I walked across Rt 28 today, wanting to be outdoors for a little while. On the slope leading down to a fairly large drainage pond there were little clumps of yellow flowers, most likely American wintercress (Barbarea orthoceras). I sat next to one such clump and took a handful of pictures. I thought about trying to get a photo of the swallows that were patrolling the pond and presumably helping keep the bug population under control. I didn’t really have the right equipment for that and it’s pretty tough, in any case, as they are really moving fast and are not very big. I settled for photographing this little damselfly instead.
Monthly Archives: May 2019
This gooseberry plant (Ribes uva-crispa) was originally put in by Albert in their yard. After he passed away, Brady said I could have it and it’s growing in the back of our garden. It blooms fairly early for a fruit bush and the fruit ripens fairly quickly. I really enjoy gooseberry jam, as I like most things of a tart nature. One thing to watch for when pruning and picking the fruit from a gooseberry bush is the thorns. They are quite sharp and vicious. There used to be a federal ban on growing gooseberry and other Ribes species but that was lifted in 1966. A few states still prohibit the growth of some or all Ribes species but they are all legally grown in Maryland.
We spent most of the day on the road today, driving up to Massachusetts to visit Dorothy for the weekend and see her senior art exhibit tomorrow evening. It was four of us, Cathy, me, and our two moms (Dorothy’s grandmas). We didn’t have traffic problems to speak of until we got onto Interstate 95 around Boston. Then it took us two hours to go 25 miles. We met up with Dorothy and went to the art building where the final preparations are under way. I’ll post a picture of Dorothy’s art tomorrow. Today, here’s Dorothy pointing out an article about a woman being attacked by a beaver.
As mentioned in yesterday’s post, Cathy, Dot, Margaret, and I drove up to Massachusetts to see Dorothy’s senior art show, which was from 4:00 to 6:00 PM this evening. Considering school is nearly 500 miles from home, I think Dorothy had a pretty good crew of guests. Kendra and Jacob came the farthest, flying up from North Carolina. Emily and Jessica drove from Virginia and Rob and Susie drove from Maryland. Jean flew in this morning. Abba and Josh drove from Rhode Island. Of course there were a lot of her school friends there, as well. This is her piece and here’s her artist’s statement.
What makes a person? What dictates how we remember them, what we keep of them when they go away? How much of the story can we get from objects left behind, and how can our impression of that story change the trajectory of a family? We all encounter things that change us—spirits pass through and transform. To what extent do these encounters, proclivities, and transformations get passed down from parent to child?
This work explores the footprints we leave, the things we keep, and the things we throw away. We inherit traits genetically, but we receive much more from our families than genetic material. Repetitive, mythic cycles appear in family narratives, from a history of tight hip muscles, to a history of alcoholism, to a history of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Stepping past the story of the individual, our family legends can teach us about the tasks that belong to us, the roads we are to take, and the whole to which we ultimately belong.
Dorothy and Rachel, another of the senior artists, are in a creative writing class together and their final project was related to their art project. Together they put together a book which read one way had Dorothy’s writing and flipped over had Rachel’s. I think the show was a success from pretty much every perspective. I enjoyed talking with the three art professors and they all had very nice things to say about Dorothy’s work.
One problem with this picture is that it’s a little hard to get the scale. The ceiling in this room is about 12 feet high, so this is a rather large installation.
After church this morning, we met up with a friend of Margaret’s and they went off together to visit. The rest of us went for a picnic on the beach. It wasn’t particularly warm and the sky was overcast but it was nice to be outdoors. We put a blanket down on the sand and made sandwiches (because on the beach, you can eat the sandwiches there). The herring gulls (Larus argentatus) were all around and hoping for any food that might come there way. I’m afraid they didn’t get much from us.
As we drove back we stopped at Niles Beach. From there we could see Boston, just over 25 miles to the southwest. I like the atmospheric quality of this photo so thought I’d include it along with the picture above of our picnic. I also like the not quite parallel lines of waves gently rolling in and changing with the subtly changing light.
After our outing, we visited with some friends in the area and then in the evening went to the penultimate Catacombs of Dorothy’s college career. It was a really nice time and a nice way to end the weekend visit.
