We have some Coreopsis in the bed at the back of our yard. That bed actually needs a bit of work, but this is a fairly reliable little perennial that I’d hate to lose to any renovation. It’s a very cheery orange color and although later in the summer that would be drowned out by all the black-eyed Susans, at this time of year, before even the day lilies have started to bloom, it’s quite welcome. We’ve had other Coreopsis plants but they haven’t done as well as this one with large petaled flowers and less feathery foliage. It’s quite happy to be mostly neglected, which is sort of what it takes in that garden.
Monthly Archives: June 2016
This little rose called ‘Perle d’Or’ is growing outside our front door. A few years ago it was a seven foot tall shrub but the winters of 2014 and 2015 each had very cold spells and killed back all of the taller canes. It’s much smaller than it was, less than five feet at the tallest point. This last winter was much milder in terms of temperature, though, and didn’t do so much damage and it will probably come back strong. It’s covered with these petite pink blossoms that are wonderfully fragrant. On a humid evening (like we’ve had the last week) they are really nice.
Iris and Seth’s wedding weekend has finally arrived (well, if you count taking Friday off work as part of the weekend, anyway). We drove up to Pennsylvania this morning to get some of the final things done before tomorrow’s wedding. First, Cathy and I made sure the portable toilets were delivered and in the right locations. Then we went to the Round Barn to drop some things off and for me to set up the photo booth. Cathy and Tsai-Hong left to go to the farm and while they were there (and I was still working on the photo booth) it rained. I mean, it really rained. By the time I got to the farm, the rain had stopped but the ground was really wet. The few cars that came up to the cabin tore up the ground a bit and we stopped others from driving that far so it wouldn’t get any worse.
But about this tree. Iris and Seth wanted to plant a tree as part of their wedding but didn’t want to interrupt the ceremony long enough to do the whole thing, so they did most of the work today, a day ahead. Iris’s brother, Steve, dug the hole for them and the two of us carried the tree down from mom’s van. Then Seth and Iris did the actual planting. Tomorrow, during the service, they will put a few final shovels of dirt on it. Later we’ll put a fence around it to keep animals off and I’ll stake it to keep it upright until it has enough roots growing into the undisturbed soil around it.
The tree the picked is a black gum, also known as a tupelo. It is a variety called ‘Red Rage’ and is a lovely tree with shiny green leaves and spectacular fall color and with berries that attract birds. It was also picked as a tree likely to do well in both wet and drought conditions (i.e., “…for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health…”).
Unfortunately I wasn’t able to take any pictures during the ceremony. There were plenty of others to do that, including the professional photographer. Video was also shot, so it should be covered well enough. But in spite of having basically the best seat in the house (I was standing, actually), I didn’t have the liberty to stop and take pictures. In any case, I did get a few before and after the wedding, when my official duties were complete. Most of the guests had left for the reception and a few of us were still at the farm loading things into our vans and cars. The photographer was still working with Iris and Seth on a few pictures and I took a moment to join in, taking a couple of them walking together. It was a beautiful, if somewhat hot, afternoon but the rain held off and Iris and Seth got married.
Most of our garden beds are made up of woody shrubs and herbaceous perennials. The only real exception is the area where an oak tree used to be along the front of our yard (and it’s mostly in the county right-of-way, actually). Cathy plants annuals there to provide a bunch of color—yellow, orange, blue, and white—that’s easily seen from the road. In the driveway are two collections of containers. At the top, right are a mix of containers that include lots of seedlings that she plans to put in various places around the yard. On the left, seen here, are more ‘permanent’ containers that are mostly perennials but which get annuals mixed in. The large variegated Pelargonium at the top was a gift from the school for my volunteer activities this year.
Once again I’m late posting this (posting on Saturday, June 11) but the photo was taken on Monday, June 6. Cathy and I took the day off work today and the day was basically dedicated to getting Dorothy to the airport and on her way. We left home at about 11:30 and had no trouble getting to the airport. The airport in general was not crowded and the line at the Aeroflot counter in particular was not long so we didn’t have to wait more than about 15 minutes to check her one bag. We had plenty of time before her flight and as usual, I looked around for interesting views of Dulles.
The signs for the security entrance to the gates said there was only a ten minute wait so we sat and chatted a little while before Dorothy headed off for the first leg of her four leg journey to Turkey. Her first flight was by far the longest, going over the north Atlantic (and directly over Iceland) to Moscow. That’s a new country for Dorothy and she was happy to be able to add it to her list. After sitting with her a little while, we saw her off to the secured area of the airport and were home for a while before she boarded an Airbus 330-300 and her adventure began.
