It rained off and on yesterday but today it really came down. I don’t know that it’s the heaviest rain we’ve ever had but it was probably right up there. I went out onto the back patio under an umbrella and took a few pictures. When it rains hard, we get these streams across our back yard and between our house and the next door neighbors. That’s good, of course, because it means the water is flowing past the house and not into it. Generally, in heavy rains, it looks about like this. Later in the day it was three or four times that width. So, more than we’ve seen in a long time. Our trash can had a good six inches of water in it. Not to say we got six inches of rain (the trash can isn’t a calibrated rain gauge) but it was a lot, anyway.
It rained today and I didn’t really get to go out until pretty late. The water on this rose, (the David Austin rose ‘Munstead Wood’) was pretty so I took a few pictures of that. This rose was only planted this spring and it’s doing quite well. The flowers are now up above the top of the hardware cloth fence that I put around it to keep the rabbits off. The flowers are now blooming just below the level of the black-eyed Susans and soon they will be above them. I’m really looking forward to the display we get from this next year.
I was down on the ground taking some photos of a skipper on some blue mistflower (Conoclinium coelestinum) when I noticed this spotted cucumber beetle (Diabrotica undecimpunctata) just to my right. I got a handful of photos of it before it flew away and I actually got a fairly good one of it just taking off. I think this is a better picture, overall, though, so I thought I’d use it. This is a destructive insect and really I should have squashed it, but it flew away before I had the chance. They do significant damage to many field crops “including cucumbers and other squashes, corn, soy.”
We took an outing today to Rocklands Farm and Winery and had a lovely visit with Janis. She and Anna took us to see Anna’s flowers and then we circled back around behind the winery. The grape must that had spilled on the ground outside the work area had attracted quite a few butterflies, including this red-spotted purple (Limenitis arthemis astyanax). To me, it looks more like an orange-spotted blue, but what do I know. Their colors are a bit variable, anyway. Nevertheless, this is a pretty distinctive butterfly and always a treat to see.
I suppose you could say these are late summer flowers, rather than fall flowers, but there’s no hard line between summer and fall. The black-eyed Susans are summer flowers and are just finishing up. There are still quite a few of them blooming but not nearly so many as there were. The autumn clematis (Clematis terniflora) is just about in full bloom, as is the blue mistflower (Conoclinium coelestinum). The blackberry lily (Iris domestica), which blooms in early summer, is nearly in seed. All together, it makes a pretty nice combination of colors and textures.
William and Beth drove down for a visit today and it was so nice to have them here. With the whole Wuhan virus quarantine going on, we are somewhat starved for human contact. Having people visit is a risk, of course. We’re at the point, however, that we need to see people and this was exactly the sort of visit that we needed. Cathy talked a lot with them about family history, and they all looked at pictures. We showed them the work we’re doing with Margaret’s memoirs and with the big scanning project that we’re ramping up.
Cathy and I took a walk on the west side of Lake Frank after work today. The heavy rain we had yesterday meant that the water level was high, but the trail wasn’t too muddy. We enjoyed being in the woods, hearing the birds, frogs, and insects, and being away from traffic and people. We saw large patches of partridge berry (Mitchella repens), which we hadn’t notice there before. Today’s photo, though, is of the ubiquitous Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides), a common perennial in our woods.
It rained pretty hard last night and continued raining today. We can usually judge how hard it’s raining by the streams across our back and side yard and this rain was relatively hard. There were tornado warnings but the wind was never really all that strong here. There was a lot of lightning, though, and at one point the rumble of thunder continued almost continuously. The storm was moving fairly fast and as it moved out, the sun came out and we got another rainbow, which is always a treat.
Dorothy asked if we’d host a dinner for the Fourth Fellows this evening and we did, with all but one of them coming. I made a pretty large batch of spaghetti sauce and we all ate out on the back patio. The plan was for them to stay outside but when the rain started we had them move indoors. Sarah asked if she could bring her dog with her and we said yes. This is Vulcan. He’s a large but relatively gentle creature with a face that reminds me a bit of Scooby-Doo.
This goldenrod soldier beetle, (Chauliognathus pensylvanicus) is well camouflaged against the petals of the black-eyed Susan in our back yard. Often when looking for insects, it’s a matter of looking for motion, because they blend in so well with the background. I spotted this on after taking a few photos of a monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus), also on the black-eyed Susans. They are starting to fade, but there will still be plenty of color for a while yet. One interesting thing about this beetle is that the species epithet, pensylvanicus, is the correct spelling and the version with a double n (i.e. pennsylvanicus) is incorrect.
I had a picture of the leaves of this Hardy Begonia (Begonia grandis) earlier this month. Now it’s in bloom and adding a little brightness to the shady spot outside our front door. It’s a great plant to have and looks like it shouldn’t be sturdy enough to survive our winters but it does and it actually does quite well. It won’t grow well too far to our south because of the heat of summer or too far to the north because of the cold winters, but here it’s quite reliable. Highly recommended.
