We went up to Pennsylvania today just to hang out. It was probably what will turn out to be the most pleasant day of the summer. Cool, clear, breazy and absolutely lovely. We met our new neighbors, who invited us over to see their goats, which everyone enjoyed, especially Kaien and Silas. Dorothy had a few friend with her and they cut down a few trees that I had marked for clearing. And of course we cooked burgers and hot dogs on the fire. I took a few pictures, including this one of a calico pennant dragonfly (Celithemis elisa).
We met up with Jean today for a walk. I found a new place that we’ve drive by without noticing up until now. It’s just into Virginia and right off the Capitol Beltway on Georgetown Pike. The hike was pleasant, although there’s a significant climb both ways down to the river. This waterfall is where Scott’s Run empties into the Potomac River. We also walked a little way down the river before retracing our steps back to the parking area. It’s a nice, quiet place and we really enjoyed it. Of course, that may have been the company, as much as the location. It’s always good to be with Jean.
We were out at Rocklands this morning with Dorothy for their chick-rental pick-up. I took a walk at one point to take some pictures of Anna’s flowers. It was a wet, cool day and there isn’t a lot in bloom at the moment but the love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena) was blooming. The flowers are a lovely shade of pale blue and I think it’s even prettier in the rain, with water droplets on the various flower parts. This is a very hardy annual, growing well up to USDA Hardiness Zone 2, although it’s only native to northern Africa and southern Europe.
We went for a walk in the park late this afternoon. We went to see if the cicada noise was louder there and were surprised to find that there were parts of the woods where we could barely hear them. Other parts were about the same as in our yard. There was plenty of evidence of cicadas throughout the woods, with the tell-tall holes in the ground where they emerged and their shed exoskeletons on leaves, branches, and trunks. I like this one, back lit by the late afternoon sun.
In the shade garden at the Agricultural Farm Park there are a couple mahonia shrubs. I have mixed feelings about mahonia. On the one hand, I they seem course and rough to me, and in that way, not terribly attractive. On the other hand, they sometimes have pretty nice leaf color, as well as very attractive berries, as seen here. I really like the berries. The flowers are bright yellow and fragrant, which is another thing in their favor. I think if I had a larger garden, I’d have some, but as it is, I’ll just enjoy it where I see it. Some species are native to northern North America while others are native to the far east.
Back in April of 2005 I planted 29 species roses in a bed I prepared on our property in Pennsylvania. Sadly, many of them did not survive, but there are a few that are still holding on and two that are actually thriving. This is one of those. It is, I think, Rosa davurica although the garden is in such bad shape, it’s not exactly clear where each rose should be. This rose has formed a small mound of plants about four feet tall and it is very happy. It’s absolutely covered with blooms and is quite lovely.
It’s peony time here. I love peonies and it’s a little surprising I haven’t planted more than I have. We have a few on the south end of the house that were here when we moved in. This one, planted in our back garden near the fence, is the only other one we have and I planted three of them in 2014. One thing about peonies is they take a while to really get established. Once they do, of course, they are hard to beat. Even a small plant like these, which only produce one or two blooms each, are pretty amazing, though. I really like this one, called ‘Coral Sunset’. I also love the fact that I caught a little potter or mason wasp hovering near it.
It’s rose time. This little China rose, ‘Perle d’Or’, bred by Joseph Rambaux in 1884, is putting on a fabulous show right now. Especially on warm, humid days like we’ve been having, the fragrance hangs in the air all around the bush. You don’t need to get close, it’s wonderful. This first flush is, of course, the best we get from it all year. Nevertheless, it will have flowers on it pretty reliably until well into the fall. It’s not a big bush but it’s as big as it’s ever been and it probably needs to be pruned back a bit, but certainly not right now.
Another from today. After we left the peony garden, Cathy and I drove around in the park and took another walk down by the lake. The tulip trees (Liriodendron tulipifera, also known as yellow poplars) are in bloom and their flowers, while not as showy as some, are still quite pretty when seen in good light. The trees are quite large, commonly reaching 60 to 90 feet, and the flowers are often not easily seen from the ground. This one was situated well and I was able to get a good photo of it. They really are quite pretty and you can see why it’s called a tulip tree.
Cathy and I decided to go to the Schwartz Peony Garden in Seneca Creek State Park. We met Dorothy there and had a great time enjoying the flowers. There were only a few folks there when we arrived, although two of them were a camera crew from a local TV affiliate. The ‘formal’ garden—which isn’t terribly formal, but comparatively speaking—is really something and of course we spent a good while there. But we also really enjoy the informal field that’s got many, many more peonies growing throughout it. You’ll probably want to wear long trousers, socks, and shoes if you are going to wander there, especially if you plan to get off the paths at all. There’s a bit of poison ivy to watch out for. But it’s worth it. The flowers are amazing. We all agree that the darker colored flowers are generally our favorites, regardless of if they are single, with only a few petals or very double. But we also like some of the others. They’re all nice, actually.
