Monarch Butterfly on Egyptian Star Flowers

17 10 2011

Egyptian Star Flower (Pentas lanceolata) is a fall-blooming herbaceous perennial that is treated as an annual in my Zone 7 area. The cluster of buds open into small (1/2 inch at most) star-shaped flowers that are irresistible to butterflies and bees. Photographed at Green Spring Gardens

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

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Oriental Poppy ‘Prince of Orange’

15 05 2011

Oriental Poppy (Papaver orientale) is a hardy perennial that grows in zones 4-9; not frost tender; herbaceous foliage; flowers late spring to early summer (some gardeners have reported reblooming in the fall); 18-24″ height with 8-10″ spread; partial shade to full sun and average to rich, well-drained soil; all parts are poisonous. The flowers are hermaphrodite (having both male and female organs) and are self-pollinated as well as pollinated by bees.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





In bloom at Green Spring Gardens

2 07 2009

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

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My Kenilworth bounty

27 05 2009

The previous posting about Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens prompted me to look through my photo archives. I’ve been to Kenilworth three summers in a row (and 100% sure I will do so again this summer). While I have posted on my trips to the gardens, I didn’t gather all of them into one collage until now.

If you’re in the D.C./Virginia/Maryland area, be sure to visit the gardens, particularly in July. The main attractions are obviously the lotus blossoms, which bloom during the truly hottest time in our area (sigh), but I’m sure there are water lilies in bloom throughout the summer.

You can view my previous posts on Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens by clicking on the links below:

http://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2008/07/20/kenilworth-park-and-aquatic-gardens/

http://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2007/07/22/kenilworth-gardens-7222007/ 

What a muse that place is!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

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10 for 10

22 05 2009

About a half hour before the Green Spring Gardens plant sale was to close this past Saturday, the Virginia Master Gardeners booth started hawking all of their plants as “ten for $10.” Yep…some of the same plants I had purchased about two hours earlier for $5+, much to my chagrin. Reasonable prices before, yes, but at $1 each—what gardener in their right mind would possibly pass on that offer? Never mind if we’ve run out of space in our gardens—they’re a dollar! Just a dollar! We’ve discovered that some of the vendors do that each year so they don’t have to drag all the unsold items back to wherever they originated…and I am only too happy to help them lighten their load.

My 10-for-10 purchases included:

PrimroseOenothera Lemon Drop, common name ‘Evening Primrose’—a low-maintenance, herbaceous perennial that blooms in full sun from June-September. This perennial is tough, tolerates poor soil, and loves the sun. Bright yellow blooms all summer. Deadheading is not necessary, it’s drought and heat tolerant and grows 8-12″ tall. It can also be grown in containers, where it will trail over the sides. And of course I already have some of these in my front yard garden, courtesy of our friend Micheline, who shared them with us when she downsized houses a few years ago. There was a large bank of these cheery flower blooming profusely in her backyard garden. Photo courtesy of Missouri Botanical Garden PlantFinder.

AnemoneOne sorta sad-looking (had to rescue it, though) Japanese Aneomone or Windflower (Anemone hupehensis)–-the tag indicates the flowers will be pinkish/mauve, so this might be the variety ‘September Charm.’ This perennial plant bears poppy-like flowers in September and October. The plants reach a height of four to five feet with each flower having five or more petal-like sepals that enclose the golden stamens. The leaves turn wine-red in autumn. Wish this plant luck—it will need it! Photo © Cindy Dyer.


WhiteWoodAsterTwo White Wood Asters (Aster divaricatus)—also known as ‘Eastern Star’—perennial herbaceous native to the eastern U.S. Grows 1-3 feet high with 3/4 to 1-inch white ray flowers that bloom profusely from August to September. The center of each flat-top flower starts yellow then ages to a reddish purple hue. The leaves are heart-shaped, stalked and sharply-toothed. White Wood Asters grow in part shade to full shade, are low-growing and low maintenance, and attract butterflies. They thrive in dry shade but become lush in moist soil. Cut hard at least once in spring to set the foliage back. Photo courtesy of Missouri Botanical Garden PlantFinder.

Viola striata (other common names: Striped cream violet, Common white violet, Pale violet, Striped violet)—native perennial herb blooms white and purple flowers April through June. Requires part shade and moist, loamy soil. This plant spreads through its rhizomes. Flowers attract bee flies, butterflies (particularly caterpillars of Fritillary butterflies and several species of moths) and skippers. Seeds are eaten by mourning doves, wild turkeys, mice, and rabbits.

