I looked around for something to photograph this evening and settled on a flour canister. It’s made of brushed metal (probably aluminum) and has the word FLOUR in a nice, mid-century modern font running vertically down it. I took ot out onto the patio and got some nice photos.
Relaxing on the patio after that, I watched the western sky begin to color and I realized I wasn’t going to use my flour canister photo today. I had to move around the yard to get a good angle between the trees, but I think you’ll agree it was worth it.
Harmonia axyridis (Asian Lady Beetle)
This is the “many-named ladybird”. It has been called ‘multicolored’ (or ‘multicoloured’ in Britain), ‘multivariate’, ‘southern’, ‘Japanese’, ‘Asian’, ‘Halloween’, ‘harlequin’ and ‘pumpkin’ ladybird/ladybug/ladybeetle. I’m going with the simple ‘Asian’ and sticking to beetle, because it’s in the order Coleoptera. It’s a largish lady beetle and this particular species is immensely variable. The “standard” is red to red-orange with 18 spots, but as you can see, this one only has 12 (six on each side). The background ranges from a slightly orangy yellow to red and there are even versions with red spots on a black background.
Danaus plexippus (Monarch)
The butterfly weed (Asclepias) growing in a container outside our back door is very attractive to insects but particularly so to monarchs (Danaus plexippus). Lately we’ve had two of them on it at once and occasionally three. I got a few pictures of the two today but I think this is a better portrait of this handsome butterfly. I really enjoyed sitting and watching them flutter around the flowers, stopping occasionally at other plants but generally preferring the butterfly weed.
Bird of Paradise Flower
Cathy, Margaret, and I went to Brookside Gardens this afternoon. It was such a wonderfully beautiful day we were not surprised by the number of people there. Nevertheless, we were able to find a parking spot and wonder around the garden for a while. We often go there in the spring, when early flowers are in bloom. I would recommend that highly but this was a different experience. We rarely come in August because it’s so brutally hot. Today was in the mid-70s, though, and absolutely lovely. The summer flowering plants were at their best and we really enjoyed the gardens. The conservatory is always nice, of course, and this photo of a bird of paradise flower (Strelitzia reginae) was taken there. I’ve often thought about growing one of these but never got around to it. They are, apparently, fairly easy to grow, although they couldn’t take our winters and would need to come inside when it gets cold.
Boloria bellona (Meadow Fritillary)
What an absolutely beautiful day it was today. The high was in the 70s and in August, that’s a rare and joyous thing. I worked on the car today, gluing the rear-view mirror back on in one van and replacing the struts that hold open the rear hatch on the other. Cathy and I also did a fair amount of yard work, pulling up weeds and beginning the process of clearing out some of the central bed in the back yard. There were two trees where that bed is, a medium sized red maple and a fairly large silver maple. They’ve been down since the spring of 2013 and as the roots have rotted, a few holes have opened up and need to be filled. The whole bed needs quite a bit of work, to be honest, including digging out some particularly tenacious weeds. I took a break to take pictures of some of the many butterflies that were out today, including this meadow fritillary (Boloria bellona), a pretty medium sized brush-footed butterfly.
I took a few wasp pictures again today but they were too blurry to use. One was clear enough to get a good idea what it was, but nothing to write home about. Then I went out to the middle of the back yard and took some photos of the berries on the American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana). They’re starting to turn pale purple and it’s easy to see where the shrub gets its common name. This skipper landed on the berries and I was able to get close enough for a pretty good portrait before it skipped away. I’ve only occasionally gone to the trouble to identify individual skipper species. With some notable exceptions they are all pretty similar and I just never get around to it.
Sunset At Shady Grove
As we were leaving Shady Grove Hospital this evening there was a really nice sunset. We were parked near the top of the garage, so it made sense to go to the top floor to get a good view of the clouds. The photographs don’t really do it justice, but the best part of the view was the sun itself, which was a deep, orange-red as it neared the horizon. It really was spectacular. The rest of the sky was covered with pale orange and I took some wide angle shots, as well, but I like this one, that shows the sun a bit better.
Junonia coenia (Common Buckeye)
I chased down some butterflies in the back yard today, including this common buckeye (Junonia coenia). They are resident year round in the south as far north as North Carolina and they move north over the course of the summer. Because of that we tend to have them later in the year than other butterflies and I’ve only just started to see them. They are pretty easy to identify and are very different to the other species that we have. This one, obviously was interested in the black-eyed Susan flowers that are in such abundance in our yard right now.
Categories: Creatures, Flowers and Plants
Tags: Black-eyed Susan, Buckeye, Butterfly, Common Buckeye, Insect, Insecta, Junonia, Junonia coenia, Lepidoptera, Orange, Yellow
Sunset, Ocean Isle Beach
As our week at the beach came to an end, Brian from next door came over to let me know there was a nice sunset and that I should come out with my camera. There was this single cloud, far out to sea, lit by the setting sun, surrounded by the blue of the ocean, the sky, and the other clouds. I’m pretty happy with this picture as a relaxing reminder of a mostly relaxing week. Being with family for a week, it’s inevitable that there will be little things but for the most part, it was very nice and that’s how I’m going to remember it. The cottage we were in this year was good, in terms of layout, giving us the space we needed to spread out. Having the pool was a bonus and more enjoyable that I would have expected. It was shared with the three connected units, but that hardly mattered. One of those units was our cousins and it was nice being so close to them. If nothing else, it meant they could stick their head in our door and let us know about sunsets (and, as it turned out tomorrow morning, leatherback turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) hatching at the end of our path to the beach).
