This is the first of our few (but beautiful) Asiatic lilies to bloom. We really should have more of these.
Tagged With: Orange
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.
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.
Another sunrise at the beach. Every day is different but different in a beautiful way.
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.
Peppers — ranging from the merely hot to the scorching.
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.
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.”
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.
Cathy called me today from Home Depot asking if I wanted her to buy this Exbury azalea. I’ve been meaning to get a few of these for the yard and this one was reasonably priced and it good shape, so I said yes. What is an Exbury azalea, you might ask? They have a fairly complicated makeup and many of the early records don’t exist. But in the late 18th century, hybrids were made between North American azalea species Rhododendron calendulaceum, nudiflorum, arborescens, and viscosum, and the bright yellow flowered, European R. luteum, producing what are generally referred to as Ghent azaleas. The addition of R. molle and japonicum took the azaleas to the next stage, the Mollis and then R. occidentale was added, giving us the Knaphill azaleas. Starting in the 1920s Lionel de Rothschild made hundreds of thousands of hybrids and brought us the Exbury azalea. Well, that’s a rather simplified history. You can read more here: http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/ejournals/JARS/v40n1/v40n1-cash1.htm.
The Exbury azalea that Cathy bought for me last year is getting ready to bloom. I planted it near the top of our driveway, to the right where there used to be an awful holly shrub. The deer did some damage to it late last summer but what’s left of it is beginning to come to life. The flower and leaf buds are swelling and there should be some blooms in a few days. The Exbury azaleas are among the deciduous azaleas. In fact, most azalea species are deciduous but since most of us are familiar with azaleas through the proliferation of the Glenn Dale cultivars (developed by Benjamin Morrison from 1935 through 1952), which are evergreen. The Exbury hybrids were made in the 1920s by Lionel de Rothschild and their genetic makeup contains some or all of the following: R. arborescens, R. calendulaceum, R. japonicum, R. luteum, R. molle, R. nudiflorum, R. occidentale, and R. viscosum.
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.
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.
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 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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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’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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Our ten day journey to Alaska, like all good things, came to an end today. We were very sad to be leaving and of course were not very excited about getting up at 3:00 AM to get to the airport for our 5:00 AM flight, but it meant we’d get home during the day instead of the middle of the night. We had a great time and would happily have stayed for another week or even two. Of course not having to go to work is part of it. Anywhere on vacation is generally better than anywhere else with work. The weather was about what we expected, cool and damp, but we came prepared (and Dorothy gave me a really nice rain hat as an early birthday present). That meant we got out regardless of the weather and enjoyed pretty much every minute of it.
The trip home was relatively uneventful, which is sort of what you want when flying. There’s not much better than a sunrise or sunset from the air and we got a pretty good one as we headed south to Seattle, on the left side of the plane. Someone who knows the area might be able to recognize the coast line seen through the clouds in this first photo. The second, taken about ten minutes after the first, is possibly Mount Baker, but again, I don’t really know the area, so I’d be happy to be corrected. Much of the country from eastern Washington until we neared Maryland was covered with clouds, so there wasn’t much to see. We did recognize some landmarks as we made our descent into Dulles. And thus ends Alaska Trip, 2019.
Having returned from our trip to Alaska, I am going to have a hard time getting photos as nice as those from our trip. It’s going to be made more difficult by the fact that we’ve gone off of daylight saving time, which means it will be getting dark about the time I leave work. Today I went to the store and on the way home I stopped along Norbeck Road to take some photos of the Zelkova trees in their glory. IT’s really a pretty show every year and this year is no exception. The range of colors is really quite amazing.
As I was driving home today, the sun was setting in my rear view mirror, as it does these days. At one point, I had had enough and pulled onto a side street so I could get out and take some pictures. As you can see, I’m along a road and there are power lines on the left but they don’t really distract from the main event. I didn’t notice at the time but I see now that what I assume is Venus, the evening star, shows up on the left side of the photo.