MaxSunflowerI should be punished for purchasing another Maximilian sunflower (Helianthus maximiliani). I bought the same plant four years ago because I thought it would be perfect at the bottom of the steps of our front porch. The plant label purported, “cheery little yellow flowers on 4 ft. stems.” Four feet tall—nice size for the front entrance, right? By the end of the summer, visitors were asking us if we were growing corn in the front yard. We measured it and the tallest stalk was about 12 feet high! I just did some research and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center site claims they grow 3-10 ft. high. What kind of wild range is that? (Imagine this scenario: Officer: Ma’am, how tall was the man who stole your wheelbarrow? Me: Ummm…he was three feet tall….then again, he might have been ten feet tall. I can’t be certain!) The plant grows Jack-in-the-Beanstalk high and then very late in the summer it sprays forth masses of miniature (2-3 inches across) yellow sunflowers that are at their most beautiful when they sway against a cornflower blue sky. And if I really want to get some good closeup shots of the blooms, I have to drag out the tall ladder to do so! Did I need another of these plants? No. But it was only a buck! Anyone have room in their garden for it? Photo © Cindy Dyer.

EchinopsRitroGlobe Thistle (Echinops ritro)—Clump-forming herbaceous perennial with coarse, prickly leaves (and how!) with 1-2 ball-shaped silvery-lavender-blue or dark blue flowerheads blooming in early to late summer on rigid branching stems 24-48 inches tall. These beautiful ornamentals grow best in full sun to mostly sunny areas, attract bees and butterflies, are good for cut flowers (and dried bouquets as well), will tolerate the heat and are deer resistant. And yes, I already have one—it’s about three years old and is the size of a small shrub already. I expect a plethora of blooms this season. Photo © Cindy Dyer.

SnowonthemountainSnow-on-the-Mountain (Euphorbia marginata)—I photographed this beautiful annual plant at Green Spring Gardens last year and posted the images on my blog here. A member of the spurge family, it flowers in the summer. Reaching 18-24 inches high, it requires sun to partial shade, and will attracts a plethora of butterflies, moths, bees, wasps and other insects—a veritable photographic smorgasbord! Now I’ll have one of my very own…once I find a place to plant it, that is. Folks, it was just a dollar, remember? Photo © Cindy Dyer.


Whorled Milkweed (Asclepias verticillata)—This tough native is deer-resistant and provides food for larval butterflies. Clusters of sweet-scented white flowers appear on 1-2 foot stalks in June and July. Whorled milkweed can be found in prairies, pastures, open woods and by the roadside. Learn more about attracting Monarch butterflies to your garden (and purchase milkweed seeds, too) at www.happytonics.org, owned by my friend, Mary Ellen Ryall.

Salvia

‘Ostfriesland’ Salvia (Salvia nemorosa)—also known as Violet Sage, Ornamental Meadow Sage, Perennial Woodland Sage—this sun-loving herbaceous perennial grows 12-18 inches high with fragrant violet-blue flowers blooming from summer to autumn. Attractive to bees, butterflies and birds, and deer resistant. I couldn’t find this version in my files or a suitable one to reprint, so I’m showing a similar salvia I photographed at Butchart Gardens. Photo © Cindy Dyer







Check out my zenfolio.com gallery!

1 05 2009

I’ve been working on putting the “cream of the crop” of my garden and landscape photos into one easy-to-navigate gallery. Eventually I’ll have the gallery set up to sell prints as well as stock photos, but in the interim, this is just a way to wrangle all of my web-viewing-only images into one gallery. I’ll be adding more images in the future. Currently there are 380 images in the Botanical Gallery. That should keep you plenty busy! If you’re a regular visitor to my blog, you’ll recognize many of the photos.

Once you click on the first link below, you can click “view all” at the bottom and see everything on one page, scrolling down as you go. If you click on an individual photo, it will enlarge and thumbnails for other images will show up on the side (as shown in the collage below). You can click on any of those to enlarge, or you can just launch the slide show in the second link below. I hope you enjoy the show!

Gallery:  http://cindydyer.zenfolio.com/p270076135

Slideshow: http://cindydyer.zenfolio.com/p270076135/slideshow

———————————————–
Open a Zenfolio account with my referral code 8B9-BTJ-6G3 and save $5.00

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Lighter shade of pale

11 02 2009

Colors left to profile—red, green, and variegated (a reader’s suggestion)—I’ve covered orange, pink, blue, yellow and purple. Am I leaving something out?

