Tag Archive | gardens

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 – Focus On The Subject

This week, Patti asks that we Focus on the Subject for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. She has even been kind enough to offer a few suggestions on how we can achieve this. So, following her example, here are a few shots that I hope illustrate her recommendations.

Framing the shot. Taken at the Chicago Botanic Garden.

Leading lines and color. This is like a two-for-one, taken at Spring Valley Nature Center in Schaumburg.

Freezing the action. Buckingham Fountain in downtown Chicago.

The eyes have it. In this shot of my grandson’s lovely wife and their dog Crush, while Christianna appears to be gazing out into the distance, Crush has definitely spotted something interesting. (probably someone walking around with food.)

Selective focus. Zooming in on the butterfly throws the background out of focus and leaves us to marvel at one of nature’s beauties.

Flurries

We have seen quite a flurry of activity in our garden recently; birds flying south, and who can blame them, while critters get ready to hunker down for the winter along with the rest of us. Robins have flocked here by the dozens, attracted by the red berries in the shrubbery, that also appealed to some passing starlings.

My arch-nemesis, the rabbit, and his pals have been frequent visitors, as have the squirrels. The rabbits just get on with the job of eating whatever’s there, while the squirrels rush about like mad things, nibbling at tasty morsels and burying the rest, then looking around in puzzlement, scratching their heads and wondering where they left it. No wonder random plants keep popping up all over the garden! Squirrels are the first ones up to the buffet in the morning and the last to leave at night. They believe in getting their money’s worth.

Although I’ve often heard and glimpsed the flicker flying around the neighborhood, going from tree to tree, I’ve rarely seen it on the ground so I was quite happy to get this shot, even though he stubbornly refused to turn around so I could capture the black medallion on his chest.

Another fairly rare sighting in the garden was this woodpecker. We usually see the smaller downy woodpecker that shows up when I hang the suet basket out.

The blue jay caused a flurry as it usually does, squawking and making a fuss, so unlike the placid mourning doves that go about their business with just the occasional mild “Coo.”

Mr. & Mrs. cardinal arrived one afternoon, watched closely by a line of sparrows. Later, what appeared to be a dialog between the male cardinal and a male sparrow ensued. Perhaps they were sharing a joke.

Sparrow-: “Have you heard the one about the bishop and the actress?” Cardinal-: “Haha! Nice one!”

Sparrow-: “I figured being a cardinal, you’d appreciate that one. Know what I mean? Nudge, nudge. Wink, wink.”

The juncos, goldfinches and purple finches snuck in when the sparrows were not hogging all the food. I think I identified them correctly but welcome any input if I didn’t.

Normally, at this time of year, if I saw these swallowtail caterpillars, I would bring them inside to await the emergence of some beautiful butterflies in the spring, but since the last batch produced almost nothing but parasitic wasps I decided to let this lot fend for themselves. Sorry!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – A Labor of Love

This week, guest host Rusha Sams from ‘Oh, The Places We See‘ has chosen A Labor of Love as the topic for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge.  Usually around this time of year, my eldest daughter buys tickets for us to go and see a concert or show together to celebrate my birthday. I rarely go to anything like that throughout the rest of the year so seeing a show and spending time with her makes it an extra-special treat. Over the years we’ve seen Carmen, Orpheus and Eurydice and Die Fledermaus at the Lyric, concerts at Ravinia, Shen Yun and a host of other amazing performances, but this year, because of Covid, this particular form of birthday gift wasn’t an option.  So instead, the dear girl made me a fairy garden complete with fairy lights.

And what made this, above all other previous treats, so extra special was the fact that she had taken time from an exceedingly busy schedule, working as DNP at hospitals that involve hour-long commutes, to do it. She scoured local antique and hobby stores for the right pieces and put it all together with live succulents and plants in what can only be described as a Labor of Love.

Her creativity is not surprising, she is, after all, the mother of grandson and recently published author, Justin, and it’s not difficult to see from whom he gets his thoughtful and caring personality. So many of my collections here at the house are, in large part, thanks to her generous nature.

Finding a home for the garden wasn’t easy. It’s quite substantial and needed a solid base, so when my son-in law staggered in with it on Saturday evening, I had to quickly make a space in the sun-room. I can pretty much guarantee that it won’t be moving to another location anytime soon.

 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Lazy Days Under The Sun?

This week, Amy is asking us to share some moments Under The Sun for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. If you do any kind of gardening, you know that there are no such things as lazy days. I have an old tee-shirt that I use for working in that says, “I garden, therefore I weed.”  Isn’t that the truth!  It’s never ending and, at this time of year, done mostly under the sun! But fortunately, with all the spring rain that we had, the plants have grown sufficiently to cover the weeds until I can get to them. And I will…. eventually. Along with the weeds, perennials continue to flourish beside annuals and biennials that reseed and pop up randomly around the garden. Cultivating, deadheading, trimming and re-planting are just a few of the jobs that keep me busy out in the garden.

And I am not the only one who has been active out there in the garden in the summer sunshine. The rabbit explosion has produced several litters of plant-munching bunnies. Luckily there has been enough foliage to go around so I don’t feel too bad when I see them eyeing the flower beds. The coneflowers have been attracting both bees and butterflies and recently there have been hundreds of little skippers too. The sunflowers have had their fair share of interest and it’s amusing to watch the squirrels trying to get at the seeds. They are very resourceful and use the garden furniture to their best advantage.

