Tuesday, May 26, 2015

I'm Ready for My Close Up

Working with my new Macro Lens is both fun and challenging. Fun because you get up close and personal with the garden (I'm sure the neighbors think I'm weird when they see me contorting to get the lens at the right angle that close to the ground) 

Aqueligia fragrans (columbine) against the sky -  a fragrant variety I grew from seeds I had to order from Plant World Seeds in the United Kingdom. Shot from BELOW.

and challenging because I live about 2 miles from the ocean as the gull flies and there is almost always a breeze blowing. This is nice on warm afternoons and miserable when you're trying to photograph plants.

Here's my latest stuff.

Hope you don't mind insect photos. I really enjoy all of the invertebrate life my garden attracts and now I can take pictures of all the little guys and gals!
I don't know what this is. Looks kind of like a small crane fly. I'll have to hit BugGuide.net.

Pansies (Viola tricolor var. bigboxus) are still looking good. I suspect they'll be done after this week of temperatures in the 80s.

A friendly Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis) wanting to know what I'm doing down on the ground by the pansies. She eventually turned around and went back in her hiding spot. I have at least three that are frequenting my front garden this year and helping me stay slug-free!

A Petunia (Petunia lgc) that was planted around the pansies that will hopefully replace them as the pansies die from the heat.

So many of today's shots are from the area by the fireplace because that area is somewhat protected from the breezes. 

And this Hymenopteran (bee or wasp) is what really makes my new lens exciting. It was crawling across the petunia as I was photographing the bloom and I just caught it.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

New Toy

I had a busy and challenging semester this past spring so The Husband bought me a new toy. A macro lens for my camera. It's the Venus (Laowa Lens) V-DX 60 mm F2.8, 2:1 super macro lens.

In laymens' terms - it takes pictures of tiny things very close up.

Like ants eating a nut.

Not close enough? How about this..

It was windy today (as usual) so I took the lens into the woods to take close ups of some native plants.

Fiddlehead, up close

Jack in the Pulpit

Solomon's seal

The thing is, when you are close enough to the ground to take pictures this up close and personal you notice other things, too.

Like a tiny spider hiding among the blooms on the Solomon's seal (the black dot is caterpillar frass!)

And the fly that keeps landing on the fiddlehead near the one I'm photographing.

And the wasp (I think) with bright red "thighs."

I wish I'd taken entomology when I was in college. Or that an entomology class was offered at a university near me at a time I could attend the class (the only one I've found near by meets at the same time as our weekly faculty meetings - I'd much rather take the class!).

For you, dear reader, this will (hopefully) mean more and better photographs.

If I can muster enough patience to wait out the sea breezes.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day - May 2015

What a relief. A long, hard, snowy winter, even by New England standards, a challenging semester at work and now, finally, it's spring like weather and summer break (I love being a lecturing professor!) and my garden is full of blooms. Here's a sampling.

 All these irises are from Rainbow Iris Farm
Want something out of the ordinary? This is the place to go.
I wish I had room for more...

Guess which bulb got in the wrong bag...

Very fragrant Viburnum - can you smell it from there?

Some annuals. I have a lot of pots around the yard that I fill with annuals. These are just a sample.

And my volunteers. The "wild" violets that I allow to grow as a cheerful ground cover.

Thanks to Carol at May Dreams for this meme.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Bothering the Neighbors

I have several plants that will re-seed in the garden - Liatris, Penstemon, Agastache - mostly I don't mind because I can ID the seedlings and pull them out if I don't want them. But I do sometimes worry they're spreading into my neighbor's yard.

Notice the Penstemon is right at the edge of their yard (and yes, I have seen it show up in their yard, too. I guess I need to be better about dead heading).

But what I didn't expect to spread was one of my species tulips! This is a seedling of Little Beauty, a great species tulip that comes back every year [from Brent and Becky]. This looks so good that I may have to order some more and plant them IN my lawn. The foliage would be disguised in the grass and I'd have a spring blooming lawn!

If my neighbor's complain I'll point to their even more problematic bamboo that keep sneaking under the fence! Guess which one will be harder to manage. 

Sunday, April 12, 2015


After a long, cold winter it's finally looking like spring. We've had two weekends in a row without snowfall! And today it got up to around 70!


[OK, so that's a bit of a cheat. I bought the Pericallis above at a Big Box Store. What can I say? I'm feeling desperate for color.]

So yesterday was the Ceremony of the Moving the Snow Shovel into the Basement and the Putting the Parkas away till next winter. Today was the first day of the Spring Races.

I'm racing to cut back last year's dead vegetation before this  year's new green grows up and make the job that much harder.

I won with the chives.

But the catmint, Nepeta Walker's Low, might have gotten ahead of me. I have my "short" day tomorrow so I'll scootch out after giving lecture and rush home to try to finish the spring clean up.

And I will make a note that I need even more crocus for next year.

Did I mention I was desperate for flowers? So are the bees.

They were all over my crocus today.

Hmmm... At least the Dwarf Iris were able to grow through the dead perennial. Now how am I going to trim back the dead.... 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

First Flowers of 2015!

Today the first flowers of 2015 (outside) have bloomed. Not surprisingly they're crocuses.

This does not herald the arrival of spring in all her glory but it does show that winter is (finally!) in retreat.

Yes, that's today. At least I can see some patches of ground.

In other news... One of our new kittens in living up to his name. We recently replaced our old couch and have temporarily turned it on it's end to take up less space till we can get rid of it. Wren manged to fly up and perch of the top of the couch, right up by the ceiling.

I just hope he doesn't try to build a nest up there...

Monday, March 23, 2015

Update from the Arctic Hinterland

I've been looking at other bloggers post on their early spring flowers, spring clean up, mud season. Up here, North of Boston, we're still firmly in the grip of winter. At this time of previous years I've had crocus blooming.

This year I can't see the Hellstrip where I've planted hundreds of crocus bulbs.

These, tucked up near the house in a rare bare spot, are TRYING to come up.

You can do it!

Well, maybe in a week or two more...

The snow is starting to recede in places, mostly up against the house and along the driveway.

Here's an unknown plant making a run for it. I can't even see what's near it to try and remember what I planted there - you're seeing basically from the edge of the house to the edge of the snow field.

Right by the front door my always early Aquilegia 'Little Lanterns' is starting to show. Those early bloomers got to get started as soon as possible. When these bloom you know it's time to have your hummingbird feeder up.

Of course the receding snow is also showing signs of damage.

I don't think this holly is going to be nicely shaped this year. It should be quite a bit taller than it appears now. I guess I'll have some "rescue and recovery" pruning to do once the snow finally melts. [note the leaning gutter behind the shrub? Guess what The Husband has to repair once the snow finally melts?]

And my matching dwarf golden threadleaf cypress (Chamaecyparis pisifera) are sporting matching damage.

The plant should be growing up in this picture, not sideways.

In this image "up" on the plant is to the right. *shudder*

I think I'll be replacing those this year. They bracket the front door. I'll have to think about alternatives for those spots...

When is spring arriving this year? 

I visited my mom in NC last week. She sent me home on the plane with a lone daffodil in my hand. Thanks, mom. I need that on my desk this week! I won't be seeing those in MY garden for a while yet.