I suppose since it’s still winter, I could cover brown, but that’s not too inspiring, is it? Might not be, but boy do I have lots of that color in the garden right now.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

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Not so mellow yellow

3 02 2009

I had so many yellow-dominant photos in my archives that I had to shrink the images a little more than usual to get them to all fit into a more manageable collage—otherwise, you would be scrolling down for days. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Purple’s comin’ ’round the corner. Enjoy!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

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Butchart Gardens, Passel #2

23 09 2008

The parade of flowers continues…words simply cannot describe how over the moon I was to be photographing in that garden all day long…flitting from flower to flower to flower just like the insects I encountered…would someone please please please pay me to do this every day?

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Photographic smorgasbord

8 08 2008

I photographed this series of photos at Green Spring Gardens yesterday morning. The plant is Euphorbia Marginata. A member of the spurge family (Euphorbiaceae), it is also known as ‘Snow-on-the-Mountain’ and ‘Summer Icicle.’

According to the U.S. Geological Society, there are about 7,000 species of Euphorbiaceae worldwide, including rubber trees, cassava, and tapioca (one of my favorite desserts!).

The name ‘marginata’ was used because of the showy borders of the upper leaves and tracts. I also learned that it is a self-sowing annual and the USGS site qualifies it as an herb. The milky sap is toxic if eaten, and can cause contact dermatitis for people with sensitive skin. It is grown from seed in the spring and has a long vase life. Thompson & Morgan sells seeds for this half-hardy annual.

This plant attracted a vast array of insects—bees, wasps, flies, and butterflies. I stayed at this site for at least 20 (very intense) minutes and was overwhelmed by the number of (fast-moving) subjects to photograph. If I had room in my garden, this plant would definitely be included!

ADDENDUM: I started doing some research to try to label the insects below.

PHOTO #1: I’m pretty confident this is a Honey Bee (my very first photograph of one—and I hope not the last, given the issue of colony collapse disorder that is threatening honey bees worldwide). On one site I read that a honey bee’s wings stroke over 11,000 times per minute, thus making their distinctive buzz. (No wonder I had a hard time photographing these critters!)

PHOTO #2: Your guess is as good as mine—some kind of fly, I’m betting. Care to do the research for me?

PHOTO #3 is either a Paper Wasp—there are twenty-two species of paper wasps identified in North America, and although the Wikipedia site shows the Polistes dominula species predominately (yellow and black in color), this one could be a Polistes carolina. The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension site details the life cycle and habitat of the paper wasp; or it could be a Spider Wasp, Tachypompilus ferrugineus. Now, I’m really confused.

As scary (and feared) as wasps can be, they are crucial to ecosystems. They can be either parasitic or predaceous and play a vital role in limiting populations of insects such as caterpillars and other larvae that destroy crops. Both yellow jackets and paper wasps are beneficial in this way. Wasps feed on flower nectar and play a role in pollination, too.

PHOTO #4: This one could be a type of Spider Wasp (Episyron biguttatus), too. Check out this video to see why they’re called “Spider wasps.”

PHOTO #5 (and #7): I’m 99.9% sure this is an Eastern Yellow Jacket. Learn more about them here.

PHOTO #6: This could be a Greenbottle Blow Fly (Lucilia). And for all you CSI fans out there, did you know that this species of fly is often used by forensic entomologists to determine time and place of death? Visit Wikipedia to learn more about this fly. (FYI: The original CSI beats Miami CSI and New York CSI anytime. David Caruso should really retire…and soon). Hey, since you’re already researching #2 for me, it shouldn’t be too much trouble for you to verify this identification, should it?

AND….THE ONE(S) THAT GOT AWAY—I saw digger wasps just like these (from a distance too far to shoot) and wasn’t sure exactly what I was seeing until I did some research. The bottom one was feeding on the flowers and the other was…ahem…let’s just say this was one multi-tasking pair!

(Now that I’ve had time to think about it—I sure was up close and personal with a plethora of “could-really-sting-me” insects that morning, wasn’t I?)

