Sunday, July 15, 2018

Dancing Dahlias

Dahlias remind me of flamboyant flamenco dancers.
Twirling of skirts and bold movements.
And, gorgeous dresses and jackets. Precision to the max!

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Just a few garden insects

I haven't done much in the way of macro-photography in a few years, and have decided that I'd like to make time to do it again as it gives me great joy to behold the tiny things in life. I only put the 100mm lens on the camera to snap a few photos (about 120 photos) in about 20 minutes time.
First up was a wasp that I cannot identify. At first, I though it was a Purplish-blue Cricket Hunter wasp. 
The only reason that I say this is due to the white splash of color on its face as well as the white splotches on its antennae and legs. But I read that these wasps are found in the southwest. So, no identity for this beauty! I am awful at insect and bird I.D. as I just don't have time to spend combing through books or the internet for answers...
Next up, is a Celithemis elisa skimmer dragonfly who was resting on a flower stem in the front stump garden. I think this is a female who will remain this color throughout her life. If it was a male, the tan markings would turn red with age.
And, supping the nectar of a variety of flowers in the garden next to the deck was a gorgeous, little Pearl Crescent butterfly.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens visit

New road leading to expanded parking areas
Neighbor Shannon and I decided to start our summer vacation with a visit to the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. 
View of parking areas A & B
Wow, were we surprised to see the huge parking areas... 
View of visitor center from parking area A
and the new visitor center!
These areas are a bit further out from the original garden entrance.
In front of, and behind the new visitor center there are rock sculptures (which also are sprinkled throughout the gardens.) I don't know about you, but these particular sculptures remind me of caterpillars!
The new wooden walkway crosses over a wetland. 
It is still under construction and leads us toward the new Native Butterfly House.
What a nice view of the new gardens and the house beyond. I had a difficult time remaining poised as I wanted to race up there and immerse myself in butterflies, lickety split! But, alas, a person of my advancing age must maintain a tiny bit of decorum...
Ugh to decorum...let me into that house of wonderment!
I was not disappointed. A few other people were also in butterfly heaven!
Black Swallowtail butterfly just hatched out. 
Shannon and I began our butterfly journey at the chrysalis boxes.
Mourning Cloak chrysalises. See how different they are from Monarch cocoons in the next photo!
I like how the chrysalises are pinned to foam covered blocks.
And, of course we had to check out the Monarch butterfly chrysalises. I love the bright, green shell! Please forgive the blurry photo as there was a fine screen between me and the chrysalises.
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
There were just a few butterflies flitting around and supping on nectar. So, we were all vying for photos! The first butterfly we spotted was an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail.
Monarch on lantana
Then, we saw monarchs. Check out its hairy thorax!
As we were walking, a monarch landed on my wrist and stayed there for quite some time until I told it that I wasn't allowed to take it home with me. Sweet!
As I set the butterfly on a nearby plant, I saw a couple of monarch caterpillars on what I think was a swamp milkweed plant. Just think, they will soon turn into pretty butterflies themselves!
Also in the butterfly house is a mud bath. Wet mud is favored by butterflies for water. I have been trying to figure out where to put one on our property. Having a gorgeous chunk of rock with a depression in it is perfect!
We had entered the butterfly house through dangling chains and departed it through some fine mesh panels. Everyone had to check themselves over to make sure there were no butterfly interlopers hoping to go on an adventure! 
Off we went to the main part of the botanical gardens that we were familiar with.
The flowers and gardens were gorgeous as always... 
And, so were the metal sculptures. This book of butterflies and plants caught our eye!
The sculpture themes change year to year and we are always looking for the newest additions. This heron is guarding a frog pond!
And, on the other side of the pond, this stately Great Blue Heron was searching for fish!
The raven was checking out the nearby shrubbery.
This circular metal work of art reminds me of an ornate bracelet.
I particularly enjoyed this loop-de-loop piece of art. Standing at different angles gives different views, all of them very pleasant.
I also shot a few photos of some flowers that I felt were particularly pretty in their arrangements, colors, and textures. Here you see a miniature cactus garden in a depression of a rock. Gorgeous!
Here is purple, on purple with a touch of pink! Soooo pretty... Bachelor's Buttons amidst Sage.
Speaking of pink, I love onions... especially the drooping umbrels of nodding onions!
And, Globemaster onions really rock! These ornamentals are huge! I think that I need them for one of my small gardens to add an "ooh la la" effect!
Blue Hill Sage really caught my eye on this visit. I would also like to plant this, but I need to locate it in an area that gets many hours of sunshine, and that is a problem. Hmmm...the front yard needs to get turned into one giant garden!
There were oodles of honey bees supping of its sweet nectar. And, I really want to support honeybees.
Speaking of bees...The pincushion flowers were abuzz as well!
Let's take a break from the purples and pinks and focus our adoring gaze upon the Red Hot Pokers, which were rather orange, in my opinion;-)
For a change of pace, Shannon and I hung out under the trellised area for a bit.
There, we saw some very crafty globes, made of vines, supporting bromeliads!
From here, we walked down the Haney Hillside Garden path toward the Back River. We passed stunning boulder gardens with such richness of color and fineness of form.
We felt as though we had entered through a portal to an alien world when viewing the weeping pines...
As we traversed the hillside, we passed by some stunning Mountain Laurel, which sports one of the prettiest flowers on Earth. I love the structure and color of the buds and flowers...
There were quite a few white flowering dogwood trees, hither and yon, to fill my soul with their beauty. I don't know what it is about these trees, but they put me into a state of total relaxation when seeing them.
We headed toward the rhododendron garden to sit a spell. This garden area is our favorite spot to "get away from it all." 
Female bullfrog
We found a secluded rock bench and watched the antics of the bull frogs. Did you know that male bullfrogs have yellow throats, whereas females have creamy white throats? In females, the tympanum is equal to the eye diameter. And, the females are larger bodied than the males.
Bullfrog males
We could spend a good part of a day at this pond. It is full of frogs. And some of the males were getting a bit frisky with the ladies, if you know what I mean... Here, you see one frog leaping out of the water probably on the prowl! 
Bullfrog male
Speaking of suitors...I can just see this male saying, "Hey Baby, how's about a bit of a cuddle?" He does have somewhat of a lecherous gaze!
Bullfrog male
Here is a side view where you can see that the tympanum is larger than the eye diameter.
And, here are three more suitors! Some were calling loudly to attract a mate.
Sadly, we left the frogs and made our way to the waterfall.
Shannon is a very tactile person and she always has to soak her feet in pool at the top of the falls. Plus, it is a gorgeous viewpoint over the gardens.
As we walked the road back toward the main part of the botanical gardens, we passed this rock that reminds me of the head of a very contented sea turtle!
Before we exited the gardens, we stopped by the cutest butterfly benches ever! They were situated near the butterfly house. What a lovely place to rest our weary feet before heading for home.