This week, Tina is celebrating Spring for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. One of my favorite local places to visit is the Spring Valley Nature Center and Volkening Heritage Farm in Schaumburg. Sadly it wasn’t open this Spring for obvious reasons and and will remain closed at least through August. That being the case, here is a nostalgic look back at Spring in Spring Valley.
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.
Ann-Christine has certainly given us something to think about this week with her choice of subject for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. Out of chaos comes the promise of Spring. It’s not much, but it gives us hope for the future. Like the flowers, may we rise again from the grip of winter and the troubles that beset this poor old world of ours. Stay safe, everyone. Better days ahead.
Spring is going out in a blaze of color in the garden this year. Thanks to all the rain, the perennials have really flourished, although in some respects it took its toll, knocking down many of the irises and battering the peony blossoms to such an extent that I hardly had time to capture them before they were spent. We could use a little sunshine now.
Lilacs aren’t the only attraction in Lilacia Park in Lombard at this time of year. The tulips certainly get their share of attention and deservedly so. Seeing all these beautiful flowers reminds me that it’s probably time to replace some of the tulip bulbs that are past their prime in my garden. I always find it hard to discard any plants that have done so well in the past (it feels rather like a betrayal) but I know those bulbs, that have long ceased to put out any flowers, will have to go. Time for some new stock and fresh color. Perhaps I’ll try a few of these.
This is another one of those trips that I try not to miss; my annual visit to see the lilacs of Lombard. Lombard is famous for its lilacs, well around here, anyway. They even have a Lilac Festival which lasts from about May 1st to 19th and includes a Lilac Ball, beer and wine tasting, tours of Lilacia Park and Historical tours as well as a Mutt Strut 5k race with or without your dog. But I’m not here for all that. I’m just here for the flowers.
As I walk through the Park, memories of my mother and my home back in England combined with the perfume of the lilacs almost makes me feel faint, the nostalgia is so overwhelming.
Of course there are other flowers here as well as the lilacs and I am green with envy when I see the gorgeous Crown Imperials. I have several in my garden but they rarely flower. I see several park employees dashing about the gardens but they are in the throes of the Lilac Time plant sale and will be far too busy to discuss my plants’ shortcomings I’m sure.
The trees are in blossom too and everything just seems to come together in one spectacular Spring display. It’s breathtaking!
This is also tulip time and there are masses of tulips in Lilacia Park but it’s the lilacs that reign supreme at this very special time of year.
Since there seemed to be quite a bit of rain in the forecast, I decided that Friday would probably be the best time to visit the Morton Arboretum in Lisle for my annual dose of daffodils and magnolias. It was sunny with reasonably mild temperatures but I could see the wind was going to be a bit of a problem. These conditions require some patience, waiting for things stop dancing about.
The place is packed! Probably because The Trolls are still on display and there happens to be a plant sale going on, plus the appealing sight of daffodils and magnolias in bloom has brought people out by the hundreds. The car park is almost full when I get there and I end up pulling in next to this guy, with the hope that my car doesn’t suffer the same fate.
The magnolias are, as usual, spectacular! It’s too bad that their blossoms don’t last longer. Timing is everything when visiting for the specific purpose of seeing something at the peak of blooming and some of the pink flowers are past their best but others are just gorgeous! I love magnolias and even bought our girls magnolia charms for their bracelets this Easter.
You never know what you’re going to come across when walking down a woodland trail at the Arboretum. And it’s rather creepy, sitting among the trees, listening to them creak and groan in the wind. Looking down, I can see evidence of branches that have come crashing to the ground and hope that I’ve picked a safe spot to take a rest. And while I’m gazing around I spot a bird that I don’t think I’ve seen before. Other than the usual cast of characters, robins, sparrows, cardinals and a few others that I recognize, I have no idea what this one is, so any suggestions as to its identity are welcome.
Over at Lake Marmo everything is basking in the sunshine. A turtle paddles by, while a goose enjoys a snooze on the bank and a gigantic fish peers back at me from the gloomy depths below the bridge by Hemlock Hill.
The Troll that overlooks Daffodil Glade is in for a rude awakening. There are almost as many visitors as there are daffodils. Lots of kids rushing about, trampling the flowers underfoot. Well, you’re only young once, and I guess the temptation is probably just too great to resist. How quickly things change! I’m glad I went to the Arboretum yesterday. It’s snowing today!
One of the last things I did in March was to visit Spring Valley Nature Center in Schaumburg. I stopped on the way to visit the elk in Elk Grove Village and while I was there, almost stumbled over a nest of garter snakes.
When I arrived at Spring Valley the sun was shining although it was rather chilly, and one of the first things I noticed was that it looked as though they had been burning off some of the old growth in the field.
The smell of burning was quite strong so I figured it must have happened recently and I wondered what the chances of spotting any wildlife in the area would be. No worries! I got a nice close-up view of a water rat over by the pond.
And a little bit further along the bank I spotted this creature (not sure exactly what it was, and would welcome any suggestions.) It was very skittish and didn’t keep still for long so I was only able to get a quick shot.
Meanwhile, over at the farm, the horses and cows were enjoying the sunshine.
I was right about the controlled burning. As I was returning to the parking lot I spotted smoke rising from the far side of the trail and, hurrying in that direction, I managed to capture the last of the day’s work.
It’s rather scary to see how rapidly the fire spreads but with the experts on hand to keep things under control I felt quite safe and the fire quickly went from a raging inferno to a few wisps of smoke and some dying flames.
So with that, I said goodbye to March and today it’s Hello April. With not much sun and chilly temperatures in the forecast for the coming week I don’t anticipate doing much in the way of photography for the next few days. But there are signs of hope in the garden. Just a few colorful crocus shivering in a cold wind. Come on April! Let’s see what you can do!
Thanks for choosing this week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge, Amy!