Here are two flower pictures to welcome April, 2012. First, a really nice poeticus daffodil called ‘Actaea’ that are growing alongside our front walk. They are later than the big yellow ‘Marieke’ daffodils which is nice because we have blooms for a longer period that way. I really like the big, white petals on this one. There’s another variety with even better color on the edge of the cup but this one is pretty good.
Then, I have a picture of forget-me-not, one of the Myosotis species, but I’m not sure which. We have a large patch of these in the back yard and Cathy has just moved a few of them to the front under the cherry tree. Hopefully they will do as well there. The flowers are quite happy. I’ve only just realized this year how much blue we have in our garden.
Just over two months ago I posted a photo that I titled Reflections. It was the back entrance to the office building where I work and it was mostly a study in gray and brown. Well, this morning I was struck by how different it looks now, with blue and enough green to be quite cheerful. I reflected on the reflections and decided I’d take and post another picture.
Green and Yellow
Not surprisingly, with all the flowers blooming, there are lots of bees about, from the humble but industrious bumble and carpenter bees to the flashy, green cuckoo wasp, they are all over both tree and weed. Mostly doing yeoman’s work pollinating flowers in their effort to collect their daily bread (so to speak), they add motion and even color to a static, if already colorful, scene.
I love bees.
[Update: this has been identified by the good people of BugGuide as genus Augochlorella. The yellow flowers are Barbarea vulgaris, which goes by various common names including yellow rocket and bittercress.]
Dogwood Flowers (Cornus florida)
Who doesn’t like dogwood flowers? One of my favorite sights is seeing dogwood blooming throughout the woods as a reliable, understory tree. It’s that time again.
Syrphid Fly (Toxomerus marginatus)
I went out into the empty lot next to my office again today. What a beautiful day it was, too. It’s not like summer yet but there was a fair amount of insect activity. I sought out some weeds that are flowering (yellow rocket, Barbarea vulgaris, also variously known as Bittercress, Herb Barbara, Rocketcress, Yellow Rocketcress, Winter Rocket, and Wound Rocket — which is why I like to stick to Latin binomials). After a little waiting, I was rewarded by the appearance on some nearby Shepherd’s-purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris) of a syrphid fly. He (or she, I have no idea) moved to the yellow rocket and I got a few more pictures, including this one. I identified it, with the help of BugGuide, as Toxomerus marginatus.
Tarnished Plant Bug? (Lygus lineolaris)
Then I noticed another insect, some sort of plant bug (family Miridae) I think, on the next plant to my right. My guess is that this is Lygus lineolaris, the tarnished plant bug, but I’m waiting for confirmation (or correction). There are a lot of bugs that look similar to this.
We have two cherry trees in our yard. I’ve posted pictures of blossoms on the first of them already. They bloom out of sync with each other, which is actually nice because it lengthens the bloom time. The first has small, simple flowers. The second, which is blooming now, has very large, double flowers that are quite beautiful against the blue sky. It’s also gotten cool again so this tree’s flowers should stay with us a little longer than the first’s did.
Many people treat tulips as annuals in our area, planting them in beds in the fall for spring bloom and then pulling them out to be replaced by other annuals for the late spring and summer. I planted some in the falls of 2009 and 2010 and they all came up again this year but only one bloomed. That one (featured in a post a little over a week ago) is starting to fade but still provides a splash of red against the pachysandra. We went to Cathy’s mom’s last night for dinner and she has a pot with tulips in it in her living room. They are a beautiful metalic orange, as you can see, but they, too, are a little past their prime. Still striking, though.
Honey Bee Swarm
Honey Bees on the Wing
Have you ever seen an honest to goodness swarm? I don’t think I have, at least not recently. We were out at Rocklands Farm today, visiting and enjoying a beautiful spring day gamboling with the goats. Naturally I took a lot of pictures. Shortly before we left, Greg came in and said we should come see the swarm of bees, which was gathering on the southern magnolia in front of the house. The air was filled with the buzzing and on a branch, about 15 feet up in the tree was a seething mass of bees. The bees were flying all around us but seemed totally oblivious to our presence. A few even flew into us but they recovered and continued on their way without incident. The out-of-focus spots in the first picture are bees.
In the second picture you can see how full the air is. They were in constant motion and you could hear it from a good distance away.
Some people hate going to the dentist. I guess I get that but for me, it’s just something you do. I go fairly often because I don’t take as good care of my teeth as I ought and this is my way of making up for it. I’ve actually had a pretty good history, dentistry-wise. Also, I have a great dentist, which certainly helps. Anyway, I went today for my period cleaning and check-up. All is well.