I’ve posted photos of mums before but they have always been taken when the flowers were in their prime. I somehow like this better, actually, although overall the plant looks a bit of a mess. I think it’s the texture that I’m drawn to, although I also like the colors in this photo. These are on our dining room table and I probably should move the plant outside, as it’s clearly done brightening up the room. I’m glad we kept it as long as we did, though, because I think it’s pretty even in this state. We’re entering that part of the year when virtually nothing is blooming outdoors. When I walk in the woods, I look for patterns or textures. The colors are fairly limited and generally there aren’t items that particularly stand-out.
I’m not sure what I can write about today’s photograph. It’s orange and they are oranges. My understanding is that the fruit was named first and the color was named for the fruit. Oranges are something of a tricky fruit. They can look perfectly delicious on the outside and be dry or mealy on the inside. Alternatively, they can look pale and unappetizing and be juicy and delicious. The only way to find out is to peel them open and give them a try. These look good and are, in actual fact, pretty good. You might say they have appeal.
As the sun was sinking in the western sky I went out to take a few pictures. I took some through the trees by the parking lot but as the clouds got more brightly colored, I walked through the woods and onto the median of the road so I could take some without trees in the way. It just kept getting better and better and I’m really glad I took the trouble. I only took one lens with me, a mid-range zoom that I forgot I have and which I put into my bag last week. I think I remember why I stopped using it. The pictures at the longer end of the zoom range are really soft (and maybe that’s too king a description). Next time I carry my more reliable glass. But this photo turned out well enough.
This is what I saw in my rear-view mirror on the way home today. The clouds were only near the horizon and if I had waited until I was home to take any pictures, I wouldn’t have been able to see them, as that part of the sky is obstructed. That’s assuming there was any color left, which is unlikely, especially since I stopped at the grocery store before continuing on home. Fortunately there is a nice, wide shoulder on the road where I stopped, so it was easy and relatively safe to get this picture. Traffic was moving quite slowly, in any case. You can see the power lines along the trees at the left. The tops of cars in the lower right show you I was looking down the roadway.
After I got home and was reading, Cathy called to say there was a really pretty sunset. Her office is on the fourth floor and faces northwest so she gets a pretty good view in the evening. From our back yard most of the color was low in the sky. To the southwest there was some color through the trees. To the northwest the colors were better but again, were visible only through our neighbor’s trees. I took a dozen or so photos and this is the best of them. Not a great sunset but it’s a sunset.
After yesterday’s long walk in the park we decided on a shorter walk this afternoon, sticking to neighborhood streets. I took some pictures of sycamore trees (Platanus occidentalis) against the blue sky. I also took some of Lenten rose plants (Helleborus species) in someone’s front garden. They were further along than most of ours, although we have one that’s got quite a few flowers on it. As the sun set, I took various pictures of it with differing amounts of color. None of them were spectacular but even a mediocre sunset is a beautiful thing.
There was a nice sunset this evening. The number of clouds was pretty low and unfortunately they clouds that were there were pretty low in the sky. Almost all of them were below and behind trees. At least that’s where they were from out back yard. I’ve had some really nice sunset from there but this one I had to work just to get this little bit of color.
It’s gotten cold out and I went out in my stocking feet to get this because I was afraid I’d miss it if I took the time to put my shoes on. I think that was the right decision, as the color only lasted a few minutes. I could still see some color through the trees for a while longer but that would have been less even than this one. I think one thing I like so much about sunsets is the depth of color. The blue of the sky at dusk is much richer and more vibrant than during the day. Of course the color in the clouds is also different, which is what makes a sunset special. But the blue of the sky at dusk, turning to the black of night, is just about my favorite color in the world.