Sunrise, Ocean Isle Beach
Today was the first day this week I went out to take pictures of the sunrise. I thought about it two other days but didn’t go out. There are often nice sunrises here but I simply didn’t feel like it. Today I did and was rewarded with some nice pictures. When I first went out it was very blue. The clouds and the ocean were various shades ranging from pale to dark. Eventually, the sun actually rose and a fair amount of orange was added to the sky and the reflection of the sky in the water. This photo doesn’t really show much of the blue.
Sunset, Ocean Isle Beach
Generally you look west in the evening to see the sunset and the best colors are often in that direction. This evening the best view was to the east, as seen here. Although we’re on the eastern coast of North America, the coastline runs almost due east-west right here. So, rather than the sun rising over the ocean and setting over land, it rises to the left on the beach and sets to the right. Although I took a lot of pictures, mostly what I was doing was enjoying the reflections of the light as each wave receded, leaving a very flat, highly reflective surface on the lower beach.
Danaus plexippus (Monarch)
As I’ve mentioned, the eastern tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) is the most plentiful, large butterfly in our yard all summer. They are followed by the monarch (Danaus plexippus) in a distant second place. They generally are harder to photograph than the swallowtails but this one let me get close and I’m pretty happy with the results. It’s perched on Verbena bonariensis growing in our front yard, near where the Colorado spruce used to be.
Lilium lancifolium (Tiger Lily)
The tiger lilies are blooming and they are really spectacular this year. My dad had these growing in his garden and from time to time we would take the little bulbils that form in the angle between the leaves and stem on these plants and we’d put them in our garden. We continued that process, with bulbils from our own plants and now we have a pretty good number of them around the yard. These are growing in the small bed where an oak tree once grew. That tree was dying when we bought the house and has since been removed. There are daffodils there and Cathy often puts annuals in the center of the bed, but these lilies are growing towards the back (the house side). They are over six feet tall and quite striking, with racimes of large, orange, downward-facing flowers.
Blackberry Lily (Iris domestica)
The blackberry lilies (Iris domestica and formerly Belamcanda chinensis) have started to bloom in the garden. We originally got this when I collected some seeds and planted them at our old house. We brought some here with us in 2006 and they have really taken hold. We sprinkle the seeds around and let them grow where they will. They aren’t nearly so aggressive as to be a problem and they are so pretty. I had a picture of the buds recently but this is the flower. They open in the morning and each individual flower only lasts a day, but they are born in profusion and soon we’ll have dozens of them in bloom, scattered around the yard.
Blackberry Lily (Iris domestica)
We’re in that in between time, after the spring and early summer bloomers have finished up but before the late summer flowers have really started in earnest. There are a few things in bloom, including the day lilies and the buddleia are starting to bloom and attract bees and butterflies. The gooseneck loosestrife (Lysimachia clethroides) has been blooming but doesn’t add a lot of color, having white flowers. Also, I don’t care how desperate you are for blooms, I don’t recommend you put this anywhere near your garden, unless that’s all you want. Pretty soon these buds will begin to open. They are Iris domestica, the blackberry lily, which until recently also went by the name Belamcanda chinensis and sometimes known as leopard lily. These have self-seeded around the yard but are well within the limits of what’s easy to control, if they come up where you don’t want them. I highly recommend them for any sunny garden.
Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
There are quite a few really amazing coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) varieties now and if I had the space and the time and the money, I’d consider a collection of the as one aspect of a large garden. They vary in color from the “standard” pinkish-purple bracts and with orange spikes, as seen here, to all sort of oranges, yellow, and darker purples. They flower shapes vary, as well, and they are all lovely. Sadly, there are enough plant-eating insects that enjoy them that they don’t often last in pristine condition. Photographing them in their prime means getting them when the flowers first open, because the bracts get holes in them almost immediately. Still, they provide color in a time when not a lot is blooming.
We had a nice sunset this evening. It’s become summer with highs in the 90s this week and doesn’t promise anything nicer for a while. There will be thunderstorms, I’m sure and we actually could use some rain. A good, day-long soaking rain would not be unappreciated, but we’re unlikely to get that any time soon. Nevertheless, we enjoyed the sunset this evening, which progressed from mild coloring in a few wispy clouds to this deep colored sky to the northwest just before it got dark.
The day lilies are coming into bloom. These are great plants and easy to grow. They like full sun but are quite tolerant of a bit of shade (with a bit of reduced blooming, though). You often see them growing in ditches along road sites in the country. Those that we have are from a very small town that no longer exists in rural Pennsylvania. The houses are all gone, except for a few stone basements slowly being filled by the passing of time. around one of them is a huge patch of day lilies. They are in fairly deep shade, so don’t bloom profusely, but they are happy and continue spreading their roots. I dug up a few many years ago and they really responded to the sun and never fail to satisfy.
Asclepias curassavica Orange
This butterfly weed, Asclepias curassavica, is also known as blood flower. Cathy recently bought a few plants in both orange (this one) and all yellow. Sadly, it is not hardy enough for in-ground planting as a perennial here, but it should do well in containers and brighten up the back patio. This one is in a container right outside our kitchen door and looks great against the green backdrop of Rudbekia growing around the patio. I especially like the bi-color nature of this one, although the all-yellow variety is nice, too.
We have some Asiatic lilies in the bed where there used to be an oak tree in front of our house. The oak has been gone for long enough that I don’t remember when it was cut down (and I don’t feel like searching through my journal to find out). The lilies are doing quite well and they are surrounded by other plants which seems to have kept the deer and rabbits from eating them, which is nice. As you can see, they are a very hot orange and are quite spectacular. The tiger lilies, which won’t bloom for a while yet, are much taller and more obvious. These blooms are only about 18 inches from the ground and face upwards, which is terrific.
