Tag Archive | photography

A Final Bough

I’d never actually taken a picture of it, although it appeared briefly in some of my images, and I may have complained about it’s late-falling leaves that cluttered up the garden long after our village leaf collection was done for the year, but I do miss the tree that was on the parkway across the street. Things seem very bare without it. Unfortunately it sustained considerable damage during one of our storms a few months ago and they decided that it probably ought to go, so I went outside to capture its last moments as the tree removal company did a very safe, swift and efficient job of cutting it down.

While I was standing there, something on the ground caught my eye; a faded and tattered swallowtail butterfly that could no longer fly had sought refuge among the plants.  Two of nature’s beauties taking a final bow.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Pick A Word

This week, Ann-Christine has given us a list of words from which to pick a subject for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. Among them, Growing, Tangled and Exuberant seemed to describe the Chicago Botanic Garden very nicely. This was how it looked on my visit there yesterday.

 

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 – Winter

This week, Ann-Christine invites us to share some Winter images for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. I have to admit that I am a creature of comfort and rarely stray too far from home during the winter months. The older I get, the less appealing the idea of getting togged up in boots, scarf, mittens and heavy winter coat becomes.  These shots, three at the Chicago Botanic Garden and one at the Volkening Heritage Farm in Schaumburg are a few in my very sparse collection of typical winter photos.

Square Perspectives – The Obliging Turtle

Here is my first entry for Becky’s Square Perspectives Photo Challenge. While I was at the Chicago Botanic Garden the other day, I came across a turtle sunning itself on a rock.  The Garden has many beautiful pieces of artwork scattered about, and at first I thought that the turtle was one of those, strategically placed in a natural setting, it remained so still. I took a picture anyway to add the sculpture photo files. And then it blinked. I took more pictures and after a few minutes, just to show willing, it turned to present me with a different perspective, a little  leg-stretching added for good measure. Finally, it turned some more and faced the camera. Thank you Mr. Turtle!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Surprise!

This week, Ann-Christine is hoping for a few surprises for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. I certainly got a surprise this morning! These two pictures were taken about 30 minutes ago in our garden. Let me explain. Last October I brought several swallowtail caterpillars indoors to spend the winter in our sunroom. Earlier this spring we were disappointed to find that most of them had already been invaded by parasitic wasps which duly hatched out and were released.  Two butterflies survived, however, and also appeared earlier this year. Because I’ve been super busy with the stamp collection over the past few weeks, I neglected to clean out the tank where we kept the caterpillars. All the foliage was dead and I assumed that we had seen the last of the butterflies. Imagine my surprise when I walked in this morning and found this beauty. It looked like it was ready to fly so I took it outside and set it down among the dill.

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.