My dad really loved camellias and planted quite a few in his not-too-large yard. It’s not hard to see what he liked about them — evergreen and covered with bright flowers during the winter and spring. This one is growing beside the chimney but I don’t know what variety it is. If we can find it in his notes I’ll update the caption. There used to be a tall camellia there called ‘Mrs. Lyman Clarke’ but this isn’t that. That one died in an especially cold winter many years ago. That same year the ‘Lady Clare’ died to the ground but it came up again and is a huge bush again, flowering happily every winter. I planted three seedlings of ‘Lady Clare’ in the yard of our old house. I happened to drive by yesterday (dad’s birthday, incidentally, so I was already thinking of him) and they are blooming, as well. One of them has flowers that are almost identical to ‘Lady Clare’ except they are pure white. I miss having that and was sorry to leave it behind. At least it’s still there and hopefully being appreciated. Camellias and dad — I can’t think of one without thinking of the other.
The new leaves on the redbud trees are cute, delicate, little hearts. What a beautiful, cool, spring day we had today. Breezy and fair. We need rain, of course, but I was glad to be out in the sunshine today.
Japanese Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica)
A lot of people are pretty unhappy with Japanese honeysuckle, particularly in the mid-Atlantic states where it is a real nuisance. The flowers are sweet smelling, though, and kind of pretty.
Pink Flowering Dogwood
I once had a dream where I was at the intersection of Beach Drive and Kensington Parkway and I came across a very unusual flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) that had the most beautiful flowers. They were just the right shade of sky blue, sort of powdery and delicate. I thought, “now there is a tree that would sell like nobody’s business — everyone would want one for their garden.” Unfortunately, it was only a dream but I think of it every spring when the dogwood starts to bloom. Well, the regular white and pink flowered sorts are very nice, as well, if you can keep the anthracnose under control. The Asian species (Cornus kousa) is quite nice, as well, and I like the Cornel cherry (Cornus mas) although the flowers are quite different to the former. This one is in our front yard, right up against the house. It really isn’t a good place for a tree but particularly this time of year I can’t bring myself to take it out. I think it probably was a seedling that just grew there and the previous owner let it alone.
Epimedium x rubrum
While I’m on the subject of cross-shaped flowers, I really like epimedium. There are a lot of them and more being introduced. It makes a nice ground cover, although it’s a bit of work to fill a large area with it. It is semi-evergreen, replacing last year’s dried out leaves with new leaves each spring. Some have blooms that face upwards and are held above the foliage, which is obviously a plus. Others have less conspicuous flowers that are more work to see. Flowers range from purple/red to yellow to white and are little delicate crosses, as seen here on this Epimedium x rubrum. We first saw them at the U.S. National Arboretum. A few years ago I happened to meet Marc Cathey (he was the director of the Arboretum from 1981 to 1991) and I mentioned that we fell in love with epimediums there. We agreed they were worth having and should be planted much more often.
Yesterday I had a nice drive out onto the eastern shore and was able to spend a little time in a place I haven’t been in about three dozen years. When I was young we used to go camping at Shad Landing State Park (here: 38° 08′ 20″ N, 75° 26′ 28″) on the Pocomoke River. I stopped in to see how much is was like I remember it. Parts were exactly how I recall but other parts were a bit different. For instance, I thought we used to put out boat in at a wide area on the Corker’s Creek but there was nothing like that now. Perhaps I remember it wrongly or perhaps it’s changed, I don’t know. I did find a trail to this wide area that looks a bit like what I remember but not really all that much like it. I simply don’t know. Anyway, it’s quiet and serene, which does match my memory. I also saw this dragon fly, which was happy to sit for me as I took a photograph.
The Spanish bluebells are in bloom now and are quite lovely. For some reason, although I don’t care much for proper hyacinths, I like these close cousins.
Multiplying Her Strength
One of my favorite things to do is visit the elementary school classes at Dorothy’s school and of all my visits, I think my favorite is when I come to the second grade class to demonstrate simple machines. We all pull nails out of a board with a crow-bar (lever) but the real fun is using a block and tackle (pulleys). With their brave teacher attached to the bottom end of the rig, each student hoists her up into the air. In this picture, an excited student is standing directly underneath her teacher while holding her up.
Collyn couldn’t rightly be described as large but she’s a lot bigger than the children in her class. For them, even the smallest of them, to lift her so easily is a real eye opener. As I was leaving, third and fourth grade students saw my rope and tools and got all excited on behalf of the current second grade class getting their chance to lift their teacher. They certainly remember it.
Of course, it’s a treat for me, as well. Then again, Cathy’s not sure what to make of me picking up younger women. ;)
I gave a friend a lift to pick up his car at one shop and then take it to the dealer for some warranty-covered work. While I was waiting I took this picture of a line of Toyota Camrys.