This Exbury azalea is starting to bloom. It’s been eaten back by the deer, so it’s not clear that it will ever get really big unless we are able to protect it. The flowers are quite striking, especially compared to the ubiquitous Glenn Dale azaleas that everyone has. I’ve got nothing against the Glenn Dales, mind you. But you have to admit, they have a certain sameness to them. I suppose if everyone grew Exbury or Mollis azaleas, I’d fell the same way. Or not. They really are spectacular and if you want yellows an oranges, they’re your best bet this time of year. They are deciduous, of course, so if you want leaves year round, they won’t do. But they sure make up for it in bloom.
In the front of my office building there are a few flower beds including one raised bed with a bunch of tulips growing in it. They are bright orange and red and really striking. I usually go into the building through the back door so I hadn’t noticed them but my friend, Corina, said I should take a look. I did and she was right. Naturally when she said take a look, she meant take some pictures, so I did that, too. It was late in the day and they were in the shade of the building, making it a little harder, exposure wise, but I really love their colors.
When I got home this evening I took some pictures of flowers in the garden, figuring I’d continue with my flower theme. Later, though, shortly after Cathy got home, we were out back and it was clear that the sunset was going to be worth enjoying. So, I got my camera and watched it unfold. First I got some pictures of grey and white clouds with deep blue sky behind them. As the sun sank the clouds turned beautiful colors. They were moving quite quickly and between the movement of the sun (or the apparent movement, I should say) and the very real movement of the clouds, it was changing from moment to moment. I’ll probably get back to flower pictures tomorrow.
The sky had the promise of a really spectacular sunset this evening but sadly it didn’t follow through. It wasn’t a bad sunset, mind you, but it wasn’t as fabulous as I had hoped. The clouds were moving fast and it was changing from minute to minute. As you can see in the lower part of this picture, between the houses, the best part of the sunset was too low to be seen from our back yard. Still, it was a worth a few minutes of my time and the ground wasn’t so cold that I couldn’t be out in my bare feet for a little while.
I happened to notice the color coming in the front windows this morning so I grabbed my camera and went out front to get a few pictures. There’s not a good, unobstructed view to the east without walking a little ways and since it was only aboutg 25°F (-4°C) and I was barefoot, I wasn’t going to go too far or stay out too long. I did walk onto the lawn, which has been wet and which is now nicely frozen. That’s somehow colder than the ramp or the pavement of the driveway. It was certainly worth going out for, especially seeing as how I was up. The color only lasted about ten minutes and it was gone. Another ephemeral sunrise.
I found a new location for sunset photos today. It’s a little off my actual commute but not so much that it’s a real problem and I expect to be there again in the future. The sunset this evening was unusual, with both orange low in the sky (through the trees) and the bands of magenta a little further up, where the clouds were more dense. It was also more fleeting then usual. I took a total of eight photos and between the first and the last, less than two minutes, the magenta lines almost entirely disappeared. I’m glad I stopped when I did.
As I was driving home this evening, I could occasionally see the clouds to the west starting to be lit up by the setting sun. There are very few places on my relatively short commute with a clear, unobstructed view of the sky. Unless the clouds are high in the sky it’s not really worth stopping to take a picture. When I got to Norbeck Road, though, with the sunset in my rear view mirror, I stopped and took a dozen or so pictures. By the time I got home, it was done, so I’m glad I stopped when I did. I love the orange flare coming up the middle of this photograph.
As I was driving home this evening the clouds were acting like there would be a wonderful sunset. By the time I actually got home, most of the color was gone, although there had never been nearly as much as there could have been. Nevertheless, I got my camera out and went into the back yard. This photo is looking basically southwards and I am pretty pleased with it. The colors are pretty accurate to what it looked like, with a lot of blue in the clouds themselves and three slashes of orange. I really enjoyed watching it until the orange disappeared and only the blue-grey clouds were left.
Dorothy uses this trunk to keep her keepsakes. Today she went through them and got rid of some things that she decided she no longer wanted. It’s good to do that from time to time and after our experience of the last year, going through all the things at our two moms’ houses it’s something we have a little more awareness of. We also watched Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, which is sort of fun at the same time it’s a little terrifying and voyeuristic. Anyway, this isn’t really a suitcase, although it sort of looks like one. It’s a relatively cheap fiberboard trunk made to look like a suitcase. But I like the color and especially the metal latch.
I went over to my mom’s this evening to see what was wrong with her computer. When I got there, I took a little time before going in to take some sunset pictures. I had a hard time finding a good spot to see the sky, but this spot worked out reasonably well, overlooking a shopping mall. It’s in the foreground, hidden by the dark trees, though, so that doesn’t really matter, so you can’t really tell. The color was mostly along the lower part of the sky and I took some pictures with the short telephoto lens and others with the 24mm, which on my camera is equivalent to a 35mm, more or less. This is one from the wide angle.
There was another nice sunset this evening. I had a little more time today so I was able to walk around the woods behind my building to an area with a somewhat lower horizon. There are still trees but they are several hundred yards away this time. This was just a portion of the sky, taken with a 100mm lens. It was quite impressive for a significant horizontal extent although it didn’t reach all that high in the sky. A wide angle shot would have been mostly dark above and below this. I hope you (not that there are very many of you) don’t mind all the sunsets but we’re getting what we get.
Cathy and I went to work together today because the van was in the shop, having lost its serpentine belt in the rain on Saturday. Cathy likes to go to an exercise class on Mondays so we stayed for that. Before her class, however, at about 4:45, she called to ask if I could see the sunset. My office window faces north but I could see color out to the left. I took a few pictures from there and then went to the large conference room on the west side of the building on the next floor up and took some pictures from there. The color ws through the trees but it was really different to any sunset I’ve seen, as least anything in recent memory. To say is was spectacular is too simple. Also, this photo doesn’t really convey the overall feel, which was somewhat eerie. Donna, who works near the conference room asked if I had been outside. She said something strange seemed to be going on. I said, “It’s sunset, it happens every evening around this time.” But I was joking, this really was a strange sunset, and beautiful.