Ages ago I got some seeds of Syringa meyeri, the Meyer or Korean lilac, and they grew in a wooden box for years. Then we moved here in 2006 and they remained in the box, never getting more than about a foot tall. I finally planted them in the garden and for a few years they grew larger but didn’t bloom. Last year they bloomed and this year they are larger and blooming better still. They have large leaves and the flowers are at the top in fairly large terminal clusters (panicles).
In 2013 I bought some fastigiate oaks from Musser Forests (http://www.musserforests.com/). Fastigiate is from Latin and means narrowing toward the top and when applied to trees, having upright usually clustered branches. Trees that have a more narrow form are often called fastigiate and these oaks are actually named Quercus robur ‘Fastigiata’. The English oak is a pretty tree, especially when it gets large, but it can be a bit much for a suburban garden, needing a huge space to be grown to full advantage. These narrow trees, however, should do reasonably well here. They are not quite as hardy as the species but I’ve seen them growing in the district and there is a huge one only a few blocks away, so I’m hopeful. I have them growing in two parts of the yard, one on the north end of the yard and one along the back (west side). Planted in 2013, they are already more than 10 feet tall, and growing quite quickly.
The columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) is really coming into bloom now in our garden. We have a few different varieties and I won’t swear that they are all this species (in fact I don’t think they are). But this one, I think probably is. It’s one of two that have flowers with a fuchsia or slightly purple color in their flowers. The other one is darker, almost tending towards a brownish red. It also has slightly more double white parts. They are both nice in their own way, and I’m pretty happy with this self seeding through out the garden. It doesn’t go out of control, like some self-seeders tend to do, so I don’t really mind.
Iris was out of town and it was Seth’s birthday so we thought we would bring him dinner and have a short visit. It turned into a family dinner night, which was fine and in fact, really great. We had both of the next generation there, Silas and Kaien, so there was plenty for me to photograph. Kai, as the older cousin, is much more aware of and involved with things going on in the room. He is also talking quite a bit although I can’t say I always understand him on the first try. Silas is less involved but he is definitely becoming aware of things going on around him. With his mom not there and with only having had a short nap today, he was somewhat subdued. I think that comes through in this photo of him. He’s very good-natured and seems relaxed, at least as long as one of his parents is very close by. It’s been a lot of fun watching him grow and we’re so thankful that Iris and Seth (and Steve and Maya) are living so close.
My roses have had a rough few years. Three of them outright died in the last twelve months and I’m not entirely sure why. This one, a hybrid rugosa named ‘Roseraie De l’Hay’ lost a lot of stems but is still hanging on and has just started to bloom. The stems are relatively thin and the heavy flowers are too much for them, so they face pretty much downwards, especially after a rain. Like most rugosas, this rose has a really wonderful scent and the leaves are a beautiful green, generally untouched by any disease.
Weeds are incredible. They grow so fast, are hard to get rid of, and can easily take over your yard. I’ve mentioned that last year we didn’t do a lot of gardening and the weeds got the upper hand. This spring they are coming up in force. In the big patch of lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis) the Canada thistle Cirsium arvense was so thick you could barely see the lily of the valley. I spent the morning pulling it up and it looks so much better. I also dug up some pokeweed (Phytolacca americana). That’s what is photographed here, leaves and root of pokeweed (and you can see a little Canada thistle at the top). This huge root was a bit of work to get out. I’m not naive enough to believe it won’t come back from the small amount of root left in the ground, but getting this huge root out is a necessary first step.
We took our annual Mother’s Day outing to the garden center today for Cathy to buy the annuals that she’ll plant around our yard and garden. After a hot and clear day yesterday it was quite cool and rainy today. When we got to Fehr’s Nursery in Burtonsville we were the only customers there. Others came and went while we were there, though, and considering the weather, they were doing pretty good business. Much of what Cathy was shopping for is in their greenhouses, so the rain didn’t really affect us too much. I did what I usually do in these situations, wander around with my camera and take pictures of flowers. I was taking pictures of these flats of red-flowered begonias when Cathy happened to come by, so I got this picture of her in front of them.
Years ago we bought a Dodge Grand Caravan from our mechanic. He had bought it from a couple that we happen to know when they decided not to pay for a new transmission. Eddie put in a new transmission and then sold the van to us. At the time it had about 115,000 miles. As you can see, it now has 270,000 isn’t bad on that second transmission. That’s not to say we haven’t put more into it, of course. In fact, it’s getting pretty near the time when it’s casting too much to keep going. Pretty son we’ll need to replace it. But I’m happy t have reached this “milestone.”
