t get anything else. It’s always nice to see Maureen, posing here with Cathy, and her husband, Bob. We see them more than most but still not enough.
Commonly known as spider flower Cleome is a fast-growing, tender perennial grown here as an annual (it’s only hardy in USDA zones 9 and 10). This variety, ‘Señorita Rosalita’, is “noted for having no thorns, no unpleasant aroma, no sticky foliage, no seedpods and better disease resistance” (Missouri Botanical Garden Plant Finder). We love it and it’s been a regular feature in a container on out back patio. We really should plant more of them, as they always perform very well and bloom basically all summer from mid-June well into October or November.
Among the things brought out of Cathy’s mom’s house were a box of Edison Phonograph cylinder records. There was also a record player. David took that but couldn’t get these into the car, so they will stay here until next time. The two cases shown here are slightly different from one another. On the left is one that says Edison Gold Moulded Record and on the right, simply Edison Record. I would normally assume that the Gold Moulded one is newer than the plainer one, but the dates on them (which are 1906 and 1908 respectively) don’t support that. The disks inside almost certainly don’t match the sleeves. The disks in them, which may or may not be those originally in these sleeves, are Rock of Ages, by the Edison Dixie Quartet and Kitty O’Neill Medley of Reels (violin).
We spent more time at Cathu’s mom’s house today. David and Maggie are on their way home and Dorothy leave tomorrow to go back to Massachusetts but we were able to straighten up a few things and bring the items Dorothy wanted back to our house. It was warm and the house still has no air conditioning but the contractor is scheduled to come on Thursday to put in a new one. Shortly after we got home it started raining and there was a rainbow. I took a few pictures of that, although they didn’t turn out terribly well. Then a little later, as the sun set, there were some pretty clouds. They were losing their color by the time they got near enough to the moon for a picture, but a few made it before the color was entirely gone.
On Tuesday I had a picture of Dot (otherwise known as mom) in her new digs. Well, today’s picture is back in the old place. It isn’t quite empty yet, but it’s getting there. As you can see, there are some books that are yet to be either claimed or given away. The lamp (an imitation Tiffany) and the wall hanging are tagged with their new destination. We also need to take down the hooks for her quilt-hanging rod and then put them up in the new place. The cabinets and shelves that dad built around the fireplace have held up pretty well. The original mantel was much more traditional. Dad had asked if he could replace it and when mom finally said yes, she came home to find the old one burning in the fireplace. He wasn’t going to take the chance that she’d change her mind.
This little baboon is named Coco and he was made by Steiff. This is not to be confused with Koko, a current Steiff product. Koko with two Ks is a chimpanzee. Coco with two Cs is a baboon. This little fellow is a little the worse for wear, as he put up with quite a lot of play in his day. As you can see, he is vision impaired, with his left eye completely missing and his left literally hanging by a thread. His hand are also worn through in places. But he’s such a cute little fellow and I remember him well from the good old days.