Japanese Maple Leaves
We went for a short walk in the woods after church today. The church is near enough to Rock Creek Park that we can get there pretty easily from the back parking lot. The sky was clear today, which was very welcome after yesterday’s torrential rain. The sun was shining brightly on some Japanese maple (Acer palmatum) leaves and I took a few pictures of the back-lit leaves. None of them turned out quite as well as I would have liked, but this one is pretty nice. I really love the colors and the contrast between the leaves and the blue from the sky, filtering through the trunks of the trees.
One thing about this time of year is that I’m leaving work around the time the sun sets. That’s not all bad, as I sometimes get to see a colorful sunset. Today I left in time to see some color through the trees behind my building. There was no time to get anywhere without trees in the way so I photographed through the trees. I don’t think they ruin this sunset at all. In fact, it was lovely. We have a little more than a month of shortening days so it will be more than two months before they are as long as they are now again. That makes it harder to get photos during the daytime, especially during the week. It’s been quite busy at work and it shows no signs of easing up before next summer.
Eastern Comma (Polygonia comma)
I was a bit surprised this afternoon to see this butterfly and was happy to be able to get close enough for a pretty good photograph. It turns out that the commas overwinter as adults and they can be seen on warmer days, such as today. The name comes from a curved, comma shaped mark on the underside of their hind wings. Another species in the genus has a question mark (and therefore is called the question mark instead of a comma). It’s a pretty little thing and it really brightened up my day to come across it.
Cathy and I left work a little early and we took her mom and all went to vote this evening. The lines were not too long, which was nice and especially so since we were told that it had been pretty busy all day. As we were leaving, I didn’t want to hang around because I could see the sunset was shaping up to be something really nice and I hadn’t brought my camera with me. I didn’t expect to need it on the short drive to the elementary school and back and I hadn’t considered that there might be something like this waiting for me.
When we got home, I rushed to the back yard and took a few dozen photos. It just got better and better. The clouds were moving to the north east quite quickly so the sky was changing patterns even faster than it was changing colors. This vertical shot was taken with the 100mm lens, looking between the trees almost due west. I had a hard time picking one from all the good pictures I got.
I’ve photographed these particular Japanese maples before. They are at the other end of the neighborhood and they have just about the most beautiful fall color of any trees I know. Individually they are lively but in combination they are spectacular. The near tree, on the left in this photo, is nearly red, with orange undertones. The farther tree is more orange and lighter and brighter. There is also a third Japanese maple on the right, further away still. That one is a deep burgundy color. I think this photo is improved by the small amount of gree from the azaleas in the foreground. I took quite a few pictures this morning and I like most of them. A woman walking her dog passed me and we agreed that these trees were special.
Here’s another shot of maple leaves in our back yard. I often feel like the colors in the current year are different from previous years. Not so much that they are different but that the timing is different. So I looked back at pictures of this tree the last two years to see when it was in full color. I have a picture posted on October 29 of 2017 and two pictures on October 27 and 28 in 2016. So I’d guess it really isn’t all that different this year. The leaves on the ground under the tree are just about as nice as those still on the tree. Set off by the bright green of the grass rather than the pale blue of the sky but in this case without the direct light of the afternoon sun on them.
The two maple trees in our back yard are both fairly misshapen and a little bit stunted. Nevertheless, they do produce some really great color each fall. They also provide some much needed shade in the summer. So I’m not planning to take them out any time soon. When we first moved here, I had my eye on them as being the first to go. I planted four California incense dedar (Calocedrus decurrens) trees as a screen so that when they got bigger, I could take the maples out and still have the view through to the yards behind mostly blocked. Those trees are a good 15 or 20 feet tall now and being pretty dense evergreens are better screens than the maples, even in the summer. Nevertheless, we’ve taken out three larger trees in the back yard (well, one of those fell down, which is a bit different) and two in the front.
I burned more wood today from the Colorado spruce that I cut down on October 6. I took pictures both when it was in full flame and ffter it had burned down a bit and was mostly embers, but still quite hot. I really love watching the movement in a fire. The movement of the air as it is heated to a shimmering temperature as well as the movement of the flames themselves and the occasional movement of the wood, as it settles. I also love watching the changing colors. The bright orange and the even brighter white of intense flame. The cool blue of the white ashes as seen under a star lit sky. Of course, like many things that are enjoyable to watch, the fleeting nature of fire adds to its appeal.
I released a few pounds of carbon into the atmosphere from the logs in which it had been sequestered (i.e. I burned the logs). This is part of the tree that I cut down on Saturday and I only burned one large batch today. It’s a little too warm to be having a fire but the weather is suppose to change later this week and it’s forecast to be cooler, so I’ll probably burn more over the weekend. One of my favorite things about having a fire is watching the sparks above the flames. They are, of course, very transient and you don’t get a lot of time to watch any one spark. Trying to get a picture that captures the movement as well as the transient nature is tricky because the only significant light is from the fire itself but above the fire, where the sparks are there isn’t nearly so much light. I think this one does a reasonable job and I like it well enough.
We had a really lovely sunset this evening. There were clouds at two different levels. The higher clouds were lit by the setting sun while the lower clouds were mostly grey. The lower clouds, however, were scattered and you could see the upper clouds through the gaps between them. Also, they lower clouds were moving very quickly, both in absolute terms and relative to the higher clouds. It was quite beautiful and changed from moment to moment. There were also at least two bats flying around the yard, hopefully eating mosquitoes. There’s one in this picture, although I’m not sure I could identify it as a bat from the photographic evidence if I hadn’t seen it while I was taking the picture.
