Queen of the Prairie

18 06 2012

Queen of the Prairie (Filipendula rubra), photographed at Green Spring Gardens. Also known as Meadowsweet, this perennial plant blooms June-July and is a member of the Rose family (Rosaceae). A medicinal and ornamental plant, it is native to the U.S. but rare in Virginia. It is hardy to zones 3-6, prefers moist soil, and is a great choice for naturalizing.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

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Blooming in my garden: Bashful shasta

18 06 2012

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Ornamental onion

18 06 2012

Ornamental onion (Allium senescens), photographed at Green Spring Gardens

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





…7, 8, 9, 10. Ready or not, here I come!

18 06 2012

Michael P. and I must confess—we’ve become a little obsessed with photographing Red milkweed beetles (Tetraopes tetraophthalmus). They’re easy to spot (always found on any form of milkweed), stay pretty still for their photo ops and engage in myriad poses for us. At Green Spring Gardens this afternoon we found a plethora of them to photograph. In this shot, the top bug didn’t seem to know that the other bug was beneath the leaf (at least that’s what we surmised) because when he tried to go around the leaf, he seemed startled and pushed the bottom bug off!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Gladiola tunnel

18 06 2012

A Spotted cucumber beetle (Diabrotica undecimpunctata) emerges from a gladiola tunnel in the late afternoon light

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





They paved paradise, put gladiolas in the parking lot…

18 06 2012

After dinner this evening, we found several clusters of lovely gladiolas (in five different colors) blooming in a tiny parking lot strip (only about 3 feet deep by 12 feet wide) of a local Thai restaurant in Springfield. Michael R. held the diffuser for Michael P. and me so we could get some shots of these beauties. He also served as traffic lookout because we had to stand beside the curb in an increasingly busy intersection to get the shots!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Lollipop, Lollipop, Oh Lolli Lolli Lolli

18 06 2012

Blooming in my garden: Globe thistle (Echinops ritro). My friend and neighbor, Michael P. (a.k.a. “Grasshopper,” since he’s my newest photography protégé), loves to come over to my garden in evening after he gets off of work. It’s usually way past the time that I would shoot, but he manages to get some decent shots despite the low light levels. This afternoon, Michael and I invited him to join us for a field trip over to Green Spring Gardens, followed by dinner. By the time we got back to our neighborhood, it was close to 8:00 and he began shooting in my front yard. I joined him, although it went against my nature to continue shooting in that low of light. I was surprised that I could get some decent shots (of course, I’ve got the D300 pumped up to 1000+ ISO to get them) of my Globe thistle and Shasta daisies (Leucanthemum x superbum). Earlier in the week, Michael R. had tied up the thistle because they were drooping and in doing so, he created this little lollipop skyline. I love the whimsical Dr. Seuss-ian look of it! More to come…

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Tiny bling

16 06 2012

These are some of the images I’ve chosen to create pendant necklaces (1″ silverplated, copper or brass bezels with acrylic or glass domes and dogtag, silver snake chains or cotton and satin cords). I’ve launched a shop on etsy (Garden Muse Studio) to sell prints (loose, matted, framed), photo notecards (regular botanical photos and my older line of Polaroid transfer reproductions) and crafts such as jewelry, linoleum cut prints (my next endeavor) and small acrylic paintings (landscapes, botanicals and mixed media). There’s nothing in the store yet, but I’m working on it! The two kitten faces are for my friend Karen and her daughters, FYI.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Blooming in my garden: Asiatic lilies

14 06 2012

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Blooming in my garden: Lilium ‘Casa Blanca’

14 06 2012

Most of the time I photograph flowers with diffused lighting, but the sidelighting/backlighting on this group of lilies was too striking to not  photograph. Sigh…I just love lilies!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Blooming in my garden: Monarda (Bee balm)

13 06 2012

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Blooming in my garden: Wild garlic

13 06 2012

…that I didn’t plant but like watching grow anyway!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Blooming in my garden: ‘Casa Blanca’ lily, kissed by the morning sun

13 06 2012

It’s no secret that I love, love, love growing and photographing different types of lilies. My favorite one is blooming in my garden now—Lilium ‘Casa Blanca’, a prizewinning Oriental lily from Holland. The blooms are huge—measuring 10-12″—and they are incredibly fragrant. Mine are growing in a large pot outside my patio doors and they return every year.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Great White Egret, Cape Fear River

7 06 2012

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Thank you, Eric Gauger!

