Cathy and I went to see Iris and Seth’s new baby this afternoon. Naturally we stayed outside, but I was still able to take a few photographs. Silas didn’t want to take his mask off so although I got a few of Iris and Seth with Eloise sans mask, the full family grouping is all masked up. I think it’s a pretty cute picture, although without context, in years to come, someone is going to wonder why they were wearing masks. Anyway, mother and daughter (and father and brother) are doing well.
Monthly Archives: August 2020
We walked another section of the upper Rock Creek trail today. We parked at Redland Middle School and went from there to Lake Needwood. This section of trail is mostly level with just a little up and down. It follows the creek and included crossing Muncaster Mill Road. Although there is a crosswalk, you pretty much have to wait for someone actually paying attention who stops, as they are supposed to do. The path and creek also go under the Intercounty Connector (MD 200). Our walk was about 2.5 miles round trip, although it didn’t actually feel like we went that far. I was nice to be in the woods, although the humidity was very high and we were pretty well drenched by the time we got back to the car.
We have a lot of tiger swallowtails (Papilio glaucus) in our yard. The particularly like the butterfly bush (Buddleia) but we see them on other flowers, as well. They are often quite ragged, with torn wings and sometimes with less than half remaining. Nevertheless, they seem to get around alright. Most of them are the standard yellow striped with black but we have a significant number of the dark form, which is restricted to females of the species. This is a pretty nice one, with her wings mostly intact. As you can see, she is on a tall verbena (Verbena bonariensis).
The coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) is in our back garden near the back fence. In the late afternoon, backlit by the sun it’s quite lovely. The bees, particularly carpenter and bumble bees, seem to really like the coneflowers. We (and by we I mostly mean Cathy) did a lot of work in this part of the garden this summer. It had become quite overgrown with mugwort and goldenrod among the monarda, asclepias, and irises. It’s basically ready for new plants now, so it isn’t finished, but it’s so much better than it was.
I’m not actually 100% sure of the identification of this sulphur. It may be an orange sulphur (Colias eurytheme) but it’s hard to tell for sure from the underside of the wings. It’s a sulphur, anyway, subfamily Coliadinae. I’ve had a hard time getting a good photograph of one, as they are quite shy and often don’t land when I’m near by. So, I was pleased to get this photo and a few others today. It’s a pretty little butterfly and I love seeing them on the flowers in the yard.
Our yard is pretty heavy on the Rudbeckias, (black-eyed Susan) although we’ve actually gotten rid of a few. You probably wouldn’t notice and it’s going to take a bit more work if we’re actually going to cut back on them noticeably. On the other hand, this time of year, they really are wonderful in their great numbers. The insects like them, although perhaps they aren’t the favorite flower. The skippers in particular are to be found on them and that’s where I usually see transverse flower flies (Eristalis transversa).
This is a pretty little butterfly that I don’t see too often in our yard. It is, I believe, a red-banded hairstreak (Calycopis cecrops). It was moving about amongst the mountain mint (Pycnanthemum muticum) and that made it hard to get a clear photo of it, but this one turned out pretty well. The hairstreaks are a subfamily (and considered as a tribe) under the Lycaenidae, the Blues, Coppers, Hairstreaks, and Harvesters. They are smallish butterflies and their “eye spots” at the far end of their hind wings presumably fool prediters into thinking that’s their head enough to improve their chance of survival.
It wasn’t so hot today, although relative humidity was near 100%. Cathy and I went out for a walk at the former Redgate Golf Course, now Redgate Park. We saw a pair of white-tailed deer (a mother and fawn) as well as a few different wildflowers. This is a pretty common one, an import from the old world, but still a pretty flower. The others that I photographed were also non-natives. There was the Asiatic dayflower (Commelia communis), which has two white petal-like structures above the flower, and moth mullein (Verbascum blattaria), a pretty, little, white flower with a magenta throat and stamens. We also went to Rockville Cemetery, where we saw another fawn, and then Croydon Nature Center before returning home.
I’m pretty sure this is a sculptured resin bee (Megachile sculpturalis), a fairly common, solitary bee in the Megachilidae family (the leafcutter, mason, and resin bees, and allies). We see them on a variety of flowers in our yard. This one is on the Verbena bonariensis (tall verbena or Brazilian vervain) and that seems to be a favorite for these bees. Like most bees, they are not at all agresive and much more likely to fly away from you than bother you in any way. I think they’re quite pretty, with their furry thorax and sculptured abdomen.
We took dinner to a friend this evening, after learning that her nephew had passed away. It was so good to see her and although it was a sad occasion, it’s always good to see old friends. And we do go back a ways with this one, who was in our wedding almost 36 years ago. On the way home there was a lovely sunset going on behind us. As we got off the Inter-County Connector (a.k.a. MD 200) I decided to stop at the commuter parking lot and see if I could get a picture or two. When it was first built, the hill next to the lot was nearly ideal. Now, however, the trees that have grown up on it are starting to block the view enough that I had a much harder time getting a clear view of the clouds, which were fairly low in the sky.