Pearl Crescent (Phyciodes tharos)
I stopped at the commuter parking lot on Georgia Avenue where it crosses the Intercounty Connector today and took some pictures of insects on wildflowers growing on the hillside above the parking lot. I had originally stopped because there were beautiful clouds to the northwest but by the time I got there the sky was pretty much a uniform grey. There were goldenrod soldier beetles (Chauliognathus pensylvanicus) all over the goldenrod (which makes a lot of sense) and there were quite a few types of bees. I followed this little butterfly around a while until I was able to get close enough for a few decent photographs. The one taken after this is considerably closer but not as sharp, unfortunately. The dwindling light from the heavy overcast was makign it hard. But I enjoyed being out in the wind and with insects all around.
Deep Orange Zinnia
In the small garden where the county once had an oak tree, down by the road, Cathy has been growing mostly annuals each summer. We got a lot less done in the yard this year but she did manage to get a bunch of zinnia and marigold plants in the ground. There is Pachysandra terminalis already growing around the bed but she has kept the center, where the tree was, clear for her annuals. There is also Conoclinium coelestinum (Blue Mistflower), a slightly invasive herbaceous perennial, but she pulls out enough each year to keep things balanced. The blue of the Conoclinium goes well with the yellow and orange of the zinnias and marigolds.
Monarch (Danaus plexippus)
I got a few nice arthropod photos today, one spider (a Basilica Orbweaver (Mecynogea lemniscata) and a few bees. My post for today came down to a choice between this monarch and a photo of a Philanthus gibbosus, one of the thirty-some species of beewolves in our area. It’s a pretty little bee with pitted chitin and a distinctive pattern of yellow and black. I photographed it on a black-eyed Susan, which went well with its coloration. Nevertheless, I’ve decided to go with this rather nice photo of a monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus). Oddly, most people who dislike insects don’t really mind butterflies. It’s true that they are pretty harmless to humans but then, so are a lot of other, more easily despised insects. Maybe it’s because they are so colorful and pretty, but frankly, I think wasps are pretty, so there.
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.
The Asiatic lilies are in bloom around the yard. This one is in a container on the back patio but there are a bunch in the front garden, as well. We worry about them being eaten by rabbits or deer but this time of year, fortunately, there is a lot for them to eat and that means less chance of them finding these. We have a lot of rabbits this year. I’ve seen as many as four at once in our front or back yard. The seem to mostly be eating clover, though, and we have plenty of that to go around.
Reflections on Self-Storage
I’m not really going to reflect on self-storage but this picture is reflections and it was taken at the self-storage facility where we have a unit. I was in a meeting across campus today and when I was walking back to my building there was lightning flashing and booms of thunder all around. Most of them were about two miles away but nearing quickly. When I got to the door of my building there was a flash followed almost immediately by the thunder and before I was upstairs in my office, it was coming down in sheets. By the time I left work it had stopped raining but, as you can see in this picture, the water was still draining from the pavement outside our storage unit.
As I think I’ve mentioned, we’re going through my mother-in-law’s house and trying to get things out so we can get it ready to go on the market. We’ve gotten rid of things and we’ve brought a lot to our house (possibly too much for the short term) to go through a little more carefully. We’ve also decided that there are things that will take too long if we deal with them now so we’ve rented a storage unit for things we know we’re going to need to go through and which are going to take a while. The largest collection in this class are pictures. If you knew my father-in-law, you may have some inkling of how many pictures there are. Let’s just say, there are more than a few slide carousels. And that’s just the start. Anyway, this is the hall at the storage facility.
Pukeberg Bookend Vase
This was, apparently, half of a pair of bookend vases, produced by Pukeberg, probably in the middle of the 20th century. Pukeberg was founded in 1871. In the 1930s, Pukeberg began producing decorative glass. We don’t really know a lot about it beyond that. We found a pair listed on eBay for $89, so they aren’t terribly valuable. I wanted to show off the various colors of the glass. In everyday room light it is basically amber colored. But I’ve shone a light through the glass and you can see reds at the bottom and greens towards the top. I think a more complicated light set up would do better but this was done with a flashlight sitting behind it and a flash bounced off the ceiling.
Silver Maple Leaves
We spent the better part of the day on the deck at Cathy’s mom’s house today, going through boxes of papers. We found some interesting things, including Cathy’s first passport. There was a little bit of chaff among the grain, of course. The sun was out and shining on the newly opening leaves of a silver maple (Acer saccharinum) growing above the deck. They are a lovely orange color. Soon they will turn green, of course, but that’s just for the purpose of soaking up the sunlight. Come October they will return to orange in their lovely fall finery.
This is among the first things I planted when we moved here eleven years ago. These bulbs and a few others were given to me by a good friend as payment for taking some family photos for her. They’ve done very well between our front walk and the house and always give good value. Daffodils have some exceptional qualities. For one thing, they are very reliable, coming up every spring without so much as a peep of complaint. A late freeze or snow fall doesn’t bother them, the deer and rabbits leave them alone, and every year the clumps get larger, eventually growing together into drifts that brighten a rainy spring day. What’s not to like?
The wind was really whipping the tree tops around this evening and I thought I’d try to get a picture that showed that movement, at least a little. It didn’t work out as well as I would have liked but the clouds behind the trees were pretty, so that helps make up for it. If you look at the top branches on the right you can see that they are blurred. That’s because of the movement. There were a few pictures that showed the movement better than this one but even on those it was a bit too subtle. And this one has prettier clouds, so there you are.
