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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – It’s A Wonderful World.

This week, Amy is thinking about the song “What A Wonderful World” and has carried it through as the theme for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. I agree! It is a wonderful world and nowhere do I feel that more than when I’m outside among the flowers and wildlife in the garden. Everything has been blooming beautifully so far this year and it certainly is gratifying to see some positive results after all the hard work. The peonies have come and gone but they were spectacular while they lasted.

Also gone, for now, are the irises. They really put on a splendid show this year. So many different colors, it was hard to choose a favorite. It looks like I’ll be able to put quite a few out for anyone to help themselves, when I divide them later this year, as I do with the daylilies and other perennials. What I don’t appreciate is people coming into my garden uninvited and pulling up armfuls of plants as I saw one woman doing while I was walking home one day with my youngest granddaughter asleep in her stroller. I was too far away to remonstrate otherwise I would have given this audacious plant pincher an earful. Of all the nerve!!

Caught in the act! A baby bunny eating the nigella plants. No worries! There’s plenty to go around. Nigella reseeds (isn’t nature wonderful?) and comes up again without any help from me, although I do collect some of the seeds to scatter in other parts of the garden. It’s a pretty little flower and even the seed pods are quite decorative.

The possum re-appeared, and a tree in a neighbor’s backyard across the street disappeared. We have lost so many of the large trees in our area over the past several years due to diseases of one kind or another. The Village has replaced many of them on the parkway but it will be a while before they are large enough to provide much shade or attract any of the larger birds like the hawk or the flicker. It’s wonderful how they seem to return to the same places to nest and raise their young and I’m sure there will be a few of our feathered friends that will miss this one-time home.

Poppies added a blaze of color to the garden and the white ones brightened up any shady areas. This is probably when the garden is at its most colorful, with poppies, irises and peonies all blooming at the same time, and we very often see people stopping by to take pictures which is fine by me. I’m out there with the camera myself most days.

The birds have been busy in the garden too. the goldfinches making good use of some nesting material provided while a hawk stops by in search of a quick snack.

After some much-needed rain last night, the garden is refreshed and ready to produce the next lot of blooms which will include daylilies, oriental lilies, coneflowers and phlox among others. We live on a corner lot so every part of the garden is visible from the sidewalk and it’s nice to take a break once in a while and chat to passing pedestrians. I also love it when the little group from the local daycare walk by and wave, with the occasional tiny voice piping up “Hello!” as they go past. They are our future and I hope they will grow up to appreciate nature and perhaps share the interest in gardening that I have enjoyed for so many years. It truly is a Wonderful World.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Blue & Green

This week, Tina is thinking of cool colors like blue and green for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. The majority of birds that visit our garden are sparrows so, when this little guy showed up the other day, it was quite an event. What was even more surprising was the fact that he stuck around long enough for me to run and get the camera. I’m no expert so I had to resort to my Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds. The closest I could come to it was an indigo bunting but, if anyone knows differently, I’ll be happy to hear from you. This is the first time in 30 years that we’ve seen one of these in the garden so I’m guessing he was blown rather off course.

I’ve been working hard in the garden for the past few weeks, restoring the area that was damaged when a main sewer line had to be replaced at the end of last year. It’s going to take a while for everything to grow and fill out, but in the meantime I was happy to see that the irises are looking absolutely fantastic. These are just the ones that appear in different shades of blue.

The false indigo is just starting to bloom too and will hopefully attract the bees. I’ve also taken delivery of some Blue Brazilian Sage plants that, when the blue flowers eventually emerge, should prove to be absolute hummingbird magnets. We’ll see!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Getting To Know You, Batavia

Better late than never! In response to Scilla’s theme of Getting To Know You for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge, here are some images that I captured on one of my better days a couple of weeks ago. Despite the fact that we live relatively close to Batavia, we have never visited there before and, with everything that’s going on right now, in the world and in my own personal life, it was great to get out and see something different.

Apparently, there was a time many years ago when almost all the windmill-driven water pumps used on American farms were made in Batavia.

Most of the places that we hope eventually to visit in Batavia don’t open for a week or two (if at all, with COVID restrictions) but it was helpful to find out where they are located. I definitely want to take a tour of the windmill and there is a house/museum and Japanese garden that is also on our list.

We arrived at the River Walk just in time to see the final laps of a qualifying race for the Boston Marathon. More than 400 people from all over the country running 26 gruelling miles! Rather them than me! I’d rather take a leisurely stroll and see the sights. Luckily the weather was perfect for all of us.

The eagle on top of one of the monuments along the River Walk might have been good for Tina’s theme of Taking Flight a couple of weeks ago.