Cathy planted two canna lilies this spring in a container on the back patio. Our patio is generally nice in the summer, with a collection of plants in containers as well as the black-eyed Susans that surround it. This year is, I think, the best it’s ever been. This canna lily is part of the reason. It’s so bright and especially when back-lit, the dark leaves add an additional contrast. The patio is a riot of colors, with the Pelargonium right behind the canna and with all sorts of other flowers of a wide variety of colors. Definitely nice to have. We’re so fortunate.
The forecast has been for rain for a few days and as usual, the forecasts were not very good. Today we had rain, however, and it rained pretty hard for a while. This is one of two bird baths on our back patio, surrounded by black-eyed Susans and with sedum growing on the surface of the patio in front of it. The pink elephant watering can adds a nice bit of color. I didn’t really go out into the rain today, standing on the kitchen steps and just under the eaves to get this and a few other photos.
Cathy and I went for a walk this evening. After yesterday’s rain it was cooler. Not quite cool enough to be really pleasant and still quite humid, but so much better than it’s been that we had to get out. There’s one place we walk by where the park comes right up to the road and I took this photo of common burdock (Arctium minus) along the edge of the woods. It’s a biennial native to Europe but pretty well established as a common weed here now. It has burrs that stick to fur and clothing, which helps it to spread.
Cathy has this hardy begonia (Begonia grandis) growing a few places around the house. It really seems to like the relatively shady area around our front door, which gets a little morning sun but that’s it. And even that is filtered through the foundation planting. It seems particularly happy this year, with the amount of rain we’ve had. It’s just coming into bloom, with its delicate and interestingly shaped, pink flowers. But I think it’s worth having just the leaves. We have a few little seedlings that Cathy has collected and she will try to get a few established in new places.
I noticed this bright green katydid nymph on the canna lily this morning. It is one of the Scudderia species. It let me get pretty close, as you can see and it actually stayed there for a few days and ate a good amount of the petals on this flower. Generally I’m not a fan of flower-eating insects but this one was pretty enough and eating slowly enough that I let it be. I like the green against the orange of the petals and even though it’s a small thing, I could see it clearly from our kitchen door, which was nice.
I took more photos of the Scudderia (a genus of katydid) nymph today. It’s still in the canna lily flower and still eating the petals. I suspect it will move on pretty soon. That or it will be eaten, of course. This cosmos is growing in a small pot on our patio. We’ve never really grown them much, but they sure do add a lot of color to a garden in summer. We could do worse than have lots of them.
I also took a few photos of a dinner we had with a dear (and winsome!) friend, who has been living with her recently widowed mother-in-law. But they don’t really do justice to the great time we had.
I had gone out to take a few pictures of the clouds, which were pretty dramatic. Then I went inside and was reading as it started to rain. A little later, Dorothy called me to come back outside because there was a really nice rainbow. It was down against the trees, coming right down to the ground. I got a few pictures of that and then walked out into the rain where I could get a view of the rainbow against the sky. It’s more traditional and I considered posting one of the ground level photos here, but frankly, this one is better, so…
There’s a lot in bloom right now, but there’s actually less variety than there was earlier in the year. The garden is full of black-eyed Susan and there are other, less showy flowers, like the mountain mint, which attracts so many pollinators. Around on the side of the house, in the shadier part of the garden, we have this cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis), which is absolutely stunning. The red is so pure and bright, especially when the sun is on it. Cathy saw a hummingbird come to this, as well, which is exciting. I suppose I should have posted a photo of the two of us, for our anniversary, but flowers are where it’s at.
I’m pretty sure this is a spicebush swallowtail (Papilio troilus). There are three dark swallowtails that we see somewhat regularly. Most of them are dark form females of the eastern tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus). This is, in my experience, the second most common. Then there are the black swallowtails (Papilio polyxenes). They all look pretty similar and they all have a bit of variation in their coloration. Since I’m really not an expert, I could be wrong about this one. I’ll just leave it at that. It’s a pretty butterfly, in any case, and is enjoying the blue lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica ) in our front garden.
The mountain mint is really buzzing these days. The height of summer is really great for seeing bees and wasps and I really enjoy seeing them in the afternoon. The sun beating down it a bit much so I can only take it for short stretches but it’s worth it to see the variety of stinging things buzzing around. This is, I believe, a four-toothed mason wasp (Monobia quadridens). The larvae feed on leaf-rolling caterpillars so are generally considered good to have around. Their sting is something you want to avoid but like most hornets and wasps, if you leave them alone, they’ll leave you alone.
We picked up some blue mistflower (Conoclinium coelestinum) along with some other plants that were being given to us. It’s spread around the yard and now we have both the normal pale blue, as seen here (it’s more blue than this photo makes it look) and a white sport (or perhaps the blue is the sport). It blooms late in the summer, just starting now, and will be around into the fall. I don’t know that I’d run out an buy any, but it’s not bad to have a late summer bloomer in the garden. The skippers tend to be the most common pollinators on it, but the bees go to it some, too.