Cathy and I went for a short walk in the neighborhood this evening. It was getting dark but I carried my camera with me anyway. I had the flash, so I was able to take a few photos. None of them are what I’d describe as great pictures, but this is a little interesting. It is (I’m pretty sure) Lewisia cotyledon, also known as Siskiyou lewisia or cliff maids. It’s an alpine plant native to northern California and southern Oregon and it’s growing in a container near our neighbor’s mail box.
The cicadas are coming, the cicadas are coming. There are two, large red oak trees in our front yard, both on the county right of way and planted when the neighborhood was built at the end of the 1960s. One of them has less than a dozen cicadas on it, the other has hundreds. This is on the second and is one of a few cicadas currently exiting their exoskeleton and transitioning to adulthood. They’re kind of creepy at this stage, all white and maggot-like. Of course, they’re nymphs for 17 years, and they are king of creepy that whole time, so I guess that’s not so surprising.
Cathy and I went back to the Agricultural Farm Part today after church. There’s a trail we hadn’t been on and wanted to see what it was like. It heads off from the driveway up along the eastern side of Rock Creek. It had recently been mowed and was in very nice shape up as far as a small side stream with a small wooden bridge across it. I guess they couldn’t get the large mowers across that and the trail was a bit overgrown after that. It was quite warm but nice in the shade and we had an enjoyable walk. On the way back up to the car I saw this little eastern tailed-blue (Cupido comyntas). It’s one of my favorite little butterflies.
We went to the Agricultural Farm Park today, taking Cathy’s mom with us. We went up through the Master Gardeners’ demonstration garden and then sat for a while in the shade garden. It was a beautiful day and really nice to be out. From there we went to Laytonsville and bought ice cream at The Family Room. We were parked in the shade and we sat in the car and watched the bicyclists putting their bikes back onto or into their cars and chatting in the parking lot. All in all, a nice, relaxing afternoon outing.
The cicadas (Magicicada species) of Brood X are beginning to emerge from their 17-year subterranean sojourn. Interestingly, this one, near the base of a large oak tree, is one of only a few at this site. Another oak tree at the other end of the yard is absolutely covered with them. I suspect I’ll have a few more photos before their visit comes to an end but I thought for at least one photo I’d include some flowers to brighten what is otherwise a sort of ugly bug. Blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium) is something of a weed around our yard, but it’s at least a pretty weed.
Last fall, Dorothy joined 11 other young adults as one of the first to participate in Fourth Presbyterian Church’s Fellows program. I posted a photo of the six young women on Monday, October 19, 2020. This evening there was a banquet to end their nine month program and I took a few more pictures. This is the First Fourth Fellows class, the class of 2021. It was great to be invited (even if it was mostly for my camera) and Cathy and I had a nice time hanging out with everyone. From left to right, back row: Clement, Grant, Boyde, Tony, David, and Justin; front row, Emily, Thea, Dorothy, Lydia, Genna, and Elizabeth.
The lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis) is in full bloom right now. We have a large patch of it in the back yard and then smaller patches in a few other places. This is growing near the front corner of our house and it’s very happy. One thing about lily of the valley, at least for us, is that it seems to want to move. That is, the clump or colony spreads and the tail edge dies back, so the whole colony migrates over time. I’m not sure what, if anything, can be done about that.
After going to Fehr’s Nursery in Burtonsville, we stopped for lunch as a Cuban place on the way home. We could have picked a better day for it, as it was jammed for Mothers Day and it took us over an hour to get sandwiches. We’ll probably give them another try on a less busy day, but it was a bit off-putting. We drove to Woodlawn Manor and ate our sandwiches in the shade of one of their lovely trees. Then we walked around and I took a few photos, including a couple of the bleeding heart (Lamprocapnos spectabilis ) and Siberian bugloss (Brunnera macrophylla, similar to forget-me-not) growing together under an America holly (Ilex opaca). Quite pretty, don’t you think?
For the first time in over a year, the locals got together for a family dinner without masks. We got together once early last fall but met outdoors and wore masks most of the time. Now that we’re all vaccinated (except for the youngest), we were able to get together and have it be like old times. It only felt strange for a minute and then it seemed normal again. And right. We had a nice dinner but the main thing was being together.
Kaien and Silas were in good form and we enjoyed seeing and holding Eloise, as well. Here’s Kai bouncing on the sofa. Clearly he bounced higher than I expected and this is the only one where his head isn’t completely chopped off. We expect to have many more gatherings like this in the weeks to come. It’s been a crazy year but I think we’re finally coming out of it.
We took a walk in the neighborhood this evening and I took this photo of a clematis growing on a mailbox a few blocks over. Whether you pronounce it KLE-ma-tas or kle-MA-tas, it’s a pretty thing. We have a few of them but none are doing exceptionally well. One doesn’t get enough sun (it was there when we bought the house and we talk about moving it but so far it hasn’t happened). Another was overshadowed by a rose bush. The rose is gone now but the clematis needs a bit more support than it has.