Yesterday we dropped my car off at the shop. It was there overnight so Cathy and I went to work together again this morning. She had a physical therapy appointment first thing, so I got an hour of time to spend reading that I would not normally have had. I finished Tristram Shandy today, which I enjoyed more as I got further into it. It won’t be on my “best books of all time” list but it was fine. Our mechanics looked the car over and instead of having to replace the sensor for the airbags, they only had to replace some wires, which had worn through. They had to take out the driver seat, so there was a fair amount of labor involved, but it was about half what the Honda dealer said it would. And, they said my breaks were fine and didn’t need the $700 of work the Honda dealer said I needed done. We picked the car up after work and got home just in time for this pretty, if less than spectacular sunset.
This is one of my unknown daffodils. The fall when we moved into our house I took some family pictures for some friends and they gave me a bunch of bulbs as a thank you present. They either were not marked or, more likely, I didn’t write down the names, but they bloom every year. This is one of them. There is another, very double daffodil as well and the hyacinths that I posted a picture of a couple days ago. The daffodils are between our front walk and the house and put on a really good show.
This is a daffodil called ‘Actaea’, which is in the poeticus division (division 9), which are distinguished by their large white petals and small, dainty cups in contrasting colors. I think they are fairly posh, compared to their more boisterous cousins but they are similar in their hardiness. They are a bit slower to produce large clumps, though, so if you want a lot of them in a hurry, you’ll want to plant more of them up front. The stems on these are a little less rigid than the others, as well, and they have a tendency to droop even more when it rains but in the sun, they are hard to beat.
As mentioned on Sunday, we went to the garden center to buy plants for Cathy to put in containers and into the ground for the summer. These were mostly annuals, although we did buy a few perennials, as well, including a rosemary. This is one of the marigolds that Cathy picked out. It’s called ‘Durango Red’ and it’s a really nice, burnt orange color. It’s especially nice in the rain, which was heavy today. This is out on the driveway right now but it will probably go into the ground before too long. They are a quick and easy way to get a lot of color in your garden.
After work today I sat out in the yard. It was quite warm and I was enjoying the birds singing in the early evening. There is a family of house wrens (Troglodytes aedon) that have nested in a small, ceramic bird house hanging from our cherry tree and they make themselves known. I got a few photos of the wren but they’re small birds and I wasn’t really that close to it. I also surprised a rabbit (an eastern cottontail, Sylvilagus floridanus), who came around the corner and found himself much closer to me that he would have liked. He froze long enough for me to get a pretty good close up. But I decided to post this photo of the Exbury azalea that’s just finishing up a really nice blooming season.
The day lilies are starting to bloom. These are descendants from some we dug up in the woods of Pennsylvania, near our property. They are growing around what used to be a homestead, many years ago. There is a hole in the ground with the remains of stone walls and the base of a chimney. Around that are orange day lilies (Hemerocallis fulva) and periwinkle (Vinca minor) growing in great profusion. It’s in the shade as trees have grown up over it and in consequence the day lilies don’t bloom as well as they might, but we took a few home and planted them in the sun, where they bloomed quite happily. That was at our old house and we dug up and brought some of those with us here, where they continue to give a great show every year.
I went out to take some pictures of flowers today. There are a few sitting on a table that I set up for Cathy to work on and that seemed like a nice place to sit and take pictures. I took some of a coral bells plant (Heuchera x ‘Blondie’) and then I noticed this syrphid file (Family Syrphidae) on a marigold blossom. There’s only so close I can get with my 100mm macro and I’d like some way to get closer. I’ve thought about buying a Canon MP-E 65mm f/2.8 lens that gives magnifications of 1 to 5 times, basically picking up where my current lens leaves off. It’s manual focus, but at that close range, focus is as much a matter of moving the camera closer or further away from the subject.
Cathy and I went for a relatively short walk in the neighborhood this evening and I took some photos on that as well as in the yard a bit earlier in the day. But then the sunset was so nice, I figured I should post that. There haven’t been many great sunsets lately. They seem to come in bunches. I’m rarely going to pass up a sunset if it can be helped. Sometimes I’m driving and it really isn’t convenient to stop or there’s no place with a good view, but when it’s a matter of walking out the back door and looking between the trees, I’m there.