In mid-March, like most churches, our church began broadcasting its services electronically, through Facebook and with BoxCast. Even when they started having outdoor services in the parking lot, we decided to stay home because we’re a somewhat high-risk household. We continued to watch the services on BoxCast through a Roku device attached through a few adapters into our 1986 console television. Nevertheless, we missed seeing people and of course, the service, especially the music, isn’t really the same when watched on TV.
This week the church leadership decided to celebrate communion and Cathy and I decided we would attend in person. We sat in the shade of a small maple tree along with others scattered around the parking lot, some in the sun, some in shade. It was a gloriously beautiful day and we’re really glad we went. We still couldn’t really great people the way we would have and talking with masks is always a bit annoying, but it was very nice to see people in 3D.
We went to Northern Virginia this evening to have dinner with our good friend, Jean. While we were there, eating in her car port, there was a huge downpour followed by a rainbow. It was actually really nice to be sitting outside but under cover during that. Then, I happened to spot this moth, which landed on the gate to the back yard. It’s a moth in the genus Xanthotype. There are five species in our area but, according to BugGuide, “adults of all species in this genus are, for practical purposes, externally indistinguishable from one another” so we’ll just leave it at that.
I’ve posted photos of this rose before but it deserves to be shown a few times each year. It’s a small China rose called ‘Perle d’Or’, bred by Joseph Rambaux in 1884. It has a wonderful, fairly strong fragrance that sits in the air outside our front door (where the rose is) and we are often treated to is as we go out or come in. I don’t think it’s been without at least a few blooms since it started in May. Some years it’s hurt by a particularly cold spell but we’ve had relatively mild winters the last couple years so it’s doing particularly well now.
I ran an errand today, going to pick up the trailer from the shop where it was getting new lights. When I got home Cathy told me our internet connection was down. I did a fair amount of checking, since it’s usually something on this end but this time I’m pretty sure it’s Verizon’s fault. We have business FIOS and it’s pretty reliable, I have to say. In fact, since we got that here in 2006 I don’t think I’ve had more than a few small outages until today. I spent a good while on the phone with them and by the end of that I thought the problem was in the wire leading from their box on the outside of the house into our computer room. That turned out not to be the problem, but not until I’d drilled another hold through our exterior (brick) wall. By the time I’m posting this, of course, out internet has been back up for a week, but it was out from Thursday shortly after mid-day until Saturday in the middle of the afternoon.
The autumn clematis (Clematis terniflora) is coming into bloom. This is a fairly aggressive vine native to Japan. It can be a little invasive but if you have a largish area to cover, it’s not a terrible choice. It’s flowers are a lovely white and come late in the summer and continue well into the fall. One of it’s common names is sweet autumn virginsbower. We have it growing on the falling down fence at the southwest corner of our house (the southeast corner of our back yard). Cathy is especially fond of it and as long as I’m allowed to keep if confined to that area, I’m happy to let her have some.
This is a portion of our back garden, which, as you can see, is somewhat dominated by black-eyed Susan flowers at this time of year. They are probably just past their peak but will provide color for a bit longer as they fade from their bright orange to a more rusty, autumnal ochre. You can just make out the hardware cloth ‘fence’ around one of my roses a little to the left of center. By the end of the summer, the three roses should be tall enough that they are safe from rabbits, although there’s not really anything we can do about deer.
I took a few pictures of skippers in the yard today and a couple of them turned out pretty nicely but then as the sun was going down, there was a really nice sunset. I can’t say I’ll always pick a sunset picture over any other but they are generally pretty well liked and they are, of course, quite beautiful. Not as nice as actually seeing the sunset, obviously, but we’ve all seen them enough that a photograph can really evoke the feeling you get when you see it for real. This one is looking northwest over our next door neighbors’ yard and most of the sky was clear, so I used my long lens to get just the area with brilliant colors.
This little bee is absolutely loaded with pollen. (Side question: if pollen is spelled with an ‘e’, why does pollinator have an ‘i’ in its place?) Anyway, Cathy and I went to Meadowside Nature Center this afternoon and walked around a pond and through the woods. In addition to this little bee, I got a pretty good photo of a common whitetail (Plathemis lydia), a fairly common dragonfly. But I thought I’d go with the bright yellow of this photo instead. I’m also partial to bees, of course.
We’ve only had this native perennial a few years and this is by far the best it’s done in our garden. We have it in a somewhat shady area. Over time it should spread and form a clump, although not so much that it could be considered invasive (like much of what we have). The snapdragon-like flowers are fairly large and as you can see, they are borne in tight, spike-like terminal racemes. They are actually native to a bit further south than we are but have become naturalized over much of the east coast.