Tag Archives: echinacea

The hospitable coneflowers.

The white echinacea were covered in blooms when I got home from my three weeks away. These flowers make striking backdrops for butterflies especially, and a Painted Lady was giving me lots of photographic opportunities yesterday. I’m sharing several pictures because each one highlights a different aspect of the exquisite form; the light changed slightly, the insect opened its wings wider…

The hairs on its body, and the translucence of the wings, the white tip at the ends of the antennae  — I couldn’t see these things at all in the glare of midday, but only later in the dimness of evening, in the digital image.

I’ve seen a few other critters on these flowers, but they were mostly in too big a hurry for me to study them with my camera. In the back yard, the narrowleaf milkweed that briefly hosted a single Monarch caterpillar last summer are so colonized by aphids that I can’t imagine any butterfly finding a good place to land, if she did want to try that place again. It was a little later in the season that the Monarch events happened last year; maybe there’s time for me to get rid of the aphids somehow, and hope that they’ve left some nourishment in the leaves for caterpillars…

My Golden Guide to Insects tells me that “The painted lady or thistle butterfly is reported to be the most widely distributed of all known butterflies.” And this may be because the many and varied plants the larvae feed on are also common — including sunflowers. That means, when those butterflies are ready, they can just flutter southward a few feet to find a spot on my nutritious and healthy Delta Sunflowers to lay their eggs. Until then, girls, you are welcome to drink at my hospitable coneflowers.

 

The ripe October light.

In the fall, the fresh air and thin, slanted light combine to put so many things in a new, or renewed, perspective. When I read the poem below, I found myself searching my surroundings for images that fit the poet’s words.

Down at the creek I had seen the leaves starting to turn, so I took their picture. But between now and then I’ve noticed so many other things even closer by that are infused with energy, and at the same time invite me to an intangible, but most real, resting place.

The sky bright after summer-ending rain,
I sat against an oak half up the climb.
The sun was low; the woods was hushed in shadow;
Now the long shimmer of the crickets’ song
Had stopped. I looked up to the westward ridge
And saw the ripe October light again,
Shining through leaves still green yet turning gold.
Those glowing leaves made of the light a place
That time and leaf would leave. The wind came cool,
And then I knew that I was present in
The long age of the passing world, in which
I once was not, now am, and will not be,
And in that time, beneath the changing tree,
I rested in a keeping not my own.

-Wendell Berry, from A Timbered Choir

Clouds and bees and international beans.

The clouds were beautiful this morning,
perhaps mainly in their strangeness for midsummer,
but in themselves, too.

I saw a bird flying in the light shining through, and then it “flew away” and was gone. A few raindrops fell on my head, but soon all cleared and it was sunny and warm, the kind of summer day that brought a blanket of sleepiness to lay over me, and pretty much forced me to lie on my bed, to fall asleep after reading Wendell Berry.

But before that, I was in the garden pushing around among the leaves of the pole beans to discover that the Spanish Musica are getting big! They are flattish green beans. A friend and I ate raw the only two that seemed too big to leave hanging… but afterward I thought that perhaps I should have let them go a little longer, to see just how big they might get.

My bean project has become an international event, what with Oregon Blue Lakes, Spanish Musica, and now Japanese beetles arriving on the scene. 😦

I find it the hardest thing to be in the garden and not try to take more pictures of bees! I never think about the time it will take to sort and crop and organize all those shots… I will never be known for my clean floors, but maybe someone will appreciate my legacy of bee photos.

I kneeled on the walkway in front to get close to the humming action, and marveled at the number of bees working close together. They are camouflaged among the blooms that have faded, so in the photo below I zoomed in and circled the ones I could make out.

And here is a wider view of where I sat, between the hedges of germander that is the species Teucrium chamaedrys. If total strangers weren’t walking by to see me, I would be tempted to stretch out on the warm pavers to revel at leisure and more intimately in all the sweet and flowery humming!

In the back garden, they are at the lavender, yarrow, lambs ears…

And on the oregano!

 

When the bees are happy in my garden, I feel that at least something is right in the world, and I’m humbled to be a participant.

The day is done now, it’s actually cold, and dark. The honeymakers have stopped working for a few hours. I will sleep, too, and be glad to see you again tomorrow, my little bee friends.

Historic and overcast with sun.

Of course, every day is historic. Today grandson Brodie ate with a fork for the first time! And lest I forget, it’s the day of the Total Solar Eclipse 2017. My view was as at right.

Last week I was in Monterey, California, where the sky is also commonly white in the mornings. I’m guessing that today Soldier’s family couldn’t see the natural and rare wonder above the overcast there, either.

bee balm

 

 

But as is also typical, during my brief visit the sun would come out within a few hours of the start of day, and we enjoyed many lovely walks in the neighborhood, and outings a little farther afield.

 

 

 

 

Earthbound Farm in Carmel Valley has paths to wander through various gardens with a teepee, a fort, a store and café, berry patches…

It is the perfect place to examine snails, red peppers growing, tiny leaves or flowers. Below is a weed I’ve often wanted to get a good picture of – it helps to have a boy’s finger for comparing size:

Laddie especially loved the aromatherapy chamomile labyrinth. I think he might have walked that path for an hour if we had not moved on.

artichoke in bloom

In the Alphabet Garden we saw a plant, or at least a place where a plant had grown, for every letter, including Echinacea and Bean.

On our walks in the neighborhood we saw familiar flowers and plants that Liam and I have noticed many times now, as well as some new ones. I haven’t had time to research most of them, like this:

But I did learn Sea Lavender, what Liam described as having a rattle-like sound to the flower heads. Only the white parts are the true flowers, what I assume this bee is sipping at:

Flowers love to grow on California’s coast! Here are several more I don’t know – if any of my readers knows them, please share.

Below, a tall bush in Soldier and Joy’s back yard:

Awfully fancy, this one:
Joy and I drove down to the Monterey Bay Recreational Trail and walked with three boys, two bikes, a double stroller and a baby pack. We looked for a long time into the water next to the boat docks and I saw my first jellyfish and skate not in an aquarium, plus lots of hermit crabs scuttling in and out of rock crevices.  It was beautiful down there.

I have been to visit Monterey twice this summer, to offer a little adult company to Joy while Soldier is working on the east coast. So we chatted and talked and talked some more, which may have been the cause of the boys being even more rambunctious than usual. I was amazed at how when it involves three boys ages 5, 3, and 1, every activity, even something as soothing as Grandma reading to them, devolves into roughhousing.

I don’t have a good picture of that. Just imagine a tangle of six arms, six legs, giggling faces and tousled hair, all somehow hanging on to my lap, with an open storybook underneath it all. It was a multi-sensory experience that will go down in my history book as a sunny day.