6 06 2012

When I put the link to my recent post, “To see the world in a grain of sand” on Facebook, I got a response from fellow photographer Erik Gauger. He wrote: “Great photo and post. Is this possibly a leafhopper nymph?”

I googled “leafhopper nymph” and I’m pretty sure this is what my bug is! Check out this tack sharp shot below by Vipin Baliga:

http://www.treknature.com/gallery/Asia/India/photo252122.htm

Photographer Vipin Baliga writes: A leafhoppers’ diet commonly consists of sap from a wide and diverse range of plants. The excess sugar and water is extruded as silky waste from behind. Natural Cotton candy producers I would say.

Thanks again, Erik! Readers—I met Eric through blogging a few years ago and plan on interviewing him on this blog soon. He is a very gifted travel writer and photojournalist. Check out his highly praised website, www.notesfromtheroad.com.





Red Milkweed Beetle ready for takeoff

6 06 2012

Though not a technically great shot (not sharp enough for my preference—I would have needed to up my shutter speed to freeze him), I thought this was a whimsical shot of a Red Milkweed Beetle getting ready for takeoff!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





To see the world in a grain of sand*

5 06 2012

I am constantly amazed at how much life there is surrounding me—that something barely half the size of a sesame seed has such incredible detail that you can’t see without a macro lens. I was photographing Indian Pink blooms (Spigelia marilandica) at Green Spring Gardens last weekend and discovered this miniscule, yet-to-be-identified bug. I shortened and splayed out the legs of my tripod, plunked myself down in the dirt, then got settled in to examine all the angles I could photograph the slender two-inch-long tubular crimson blooms.

Stalking the miniscule
I saw this tiny white spec slowly moving along the edge of a stem and decided to follow it, moving in as close as my 105mm micro lens would allow. Magnification revealed all sorts of oddities in this little bug—a head like a spotted fish with big round eyes and a fuzzy coating, virtually no neck at all, a segmented thorax like a roly poly pill bug, followed by a cotton-candy-like burst of white fluff at the end of the body and crab-like freckled legs.

 

What in the world is it?
Brian, my photography mentor, said it could possibly be a larvae of a deer fly or horse fly, but without more photos with different angles, he couldn’t be sure. I looked online at larvae of various flies and don’t see anything that looks as odd as this little guy. He also said that it could be transitioning from larvae to adult stage, which makes it harder to identify.

When I moved toward it, it would hide behind the stem, so it clearly sensed my presence. To get it to move into the crook of the flower stem so I could photograph it unobstructed, I would wave my hand near it and it would move around the stem into view again. When I wasn’t looking at it through my lens, I was hard pressed to locate it—it was that small!

Learn something new every day
I learned a new word this morning, also courtesy of Brian. Entomologists have a word for unknown specs of stuff—frass. According to wikipedia, frass is the fine powdery material phytophagous (plant-eating) insects pass as waste after digesting plant parts. It causes plants to excrete chitinase due to high chitin levels, it is a natural bloom stimulant, and has high nutrient levels. Frass is known to have abundant amoeba, beneficial bacteria, and fungi content. Frass is a microbial inoculant, also known as a soil inoculant, that promotes plant health using beneficial microbes. It is a large nutrient contributor to the rainforest, and it can often be seen in leaf mines.

So, in the words of Martha Stewart: Frass…it’s a good thing!

What have I learned from this encounter?
The smallest, seemingly insignificant spec of dust or dirt may not just simply be “frass.” It just might be a live fuzzy-spotted, fish-headed, roly-poly-bodied, cotton-candy-tailed, crab-legged larvae-in-transition, making its teeny tiny way in this big old world. I also learned a new word—frass. F-r-a-s-s. Frass. And yes, I can use it in a sentence: Frass is a good thing.

Ah, my time behind the lens—never a dull moment!

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* “To see the world in a grain of sand” is a line from William Blake’s poem, Auguries of Innocence. I found an enlightened explanation of the meaning of this line by an unknown author here, and wanted to share it with you:

Blake is never the easiest of poets to understand at the best of times, because he is the first by far who can justifiably lay claim to the title of symbolist poet, and as such is open to personal interpretation.

