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Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge – Animals

The squirrels in Texas are very bold, let me tell you!  I didn’t need a long lens for this shot, in fact I was half-inclined to take a step back, as this feisty little critter gave every indication that he was about to run straight up my leg!

For more on Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge go to Any Animal (no birds)

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The Sweetest Flower of All

We recently took a road trip to Texas to celebrate the birth of our youngest granddaughter and I thought that it would be interesting to take pictures of our garden prior to leaving and compare them to how the garden looked when we returned two weeks later.

The beginning of June is the most colorful time of year in our garden and I knew we would probably miss seeing some of the flowers that were on the brink of blooming, but there were enough of them out to wish us a cheery farewell. The peonies were in full bloom and irises of all types and varieties were looking quite spectacular despite losing many to iris borers this year.


Blues and pinks and purples were well represented, with flax flowers, bluebells, salvia Caradonna, Baptisia australis, pinks, weigela, heuchera Coral Bells, Johnson’s Blue cranesbill and aquilegia all making a fine show.


The poppies, including my favorite Turkenlouis, were continuing to burst open but I figured I’d probably miss the pink Carneums.

A lot can happen in two weeks!  Apparently we had quite a bit of rain while we were gone and the weeds had taken over. There were still a few remnants of the flowers that had been blooming when we left and some that had come and gone while we were away. However, the garden was not without some fresh color.

Apart from all the weeds that have invaded every part of the garden, some of the plants that are supposed to be here have run rampant and there is also quite a bit of deadheading to be done; a lot of work ahead of us, no doubt. But all the toil will have been well worth it as we got to see the sweetest flower of all, our little Texas treasure.


 

 

Our Garden – So Far

So far this year we’ve had a colorful show of flowers in our garden, with a couple of nice surprises and only one or two disappointments. The early spring bulbs in the rock garden did very well and the daffodils made a fine display.



The tulips, however, were a different story. I don’t know if it was because of the cold winter weather or if the bulbs are just getting past their best but most of the plants were stunted or just didn’t flower at all. I noticed in a couple of public gardens that they hadn’t seemed to do so well this year, so I didn’t feel too bad.  The ones that did manage to flower made up for the ones that didn’t.



Meanwhile, the lilac was a very pleasant surprise.  The shrub itself was starting to get very tall and ragged so at the end of last year I cut it right down to the ground, leaving just a couple of offshoots that I hoped might survive.  I hadn’t expected it to bloom again for at least another year or two but it put out some beautiful, fragrant blossoms.

Back in the rock garden, things continued to flower, the cushion spurge, dwarf iris Lil’ Red Devil and Japanese anemones providing a nice show.

I tried eradicating the chives from the garden last year as they were coming up everywhere, but I have to admit I was rather pleased that this bunch by the back doorstep managed to survive. I think I would have missed seeing these colorful flowers and the butterflies that they attract.

As I discovered the other day, this seemingly innocuous clump of pinks hides a massive ant hill. I must take care not to disturb it when I’m weeding this particular flower bed. I had enough trouble getting stung by the hornets last year, without getting bitten by ants!

We had a spell of very wet weather last week which produced a bumper crop of mushrooms – or whatever they are – in the lawn.

Things are drying out now and the sun, accompanied by warmer temperatures, has prompted the first iris (Lacy Snowflake) and the first poppy to bloom, while the queen of the garden, the pink Japanese tree peony continues to dazzle passersby with her beauty and fragrance.


Weekly Photo Challenge – Twisted in the Wood

There is something incredibly beautiful and dramatic about trees unadorned by their leaves, especially when they are gnarled and twisted with age.  Twisted in Arches National Park, Utah.

Twisted driftwood on the sands at Whitefish Point in Michigan.

Twisted in springtime at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois.


Twisted in autumn at Spring Valley Nature Center in Schaumburg, Illinois.  The clouds seem to mirror the contortions of the branches.


For more on The Weekly Photo Challenge at The Daily Post go to Twisted

Weekly Photo Challenge – Liquid Ripples

The topic for the Weekly Photo Challenge is Liquid and comes fortuitously for me as you will see, later in this post.  Water can have a very calming effect and, with everything that’s happening in the world today, we could all use a few moments of tranquility to reflect, which is why, instead of heaving seas, raging rivers and tumbling waterfalls, I’ve opted for more peaceful scenes. The first two images were captured in Snowy Range Pass, Wyoming.

The next two pictures were taken at Sylvan Lake and Palisades State Park, South Dakota, perfect places to sit and meditate.

Wisconsin also has some very scenic spots in which to enjoy some relaxation time.

These gently rippling waters lead me to an opportunity to share a link with you that I sincerely hope you will try. My eldest grandson, someone of whom I have written about in several of my previous posts has recently started a podcast called Exit The Echoes. I cannot say enough good things about this young man, who recently became a father for the first time, and I am more than happy to give this new venture a mention here on WordPress.  The subject of his latest episode seemed to fit in so well with the pictures that I had in mind for this post, so please, if you can, spare a few minutes of your time to listen to  Meditation: Ripples And Echoes and I’m sure you will enjoy his liquid tones.

These last two pictures were taken at Whitefish Point, Michigan and Council Grounds, Wisconsin.

For more on The Weekly Photo Challenge at The Daily Post go to Liquid

Elk Spotting

Maybe it’s because I’ve always driven by at the wrong time of day, but I had become increasingly concerned that I hadn’t seen any sign of the elk lately and feared that, owing to inevitable budget cuts, the Forest Preserve had decided to abandon the idea of maintaining the herd in Elk Grove Village.  It would surely be unthinkable!  But you never know, these days. I decided to stop and take a closer look.

I saw plenty of wild flowers including some red things that I think are trillium and some purple things which, as far as I’m concerned, must remain nameless. There were dozens of squirrels running about and a woodpecker was making quite a commotion up in the treetops while a few frogs gently burped in the background. Still no sign of the elk.

I walked up as far as the bridge that spans Higgins Road and then came back, keeping well to the side as some of the cyclists who use the path go speeding past dangerously fast. PLEASE! PEOPLE! Remember that pedestrians use this path too, some with small children.  Almost back to the parking lot and still no sign of the elk, but then, just as it seemed like my worst fears may be realized, there they were.

Phew! What a relief! They’re still with us, looking a bit ragged as they shed their winter coats but seemingly healthy. Elk Grove Village just wouldn’t be the same without the elk!