We’re coming up to the peak of rose season. Many roses bloom all summer, of course, and we naturally love that about them. But even those that repeat bloom start the season with the best display of the year. This rose, a Noisette rose bred by Champneys in 1811, is a reliable repeat bloomer but it is getting set to be absolutely covered with flowers. It is growing on the south end of our house where it gets plenty of sun and seems to be fairly happy. We need to work to keep the bindweed off of it, but other than that, it requires little care. And such a pretty little thing.
In the continuing series of roses, this is one of my favorites. I’m down from a high of 13 roses in the garden to 5. One of those, Crépuscule, was nearly killed a few years ago after being by far the largest rose I had, covering a 20 foot trellis on the south end of the house. This on, a small china rose called Perle d’Or is growing just outside our front door. It lost a few canes to the cold this winter but is in full bloom now, really showing off and giving off a wonderful fragrance.
This is one of three peonies that I planted in 2014, named ‘Coral Sunset’ that are growing will in the back garden. I’m a big fan of peonies and if I had a lot of space I might devote and entire garden room to them. There are both herbaceous and woody stemmed peonies and the are both worth growing. They do take a while to get established but they don’t really require much care. The reward in the huge, brightly colored flowers every spring. There is a nice peony garden at Seneca Creek State Park, if you are interested. I haven’t had a chance to go this year and it isn’t looking like I will, but it’s worth a peek, if you can get there when they are in bloom.
We drove up to Massachusetts again, having been there two weeks ago for Dorothy’s art show. This time it’s her graduation and it is just Cathy and me, without Dorothy’s grandmothers. We had traffic problems around Boston, with rain and accidents on I95 but we left early enough that we were here in plenty of time for the Baccalaureate service held this evening from 5:00 to 6:30. We had good seats in the front row of the balcony and I took a few pictures. The candle lighting portion of the service was particularly nice, which is what is shown here.
As mentioned in yesterday’s post, Dorothy graduated from college this weekend. We arrived in the rain at about 2:30 on yesterday (Friday) and after a little while went to the Baccalaureate service from 5:00 to 6:30 or so. When we came out, the sky had cleared and it was cool and quite beautiful out. We had been invited to dinner at the home of one of Dorothy’s friends and that was a really nice time, relaxing and comfortable, eating pizza out of their boxes, as it was meant to be eaten.
Today, the sky remained clear and cloudless. In fact, if anything, it was a little too warm and we all got a bit of sunburn. But it was a glorious day for an outdoor graduation ceremony. The students went across the stage in groups, alphabetically by their departments. The Art Department was first, and Dorothy was the fourth graduating senior to cross the stage. She was met there by our friend, Doug, who was there as a member of the Board of Trustees. He stayed long enough to walk off the stage with Dorothy before heading to the airport to catch his flight home.
Of course, one problem with being right at the beginning of the ceremony is that the rest of the time you don’t really have anything to do. That’s not to say I didn’t take any more pictures, of course, because we’ve gotten to know some of Dorothy’s friends and I tried to get pictures of them crossing the stage, as well. I got some good pictures (as well as plenty that aren’t all that great) but I did my best. The sun was pretty intense, which made it a little harder. After the 180 minute program, there was a serious amount of milling about and a lot more opportunity for pictures of Dorothy with her friends. It took us all a little while to find each other but eventually we managed it. First up is this picture of Dorothy with her mom, who is obviously and rightly proud of Dorothy for all she’s done in the four years she’s been at Gordon.
As an art major, obviously the Art Department played a significant role for her. I know she’ll keep in touch with a lot of her friends but it’s less likely that she’ll be actively in touch with her three art professors. Nevertheless, I wanted to get a picture of her with them. She had asked about the stoles that many graduates were given to wear. She was told that the art students could were stoles if they made them. As you can see, they made them for professors James Zingarelli, Bruce Herman, and David West, as well.
After the pictures with her professors, we took quite a few with Dorothy’s friends, as you might expect. Jonathan, on the right in this photo, lived with us the summer before last. It was nice to be able to watch him graduate and especially nice to meet his parents, who came all the way from Malaysia, arriving just in time for yesterday’s service. Andrew and Dorothy have been very good friends and together form the musical team known as Kinsman.