Here what he is, I think, saying is that one can find vast truths in the smallest of things—or to put it in fashionable literary terms, he’s dealing with the microcosmic as representative of the universal. So, knowledge of the whole world can be gained from examining its smallest constituent part, or later on, even such a small thing as a caged robin is an affront to both God and man—it’s a tiny thing but it’s symptomatic, and absolutely representative of the whole.

Not wanting to get too “Twilight Zone” here, but from the little I understand of today’s mathematics and physics, looking at Chaos Theory and the Mandelbrot set, Blake is indeed more literally right than he probably knew. The tiniest part of something does apparently indeed represent the entire construct, and the smallest thing can indeed have a huge effect—there’s allegedly a butterfly near Tokyo who with the flapping of its wings has a helluva lot to answer for 🙂

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Ever wonder where “the butterfly effect” theory originated? Check this out here!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

 





Red Milkweed Beetle

3 06 2012

Just a few facts that I’ve learned about the Red Milkweed Beetle (Tetraopes tetraophthalmus):

• They are part of the Cerambycidae family—Longhorn Beetles.

• Tetraopes, just like longhorned beetles, have antennae inserted in close proximity to their eyes, which is how they get their common name, “longhorned.” In the case of Tetraopes, it is more extreme so that the antennae actually split each eye into two (ouch!). So this little beetle actually has four eyes!

• Butterfly fans know that the Monarch butterfly caterpillar feeds on milkweed (as well as the milkweed leaf beetle), but Tetraopes are one of the few insects that can safely feed on milkweed.

• Males Red Milkweed Beetles are slightly smaller than females.

From wikipedia.com: The milkweed beetle, a herbivore, is given this name because they are generally host specific to milkweed plants (genus Asclepias). It is thought the beetle and its early instars (developmental stage) derive a measure of protection from predators by incorporating toxins from the plant into their bodies, thereby becoming distasteful, much as the Monarch butterfly and its larvae do. The red and black coloring are aposematic (from apo—away and sematic—sign/meaning, which is a warning coloration), advertising the beetles’ inedibility. There are many milkweed-eating species of insect that use the toxins contained in the plant as a chemical defense.

Who knew?! Order Coleoptera: Beetles are the dominant form of life on earth—one of every five living species is a beetle! Coleoptera is the largest order in the animal kingdom, containing a third of all insect species. There are about 300,000 known species worldwide, 30,000 of which live in North America.

Source: http://www.cirrusimage.com/beetles_red_milkweed.htm

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Crane fly on Cranesbill Geranium

3 06 2012

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





I love succulents!

3 06 2012

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Indian Pink

3 06 2012

Indian Pink (Spigelia marilandica), photographed at Green Spring Gardens

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

 





Golden Feverfew

3 06 2012

Golden Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium ‘Aureum’), species native to southeastern Europe

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Bumblebees on Sea Holly

3 06 2012

Bumblebees on Sea Holly (Eryngium planum) © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Lily

3 06 2012

Lily (Lilium), photographed at Green Spring Gardens

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Flower fly on Cranesbill (Geranium)

3 06 2012

Flower fly or Hover fly (Syrphidae) on Cranesbill; photographed at Brookside Gardens

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Delphinium border

2 06 2012

What a sight this was at Brookside Gardens—several banks of these beautiful blooms!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Cleome (Spider flower)

2 06 2012

Cleome hassleriana ‘Seniorita Rosalita’® Spider Flower

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





‘Paprika’ Yarrow

2 06 2012

‘Paprika’ Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Queen Fabiola Fool’s Onion

2 06 2012

Tritelia laxa ‘Konigin Fabiola’ Queen Fabiola Fool’s Onion, photographed at Brookside Gardens

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Daylily

2 06 2012

Daylily (Hemerocallis), photographed at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Monarch on Purple coneflower

2 06 2012

Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) on Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), photographed at Airlie Gardens in Wilmington, North Carolina

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Golden light

2 06 2012

Golden light, Cape Fear River © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Cloudscape

2 06 2012

Cloudscape over Cape Fear River © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Storm clouds over Cape Fear River

2 06 2012

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Red Milkweed Beetle

2 06 2012

Red Milkweed Beetle (Tetraopes tetrophthalmus)

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Bumblebee on milkweed

2 06 2012

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.