Jessie, Donna, and Dorothy
My main flash isn’t working properly so I haven’t taken as many indoor and night shots lately. This evening I resorted to the camera’s built-in, pop-up flash. Even in this fairly close shot you can see red-eye, which is one reason I don’t use that flash often. Still, it’s better than nothing and these three girls are pretty whatever the lighting is like. Also, note that Dorothy’s braces are gone so she’s smiling again.
This little snowdrop anemone (Anemone sylvestris) needs to be planted but for now, it’s quite happy in a pot on our driveway.
Prunus virginiana (Chokecherry)
Prunus virginiana, commonly called chokecherry, is a pretty common tree around here. They bloom quite a bit after the fancier ornamental cherries. Their flowers are smaller and simpler but still quite lovely, I think. There are lots of flowers in these little racemes, which is nice, also. These are on a tree along the edge of the woods behind my office building but they’re starting to bloom all over.
Convallaria majalis (Lily-of-the-Valley)
Convallaria majalis, lily-of-the-valley, is a remarkable plant. When we lived in our old house there were a few houses near by that were to be torn down to widen a road. We did what we called “plant rescue,” digging plants out of the garden (with permission) and replanting them in ours and giving them to friends. There was a lot of lily-of-the-valley there, growing alongside the driveway. Actually, it was coming up through the driveway in places. You have to admire a plant that can break up a pavement.
It’s fairly expensive at the garden center so we dug up a lot of it, putting it in every spare container we had. When we moved here in 2006 we brought three or four containers of it with us. Actually, we still have a container full. It blooms every year but if anyone would like some, we’d be happy to share. As it turns out, there already was some in one part of the garden here, and that’s where this photograph was taken.
Lily-of-the-valley has sweet little flowers that are hard to resist. They aren’t as easy to photograph as you might think, though. I’m still not sure I’ve captured them properly. Still, I’ll keep trying.
We’ve been hoping for rain for a while now and it finally came, starting last night and continuing pretty much all day today. I don’t know how much rain we got but it was very welcome. We went to Stadler Nurseries this afternoon and walked around in the drizzle. I bought a camellia (C. japonica ‘Dad’s Pink’) and Cathy bought a columbine. It was too wet to plant them today, though. This picture was taken on our back patio.
Rain On The Window
I’m not complaining, mind you, but it rained again today. I happened to be out taking pictures when the rain rolled back in, which was a bit of a surprise. The pictures I got were not all that good and I decided to go with this one of rain on the window of my office. I’ll try to get better versions of the picture I tried to take another day.
I don’t have a lot to say about this picture. It’s chive flowers opening up. They are growing in a crack in our patio and self seeded from chives I grown in a container and use for cooking. My favorite thing to do with chives is to tear up the flowers and sprinkle them on soup or steak or whatever. Purple food!
Like most people trying to grow a lawn, I’m not crazy about dandelions. They are pretty tough to get rid of completely and they will grow in almost any soil conditions. As much as I hate them in my lawn, I am actually kind of fond of the seed heads, at least from a photographic angle.
I was sitting on the lawn at church with Gwendolyn watching the other kids playing soccer with a big rubber ball and I took this picture of a dandelion seed head that was growing where we happened to sit.
After work I headed over to the theatre for the Friday evening performance of Cheaper By The Dozen. I took pictures of each of the performers as they got into make-up and costume and then we got them all together for a cast photo. We took some of just the “Gilbreth” family, then the full cast, and this of the full cast with their long-suffering director. The show went well and a good time was had by all. Two more performances tomorrow.
Anne and Lillian Gilbreth
On the one hand, I’d love to post all my favorite pictures from the two Saturday performances of Cheaper By The Dozen, put on by the WCA King’s Players. On the other, it’s hard to narrow it down to few enough. So, I’m going to take the easy way out and post just one more photograph here. I enjoyed the show (four times) and this is the scene that touched me the most. Lillian (the mother) is telling Anne (the oldest of the twelve children) that Frank Sr. (the father) has heart problems. I don’t know that it would have affected me so much when I was younger. Experience makes things more real (because they are, I guess). Having a daughter somewhere about the age of Anne in the play probably has something to do with it. Anyway, the girls sold this scene and I thank them for it. Bravo.
Kadie and Stephen
Not a lot to say about this picture. As the title says, it’s Kadie and Stephen. I’ve known Stephen for about eight years but just met Kadie today. Cute couple, wouldn’t you say? Thanks for posing for me, guys.
Clematis ‘Mrs. George Jackman’
Whether you call them KLE-mə-təs prefer kli-MA-təs, they have beautiful flowers. This is Clematis ‘Mrs. George Jackman’ and we planted it last week so it can grow up into a large rose on the back fence. It’s only a foot and a half tall and is covered with big white flowers. I’m looking forward to a few years from now, when it’s really established. Should be nice, especially with the million little pink rose flowers that should come out before the clematis is done.