Oh, and FYI, I only took two-thirds of the second of these pictures. Cathy took the picture of me that has been edited into the one I took of Cathy and Dorothy.
The Asiatic lilies in our yard are starting to bloom. These have taken a few years to become established but they certainly are worth the wait. This one happens to be growing in a container on the back patio but there are a few others just like it around the yard. There are some really amazing colors available in both Asiatic and Oriental lilies and I need to plant more. The Oriental lilies are taller and also generally have very strong fragrance, while the Asiatics have little or no fragrance. They certainly are beautiful, though, and are worth having. They also bloom at different times, with the Asiatics blooming first. We also have some tiger lilies (Lilium lancifolium) but they won’t be blooming for a while yet.
As I left work today I decided to wander off into the woods for a while and take a few pictures. Of the three dozen or so that I took, most of them are of leaves and all of them are predominately green. Some were of bramble buds, which are covered with red hairs but the overall effect of the picture is still green. In this one, of a single leaf of a tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima), there is a bit of reddish tint in the leaflets, but still, it’s a green picture. The glossy leaves with their touch of color are quite beautiful, even if the tree is a fairly weedy invasive in our area.
These are varied carpet beetles (Anthrenus verbasci) on some sort of wild parsnip relative (similar to Queen Anne’s Lace, but not that). These little beetles, measuring only about 3mm in length, are often found indoors and eat stored food products (e.g., biscuits, cakes, seeds, wheat, maize, oats, rice, cayenne pepper, cacao, and dried cheese). They also are considered to be the world’s most important pest of insect collections. The adults feed on pollen, and that’s what these little fellows (or ladies, I really don’t know) are up to.
This little daylily (Hemerocallis) is named ‘Stella De Oro’ and it’s a very popular these days, bordering on (or possibly crossing over into) overuse. Like all daylilies, it really needs full sun to bloom well and can do with a good feeding of fertilizer but taken care of properly it will reward you with outstanding and abundant blooms. It starts a little earlier than my ‘normal’ daylilies (Hemerocallis fulva, I assume) and also bloom a little later into the summer. They are considerably smaller and don’t spread as fast, needing to be dug up and divided if you want to cover more ground a bit faster.
I spent a few hours at Roclkands Farm today. For a while I visited with friends. I held little Charlie while his parents packed the car and I chatted with Janis about this and that. After Greg and Anna left with the boys, I wandered out to take pictures of the animals. There is a litter of pigs a few weeks old in addition to the other, older pigs. Of course there are also the usual cattle, sheep, and chickens. There is a small wildflower garden on the property and I stopped there to take a few pictures including this one, which I think turned out nicely.
Today started out quite warm and steamy. I did some heavy yard work (cut a dead branch from a maple tree, about 25 feet up the trunk) and was exhausted by the work combined with the humid heat. In the afternoon, however, a front came through and it cooled off and the air became much drier. After church we had a picnic in the shade behind the building and it was one of those perfect evenings we sometimes have in June. High 70s, breezy, clear, and wonderful. The company and the food contributed to the mood, of course.
Cathy bought this little cleome plant recently and it is destined for a container in the back yard. I know that’s were it will go because, although I took this picture on June 13, I’m writing this on June 18 and it’s already been planted. I like cleome quite well. Cleome hassleriana is a half-hardy annual and does reasonably well here although very cold winters generally mean we have to start over with purchased plants. It will self seed fairly well so this one should give us a few years worth of enjoyment (unless we have another very cold winter, of course).
I was on my way home late this evening and the sun was getting low in the sky. I stopped at St. Mary’s Catholic Church to take a few pictures. First I took some of the reflections in the building across the street. After that I took some of clouds as they were lit up with color by the setting sun. This is the best of those I took, and I think it’s reasonably nice. It’s actually an HDR image, made from three separate pictures taken with different exposures and combined (using Corel AfterShot Pro 2) to give a more dynamic range to the image. I have mixed feelings about the overall look of HDR images but it really does produce some striking images.
I mentioned on Friday that the daylily ‘Stella De Oro’ was blooming a little ahead of the ‘regular’ daylilies. Well, only slightly ahead. This is that regular daylily of which I spoke, Hemerocallis fulva. It’s considered an invasive in some areas and you will, indeed, see it growing along the roadside or in otherwise abandoned areas. On the hill behind our Pennsylvania property there is an old, long-abandoned homestead. There is a hole where the house used to be and the foundation of the chimney. The house may be gone but there is a large area covered with daylilies and Vinca minor that seems to be a more enduring legacy than even stone (because stone is taken for other uses. Actually, the daylily pictured here was taken from there, as well, but I’m certain that the gap has been filled again. These were taken from there, planted in our yard in Gaithersburg. Then a few roots from there were taken when we moved, stored in containers for a year, before being planted here.
