Garden phlox

9 05 2013

Perennial or Garden phlox (Phlox paniculata); attracts butterflies and hummingbirds; this fragrant flower was photographed at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

White Flowers Phlox?

Advertisement




The beauty of pollination

15 02 2012

Thanks to my friend Jeff for sending this amazing video to me!





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.





Buttonbush

28 06 2011

I photographed this Buttonbush cluster (Cephalanthus occidentalis), also known as Button willow and Honey balls, this morning at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in Washington, D.C. A native wetland tree, it can grow 10-15 feet tall and spread 15-30 feet. The mid-summer blooms are rich in nectar that attracts butterflies and other insects.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Bumblebee on Bee Balm

6 06 2011

Bee Balm (Monarda), also called wild bergamot, Oswego tea and horsemint, is an herbaceous perennial that attracts butterflies, hummingbirds and other nectar-seeking creatures. Bee Balm flower colors include red, pink, white and lavender. Blooming early to late summer in full sun, Bee Balm grows two to four feet tall, multiplies readily and is easy to care for.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





A few more butterflies

29 06 2009

…from the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

KeyWestButterfliesx3





Here lizard, lizard, lizard

5 06 2009

Every time I hear the word lizard, I think of that Taco Bell dog commercial shown here.

On Sunday, Michael and I visited the Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden, the only “frost-free” botanical garden in the continental U.S. The garden showcases flora native to South Florida, Cuba and the Caribbean and emphasizes cultivation of threatened and endangered species of the Florida Keys. This “biodiversity hotspot” is home to many species of plants and animals. Common animals includes box turtles, Green iguanas (one greeted us in the parking lot), Mangrove Skipper Butterflies (which I saw and photographed), and various turtles, crocodiles, birds and snakes. And there were lizards virtually everywhere…on the walkways, benches and in trees. I saw at least six different species, three of which are in the collage below. There were so many that as I was photographing one lizard, another would crawl into the frame or run past my subject! And I had to look closely to be able to spot them—they were so well camouflaged. More photos to come…

Why were we in Key West this weekend? Click here to find out!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Lizard Camouflage





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

zenfolio-gallery





Wild Columbine

29 04 2009

Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), photographed at the Huntsville Botanical Garden—this beautiful perennial, native to the U.S., flowers in spring and is a favorite of moths and butterflies. It grows from a thin, woody rhizome and can be found on rocky ledges, slopes and low woods. The spurs of the petals contain nectaries and are attractive to insects with long proboscises.

From the website, www.rook.org:

Aquilegia, from the Latin, aquilinum, “eagle like,” because the spurs suggested the talons of an eagle to Linnaeus; OR, from the Latin word for “water collector,” alluding to the nectar in the spurs of its petals.

canadensis, from the Latin, “of Canada”

Columbine, from the Latin columba, “dove,” the spurred petals perhaps having suggested a ring of doves around a fountain.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

columbinelorez





A very fine (birth)day, indeed!

21 10 2008

On Sunday my friend Karen treated me to a day-before-my-birthday lunch and a matinee showing of The Secret Life of Bees. Michael and I read the book, written by Sue Monk Kidd, when it came out in 2002 and loved it. I vowed that if no one ever made a movie based on this story, I would scrape together enough money to buy the rights and make it myself (pipe dream, I know). Thank goodness I never had to do that. The screenplay writer, director, and actors did a superb job bringing this story to life.

Then this afternoon Michael and I spent several hours at one of my favorite places to photograph, Green Spring Gardens. Although Michael and I had grand plans this morning to hit the road on a day trip, I’m glad we spent the time rambling around this local garden instead. There was so much still in bloom and so many bugs and butterflies to photograph. The afternoon light was amazingly golden, too. I was happy to see two new butterflies I hadn’t seen before (don’t worry, I’ll identify them later—unless someone wants to beat me to it—consider it my birthday present!).

I started preparing these images when I got home. The doorbell rang and I was the recipient of the most beautiful bouquet of flowers from Elizabeth and Rob, proud new parents of baby Josie. Thanks to you both for such a lovely birthday gift! And it was pure pleasure to photograph Josie. (And you know I’ll be photographing the bouquet you sent as well, so stay tuned.)

View the sweet photos of Josie in the links below:

http://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2008/10/17/daddys-very-little-girl/

http://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2008/10/17/josephine-margaret-and-family/

http://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2008/10/19/josie-au-naturel/

To top off my perfect day, I had dinner at Macaroni Grill with Michael, and dear friends Regina, Jeff, and Tom. I had the parmesan-crusted sole—it’s a new item on the menu and it was delicious!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.






At long last, butterflies en masse!

4 10 2008

The butterflies that we have waited for (en masse) all summer have finally begun appearing regularly, particularly Monarchs and now the American Painted Lady Butterfly (Vanessa virginiensis) I photographed late this afternoon. It is very similar to the Painted Lady Butterfly (Vanessa cardui). Those same links show you how to distinguish between the two. 

