Male Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis)
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.
Black-crowned Night-Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)
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.
Tags: Black-crowned Night Heron, Dragonfly, Erythemis, Erythemis simplicicollis, Heron, Nature, Night Heron, Nycticorax, Nycticorax nycticorax, Pondhawk, Wildlife
Eastern Bumblebee (Bombus impatiens)
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.
Tags: Bee, Bombus, Bombus impatiens, Bumblebee, Gooseneck Loosestrife, Insect, Insects, Loosestrife, Lysimachia, Lysimachia clethroides, Polinators
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 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.
Monarda didyma, Asclepias tuberosa, and Bombus impatiens
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.
Categories: Creatures, Flowers and Plants
Tags: Asclepias, Asclepias tuberosa, Bee, Bee Balm, Bergamot, Bombus, Bombus impatiens, Bumble Bee, Butterfly Weed, Insect, Insects, Monarda, Monarda didyma, Native Plants, Perennial
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.
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.
Queen Anne’s Lace
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.
Rose of Sharon Hibiscus syriacus
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.
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.
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.