Okay, how about a break from flowers and other pictures from the yard? Well, we don’t have any choice because I didn’t take any pictures outside today. I was in the kitchen and I saw this little, carved, wooden dog toothpick holder and though I’d take his picture. It’s a nice little thing that is mostly unnoticed in our kitchen but sometimes I like to celebrate the little things. We don’t actually use toothpicks that often, but when we do (when serving hors d’oeuvres, for instance) we really need to put this little fellow out.
Well, we’re back out in the yard today. This evening I took a bunch of pictures of the flowers on some feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) growing on the north end of our house. It’s quite happy there and brightens up the shade quite well. We’re in a bit of a lull right now, with only a few things blooming (mostly the day lilies). In the morning, the Tradescantia (spiderwort) blooms but by the time it gets hot, they close up. There is also some evening primrose (Oenothera speciosa). And then there is the feverfew.
Nooree and Jane moved out today, heading back to Philadelphia and the next stage of their epic journey. We are so blessed to have had the chance to get to know them and look forward to hearing about the next stage of their lives. We’re also going to miss them and their darling, wonderful, exuberant, and beautiful children. Cathy and I have been involved in countless moves through the years and now that we’re the other side of 50 we have less trouble saying that we’ll play with the kids or I’ll take pictures for posterity. We actually didn’t even show up until the truck was about 99% loaded. Nooree asked if I’d take a group picture for them and here it is. Note: I’m in this picture. That part was taken by Cathy. The rest is mine.
It was another beautiful day today. Hot but not terribly muggy and there was a nice breeze. Cathy asked what I wanted to do for Father’s day so we drove up to Lilypons in Adamstown for a while. Since 1925, it has been operating at its current location, bought by G. Leicester Thomas, Sr. and was initially called Three Springs Fisheries (founded in 1917). The name of the company wasn’t actually changed until 1978 but in 1930 a post office was established which sort of makes it an official ‘town’ and it was called Lilypons after Leicester’s favorite operatic diva, Lily Pons.
We weren’t there to buy anything this time but to see the water lilies that were in bloom, along with various other water loving plants including pickerel rush and lotus. We watched the koi in one pond for a while and spotted quite a few turtles. No snakes this time, although we’ve seen copperheads there in the past. Because of the breeze there were no bugs to speak of, either, which was a bonus. If you go, unless you plan to stay close to the building and rectangular pools with potted plants, I’d recommend long trousers, socks, and shoes. There’s a fair amount of poison ivy about the place and you’re better safe than sorry. But it’s definitely worth a visit.
I was out in the back yard after work today and looking for things to photograph. I started by taking pictures of a little bit of fluff. I think it was a seed from a milkweed plant, although those are just blooming now, so it seems a bit early. Perhaps it was from something else. Then I photographed the flowers on an Egyptian walking onion (Allium × proliferum) growing in my herb garden. When I turned around I noticed a dandelion (Taraxacum sp.) growing in the lawn (not just one, actually, but this is the only one I photographed). It had gone to seed and most of the seeds had been blown away by the wind to torment our neighbors (or possibly to continue tormenting us, or course).
I wanted to photograph it in a way that was a little different. I got down on the ground and looked up at the seeds still remaining on the plant. I had my 100mm macro lens with a 25mm extension tube which together is a bit long, but I was able to get below the seeds and still see through the viewfinder. I don’t know that it’s a great picture, but I’m pleased enough with it. It’s a different view, if nothing else.
We had a bit of rain today. When I got to work, the person with whom I rode up in the elevator said the forecast was for storms between 2:00 and 10:00 p.m. but I didn’t realize it was going to be as severe as it was. It really rained. I have a window office so I often don’t turn on my overhead lights, much preferring the natural light (even though my office faces north and I don’t get direct sun) to awful fluorescent light. It got so dark I needed to turn on a lamp. It wasn’t raining when I drove home but rained hard again after I got there. I hadn’t taken any pictures so I went out front and took some of the rain. They turned out alright but as it happens, I decided not to post them after all.
I went to dinner with four other guys, eating and having a brew at Dogfish Head in Gaithersburg. When we left it was about 8:45 and the sun was low in the sky, the clouds had cleared overhead, and the western sky was absolutely beautiful. I took a few pictures through powerlines from along West Diamond Avenue and then drove up to the small shopping center on the southwest corner of Clopper and Quince Orchard Roads. From there I had a less obstructed view of the sunset and that’s where I took these two pictures. Full disclosure, I edited out some light posts that I think detracted from the view.