They move really quickly, so I wasn’t able to get many good shots before they moved onto other flowers in the garden. Most of the butterfly activity in our front yard garden is in the lilac-colored butterfly bush. I saw two American Painted Ladies and three Monarch butterflies just this afternoon, along with several Cabbage White butterflies and Silver-spotted Skippers—both daily visitors to the garden since early summer. This same butterfly bush is also a magnet for the Snowberry Clearwing Hummingbird Moth.

Click here to see a Cabbage White butterfly I photographed in the backyard in June. Click here to see Monarchs, Silver-spotted Skippers, Swallowtails, and other beauties I photographed at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, Virginia. Learn more about how to create a habitat for Monarch butterflies on the Happy Tonics web site.

I found a really terrific butterfly identification site here. To identify your specimen, click the boxes that correspond with things such as the group (moth, butterfly, etc.), how the wings curve, whether they’re curvy, jagged, or wavy, then how the rear wing is shaped, whether there are broken bands or dark or light ones, main colors that appear, and your location. After you click on all the matches to your specimen, a list of possible “suspects” will show up on the left. Simply click on each one until you find one that best matches your specimen! I’ll be using this site a lot more often.

If you really love butterflies, check out the images I shot in September at the Wings of Fancy exhibit at Brookside Gardens. And while we’re on the subject of Brookside Gardens, click here to see images I shot when my friend Jeff and I took a field trip with the Mount Vernon Garden Club this past April.

WANT TO SEE SOMETHING NEAT? Click here to view two claymation movies that illustrate butterfly metamorphosis. They were created by third grade students from Kings Park Elementary School in Springfield, Virginia.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Wings of Fancy at Brookside Gardens

5 09 2008

This morning Michael and I went to photograph the “Wings of Fancy” live butterfly exhibit, in its 12th year at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, Maryland. The exhibit is at the South Conservatory and is open from 10:00 a.m. — 4:00 p.m. daily through September 21. Admission is $5.00 for adults, $4 for children ages 3-12, and free for children age 2 and under.

The website mentions that the greenhouse is usually ten degrees warmer than the outside. They weren’t kidding about that! It got pretty uncomfortable after about 20 minutes, but we were so excited about the myriad photographic opportunities that we just plugged ahead—glasses steamed, brows sweating. One of the volunteers said there are several hundred butterflies in the conservatory, representing 60 different species from Asia, Costa Rica, and North America.

These are just a few of the butterflies in the conservatory:

Atlas Moth (with a wingspan of at least 6 inches!)
Zebra Mosaic
Clipper
Giant Swallowtail
Julia Heliconian
Paper Kite
Banded Purple Wing
White Peacock
Cydno Longwing
Mexican Shoemaker
Tiger Longwing
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
Question Mark
Agentinean Canna Skipper
American Giant Swallowtail
Malachite
Browntip
Painted Lady
Red Postman
Gray Cracker
Common Morpho
Common Mormon
Monarch
Gulf Fritillary

The collage below shows 29 different butterflies and moths in the exhibit. You’ll notice three of the same type (the dark brown and light blue butterfly; 5th one down). I was able to get numerous different shots of this species. The most elusive was the Common Morpho, which rarely settled in one place long enough to photograph one. Wings closed, this rather large butterfly is various shades of brown with bronze-colored “eyes” on its wings. Wings open, it is the most gorgeous shade of metallic azure blue! I was able to get one shot with wings close and just a touch of the blue showing. I’ll post that separately. I did get one shot open, but it was on the window and the image isn’t tack sharp. I’ll post it anyway just to show how beautiful this butterfly is. Two of the images in this collage show mating butterflies, which the volunteers pointed out to us so we could photograph them.

© Cindy Dyer. All right 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





Butterflies & Gardens, Issue #2

31 03 2008

I just completed my second issue of the newly-redesigned “Butterflies & Gardens” quarterly newsletter for Happy Tonics. You can download the 4-page pdf file here: www.cindydyer.com/ButterfliesGardens2.pdf I design and produce all work for Happy Tonics on a volunteer basis. This issue has many of my photos as well as a few contributed by my friend, Jeff Evans. Jeff shot the last four images included in the banner on page 1 and also the monarch caterpillars shot on page 4.

A little background on how I have become connected to Happy Tonics: a few years ago I purchased milkweed seeds on eBay from Mary Ellen and we became instant friends. I learned about her background and mission and decided to offer my design and photography services to her cause. I donated design and postcard printing costs for one project and have just completed this second issue (redesigned) of the publication. I’m also working on an organization logo and a plant identification poster. Mary Ellen and her organization, Happy Tonics, (http://www.happytonics.org/) have begun establishing a monarch butterfly and native plant sanctuary near Shell Lake, Wisconsin.

Read here about her efforts: http://www.superiorbroadcast.org/butterfly.htm

© Cindy Dyer, Dyer Design. All rights reserved.

happy-tonics-2.jpg