The end, in more ways than one. This beautiful sculpture entitled ‘From The Waters Comes My Bounty’ by Ray Kobald, marked the end of our visit but it was nice getting to know you, Batavia, and we hope to be back soon.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge- Colorful April

This week, Amy has chosen the Colors of April as the theme for our Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. Here in our garden I mostly associate April with pink, blue and yellow although there are one or two other colors that appear here and there.

NB. Some of you may have noticed that I haven’t been posting quite as regularly and have been rather slow to respond to visits and comments, for which I apologize. For the past month or so I have been suffering from what I can only describe as some kind of severe anxiety disorder which has left me struggling to keep up with correspondence and sometimes even the common normality of life. At this time of year, when I would typically be rushing to photograph daffodils at the Morton Arboretum, tulips at Cantigny Park and Lilacs in Lombard, I can’t even drive myself to the local grocery store. The process of constantly fighting to control how I feel has sometimes left me exhausted but on the few occasions when I’ve been able to whack up the enthusiasm to get out in the garden I have managed to capture a few of the colors that April means to me. Needless to say, this has hit me like a bolt out of the blue but with the amazing support of a very understanding family, things are slowly improving. Even though I may not be on here quite as often, I hope you will stick with me until things are back to full strength. Thank you for your patience.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – A Change Of Scenery

This week, Beth has suggested a Change of Scenery as the topic for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. Good idea! I was starting to get cabin fever a couple of weeks ago and was itching for a change of scenery (anything other than my own back yard) so even though there was still a little snow on the ground, I decided to take a trip up to the Chicago Botanic Garden.

The garden looks lovely in any season but I’m looking forward to the next visit when there should be some Spring flowers in bloom, providing a whole new change of scenery.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Natural Light

This week, Amy has suggested that we look at things in a Natural Light for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. Many years ago, when I first started out with my Minolta film camera, I used very high speed film for most low light situations, which probably accounts for the grainy texture of many of my earlier pictures. This one was taken just after sunset at the Chicago Botanic Garden.

Since then, I’ve tried to capture different kinds of natural light with the Canon Rebel including sunset over Lake Michigan from Mackinaw City and at the Chicago Botanic Garden.

And the softer light of sunrise, over Lake Huron from Mackinaw City and in Nebraska.

Late afternoon in Arches National Park in Utah and early morning in Custer State Park, South Dakota.

It seemed like the light changed every minute while we were on Antelope Island in Utah. There had been intermittent thunderstorms all day and another one rolled in just as we were leaving, but in between, the sun came out and lit up the landscape.

Sometimes I only have to step outside the front door to see a natural light show.

The Last Of The Snow

We have just about seen the last of the snow, although there was still some lingering in patches at Spring Valley Nature Center when I made my first visit there this year, earlier this week.

The usual access to the nature center was closed as they are making some alterations and improvements to the Visitors Center area so I had to take an alternate route and with many of the paths that were in the shade still covered in ice, my walking was somewhat limited. Still, it was so nice to get out in the fresh air and see something other than our own garden. I was glad that I decided to wear my wellies, however.

There were a few people about but for the most part it was very quiet, which is why I probably came upon these two deer.

I almost didn’t need to use the zoom lens, they were so close and they didn’t seem at all bothered about my being there. They eventually ambled across the path and disappeared into the undergrowth. I stayed for a while, hoping that they’d come out again but no such luck, so I continued on my way.

I can’t wait to see see what the improvements look like at the Visitors Center. It’s supposed to be finished by late Spring which means I will probably have to use this alternate route for a couple more months at least.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Soft

This week, Ann-Christine invites us to look at the Softer side of life for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. My first instinct was to go to the young; a baby’s cheek, a gentle calf’s eyes. Some years ago, I recall a baby rabbit jumping into my hands, light as a cotton ball and as soft as thistledown.

And, of course, speaking of the young makes one think of the soft, subtle shades of Spring.

And even the mellow days of Autumn have their softer side, when the silky milkweed seeds swirl skyward. (As you can see, I still have some S’s left from last week.)

Playing Possum

Yesterday morning we spotted a possum trekking across the snow in our garden. It must have been really hungry to venture out in daylight. Usually we only see them roaming around the house in the evening.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – The Letter S

This week, Patti has suggested that any subject starting with the letter S will serve splendidly for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. While strolling around our garden, we see all sorts of subjects starting with S including snapdragons, sedum, sunflowers, scabiosa, snowdrops and squill.

We have also spotted several species of birds, the most common of which is the sparrow, but the sora was a total surprise as it had evidently strayed well off-course.

In summer we see skippers and swallowtails sunning themselves.

And in the fall we may occasionally spot a squirrel snacking on some squash.