I’d say that there are a lot of rabbits in our neighborhood but that would be understating it by considerable. This is an eastern cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus), one of the most common rabbit species in North America. According to AnimalDiversity.org it “has the widest distribution of any Sylvilagus. It is found from southern Manitoba and Quebec to Central and northwestern South America. In the contiguous United States, the eastern cottontail ranges from the east to the Great Plains in the west.” I came out the front door this evening with my camera just as Cathy got home. There were three rabbits in our front yard. We went for a walk and saw more. When we got home, there were not only three in the front yard but a couple in the back.
I met my family in Rockville Town Square this evening for what we have taken to calling TND (Thursday Night Dinner). We met at Gordon Biersch but I got there a little early and took a few pictures in the square before heading over to the restaurant. This was taken from the stage, with the camera sitting on the edge of the stage and with a slightly long shutter speed to get some blur into the water (1/13 sec. at f/16.0). I think I should have lightened it up a bit more, but it’s not terrible. Anyway, that’s where I was this evening.
I found this wasp on the hall floor of my office building and thought I’d take a closer look. It’s covered with dust but I photographed it pretty much as-is. I think perhaps it is a blue mud wasp (Chalybion californicum) which is a widespread species in North America. It is a beautiful, metallic blue color with hints of green, as well. Since the larvae feed on spiders, most people would consider it a beneficial insect, although spiders in their turn feed on other insects and are beneficial themselves.
Mom and I went up to the farm today for a short visit. I have a few things I wanted to do but mostly it was to get away and relax a little. It was warm but not terribly hot and in the shade, with a gentle breeze blowing, it was very pleasant. Of course I brought my camera and took pictures of a few things that are blooming right now. This is bird’s-foot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus), also known as bird’s-foot deervetch. It’s a beautiful, little flower and, like most legumes they have a symbiotic relationship with a nitrogen-fixing bacteria called Rhizobia which makes them particularly good for the soil in which they grow.
The Rockville Chamber of Commerce put on it’s first annual Community Fun Day today. I’m always impressed by the optimism in anything billed as being the first annual whatever. You could say that anything you do once was the first annual, but it implies you’ll do it again in a year. Even if you don’t, the first one was still the first (and last) annual event. In this case, I think there will be another next year, but time, as they say, will tell.
Our pastor had volunteered us to provide man (and woman) power to help with the event and I spent a bit of time in front of a grill. It’s a place I’m comfortable and reasonably capable, so that was fine. I also took what opportunity I was given to take a few pictures. The delay in getting the meat to the site helped give me more time.
There was a fire truck, ambulance, and police car there as attractions, along with a moon bounce and fairly large, inflatable slide. The fire truck attracted a fairly high percentage of the crowd, as they usually do. This youngster, however, stood out from the usual onlookers. He came in a pretty good rendition of a fireman’s outfit and was good enough to pose for a few pictures with what may very well be his future ride.
The coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) in our yard is coming into bloom. It isn’t particularly purple at first, but they will darken as they open. I love the orange and green of the florets, the individual flowers, that are developing in the center of the flower head. At this stage they are still buds, unopened and shaped like spikes. When they open, then the bees and butterflies will come and pollinate them and the cycle of life will continue.
Our 2000 Chrysler Town and Country reached 210,000 miles today, which is a milestone, I suppose. It happened to get there as I pulled into my office parking lot so I took a picture. Actually, I the mileage was 209,999 when I pulled into the lot and I took a picture of that before driving around my building a couple times to click it over to 210,000.
I should say, we have two minivans and this is our low-mileage van. The other is a 2007 and has a little over 240,000. Lately I’ve been alternating driving the two of them, one week for one, then a week in the other. Once it really gets hot, though, this one will get less use, as the air conditioning isn’t working. But lately it hasn’t been too bad.
We went to the benefit dinner for Erick’s Hope this evening and enjoyed seeing a few friends, including Diane and Amy, pictured here with Cathy. In their own words, “Erick’s Hope exists to serve children in need of love and security by providing spiritual, emotional, physical and educational support through a variety of programs and services.” For more info, see https://erickshope.wordpress.com/. There was a huge selection of items in the dessert auction (we got a peach pie!) as well as the more traditional silent auction items. And the roast beast was delicious. Sadly we had to leave early so didn’t get to visit with other friends who came later.
The beebalm (Monarda didyma) in our yard is in full, magnificent bloom. There is a good size patch against the back fence and another on the south end of the house in front of the rose trellis. They are both quite striking right now, either from a distance, as a mass of bright red or close up, revealing the interesting flower structure of this member of the mint family. This picture is a bit much, with the red on red because of the blooms in the background. Nevertheless, I picked it because I think the flower in the center looks a bit like a set of deer antlers. I like that about it.