There were pretty clouds in the west this evening and I took some pictures of them even before it got close to time for the sun to set. Those pictures were my insurance, in case the sunset itself wasn’t anything worth photographing. As it turned out, it was worth photographing, though. The clouds turned their characteristic orange and were quite spectacular for a good fifteen minutes or so. As you might expect, I took quite a few pictures and that usually makes it hard to pick just one to post for the day. This is a representative sample.
After church today, Dorothy and her friends went downtown to visit another friend who is working on Capital Hill this semester and who also has a part time job at a book show near Eastern Market. They visited some other friends on the way home. I fixed a surf and turf for dinner—flank steak and salmon—and then started a fire going in our fire pit. Most of the kids stayed inside but Dorothy came out and chatted with me for a white. I had my camera and took quite a few pictures of the fire as we talked. I like the pale blue, plasma-like flames in this picture.
Clouds at Dusk
Cathy and I went to work together today. Since she had an appointment during the day, she took the car, which meant she picked me up after work. The front of my building faces northeast, so the wrong way, generally, to get sunset pictures. Nevertheless, there was a little color in the clouds low in the sky, behind the trees along the edge of the parking lot. I have to say, I’m really happy about the woods next to my building. I don’t get out into them as often as I might but if there were another building with its inevitable parking lot, it would be a terribly boring place. As it is, this small piece of land has been sitting idle for about 25 years. There is a sign on the corner advertising the upcoming development. That’s been unchanged for at least 15 years. One day it will be bulldozed and paved, but for now, it’s a nice bit of parkland.
When it comes to taking a picture every day, there are—as you’ve probably noticed—when I have a hard time finding something to photograph. I could easily skip those days and no one would really miss them. On the other hand, by forcing myself to take pictures every day, I get out more often than I would. If I could say to myself, “It doesn’t matter if you go out today. You can just skip today like you’ve skipped other days.” But when I haven’t skipped other days, that won’t work.
Days when there are events are easier because I generally know I’ll be able to take pictures of people. Tonight was such an event and consequently I didn’t bother taking pictures all day. Instead I worked in my basement, sorting old papers and things (mine this time). I was pretty sure there would be people I know that I could photograph in the evening. Then, after driving to Bethesda with Cathy and Margaret, and after they went inside, I parked the car and saw the sunset. I still took pictures inside but these are going to be enjoyed by more people than pictures of people that a lot of folks don’t know. Not that a lot of folks actually see them, but whatever.
Burning More Papers
It was another productive Saturday, getting a few things crossed off the top of my to do list. It was also, if you will, the opposite of productive (i.e. destructive). We burned another three boxes of “shred” papers. It doesn’t save a lot of time over shredding and in fact, if we took them to someone with an industrial shredder, it would much faster. Nevertheless, burning is relaxing. There’s something about flames. I won’t say they’re cool, but if I did, you’d probably know what I meant. The boxes today had, among other things, canceled checks from 1979. I think it’s safe to get rid of those now.
It was a beautiful day and I went out into the woods for a little while during lunch time. There was ice on a drainage pond in the woods near my building but in the sun it was quite pleasant. I got down onto the ground and took some pictures of this sycamore leaf (American sycamore, Platanus occidentalis). They are large and heavy and really pretty with the sun shining through them. I also found a small deer antler that had been shed. It was only six or seven inches long and had no forks, but I picked it up to keep, anyway.
We’ve got a bunch of boxes in the garage marked shred—old bills, checkbooks, business correspondence, that sort of thing—and we’ve been meaning to get rid of them for a while. There used to be an outfit that allowed individuals to drop off boxes of papers to be shredded for free (making their money from businesses) but they are no longer doing that. Well, what’s better than shredding? Burning. This little fellow didn’t suffer as he was consumed by the flames. Four boxes done. Six or eight more to go.
We’ve had somewhat mixed success with houseplants over the years. We have a few that have lasted really well. I have a snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata) in my office that Dorothy’s second grade teacher gave me when they moved to Florida. That was 11 or 12 years ago and it’s doing really well. We have a very large Kaffir lily (Clivia miniata) in our kitchen that gets put out into a shady spot in the yard most years. On the other hand, some plant seem to just barely hang on to life. This one, a Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana), isn’t really doing all that well. It is blooming, however, so it deserves a picture.
We had a pretty spectacular sunset this evening and I enjoyed watching the bands of clouds turn a beautiful orange, against the darkening blue of the southwestern sky. It had been a pretty busy day, with folks moving into Cathy’s mom’s house and doing a very small bit more towards getting her things out of it. There is a lot more to do, of course. Nevertheless, a sunset like this helps me unwind and slow down. I stand on the back steps and just watch, occasionally lifting my camera to take yet another picture, as the colors grow more intense. Is a very healing activity and I’m thankful for beautiful sunsets (and sunrises) and the opportunities they provide.
I stopped at the ICC commuter parking lot on the way home this evening. The sunset wasn’t particularly spectacular today but it’s the picture I got. To slightly alter a photographic adage, the best sunset is the one you have with you. To the south and northwest there were a few small clouds and a little subtle color but I wasn’t able to capture it well enough to be worth posting. To the west, looking towards the setting sun, there was a pretty orange color in the sky. Not overwhelming, but pretty.
Are there more pretty sunsets in the winter than in the summer? I honestly don’t know the answer to that. It seems like it but maybe it’s just that I’m up before the sun quite a bit more often in the winter. This was taken at 7:32 this morning. That’s about as late as the sun rises around here. In the summer, I’m only up before the sun on rare occasions. Anyway, I saw the colored light from inside and grabbed my camera, going out into the front yard to get this. I also got the final inspection for the bathroom remodel this morning (a little later). So, a good start to the day.
