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Dells

Not to be confused with the Wisconsin Dells which are 100 miles south of Plover, the Dells of the Eau Claire County Park in Marathon County, Wisconsin, are spectacular. Divided in two by the Eau Claire River, the Dells offer an abundance of beautiful scenic views and plenty of opportunities for nature photography.

We spent the day wandering along woodland trails and clambering over rocks some of which have been dated at about 1.8 billion years old.

Our granddaughter likes to help find things for me to photograph and did an excellent job of spotting several interesting fungi, a toad and a caterpillar.  In fact she had me taking pictures of practically every leaf, mushroom, acorn and pinecone that we came across. Thank goodness for digital photography!  I don’t know how many rolls of film I would have used, otherwise.

 

 

There are several spots along the river where, if you are agile enough, you can climb onto the rocks that jut out into the water.  It’s amazing what you can do if you want to get a picture badly enough!

I can highly recommend a visit to this park if you are ever in the Plover area of Wisconsin.  I think you’ll find it well worthwhile.

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September at the Garden

There’s always something beautiful to see at the Chicago Botanic Garden no matter what time of year you go, but September always seems to have something special to offer.  The roses have usually taken on a new lease on life and when I went to the Garden a few days ago they looked gorgeous.

The water lilies too, seemed at the peak of perfection.

 

While I was there, a well-meaning gentleman offered to give me some tips on photography but when I explained that I couldn’t tell an f-stop from a bus stop, never read the camera manual and didn’t usually like to fiddle around changing settings and such, he gave me up as a hopeless case.  It was a kind thought, however, and I thanked him profusely.

This year’s theme, “Brazil in the Garden” provided visitors with plenty of unusual plants and flowers to enjoy, with Bromeliads, orange Canna lilies and Bismarck palms taking center stage.

Even the ducks seemed in a festive mood.

I was about to leave Evening Island when the great bells of the Carillon Tower clanged the two-o-clock hour.

Just time to visit the Plant Evaluation Garden before heading back home.

OWPC – The Bee’s Knees

This week, Jennifer Nichole Wells has chosen insect as the subject for her One Word Photo Challenge. With so many flowers in the garden it’s not surprising that we have quite a number of bees flying around.  Unlike wasps and hornets, bees are a welcome sight and I was happy to capture these few shots for the challenge.

For more on Jennifer’s One Word Photo Challenge go to This Week’s Challenges: August 20 – 26 (OWPC & WW)

How Green Was My Spring Valley

It’s been a while since I last visited Spring Valley Nature Center in Schaumburg and there have been some changes which were noticeable as soon as I arrived.  There is a new children’s playground complete with slides, climbing areas and waterfalls where the kids can have a great time.  I just hope the parents don’t forego the opportunity of taking them around the rest of the facility to see all the wonderful things that nature has to offer, like flowers, animals, birds and other living, breathing things.  There is also a new pond that has been created nearby although it appears to be a work in progress.

With all the rain we’ve had just lately it wasn’t surprising that the place looked so lush and green. I love walking around here! Apart from the forest preserves, this is the closest thing we have to ‘being in the country.’ I think it would be impossible to count all the different plants that flourish in Spring Valley.

The water in the lake was quite high and covered with water lilies which made ideal resting and hiding places for the frogs. Underneath the surface it was teeming with life as frogs, fish and turtles, in a frenzy of activity, made hundreds of little waves in the water.

 

I was pleased to see that the Kid’s Garden was flourishing, with plenty of flowers and vegetables on display.  I think it’s so important to encourage children to take an interest in nature and that is just what the people at Spring Valley are doing so ably.  After all, the future of our world and the environment is in the hands of generations to come. In these troubling times, it would be a sad thing indeed if we did not make the effort to teach them to understand and respect nature and each other.

Weekly Photo Challenge – Ooh, Shiny!

Did I ever tell you the story about this rabbit that I knew?  Well there was this rabbit and one day he decided that he was going to………….oh look, isn’t that a heron over there!

Beautiful birds!  It reminds me of the time I saw one when I was staying in……………Oh for goodness sake? What a racket! You can’t hear yourself think!  Here’s another plane coming in for a landing!

Anyway, what was I saying?  Oh yes, about that rabbit……………..look at those butterflies.  I’ll just see if I can get a picture now the breeze has dropped.

So this rabbit………….watch out! Don’t step on that frog. Wow! That was a close thing!

Now where was I? Oh yes. The rabbit decides that he’s going to…………….I thought I could hear a church bell ringing!  Yes, over there.

Perhaps we could just go in and have a look…………..no, wait a minute. Let’s see those horses in the field over there.

So, getting back to the story about this rabbit…………….I wonder what these flowers are called.

Well, this rabbit takes a chance and hops across……………….ooh, shiny!

It doesn’t take much to distract me.  For more on the Weekly Photo Challenge at The Daily Post go to Ooh, Shiny!

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge – Apples and Apiaries

This week, Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge kicks off a new series of alphabet challenges with a twist.  Not only does the subject need to begin with an A but also a P.  Apparently, appointments have appropriated most of my leisure time today so here are a couple of quick entries that I thought would be apposite.  Apples and bees in an apiary at the Fruit and Vegetable Garden, part of the Chicago Botanic Garden.

For more on Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge go to Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Letter A – Needs to start with the Letters Ap

The Ecstasy and the Agony

It’s all been happening out in the garden this summer, with or without my help.  The good thing about having mostly perennials and flowers that self-seed is that they more or less take care of themselves.  They don’t need a lot of watering, although goodness knows we’ve had plenty of rain to keep them happy, and, if carefully chosen, don’t require much in the way of fertilizer. It’s sheer ecstasy to walk out in the garden first thing in the morning and see all those beautiful flowers.

The sunflowers, cosmos and cleome came up in such profusion in the back garden this year that I was in danger of losing our smallest grandchildren out there when they came to visit. And not to worry if I didn’t have time to plant a fresh batch of snapdragons.  They came up all on their own.

Even the wildlife is plentiful this summer.  I spotted a possum creeping about among the bushes and the rabbit population is growing in leaps and bounds (not sure if I’m too happy about that.)

Just outside my window, as I’ve been sitting working on the computer, the birds have been showing off and all I have to do is whip the camera out and capture a few shots of the humming bird hovering in the breeze and a goldfinch getting to the bottom of things.

Unfortunately, all this ecstasy doesn’t come without a little bit of agony.  A few weeks ago I was outside working on a project when I was chased around the garden by an angry hornet and stung, quite painfully on the top of my head.  At first I thought it was just a lone troublemaker but last week I discovered a nest in one of the shrubs right down by the sidewalk.  It won’t be long before the neighborhood kids are walking past on their way to school and I certainly wasn’t about to anger the hornets any further by working in the adjacent flower beds so I had no option but to call in the experts.

Enter Mike from ABC Wildlife Control who assured me that he would take care of the situation.  I asked him what the procedure was and he said, “I spray the nest and then run.”  Apparently they had determined that these particular hornets were the extremely aggressive variety, so I could sympathize with him.  “You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din,” was my view. I stood at a safe distance and watched as he did his stuff.  Afterwards, he warned us to stay out of the garden for the rest of the day as the hornets were likely to be really !*!*!* off.  He didn’t have to tell me twice! I was lucky that I’d only been stung once.  That was agony enough!  I wasn’t about to risk any more.

Things seem to have calmed down out there now, so hopefully I can get back to work, pulling weeds and dead-heading the flowers without fear of hornet reprisals.  Good work, ABC Wildlife!