I could see a fairly large garden with nothing but varieties of coneflower (Echinacea species and varieties). One problem we have with them is that the rabbits and deer seem to like them and many that come up have their flowering stem bitten off so we don’t get flowers on them. The few that do bloom are great, of course, but then th bugs get to them and the petals get holes in them. They’re still nice, but not as photogenic. Because of that, we hesitate to buy more coneflowers. This one, called ‘Fiery Meadow Mama’, nearly made me make an exception. Wow, what a flower. There was another called ‘Cone-fections Hot Papaya’ that was mostly red and with a larger center that was nice, too. But we restrained ourselves.
I love this day lily. It’s growing by our front walk in the shad of a pink dogwood. It seem really happy there and the colors are more intense in the afternoon, when they house casts its shadow over them. I love these colors, they’re so hot. It’s nice that they are along our walk, so I see them every time I go out the front door. Most of our day lilies are the more standard orange, which is nice, of course. We could do with more like this. Maybe I’ll divide these and spread them around a bit. Maybe I’ll even dig up some of the more aggressive perennials and replace them with these.
The blackberry lily (Iris domestica, formerly known as Belamcanda chinensis, has beautiful, bright orange flowers above an attractive fan of sword-shaped leaves. It spreads slowly into clumps but mostly spreads by seed, which are distributed both by birds and by wives who really like it in our garden. I first collected seeds in South Carolina many, many years ago and we’ve had it around ever since. We have quite a few at this point and we may be reaching the time when a few of them need to be pulled up (but I’m not sure Cathy’s ready for that yet). They are native from the Himalayas to the Russian far east but do very well here. I like the lighting in this. The bloom is in full sun and the background is the pavement of our street in shadow.
This won’t be the only photo I post of these, I suspect. They are starting to bloom and are already quite spectacular but when they really get into full bloom, with 20 or more flowers per stem, they are amazing. The seem to deal pretty well with the sweltering heat we’ve had and the occasional downpour. The biggest threat to them, actually, is deer, which will come in and eat them. We’ve been fortunate this year and only a few stems have been cut off (and that may be rabbits). We have them in a few places around the yard but the most conspicuous are in the front, right out near the road, where there used to be a large oak tree (until it died and the county cut it down).
When I posted the close up of the tiger lily a couple days ago, I knew it wouldn’t be the only tiger lily photo I’d post this summer. They’re simply too nice to get just one mention. Dad had these growing in the garden along the driveway. Quite a few years ago we took some of the bulbils that form in the leaf axils on young stems. I find it interesting that they seem to form on young stems and not on the more mature stems. Generally you think of a more mature plant yielding more of this sort of thing. But I suppose the more mature stems produce a lot more seeds, so they don’t need to do this.
Anyway, we have them well established in a few places in the yard and they are magnificent. This is the biggest and most successful bunch, growing in a bed where a dead oak tree was removed a while back, out near the road. As you can see, they’re about eight feet tall and really happy in this sunny location. I recommend them pretty highly. The tiger swallowtails seem to like them, as well.
Cathy and I took a walk in the neighborhood after dinner. Thunder was rumbling as we left the house and we didn’t know if we’d get rained on before we were home again but we decided to risk it. We were glad we did. Not only did we not get rained on but we were treated to some wonderful clouds. They ranged from blue grey to bright orange and a few were the purest white. It was quite lovely. We also saw rain but it was probably a mile or so away. The thunder continued to rumble, but it was blue overhead.
We had another lovely sunset this evening. This shot is from out back yard, looking northwest. Looking due west we mostly have trees, so the best we can do is either northwest or southwest. They were both nice this evening but northwest was better, I think. There was also a bright orange/magenta streak almost directly overhead. I’m not sure if it was the remains of a contrail, but it really didn’t look like it. I got a few pictures of that, as well.
