American Horticultural Society projects

31 03 2008

I’ve been working on design projects with the American Horticultural Society ( since 2006, thanks to an introduction to the organization by my dear friend and sage mentor (and employer many moons ago), Brian Loflin ( A few years ago, he taught a garden photography workshop for AHS at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas ( I’m on my third National Children & Youth Garden Symposium campaign this year (layouts below are 2008, 2007, and 2006 campaigns). Since my introduction to the organization, I’ve worked with several departments on invitation projects, AHS Garden School brochures, and the latest AHS member publication, Garden Clippings. I’m fortunate to be able to incorporate many of my garden images into various projects, too!

© Cindy Dyer, Dyer Design. All rights reserved.


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: 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, ( have begun establishing a monarch butterfly and native plant sanctuary near Shell Lake, Wisconsin.

Read here about her efforts:

© Cindy Dyer, Dyer Design. All rights reserved.


In Frank Lloyd Wright’s Footsteps…

31 03 2008

SUBJECT: Architectural Masterpiece

ARCHITECT: Cindy Dyer, a.k.a. Head Weed

CLIENT: Dim-witted Mourning Dove (with lack of sense to build nest in a less conspicuous area)

PROJECT: Nest Improvement, including A-frame (vented) roof that blends into surroundings

LIMITATIONS: budget (how much could a dove have to offer?), limited to materials on hand, and time (limited due to builder’s other job as a graphic designer)

Ample chicken wire from Carmen & George’s moving-out contributions, cheap wire cutters, plentiful source of leaves, twigs from last year’s liatris stalks, willow branches from delapidated garden ornament, and grapevines

Client attempted to “break ground” without first consulting architect (or land owner); site is the empty gothic-style wrought iron planter box hanging on a limb stump on a tree in the architect’s back yard. Architect sees bird fly off, inspects site, notes start of nest, then proceeds to devise renovation plans, taking a gamble on bird returning after nest site is partially disturbed

THE THOUGHT PROCESS (yes, there was one)
— Build A-frame mesh roof, just wide enough to accommodate already-begun dove nest
— Attach mesh roof to wrought iron planter with green wire (to blend in nicely)
— weave willows to form back wall (rather crudely done, but this is the look I was going for….something a dove might do if she had opposeable thumbs, but not so complex that it would appear a real architect did it!)
— weave right side with same willow to add protection from the elements, but leave some open gaps to appeal to the (not so bright) bird’s penchant for open spaces
— leave left side of metal roof open for feng shui appeal (good vibes in, bad vibes out)
— tuck in leaves to further protect from the elements, add a softening touch to the heavy metal roof, and offering some camouflage from predators

— Didn’t get client approval (in the form of an immediate move-in) for at least one day

— Let cats out in the backyard early evening, 3/29, and birds scattered from the home site
— Took a peek into empty domicile and observed blindingly white egg
— Add a few more leaves to obscure view of aforementioned egg
— Add a few more grapevines overhead, then cut (invisible) ceremonial ribbon, pronouncing the project complete

OBSERVATION, 3/30, 1:04 p.m.

Eureka! (Dad, eureka is one of those words that deserves an exclamation mark)

The client loves her new abode; see paparazzi’s photographic proof, attached, in the first photo below.


© 2007 Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Later, I was able to observe and photograph Baby Yin and Baby Yang from birth to flying lesson day. Above: in the middle photo, Baby Yin is at recess under Mama’s watchful teal-rimmed eyes. (Baby Yang was not quite ready to leave home and stayed in the nest while his/her sibling learned the ropes.) In the last photo, Baby Yin is doing the all important wing stretches (yes, she does have two legs, but doesn’t she have remarkable balance on just one? I’m such a proud foster mother!)

Dad, doing what he does best

30 03 2008

Below is an e-mail from my Dad on 3.31.2006, in reference to me wanting to use the occasional exclamation mark for emphasis in my letters (when I want to show excitement). Although I break his exclamation point ruling from the time to time, I should get a gold star for not overdoing it by putting !!! at the end of a sentence…that just shows too much excitement, in my humble opinion. One is enough for me.


Hey, I have no problem with your using the exclamation point after “eureka.”

In the Grecian language eureka means, “I have found it,” and was said to have been uttered by the great Pythagoras on his invention of the 47th Problem of Euclid, a process of measuring distance through triangulation (the Pythagorean Theorem). The measurement process is also known as the Egyptian string trick, not to be confused, of course, with similar knotted items (strings of pearls, beads, anchor chains, etc.) referenced in the Kama Sutra, and in the works of the Marquis de Sade and others of his ilk).