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved. www.cindydyer.wordpress.com





Blooming in the garden today…

22 07 2008

Since I began gardening about six years ago, I’ve become smitten with coneflowers (Echinacea). So much so that last year I added several more colors to the front and backyard gardens. I have the standard purple coneflower, white (‘Jade’), orange (‘Orange Meadowbrite’), buttery yellow (‘Sunrise’), deep fall gold (‘Harvest Moon’), reddish orange (‘Sundown’), a doubledecker purple one called ‘Doppelganger,’ and my new favorite—Echinacea Summer Sky, a gold coneflower that graduates in an airbrushed fashion to red toward the cone! I love growing them because a) they’re perennials, b) they are quite photogenic, c) they love the sun, and d) bees and other insects love them, too, so there’s always a subject to photograph! I also have some in partial shade but their color doesn’t seem as deep as those growing in full sun. My purple and white coneflowers are all in bloom now. I’ll deadhead the spent blooms tomorrow since I just read that the blooms could repeat if deadheaded (now why didn’t I already know that?) These North American native perennials are drought tolerant, long blooming, and low maintenance. The name ‘Echinacea’ means spiny in Greek (echino) and references the flower’s pincushion center. The name “coneflower” comes from the way the petals sweep back and down, forming a cone. If I had the room in my garden(s), I would add all of these on this site. Hmmmm…I feel a purchase (or two or three) coming on!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





I will be the gladdest thing

21 07 2008

I will be the gladdest thing
Under the sun!
I will touch a hundred flowers
And not pick one.

— Edna St. Vincent Millay, “Afternoon on a Hill”

I ventured out to Green Spring Gardens this morning at about 9:30. Even at that time, it was already getting too hot to stay out long, so I shot less than 50 images total (and that’s quite low for me). There were some really beautiful flowers in bloom this morning, particularly the thistle flowers, which were humming with bees.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved. www.cindydyer.wordpress.com





Pollen buffet

16 07 2008

Two bees (or maybe one bee and a flower fly, perhaps?) vying for pollen on one small sunflower. See the fella on the right? Look at how thick the pollen is on his body and legs!

UPDATE: I recently received this comment below from a viewer. Thanks for the identification—I learn something new every day!

Nice photo. The one on the right is a female bee. The males don’t carry pollen on their back legs; in the world of bees the females do all the work. The one on the left is a flower fly, Eristalis; it is a male. You can tell because of its huge eyes.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.    www.cindydyer.wordpress.com





A day of bliss

18 05 2008

More images from our day out at Green Spring Gardens…

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved. www.cindydyer.wordpress.com





Bee’s Knees

12 09 2007

This is one my favorite garden photos. Sue grew one of the Mammoth Russian sunflowers last year and called me over to record it. I would like to claim that I saw this little bee “coming in for a landing,” bee’s knees bent for impact, but that would not be true. I was shooting madly as the afternoon light was fading. It wasn’t until I browsed the images later that I noticed this little guy in flight. I had gotten numerous other shots with the bees already in place, gathering pollen, but this was pure serendipity.

© Cindy Dyer, All rights reserved. www.cindydyer.com/GardenPhotos

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I did a little research (not surprised, are you?) on the origin of “bee’s knees” and found some interesting tidbits:

http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/the-bees-knees.html

And, speaking of sunflowers, here are some interesting facts:

—The scientific word for sunflower is Hellianthus, referring to the ability of the sunflower bloom to follow the sun from sunrise until sunset. The word is derived from helios, meaning sun, and anthos, meaning flower.
—Argentina is currently the largest grower of sunflowers.
—The sunflower is grown for the seeds and oil it produces.
Each mature flower yields 40% of its weight as oil.
—The tallest sunflower grown was 25 feet tall and grown in the Netherlands.
—The largest sunflower head was grown in Canada and measured 32.5 inches across its widest point.
—The shortest mature sunflower was just over 2 inches tall and grown in Oregon using a bonsai technique.
—Sunflower stems were used to fill lifejackets before the advent of modern materials. —Low-pollen sunflowers have been developed in recent years which not only helps asthma sufferers, but extend the flower’s life.
—The flower was cultivated by North American Indians for many years as a food crop.
— The sunflower is not one flower, but a cluster of more then 2000 tiny flowers growing together.
— The sunflower is the state flower of Kansas and the national flower of Russia.
— The French word for sunflower is tournesol, or literally “turn with the sun.”
—The sunflower has been around for at least 8,000 years. Archeologists believe that Native American cultivated sunflowers as early as 2300 B.C., well before corn, beans, and squash.
—There are over 2,000 varieties of sunflowers identified to date. Unfortunately, many varieties have not been located and may be extinct.