Friday, May 27, 2011

May Flowers.

Most of us probably think first of herbaceous (soft stemmed) plants when we hear the word "flower".

But trees (as well as shrubs and other woody-stemmed green things) also produce flowers.

Not that all tree blossoms are so conspicuous as this. This, the blossom of a tuliptree (erroneously "tulip poplar", but sometimes yellow-poplar or white-poplar; officially Liriodendron tulipifera [hooray for The Sibley Guide to Trees!]), is one of the more spectacular examples of a tree flower and is quite obviously a flower. Obvious if you are lucky enough to have a tree young enough to be able to see into its blooming canopy, that is. I am so blessed.

Orioles, as well as the dozens of winged things I found in one blossom, love these flowers for their nectar. (The cut one had liquid pooling up in it by the end of the day it opened.) The flower also produces an amazing seed pod, but you'll have to wait some months for a photo of that.

Blue-eyed grass, one of our few native irises. (Turns out that yellow flag, a water-tolerant iris, isn't native and can be invasive. Oops. At least all of mine are in pots on my decks and to the best of my knowledge haven't seeded themselves out of them.)

Doesn't look like an iris, I know. The petals and sepals that are visible are identically colored and flat, not recurved separately (along with three invisible-here styles) to form the traditional fleur-de-lis pattern of a more "typical" iris.

And it's tiny, about a half an inch across.

Without insects, we likely wouldn't have flowers. This little fellow seemed to be eating the pollen.

The leaves hide well amongst the grasses, but when in flower it catches the eye. I was happy to find more patches of it scattered around the yard than I expected.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Incidental Use.

This is not at all what the manufacturers of this hummingbird feeder intended with the built-in ant well at the center of this particular design, but for this male American goldfinch it makes a great place to take a sip of water on a warm afternoon.

When filled with water and with the feeder hanging, the well is meant to stop ants from crossing from hanger to feeder top and ending up in the sugar-water. (The well doesn't work as an ant deterrent when the feeder is pole-mounted, however, as the ants simply come up around the outside of the feeder.)

I've also seen chickadees and titmice take advantage of this water supply, even when the hanger is being used.

(If I'm lucky, the point-and-shoot camera, shipped off last week for service, will be able to be repaired and I can use it with the telescope and adapter that fit it so I'm not stuck trying to shoot across the yard with the smaller of my two SLR camera lenses. Apologies for the too-small photos; any closer cropping pixelates the picture.)

Who are you calling pixelated?

Gone fishing.

Sephy was only allowed to stay up there because she's the smallest cat in the house. (Normally she isn't supposed to be up there either, but she looked so cute I couldn't resist leaving her alone to see what she'd do.)

It's possible the fish may have even been teasing her. More likely begging, though.

(Yes, the tank needs a water change; we're coming off a round of medication and since whatever Shubunkin had is finally clearing up, apparently on its own, I didn't want to upset whatever balance was reached.)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

No. Willpower. Whatsoever.

Dracaena reflexa

I only went in to purchase a pressure washer. To clean the decks in order to put out all of the houseplants I already own.

Can't believe I spent what I did on this. I may buy too many houseplants, but I buy 'em cheap.

Forgot I needed pipe brackets, too. I have to go back. ::whimper::

Monday, May 16, 2011

Seeing Red.

Trumpet (sometimes Coral) Honeysuckle.

The hummingbirds like it, for obvious reasons. (Ever wonder why hummers have such long bills?)

And it's native!

Asparagus! Really.

Just not the stage of the plant that most of us normally see.

Heck, I've known the little patch (too small for me to risk harvesting, and I love asparagus) was out there, and that the spears everyone sees in the produce bins turn into a lovely tall, frilly plant.

But I just this week I finally noticed the beautiful little bell flowers it also sends out.

Charming plant.

Fleur de Lis

One of my favorite flowers, iris.

I'm quite partial to these little "Dutch" iris, of course: such an intense shade of purple! (Although a neighbor round the corner has full-size purple-and-whites that are absolutely stunning...)

And the seed pods are really neat, too.

These pale by comparison (I don't actually try for bad puns, honest) but they have an aroma reminiscent of grapes…

[These photos were to be taken with the point-and-shoot but the dranglefabbing camera quit again when I tried. *sigh*]

Saturday, May 14, 2011


*thump* *thump* *thump*

You may recall that sometime last fall my beloved Nikon CoolPix froze up on me just when I wanted to take a photo of a stunning rising autumn full moon... Subsequent tries resulted in the same "Lens Error".

So I bought an SLR. (Oi, vey.)

I finally tracked down the info I needed to ship the CoolPix back to Nikon for repair.

Form filled out and ready to submit? Check. Packaging material? Check. Parcel pick up? Check.

Then there was that stray thought... "What if?" What if I send this in and they find nothing wrong with it? I haven't checked it in awhile; maybe this time it will work. (I still believe in magic.) Let me try the camera just one more time to make sure...

*whirrr* Green light: okay to shoot.


*whirr* Green light: okay to shoot.


*whirr* Green light: okay to shoot.
*whirr* Green light: okay to shoot.
*whirr* Green light: okay to shoot.


Well, at least I checked it one last time before sending it in only to risk being told there was nothing wrong with it. And I really do like the SLR.

But still... Forehead/wall. *thump* *thump* *thump*

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Such hubris we humans have, “improving” upon Mother Nature…

Okay, so I’m as guilty as the next person for buying into it. This is, obviously, a dwarf variety of columbine.

Hey, the poor plants were suffering a long and lingering death as discounted, past-their-prime flowers at a retail store and besides, they’re purple!

One of the taller varieties (see above rationalization) seeded itself into the dwarf pot. Good thing, as the rootstock for the larger colorful columbines is gone. (Well, there are all of those years-worth of seed pods all over the kitchen hutch…)

But I also have the “real” thing! Two years ago the (cultivated) white columbines bloomed first and reigned supreme.

Only a few are blooming now.

This year the red has taken over.

Many thanks to SW for offering me native plant sale leftovers many years ago! Truly a gift that keeps on giving.

(Shame about the ironweed, though. Hardy stuff, that; it keeps trying but the deer keep shearing it off when it gets about knee high… Perhaps it too would prefer living on the deck in a container as much as the columbines do.)


Didn’t get a lick of housework done yesterday. Or yard work, for that matter. (What will the new neighbors think?*)

But I now have a really cool dish garden… (Yes, that’s moss. And a dead tree branch with lichen. So?)

* Not that I much care. They knew what they were getting when they bought the (abandoned and foreclosed upon) place. If they can put up with bulldozers, a crane and dump trucks (and a [steam] roller?!) in their front yard, what’s to fuss about a broken split rail fence, some downed privacy panels and a wild tangle of vegetation in the backyard? Although I do wonder if anybody told them about the ticks… Eh, they’ll find out soon enough.