On other matters, we drove to West Springfield this afternoon to have an outdoor supper with a dear friend. It was so good to see another person in real, 3D life.
We’ve done well in terms of sunsets lately. Here is the third in a week. I don’t know, honestly, if they actually come in bunches or I simply happen to notice them in bunches. Either way, I’m happy to have them whenever we do. This one was really nice, with parts of the sky a mix of deep blue with a thin layer of magenta/orange over it. Hard to describe and hard to photograph. This shot was taken to the northwest and I like it quite a bit. Just above the orange band at the top, the sky was a more uniform color. I took a few with my wide angle lens but the orange colors in this part were a bit washed out.
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.
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 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 goldenrod soldier beetle, (Chauliognathus pensylvanicus) is well camouflaged against the petals of the black-eyed Susan in our back yard. Often when looking for insects, it’s a matter of looking for motion, because they blend in so well with the background. I spotted this on after taking a few photos of a monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus), also on the black-eyed Susans. They are starting to fade, but there will still be plenty of color for a while yet. One interesting thing about this beetle is that the species epithet, pensylvanicus, is the correct spelling and the version with a double n (i.e. pennsylvanicus) is incorrect.
I suppose you could say these are late summer flowers, rather than fall flowers, but there’s no hard line between summer and fall. The black-eyed Susans are summer flowers and are just finishing up. There are still quite a few of them blooming but not nearly so many as there were. The autumn clematis (Clematis terniflora) is just about in full bloom, as is the blue mistflower (Conoclinium coelestinum). The blackberry lily (Iris domestica), which blooms in early summer, is nearly in seed. All together, it makes a pretty nice combination of colors and textures.
The black-eyed Susans in our yard are mostly done. There is a bit of yellow left in spots but for the most part, the petals (technically they are ‘ray flowers’) are brown or at least a deeper, burnt orange color, or have fallen off completely. We generally leave the seed heads for the birds. The gold finches, in particular, seem to like them. I personally like the colors of the fading blooms. Naturally the bright, orange or mid-summer is really impressive, especially with them in such numbers. But the more subdued colors of fall are, to me, more appealing.
Cathy and I went to the Dahlia garden at the county’s Agricultural Farm Park this afternoon. I think I’ve found my absolute favorite dahlia of all time. I love dahlias in all their forms and wouldn’t really disparage any of them. That being said, I’ve always been more drawn to the single and mignon classes of dahlias more than the huge dinner plate or cactus classes. This one, however, I really, really like. It’s a laciniated or fimbriated dahlia, characterized by having petals that are split at the end into two or more divisions. Added to that, this one has petals that are a different shade on the front from the back. I particularly like the color combination of orange on the front and almost red on the back. It’s a pretty large bloom, as well and the flowers are absolutely lovely. So, for now, it’s my favorite.
Common purslane (Portulaca oleracea) is a noxious weed where it is warm enough for it to survive through the winter. Here it is grown as an annual and it’s the large-flowered cultivars that are grown here, specifically for their flowers, which are present pretty much all summer. The flowers are generally open in the morning and then close up when the day gets hot, but on an overcast day they might stay open all day. Their colors are really something and we’ve loved having them outside our kitchen door this year. In case you’re wondering (I was, so I asked Cathy), the purple flower is Torenia fournieri, commonly known as wishbone flower, an annual that has also done exceptionally well this year.
I released some stored carbon back into the atmosphere this evening. It’s been cool for a while and I’ve been meaning to have a fire, so today seemed like the perfect opportunity. Also, I’ve been accumulating papers that need to be destroyed rather than just thrown away or recycled (i.e. things that have Social Security Numbers, bank account info, etc.). So, I took this opportunity to burn a box of papers, as well. When I was done with the papers, though, I just enjoyed the fire, watching the wood burn, watching the dancing flames, smelling the wood smoke in the cool, autumn air. It was lovely.