It is probable that Pythagoras did in fact exclaim “Eureka” on his discovery, and then he probably followed up with a passionate, even shouted, “Exclamation point.” The actual symbol used to punctuate an exclamation (!) was probably developed by a linguist (or linguists) at a later date.

It’s well to note that anytime one exclaims, the exclamation may (but not necessarily must) be followed by an exclamation point. I am unsure as to which punctuation mark should follow an utterance—perhaps an exclamation begins life as an utterance, then progresses to an exclamation, thereby earning the right to an exclamation point.

You may have already been familiar with Pythagoras and his theorem, but you may not be aware that Pythagoras, on his discovery of the 47th Problem of Euclid, is said to have celebrated and memoralized his momentous feat by sacrificing a hecatomb (100) of cattle.

They must have had one hell of a barbeque!

Gigglebean with parrot and sugar glider

30 03 2008

During my surprise (short!) visit to San Antonio this past weekend, a group of us went to Willie’s for an early dinner. As we were leaving, we met Len Little, a.k.a. “The Birdman of San Antonio,” his parrot Polly (of course), and a sugar glider. Len is a bird trainer and provides entertainment for parties, day cares, and other organizations. ( or 210.387.2510).

Since I had three different cameras with me and knew I could get a decent shot, we offered up my niece Lauren (nicknamed Gigglebean by me in her toddler days) as the guinea pig for the Birdman’s tricks (thanks for being a good sport, girl!). She even let Polly hang from her earlobe and the sugar glider crawl up the front of her shirt. Anything for a good shot, I always say!

A sugar glider is a small, nocturnal marsupial native to Australia and Indonesia. To learn more about these cute little critters, go to or read all about them here: After reading about the care, feeding, and specific needs of these exotic animals (as well as the downside to having them as pets), I don’t think I’ll be adding them to our menagerie any time soon!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.


In my heaven…

13 03 2008

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

More shots from this year’s Orchid show at the U.S. Botanic Garden.


A riot of color

11 03 2008

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.


My friend Carmen and I finally made it over to the U.S. Botanic Garden ( this year. The exhibit at the entrance to the building is their first-ever textile exhibit, “A Stitch in Vine,” featuring beautiful botanically-themed quilts handmade by artists of the Chesapeake & Potomac Applique Guild (

Also on display is their annual Orchid exhibit. This year’s exhibit is “An Alphabet Garden of Orchids,” and remains on display through April 13. There seemed to be even more plants on display this year than last, so there were ample photo ops. These are just a few of the more graphic shots I got.

The Cyclamen sentry

11 03 2008

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

FYI: I did learn that cyclamen plants are poisonous to cats—she was only on the table briefly and she’s not a plant eater, anyway—which we’re grateful for. I ended up giving all the plants away. I also had to give away a pencil cactus after learning the sap is poisonous!


White Cyclamen

11 03 2008

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.


Two penny Cyclamen

11 03 2008

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.


Po folks gardenin’

10 03 2008

Princess Gigi’s day started out like any other day. Coffee served in bed. A dose of Good Morning America, followed by Regis & Kelly. All the while, thoughts of spring swirled in her sleepy head. Thoughts of Wal-Mart and her need to usher in the season. Off she went, in her gas guzzling cherry red Jeep, to the big box giant. She expected to find her usual treasures that included Super Bubble gum and Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and perhaps some seasonal delights such as Nerds jelly beans. As she felt her blood sugar dwindling, she opted for a triple thick chocolate shake (small, of course) from McDonalds. And, not forgetting her one-eyed dawg, Gumbo, she picked up a plain double cheeseburger from the nifty dollar menu. After perusing the “fashion offerings” in the women’s department, she felt her pulse quicken as she neared the garden department she fondly thought of as mecca. She simply couldn’t resist the 10 cent herb seed collection and the assortment of bulbs on display. She felt herself magnetically drawn to a shelf of already-blooming Cyclamen. Red! Pink! White! Oh, they were so lovely; each one more beautimous than the last. A certain corner of her dining room needed a splash of color and she knew the price was right: $3.50, marked down from $7.88. Wanting to live a pilot’s lifestyle on a flight attendant’s salary, she knew she had to pace herself. It was, after all, just starting to warm up. Gardening season was barely upon her on this blustery March day. She chose a red specimen (her favorite color) and nestled it among her other various impulse buys. She proceeded to the self-scanning register. Much to her surprise, the perfect red Cyclamen rang up as .02, not $7.88, the original price. Not $3.50, as her 4-days-before scan had revealed. Just two cents! She fumbled for her cell phone to call the Head Weed. She just knew she would win the “best garden bargain EVER” award with this major coup! What would get her friend Cindy away from her mundane work faster than a two cent sale on Cyclamen at Wal-mart? And she was right. The Head Weed instructed her to buy every Cylamen in sight! Being the dutiful little Weedette that she is, she did as instructed. She ran back and filled her cart with all 15 plants. Total expenditure: 30 cents plus tax! She agreed to meet the Head Weed in the Target parking lot to share the loot and collect her 20 cents. Don’t believe this story? We have photographic proof and a partial receipt.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.