This picture of Dorothy with Rachel and Taylor sort of goes with the previous one. Rachel is engaged to Andrew and their wedding is in two weeks. Dorothy will be there for that and is one of Rachel’s bridesmaids. Taylor and Jonathan are dating, as well. We’ve only recently gotten to know Andrew, Rachel, and Taylor very well in the last year, but are glad to know them and feel like Dorothy has some really high quality friends.
Eventually we left the campus and headed back to the house where Dorothy lived this year. Sadly, the school is selling Dexter house, so they will be the last cohort of students to live there. Needless to say, there was joy and sadness as they said farewell to each other. They are headed in all different directions, both in the short term and the long term. One is leaving for Israel tomorrow, another for Iceland. I don’t know where all the others are going next but this was a really tight-knit group and I won’t be surprised if they join up as a group in the years ahead.
Finally we went to a party given by the local families of a few of Dorothy’s friends. Bob and Barb hosted and there were a lot of students there with their families. It was a casual affair with plenty to eat and lots to talk about. I especially enjoyed getting to know the parents of a few of Dorothy’s friends, some of whom I’d have to describe as “our people.” This is a time of transition and that can be scary and uncertain, but one thing is sure. Dorothy went to college with a lot of the same worries she’s facing now and has come away with a really wonderful group of friends, some of whom I suspect will be friends for life. I certainly hope so.
It was a busy, tiring, beautiful, exciting, long, day. Congratulations, Dorothy!
P.S. I didn’t take that last picture. Just saying.
As the weekend wound down, we had a busy but nice Sunday. After church we had a very nice lunch with Emiko and her family at a house they had rented for the weekend. It was really nice to get to know them a bit better. After that we returned to the art gallery to dismantle Dorothy’s installation. Before taking it down I took a series of photographs of various parts of the piece. I have overall views taken two weeks ago but I wasn’t able to get many closeups then. With a tripod and a bit of time, I was able to get them, some from the top of a scaffolding, so I wasn’t looking up from the floor. Then we pulled all the pins and collected the various pictures, booklets, and related paraphernalia that made up much of the piece. The painted portions will be painted over, of course. If you were not able to see it, I’m sorry, it is gone forever.
But not without photographic evidence.
We drove home from Massachusetts today. Nine and a half hours isn’t a bad amount of time for the 475 mile trip, but with only two stops, it really shouldn’t have taken so long. We had to detour twice to get around significant problems, once near Sturbridge, in Massachusetts and then at the 95, 295, 495 interchange on the western shore of the Delaware River, after crossing the Delaware Memorial Bridge. There was no getting around the traffic getting onto the George Washington Bridge, crossing the Hudson. The stop and go traffic, however, gave me the opportunity to take a few photos as we got onto and crossed the bridge.
About a month ago a pair of American robins (Turdus migratorius) built a next under our front porch. I tried to discourage them, but they kept at it. I realized it was pointless to resist and they are almost done with it now, in any case. They flew off whenever we went in or out of the house, of course, but now the chicks are about two weeks old and ready to fledge. In fact, I took this picture in the morning with all three chicks in the nest. When I came home later today there was one standing on the edge of the nest and the other two had flown. Later in the evening the third was gone, as well, and the next has been abandoned, having served its purpose.
Allium moly, commonly known as golden garlic, is a pretty, ornamental flowering onion with bright yellow flowers. I have this growing long side our front walk, although it has been surrounded by other plants so it isn’t as prominent as it was when it was first planted. I really should have more of this. It blooms after the majority of bulbs are done, so helps fill a gap in the blooming cycle. It’s also a lovely, bright yellow, which is hard to miss. I have it growing next to a small Siberian iris called ‘Eric the Red’ and the two go very well together, with purple and yellowing being a really good combination. They are also on the small side for their respective genuses. Highly recommended.
We were in the dining room finishing up dinner this evening. Dorothy has gotten home and I fixed Thai curry for her (and all of us). Dorothy noticed this deer walking across the back yard and I grabbed my camera. I figured that when I opened the back door she would run off but she only seemed mildly interested in my presence. At first she was behind a big bush but she wondered out and I was able to get a few pictures. Then she sauntered back across the lawn and into the neighbor’s yard.
Dorothy got home yesterday and this evening we had the rest of the local family over for Indian carry-out. That’s one of our go-to meals and it doesn’t disappoint. For dessert, though, we went further east and I made mango with sticky rice. It’s actually pretty easy to make, although it’s taken me a while to get the proportion of coconut milk to sugar to rice where I want it. Having the right rice is fairly important, but in this area there are so many good Asian supermarkets that’s not a problem. And I bought a box of mangos. Each person gets about half of one but there are more in the box, if they care to cut one up.