 

Just as the sun is starting to go down, I catch a glimpse of a mouse peeping out from under the leaves, and a wren making short work of some hapless insect that is almost as large as the little bird itself.

And when the sun has disappeared below the horizon, there is still plenty of activity in the garden. There’s often a distinct whiff of fox outside, first thing in the morning, and a neighbor has reported seeing a coyote surveying the property with an eye to finding a late night snack. Skunks and possums are also frequent visitors and can be heard scratching about on the stones beneath our bedroom windows at night.

There’s never a dull moment and whether I’m running about wielding a trowel or a camera, there’s little time to sit back and enjoy those lazy days of summer under the sun.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – A Quiet Moment

This week, Patti encourages us to share a Quiet Moment for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge.  I like to get to places early in the morning before the crowds arrive. That way, I can take uninterrupted shots of the bigger picture and concentrate on individual subjects later in the day. So it was when I visited Cantigny Park recently, as I enjoyed few quiet moments, contemplating the various views in the gardens.

Pull Up A Seat – At Cantigny Park

Hooray!! Cantigny Park in Wheaton opened up to the public again this week.  I arrived there early in the morning yesterday, ahead of all those who, like me, were longing for somewhere other than their own gardens to visit. What a treat! We all managed to get around while keeping a safe distance and there were plenty of Seats available.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – A Single Flower

This week, our Lens-Artists guest host, Cee, has challenged us to come up with some Single Flower images. It was a happy coincidence that I had planned to do a garden update post, so it was just a question of picking out the pictures that featured a single bloom, in order to participate.

The weather has certainly been responsible for the lush growth and abundance of flowers in our garden so far this year. The peonies put on a spectacular show. It’s too bad their blooms don’t last longer.

There were plenty of irises, bearded and Siberian, which managed to survive some fairly strong winds and heavy downpours of rain, with the aid of some strategically placed supporting stakes.

Poppies, both oriental and the random Shirley poppies that seem to pop up all over the garden, have added some eye-catching color to the mix.

Even the smaller, less showy flowers such as love-in-a-mist and coreopsis have outdone themselves this year. And the first daylily has finally put in an appearance.

These are just a few of the flowers that are in our garden right now, with many more to come. Thank you, Cee, for giving me the opportunity to share them.

Spring Things

Despite the fact that the weather has been freezing one minute and tropical in nature the next, I did manage to capture some Spring things in the garden with the camera. Because of all the rain, everything is looking very lush and green with flowers bursting out all over.

In fact, everything has been growing so well that even the rabbit can’t keep up. We have had what amounts to a bunny explosion here, of late, but thankfully there have been enough weeds to keep them occupied while my lilies and other tasty bits have continued to flourish unmolested.

On the butterfly front, We had a disappointing outcome to the dozen or so Swallowtail pupa that we kept overwinter, when all but one produced nothing but very mean looking parasitic wasps which were evidently the result of the parent wasp laying its eggs in the caterpillars in the fall. I had all but given up hope when the final Swallowtail emerged from its papery parcel and, after sufficient time to dry off, was released it into the garden. What happened to it after that, I cannot say, but it reminds me of a little anecdote regarding a moth.

When our daughter and her husband lived in Texas they spotted a moth that had fallen into the swimming pool.  It was making a gallant effort to extricate itself without much success.  They were fully clothed at the time (the kids, not the moth) so they couldn’t dive in to assist it but being the tender-hearted people that they are, they searched for the net that was used to scoop out unwanted debris and after much faffing about, finally managed to haul the moth in and laid it gently on the deck to dry whereupon a bird promptly flew down and ate it.

I hope our Swallowtail managed to survive at least long enough to have a look around. We have caught fleeting glimpses of other butterflies  in the garden and received a more prolonged visit from a monarch that appeared to be enjoying the chives by the back door as did a rather large bee which put up with me sticking the camera in its face for only so long before it became irate and chased me off.

Usually at our house, at this time of year, you’ll hear the cry go up, “Ducks are in!”  For nearly thirty years, we have played host to passing mallard ducks that are making their way to the pond at our local park. They’ll return several times and one year they even made a nest behind one of our shrubs. Unfortunately something ate the eggs, but the following year they returned, this time with ducklings in tow. They appear to feel right at home, helping themselves to the bird seed that I put out, sometimes marching up and down on the roof or paddling in the little ground-level birdbath.  They normally arrive first thing in the morning and twice this week I’ve looked out of the window and seen them actually standing on the door mat. They’ll be knocking on the door next.

Strangely enough, ducks are one of the very few species of bird of which I am not afraid. I can’t explain it other than the fact that they don’t do a lot of fluttering, which accounts for the clarity of these pictures as I was standing outside right next to them, rather than taking a hazy shot through a window which is how I get a lot of my bird pictures.

However, it was a different story with this baby robin. The neighborhood probably heard me scream when, going around the garden with the camera and taking pictures of the flowers, I realized that I was within touching distance of this little guy who just sat there looking puzzled as I shrieked and fell backwards into the irises. I ran back into the house to get a longer lens and took this picture from a safe distance.