It was a cool but pretty day today with a little bit of snow still on the ground from yesterday. It happens to also be my birthday and I’m 29 again. Actually, I’m 29 twice, if you know what I mean. We had a fairly busy day but ended it with a wonderful meal and a nice visit with our long-time friend, Yvette (who was one of Cathy’s bridesmaids many moons ago). Just before we left for her house I got some pictures of the sunset from the back door. It was a good one.
On Tuesday of last week I took a picture of a sunset, which I posted here. That was taken in the parking lot of our local Safeway store after I came out from a brief shopping trip. This evening I stopped at Safeway to pick up a prescription and as I parked, I saw this to the west. Naturally I took a few moments to get some pictures before going inside. Most of the sky was clear, but with my 100mm lens, I could concentrate on the small amount of color just over the buildings.
Autumn’s Last Hurrah
I’ve posted a picture of leaves on this maple tree before but it’s one of only a few in my daily rounds that still has it’s autumn finery on display. As I post this, on the Sunday after the Monday when it was taken, the tree is totally leafless. So, this was pretty much it for this year’s display. Actually, there are still leaves on many of the Bradford pears on Norbeck and there are some sweet gums that are yet to reach their peak color, so there may be one or two more leaf pictures yet this fall, but we’re getting to the end.
Maple Leaves On A Rainy Day
It was an absolutely beautiful day today but I was stuck indoors for almost all of it. I’m in a class today, tomorrow, and Thursday and that’s keeping me in the classroom. Nevertheless, we took a break for lunch and I used the opportunity to go outside. It was raining. Actually, it was raining fairly hard and I wasn’t really dressed for it. I still went out and enjoyed the colors. Overcast days are often the best for fall color. Add rain and it only gets better. These maple leaves are over a set of stairs down to the building I was in today and they were so beautiful. I love a rainy day.
Every year I get to enjoy the three lines of Zelkova serrata planted on either side and in the median of Norbeck Road between Rocking Spring Drive and Westbury Road. Other parts of Norbeck have Bradford pears, and they are nice in their seasons but are not, in my mind, nearly as impressive as the Zelkovas in their autumn orangeness. Some years it seems more rust colored but this year it’s a brilliant orange. They are particularly nice on overcast days but beggars can’t be choosers and I’ll take them as they come. I stopped on the way home and took a few dozen pictures, waiting for breaks in the traffic so as not to get run over.
The Woods At Lake Needwood
I’m a fan of the woods. I love the colors, the sounds, and the smells. I won’t say there’s nothing I don’t like about woods but in general I’d say the things I like outweigh the things I don’t like. Of course, I’m happy that I live in a modern house with running water, central heating and air conditioning, a roof to keep off the rain, and electricity and gas to power all sorts of appliances. I do like a walk in the woods, though. In the autumn, with the colors in the trees, it is especially nice. A rainy day, practically any time of year but particularly in the spring when the leaves are various shades of green is also a wonderful time for a walk in the woods. But today was glorious and bright and cool.
Maple Tree and Leaves
It’s been something of a maple-centric autumn this year. There are other trees showing good color but, as I think I mentioned previously, not a lot in our yard. This is a picture of the two maple trees behind our house. Both of them are actually double-trunks and I’m not sure if they are two trees each or single trees with two trunks. Either way, they are not particularly attractive as specimen trees. They both twist a bit and have broken and misshapen branches. This fall, though, they are doing their best to make up for it with their colors. The nearer tree in this picture, in particular, is really spectacular this year. It’s the tree that gets more direct sun and that contributes to the color.
The leaves on the ground add, I think, to the overall effect of the tree right now. It won’t be long before the leaves have all turned brown and we’ll need to get them dealt with, which we usually do by simply by mowing over them a few times, turning them into mulch in the lawn.
Again with the maple leaves. We don’t actually have a lot of plants with significant fall color in our yard, so I have to take advantage of the few we do have. There are two maple trees in our back yard and one of them in particular has good color. I posted a picture of it against the blue sky two days ago. This time I’m looking down at leaves that have already fallen. I love the color on the leaf in the middle of this photograph. I was a little disconcerted by the way it was lying right on top of another, similar leaf, because I thought it might look like I put it there. I didn’t. I moved it and took a few more but they aren’t as good as this one, so here you are.
Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper)
I’m afraid it’s going to be more fall color for today’s picture. I met Cathy and our friend Maureen outside my building early this afternoon and we took a bit of a walk. I carried my camera with me, as is my wont, and took a few pictures of the colors around and about. This is Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia). This native vine is a close relative of Boston ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata) which is, somewhat surprisingly, a native of China and Japan. Both are quite lovely in the fall, turning wonderful shades of red, orange, and purple.
Monarch (Danaus plexippus)
IN general I try not to post pictures of the same thing close together and especially not two days in a row. However, needs must. I only took a few pictures today and the only pictures worth sharing from today are of a monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) in our back yard. This one doesn’t have the orange flower complimenting the butterfly but it’s still pretty nice, I think. These are here in pretty good numbers right now, and I’m really enjoying them on the Buddleia and (like this one) the Verbena bonariensis.
Monarch on Zinnia
We had a short visit from Dorothy this weekend. She flew down to Richmond late Thursday evening and came up here this morning for a less-than-24-hour visit. We went out to the Glenn’s farm (properly known as Rocklands Farm) and while we were there I got some pictures of a monarch (Danaus plexippus) on Anna’s flowers. We enjoyed being outdoors although truth be told, it was a bit warmer than is my preference. Still, a beautiful day.
When we moved into our house 11 years ago there was a large oak tree centered at the front of the property. It was not a healthy tree and was in the slow process of dying. Because it was actually in the road right-of-way, the county came (at our request) and took it down. Since then Cathy has planted mostly annuals every spring in the spot where it used to be. These are generally brightly colored zinnias and marigolds, although there are other plants as well as a few containers with even more variety. This is the flower from one of the zinnias.