We’ve only had this native perennial a few years and this is by far the best it’s done in our garden. We have it in a somewhat shady area. Over time it should spread and form a clump, although not so much that it could be considered invasive (like much of what we have). The snapdragon-like flowers are fairly large and as you can see, they are borne in tight, spike-like terminal racemes. They are actually native to a bit further south than we are but have become naturalized over much of the east coast.
This little bee is absolutely loaded with pollen. (Side question: if pollen is spelled with an ‘e’, why does pollinator have an ‘i’ in its place?) Anyway, Cathy and I went to Meadowside Nature Center this afternoon and walked around a pond and through the woods. In addition to this little bee, I got a pretty good photo of a common whitetail (Plathemis lydia), a fairly common dragonfly. But I thought I’d go with the bright yellow of this photo instead. I’m also partial to bees, of course.
I took a few pictures of skippers in the yard today and a couple of them turned out pretty nicely but then as the sun was going down, there was a really nice sunset. I can’t say I’ll always pick a sunset picture over any other but they are generally pretty well liked and they are, of course, quite beautiful. Not as nice as actually seeing the sunset, obviously, but we’ve all seen them enough that a photograph can really evoke the feeling you get when you see it for real. This one is looking northwest over our next door neighbors’ yard and most of the sky was clear, so I used my long lens to get just the area with brilliant colors.
This is a portion of our back garden, which, as you can see, is somewhat dominated by black-eyed Susan flowers at this time of year. They are probably just past their peak but will provide color for a bit longer as they fade from their bright orange to a more rusty, autumnal ochre. You can just make out the hardware cloth ‘fence’ around one of my roses a little to the left of center. By the end of the summer, the three roses should be tall enough that they are safe from rabbits, although there’s not really anything we can do about deer.
The autumn clematis (Clematis terniflora) is coming into bloom. This is a fairly aggressive vine native to Japan. It can be a little invasive but if you have a largish area to cover, it’s not a terrible choice. It’s flowers are a lovely white and come late in the summer and continue well into the fall. One of it’s common names is sweet autumn virginsbower. We have it growing on the falling down fence at the southwest corner of our house (the southeast corner of our back yard). Cathy is especially fond of it and as long as I’m allowed to keep if confined to that area, I’m happy to let her have some.
I ran an errand today, going to pick up the trailer from the shop where it was getting new lights. When I got home Cathy told me our internet connection was down. I did a fair amount of checking, since it’s usually something on this end but this time I’m pretty sure it’s Verizon’s fault. We have business FIOS and it’s pretty reliable, I have to say. In fact, since we got that here in 2006 I don’t think I’ve had more than a few small outages until today. I spent a good while on the phone with them and by the end of that I thought the problem was in the wire leading from their box on the outside of the house into our computer room. That turned out not to be the problem, but not until I’d drilled another hold through our exterior (brick) wall. By the time I’m posting this, of course, out internet has been back up for a week, but it was out from Thursday shortly after mid-day until Saturday in the middle of the afternoon.
I’ve posted photos of this rose before but it deserves to be shown a few times each year. It’s a small China rose called ‘Perle d’Or’, bred by Joseph Rambaux in 1884. It has a wonderful, fairly strong fragrance that sits in the air outside our front door (where the rose is) and we are often treated to is as we go out or come in. I don’t think it’s been without at least a few blooms since it started in May. Some years it’s hurt by a particularly cold spell but we’ve had relatively mild winters the last couple years so it’s doing particularly well now.
We went to Northern Virginia this evening to have dinner with our good friend, Jean. While we were there, eating in her car port, there was a huge downpour followed by a rainbow. It was actually really nice to be sitting outside but under cover during that. Then, I happened to spot this moth, which landed on the gate to the back yard. It’s a moth in the genus Xanthotype. There are five species in our area but, according to BugGuide, “adults of all species in this genus are, for practical purposes, externally indistinguishable from one another” so we’ll just leave it at that.
In mid-March, like most churches, our church began broadcasting its services electronically, through Facebook and with BoxCast. Even when they started having outdoor services in the parking lot, we decided to stay home because we’re a somewhat high-risk household. We continued to watch the services on BoxCast through a Roku device attached through a few adapters into our 1986 console television. Nevertheless, we missed seeing people and of course, the service, especially the music, isn’t really the same when watched on TV.
This week the church leadership decided to celebrate communion and Cathy and I decided we would attend in person. We sat in the shade of a small maple tree along with others scattered around the parking lot, some in the sun, some in shade. It was a gloriously beautiful day and we’re really glad we went. We still couldn’t really great people the way we would have and talking with masks is always a bit annoying, but it was very nice to see people in 3D.
I had a picture of the leaves of this Hardy Begonia (Begonia grandis) earlier this month. Now it’s in bloom and adding a little brightness to the shady spot outside our front door. It’s a great plant to have and looks like it shouldn’t be sturdy enough to survive our winters but it does and it actually does quite well. It won’t grow well too far to our south because of the heat of summer or too far to the north because of the cold winters, but here it’s quite reliable. Highly recommended.