I really like roses and I’ve posted photos of them here fairly often, trying to get each of my roses featured at least once a year. I also like to visit my friend Nick, who often opens his rose garden on Memorial Day weekend. He didn’t this year, for personal reasons, but I thought I’d post a rose photo, anyway. The rose that’s blooming that I haven’t featured yet this year is a landscape rose that our neighbor gave me a few years ago. It’s growing in a nice, sunny spot behind our garage and is quite happy there, blooming profusely (as you can see). I’m not as big a fan of these roses as I might be, mainly because they have little to no fragrance. But I can’t fault them in terms of blooming and ease of care. If you want a rose that will bloom all summer and which you can basically ignore, this is probably the rose for you. They really are quite spectacular when they really get going.
After church Cathy and I went to Stadler Nursury in Laytonsville. On the way we happened to pass the Montgomery County Agricultural Farm Park. There were three large birds walking across the grass a little way in from the entrance and it was three female turkeys. I pulled in but they had moved into the deep grass before I was able to get my camera out and get a picture of them. They would have been small in the picture, anyway. When we went to turn around a little further in this male tree swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) was sitting on the sign just outside Cathy’s window. I got the camera ready and was able to get two pictures before he flew off. What a pretty little bird.
I’ve posted pictures of this fern before and I’ll probably do so again. It’s a pretty fern and worth growing, if you have any interest in ferns. I actually have it in a less than ideal spot that gets pretty much full sun from about noon onwards. It would be happier in full shade. The Missouri Botanical Garden page on this plant says, “High summer heat may cause fronds to brown by mid to late summer, particularly if good soil moisture is not maintained and/or plants are grown in too much sun.” Yep, that happens here. I really need to move it, or at least take a piece or two of it to grow in a better location. It does amazingly well in the sun, but it could be so much happier.
On Sunday, as I mentioned, we went to Stadler Nursery in Laytonsville. Cathy bought a few things, including two Cleome plants, one white and one very pale pink. The white one, shown here, is called ‘Senorita Blanca’ and the other is ‘Senorita Mi Amor’. We’ve had Cleome ‘Senorita Rosalita’ in the past and these are (I assume) related plants with different coloration. My understanding is that they are sterile and will not self-seed, which is both good and bad. Annuals that do self-seed can become a real nuisance and get out of control. But some, if they only just manage to hold on, are really nice. Nigela is a good example of the latter. In our experience, it just self-seeds enough that we have it for a few years before needing to plant more. Other annuals, of course, go totally native and sterile plants are a real boon.
This isn’t as sharp a picture as I’d like but it’s what I was able to get today. Actually, I got pictures of three different birds today. This one, of a brown-headed cowbird (Molothrus ater) in the birdbath, a Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis), and a House Wren (Troglodytes aedon). The wren picture is sharper but I thought I had a better chance of re-photographing the wren, so I went with this one. The lack of sharpness is partially due to the low light and the fact that I had to crop the image to get this close, but a small part is due to the movement of the bird. As you can see by the water droplets in the air all around the bird, it is shaking water off of itself, taking a bath.
We’ve had coral bells (Heuchera sanguinea) growing in our garden and in containers pretty much since we have been able to have a garden. It’s not the sturdiest of plants and we’ve had to replace them from time to time. I may be forgetting something but I think this is currently our only plant, growing in a container in the driveway. It’s fairly happy, probably because the containers get watered more regularly throughout the summer than the in-ground plantings. Also, although this gets a bit of direct morning sun, it’s in bright, open shade by early afternoon so it doesn’t bake. It seems to be happy and it blooms quite freely, which is nice.
I stopped at Lake Needwood on the way home today. It was a beautiful afternoon, although a bit warm for my taste. I walked around to a point point eastern shore near where there is an old beaver dam. There is no evidence that there are any beavers around any more, although the dam is in reasonable shape, considering. It’s been there since before the aerial photos used in Google’s map were taken. I got some nice photos of this eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly (Papilio glaucus). I tried to get pictures of the swallows flying over the water but they were moving too fast and I really wasn’t set up for that sort of photography. I got some pictures of dragonflies, as well, and one that was good enough to use to identify a female common yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas).