I took a few photos in the park this evening. I got two not so good pictures of a woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) and some decent pictures of multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora). This photo is of a buttercup of some sort, possibly the meadow buttercup, (Ranunculus acris), but I’m not sure, exactly. That particular plant is native to Europe and Asia and is common blooming in pastures in the spring. it’s a weed, of course, and as a non-native, it’s almost certainly out of favor. But it’s still a pretty little thing.
Buttercup (Ranunculus species)
Cornus kousa (Kousa Dogwood)
As mentioned in yesterday’s post, we went to the National Arboretum. The main purpose of the trip was to see the rose species in bloom and we enjoyed that. We also walked through the National Herb Garden. We skipped the Bonsai this time, because it was fairly crowded. We walked through the azalea collection and to the top of Mount Hamilton. Sadly the boxwood and peony section was closed for pest control. We drove to the far corner of the arboretum and walked through the dogwood collection. There was quite a varied collection and I took some good notes (in the form of photographs of both trees and tags). This one, a standard kousa dogwood (Cornus kousa) is a lovely example of the species and I think it would make an excellent puzzle.
Rose ‘Dupontii’ (Snow-bush Rose)
Cathy and I went to the National Arboretum after church today. They have a reasonable collection of species roses, which typically bloom earlier than the hybrid roses. Last year we were too late so we made an effort to go a bit earlier this year. Some of them were past but a few others were still in bud, so there’s no way to see them all on a single visit. We did see a good selection though, and I was happy. This rose, called Dupontii or the snow-bush rose is not quite a species but is a hybrid of Rosa moschata, the musk rose, bred by André Du Pont in 1817. It’s a lovely, slightly pink flower and one that I’d love to grow. Understand that this rose only blooms once in the spring, though, so don’t expect a summer full of flowers.
We were out between Darnestown and Poolesville this evening for Dorothy’s Thursday Evening Worship, although Dorothy wasn’t there this week and we were led by Adam and Michael. It was a lovely, cool evening and the sun was going down as we started. I took a few pictures, including this one of the sunset. Not the most spectacular sunset in history, but pretty for all of that. We had a lovely time and naturally we stayed and visited with everyone afterward. I especially enjoyed talking with Michael about keeping aquarium fish, which it turns out we both do.
Hannah and David
Cathy and I were honored to be invited to Hannah and David’s wedding today. Interestingly, I got a call at about 11:00 this morning from one of the bridesmaids saying they were not going to have the wedding recorded. It was a bit of a last minute thing, but Elizabeth wanted to know if I would be able to supply some equipment to video it. Naturally I was happy to help and brought my old camera (Canon EOS 60D) and a tripod. We got it set up and I gave Christian about 10 minutes of training. The resulting video isn’t anything to write home about, but at least it exists and the audio is actually pretty good. I realized afterward that I should have brought my MP3 recorded and put that somewhere as well, but by then it was too late.
There were photographers taking photos but naturally I took a few myself. They won’t compete with the professional shots, but maybe I got a few angles they missed. Most of mine were taken at the reception, but I did take a few during the wedding ceremony itself. Here are Hannah and David, the happy couple.
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)
We went to the farm park for a short visit today. I got a few photos of bluebirds, both male and female (Sialia sialis), a red-winged blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus), and a sparrow or other small bird that I can’t identify. I decided to go with this shot of a red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis), though. Taking photos of birds on the wing is challenging at the best of times. With my long—150–600mm—lens, it’s even more challenging. The lens is quite heavy and getting it aimed at the bird, much less focused is pretty hit or miss. Mostly miss. This one turned out pretty well and I got a few more just about the same, so I’m please with that.
Myosotis sylvatica (Woodland Forget-me-not)
We have these woodland forget-me-nots (Myosotis sylvatica) growing in our back yard (and a few elsewhere). They move around a bit and some of them are in the grass, so the edges of the bed doesn’t always get mowed the same way from year to year. They are considered a noxious weed in some mid-western states so you may not want them, depending on where you are. Here they don’t seem to be terribly invasive and we’re happy for our small clump of them each spring. You have to get down close to them to see them in their glory, though, because the flowers are fairly small. But they really are quite pretty.
Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida)
The common name for our most commonly planted, native dogwood is “flowering dogwood’ (Cornus florida). That’s a little deceptive, since all dogwoods—that is all Cornus species—flower. But that’s what they are called and that’s the one of the things about common names. They have some significant health issues, including dogwood anthracnose, which is fairly serious. They are also susceptible to powdery mildew, leaf spot, canker, root rot and leaf and twig blight. Stressed trees become vulnerable to borers. Nevertheless, when they are in bloom, as they are right now, they can hold their own against our other flowering trees. There are pink blooming varieties that I think are even better, although it’s hard to complain about something as lovely as this. It should be said that they also generally have terrific fall color.
We completed another puzzle this week. I’m not sure where we got this one—illustrating “Great Events of the Bible”—but it’s been in our basement a while without ever being put together. It was a relatively easy puzzle, compared to others we’ve done lately. That’s partly because there is text scattered around and any piece with text on it is easy to orient. With some puzzles it’s very difficult to know which way many of the pieces sit. There also are no large areas of similar color in this one, as there are with images with large amounts of sky, etc. Still, it was fun putting it together. Next we will work on puzzle with a view of Venice, Italy.
I know I posted a similar picture to this last year, on Sunday, April 24, 2022, titled Dogwood Porthole. I entered this year’s title before looking that up to see what I used and was happy that I came up with something slightly different, even if it’s pretty close to the same. At the front of the church is this circular window and on the hill outside it a flowering dogwood (Cornus florida). This year’s photo is about a week ahead of last year’s and that seems about right for the weather we’ve been having. Everything is slightly earlier, although probably not outside the normal range of dates. Last year we had a fairly hard, killing frost in late April but I think we’re probably in the clear this year. I hope so, anyway.
Lamprocapnos spectabilis (Bleeding Heart)
Cathy and I went to the airport this morning to pick up Dorothy and then dropped her off in Bethesda, where she had left her car. Although it’s a little early for most azaleas, we decided to visit McCrillis Gardens, since we were near by. A few azaleas and rhododendrons were in bloom and there were other things to see. Fern fiddleheads were unrolling, there was quite a bit of Solomon seal (Polygonatum species). In the middle of the yard, under a large tree, there is a huge mound of bleeding heart (Lamprocapnos spectabilis). It’s quite pretty and we probably should plant some, if for no other reason than that it would fill in some of the gap between the early bulbs and the later spring blooms.
We finished another puzzle in the last couple days. This one was much, much easier than the previous couple. That’s not to say it was simple, but nothing like the Dahlia, Mandala Stone, or especially the William Morris, “Garden of Delight” puzzle. Some of the proverbs or idioms in the puzzle are obvious. Others are either obscure or were unfamiliar to us. Nevertheless, we enjoyed trying to make sense of the illustrations. As is usual in a large puzzle, the large areas of sky with little to differentiate them was the last to get finished. Next up is a scene of Venice, which will be a little more challenging than this one, I think.
Easter Sunrise Service
Sadly, I’m way behind posting my photos. I’m writing this on May 8, nearly a month late. I seem to get nearly caught up and then don’t manage to post for a while and I’m behind again.
Anyway, on Easter morning Cathy and I went to the Easter Sunrise Service at Fourth Presbyterian. It’s one of my favorite things and Cathy is nice enough to be willing to get up before 5:00 AM to get there before the 6:00 AM start of the service. With Easter moving forward and back from late March to late April, the time of sunrise varies from after 7:00 AM to about 6:20. It was at about 6:40 this morning so there was enough light towards the end of the service to get some reasonable photos at ISO 1600 at f/3.5. In order to get the entire steeple in the picture, I have to use a fairly wide angle lens (10mm) which gives it that characteristic tilt.
Mertensia virginica (Virginia ‘Pink’ Bells)
Cathy, Dorothy, and I went out to enjoy the bluebells (Mertensia virginica) today. They were pretty much at their peak and it was really lovely. Although they are called bluebells and that’s the predominate color, the buds generally start out being pink or purple and then the flowers turn blue as they open. We found a handful of them, however, that never made the switch, so we dubbed these Virginia ‘Pink’ Bells. There were also trout lilies (Erythronium americanum) and many, many spring beauties (Claytonia virginica), as well as yellow ‘violets’ (Viola pubescens).
I took a short walk in the woods today, feeling like I really should get outdoors a bit more. When I’m working from home, I take one or two breaks during the day and walk around the yard a bit. When I’m in the office, however, I tend to put my head down and work straight through. That’s not quite true, because my day is often broken up by meetings, but I don’t make it a habit to get out. I probably should, especially when the weather is so nice. Just after getting into the woods today I came across this deer skull. I took a few photos and then on the way back out I picked it up to put in the yard. I’m not sure why but we seem to have a bone collection in the back yard.
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (Polioptila caerulea)
We took a walk along the shore of Lake Needwood today, starting from near the beaver dam, we walked north and crossed Needwood Road. Near the end, where Rock Creek flows into the lake we saw this cute, little bird flitting around in the trees and shrubs. I was able to get four photos of it, none of which were great. It didn’t sit in one place very long and the long lens is fairly cumbersome, especially when zoomed all the way out. Still, they were good enough to identify it as a blue-gray gnatcatcher (Polioptila caerulea), which is not a bird I’ve seen before (at least not knowingly). I guess if I were keeping a life list, this would now go on it.
My Office Building Lobby
The building my office is in has a somewhat dated look. It’s exterior is red brick and glass and is even referred to at my company as ‘RB’, which stands for ‘Red Brick’. The lobby had a red brick floor and built-in red brick planters along the front windows and on the interior walls. It wasn’t beautiful but the large plants were pretty nice, as that sort of thing goes. With a two storey height, the fiddle-leaf figs (Ficus lyrata) were especially impressive. For what seems like an eternity, it’s been undergoing a makeover. The new, modern lobby is nearing completion and I can’t say I’m overly impressed. As you can see, there are some plants in containers against the far windows. I assume those will be placed around the lobby once it’s done. But it’s fairly stark, in my view.
Uptate: They added some furniture, so it isn’t quite so empty now. But it feels very artificial and not somewhere I’d go to sit and chat. Time will tell, I suppose.
Dorothy and Friends
Dorothy had some friends in town for the weekend. Meg and Jackson arrived on Thursday evening and Dorothy brought them to our house to spend the night. Then on Friday they picked up Bobby and Grace and did some things downtown before heading out to some friends’ house on the bay. Friday and Saturday were cool and quite web, but then Sunday the weather turned sunny and beautiful (not that rain isn’t nice in its own way). They returned to our house late Sunday afternoon (today) and I fixed dinner for them. Before we ate, they posed as a group for a few pictures with the forsythia as a back drop.
Sanguinaria canadensis (Bloodroot)
Cathy and I were out in Poolesville today, to drop something off for someone. After that we decided to see if the bluebells have started blooming along Seneca Creek. It is definitely a bit early for the full show, but there was enough to see that we were glad we went. In addition to bluebells, which I’d say were somewhere around 5% open, there were trout lilies (Erythronium americanum), spring beauties (Claytonia virginica), and possibly my favorite spring ephemeral, bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis). They bloom very briefly and the flowers are very delicate, so seeing them at their peak is a real treat. Outside their short blooming period they are easily identified by their deeply-scalloped, palmate leaves, but you have to keep your eyes open, because they aren’t very flashy. The flowers are pure white, as you can see here, with beautiful, yellow stamens.
Great Falls, Maryland (from Virginia)
We met our good friend Jean today and went to the Virginia side of Great Falls (which are in Maryland, because the state boundary is the Virginia shore line). It was a chilly day but beautifully clear. Most photos were taken with my long lens, including one of a heron across the river and an immature bald eagle flying overhead. I almost got a good photo of a turkey vulture (Cathartes aura) fairly close overhead but it’s only about 60% in the frame. Tracking and focusing such a large, heavy lens on a moving subject is still more than I can do reliably. I switched to my 100mm, which I carried in a pouch on my belt, for two sets of images that I stitched into panoramas. This is one of those two, which I’ve also cropped down and will use as my site’s banner image for a while. The previous banner, of Portland Head Light in Maine has been the banner since late 2015 so I thought it was time for a change.