Bee on Asclepias
I haven’t had a chance to look up this bee and I’m not sure this picture is good enough for a positive identification, in any case. There are a lot of little bees that look somewhat like this. This is the best of the pictures I got and it is still not very sharp. It’s a pretty little bee and I’m happy with the picture overall, though. I love the bright orange of the butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa). It generally makes a nice contrast to the dark colors of bees. I didn’t take a lot of pictures today, though, so there were not a lot to choose from.
Cathy and Black-eyed Susans
Cathy and I relaxed in the back yard this evening and I took a few pictures of her with the black-eyed Susans that are having the time of their lives this year. Actually, this year is nothing special, as they are pretty spectacular every year. In fact, I’m not convinced we wouldn’t have the entire yard full of them if we allowed them to spread uncontrolled. The goose-necked loosestrife (Lysimachia clethroides) would give them a good fight and might actually win out, as it spreads considerably more quickly. But the black-eye susans (Rudbeckia fulgida) spreads fairly readily.
You could argue that our garden doesn’t have enough variety and you might have a point. On the other hand, the parts of the garden that do have variety tend ultimately to be dominated by whatever plant is the most vigorous. Either that or nothing is vigorous enough and the weeds take over. I have plenty of Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense), pokeweed (Phytolacca americana), American burnweed (Erechtites hieracifolia), and goldenrod (Solidago species) to deal with (just to name a few). But where the black-eye susans are growing well, very few weeds have a chance to get started. That’s pretty nice. And, they’re pretty.
Sunrise, Ocean Isle Beach
When you plan your beach trip months in advance, you never know what sort of weather you’re going to get. Some years it’s very hot and muggy, others, relatively cool and pleasant. This year was a cool and pleasant year, a rare but welcome occurrence. I think it barely broke 85°F the whole week. This morning was the only day with a sunrise worth getting up for. The other days either had completely clear or (on Friday) an entirely overcast sky. Today’s sunrise made up for the other days’ lack, though. There were a lot of folks out on the beach at 6:30 watching it, looking for shells in the sand as the tide ebbed (high tide was about two hours previous to this picture).
Tiger Lily In The Rain
We had rain today (and as I write this a week and a half later, it’s raining again). We often go for weeks in the summer without significant rain but we’ve had a reasonable amount this summer. I’m not complaining, I actually prefer a slightly wet to an overly dry summer. The plants generally do better and it tends to cool things off a little. Cloudy days (rain or no rain) tend to make colors more intense, as well. You can certainly see that in this picture of a tiger lily (Lilium lancifolium) dripping with rain, especially with the green background to set it off.
This is the so called blackberry lily, formerly known as Belamcanda chinensis but now renamed to Iris domestica. It’s a pretty little thing. each individual bloom lasts a day (or a fraction of a day, really) but they come one after the other for a nice, long while. They are, as you can see, very eye-catching. Each year we collect the seeds from them and scatter them around in other parts of the garden. Of course, they get moved by birds, as well. This is a seedling, growing on the edge of a garden bed in the center of our back yard, among the Verbena bonariensis, with which it contrasts very nicely.
We had a rip-roaring thunderstorm this evening. We didn’t lose power although it flickered once. The lightning was near by for a while, though. It rained quite hard for a while, then rained most softly off and on for a while longer. As the sun was setting, it began to clear and the sky turned orange for a little while, mostly close to the horizon. It wasn’t the most spectacular sunset I’ve ever seen but it was very pretty for about fifteen minutes. Then the color was gone and it got dark. A nice ending to a hot, muggy day.
Asiatic Lily ‘Tiny Sensation’
Cathy and I went to Stadler Nursery this afternoon and while Cathy picked out a few perennials, I took a bunch of pictures. Actually, I bought something, as well, a Camellia japonica ‘Kumasaka’. I’m not sure where I’ll plant it but I’m thinking that it might go in front of the house to replace the dogwood that’s much too close to the house and really needs to come out. This photo is of an Asiatic lily called ‘Tiny Sensation’ and it’s a stunner. We have a few Asiatics in the yard and in containers. They mostly have solid colored blooms but all are quite hot.
I’m a fan of trees in general and oaks in particular. I love their fall oranges and reds, particularly with the sun shining through them.
Kapow! Fwoosh! Zingg!
Today’s photo of fall color is titled with a quote from that great philosopher Hobbes when he was walking in the woods on a fine, fall Sunday afternoon. He said that to him, “the trees are like nature’s own fireworks display!” No, not Hobbes as in “Thomas” but rather “Calvin and.”
This stretch of Norbeck Road had Zelkova serrata planted on both sides and down the median and it looks nice most of the year. Right now, though, it’s really at its best, particularly with late-day light setting the red leaves on fire.
Shades of Hotness
Peppers — ranging from the merely hot to the scorching.
This is the first monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) I’ve seen this year. All of a sudden there are lots of them in the yard, on the buddleia, the black-eyed Susans, and here, on the Conoclinium coelestinum.
Another sunrise at the beach. Every day is different but different in a beautiful way.
The Dawn Comes Up Like Thunder
Sleeping in is one of the nice things about being on vacation. That being said, getting up at 6:30 has its advantages, as well. It isn’t exactly the road to Mandalay (and there were no flying fishes, as far as I know) but even in North Carolina, the dawn sometimes comes up like thunder.
Turk’s Cap Lily
My dad had these growing in his garden and was spreading them by planting the bulbils that form in the axils of the leaves. After we moved in 2006 Cathy started collecting bulbils and planting them here, as well. They are doing nicely and add a nice splash of color this time of year.
This is the first of our few (but beautiful) Asiatic lilies to bloom. We really should have more of these.