First blooms of the season…

5 03 2008

My Hellebores are blooming! This one appeared to be lifting its head to the sunlight, raised up by a jumble of leaves and unopened blooms below it (Hellebore blooms nod or face downward). The plants in my front yard garden were given to me by my friend Karen and they have steadily spread into several clumps over the past few years. They begin to bloom right before my yellow crocuses appear. Some of the blooms are a creamy white while the others are pink like this one. I think the pink one is a “Sunshine Strain.” A “strain” is an unflowered seedling of a particular set of parents. In Hellebores, most strains usually resemble the better qualities of their parents (much like humans, I suppose!). There aren’t many subjects in bloom right now, but it sure feels good to photograph something in the garden again.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.


Blue Pinwheel Thingie

3 03 2008

An e-mail from my Dad, in response to the question I sent out to the Weedettes:

“Blue pinwheel thingies…does anyone know what these are?”


Ah, Master, at last you have come to the Grasshopper for assistance. My heart swells with pride and I am virtually overcome with emotion. In fact, I am so happy I could just—well, you know the rest.

The “blue pinwheel thingies,” as you so casually (and rather unflatteringly) refer to them, are “flores azules hay como las llantas.” Freely translated from the Spanish (and I do mean freely), the name means “tire-like blue flowers.” The word “tire” refers to the circular shape of the blossoms.

“Pin” refers to the stem, the part of the plant on which the blossom is “mounted.” Llantas (tires) are mounted on wheels which, in turn, are placed on the hubs of axles. Note the similarity of “pin” and “hub.” The terms are synonymous—that synonymicity, or synonymicitessness, should have been obvious to you because each word has exactly three letters and each is pronounced with just one syllable—the “b” in hub makes it sound like two syllables, but it only has one (you probably pronounce it “ub,” as in “erb” and “erbert oover,” etc.).

The “blue pinwheel thingies” were named by none other than Michelangelo (1475-1564), a man who was entranced (enthralled, even) by all things purple, even by anything even remotely tinged with the color purple, and one who is said to have thoroughly enjoyed “tip-toeing through the tulips,” if you get my drift.

In naming flowers, as in all his other endeavors, “Micky” (as he was called by his his students, most of whom are said to have been fellow tip-toers), was centuries ahead of his time, because although the wheel was in universal use, “llantas” (tires) had not yet been invented.

And finally, we come to the curiousist (as Alice in Wonderland might say) part in the saga of “flores azules como las llantas”—in this beautiful blossom we have a flower named by a fruit, and nothing could be any curiouser than that.

Actually there is something curiouser—in her e-mail (Friday, March 31, 2006, 8:11 a.m.) your friend Gina said she thought the plant might be a hyacinth. She was wrong, of course, but the curious part is that Michelangelo also named the hyacinth. The parents of his favorite student (said to have been a flagrant tip-toer) deliberately misnamed their son (they wanted a girl), and Michelangelo was wont to greet her— I mean him—as follows: “Hi ya, Cinth,” thus the name “hyacinth.” The name “hyacinth” therefore came from Michelangelo’s adaptation of his greeting to Cynthia.

Perhaps Gina knew the origin of the name but didn’t know that she knew it—it may have been submerged in her subconsious but was close enough to the surface to trigger an association with Michelangelo and his penchant for naming flowers.

Enough of my gloating over your inability to recognize that which should have been immediately recognizable. I’ll close by saying that the pics are gorgeous, whatever the flower’s name and however its origin.

Methinks I taught thee well (you’re welcome).


© 2006 Cindy Dyer, All rights reserved.