Eastern tent caterpillar

30 04 2008

Scientific name: Malacosoma americanum (Fabriculus)

A little background: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_tent_caterpillar

In my research I discovered this unusual tidbit—the caterpillar has been implicated in “Mare Reproductive Loss Syndrome” (MRLS), but how the caterpillar triggers abortion in horses has yet to be determined. In the spring of 2001, Kentucky experienced an unusually heavy infestation of Eastern tent caterpillars and their presence has been linked to MRLS.

MRLS link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mare_Reproductive_Loss_Syndrome

And, if they survive being (inadvertently) stepped on, driven over, or eaten by birds, they morph into the cocoa brown moths shown here: http://bugguide.net/node/view/558/bgimage

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Blooming in the garden today…

30 04 2008

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved. www.cindydyer.com/GardenPhotos

Top photo: Osteospermum Sunscape Daisy (Osteospermum ecklonis). Originating from South Africa, these daisy-like flowers come in a wide range of colors and in my Zone 7 region they are grown as annuals. In milder climates, they can be grown as perennials. For more information about Osteospermum, visit: http://www.osteospermum.com/

Bottom photo: Perennial Cornflower or Mountain Bluet (Centaurea montana) against a blue glazed pot background. It is a perennial form of Bachelor’s Button and blooms late spring to midsummer. It self-seeds and prefers moist soil in sun or partial shade, and can be divided in the fall.

In loving memory of Kathryn Parrish Shepard

29 04 2008

My dear friend Karen’s mother passed away March 26. With monetary contributions from her fellow Weedettes in the Runnymeade Garden Club and Supper Club friends (thanks, everyone!), I suggested that she and I start a memory garden to honor her mother. Her mother loved gardening, too. The highlight of the garden would be the heart-shaped stepping stone Sue and I purchased for her at McDonald’s Nursery in Virginia Beach a few weekends ago. It was such a perfect sentiment for this garden (even though whoever typeset it put an apostrophe in “its,” when it was possessive and not a contraction…and one sentence is missing a period (okay, so this is a peeve of mine, as you may have noticed). We bought it anyway because it was so fitting, despite these annoying (to me, at least) errors.

It reads, “My Mother kept a garden of the heart. She planted all the good things that gave my life its start. I am my Mother’s garden. I am her legacy. I hope she feels the love reflected back from me.”

Karen and I went shopping this past Sunday morning from 10:30-1:00, hitting Home Depot and Campbell & Ferrara Nursery (http://www.campbellferrara.com/) for loads of plants. Karen kept worrying that I was overspending and I told her to just enjoy the ride. How often do you get to shop for plants and someone else pays for it? Relax, girl! I also told her that since her birthday is April 30 (tomorrow!), any “overage” would be my birthday gift to her!

Our primary focus was perennials, but we threw in some colorful annual flowers and herbs, too. Her garden already had good “bones,” with nice foundation plants, grasses, and a few bulb plants (tulips and irises), and mums. We added purple, yellow, and white coneflower; a shasta daisy, yellow yarrow, purple salvia, catmint, four sedums (upright and creeping), yellow tickseed, and loads of herbs (rosemary, variegated sage, chives, sweet and purple basil, lemon thyme, and a lavender plant. For instant color, we added white allysum, hot pink impatiens, deep purple wave petunias, and two lime green sweet potato vines. We planted two colorful coleus (one of her favorites) in the shade under a foundation plant. She also picked out two cucumber plants to grow in pots on the front step.

After lunch at Macaroni Grill, we headed home and from 3:00 to 8:00, we moved existing plants around, redesigned the garden, and put in all those plants. We didn’t even stop when it started sprinkling! (You can just imagine how lovely we looked, covered in mud and mist!). Husband Joe/Clifton came home just in time to be assigned the task of dragging a rather large bag of garden soil around. He also cleaned up the mess we made on the sidewalk (thanks, Joe/Cliff)!

The memory stone is nestled among Debbi’s Thomas Jefferson miniature irises, purple salvia, alyssum, tickseed, and yellow yarrow in a small bed just behind Karen and Joe (in the photo below). The inset photo is of the Garden Goddesses 😉

I’ll record the garden’s progress throughout the growing season, of course. Thank you to everyone for helping make Karen’s little memorial garden possible. We love you, Weedette Karen (and Joe/Cliff). And the happiest of birthdays tomorrow, red-headed woman!

Spotlight on Abbie!

29 04 2008

The May/June 2008 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine is hot off the press and will soon be in Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) member mailboxes. Abbie Cranmer is our “cover girl” this month and I’ve attached a pdf of her article, “Chronicles of a Bionic Woman.” Enjoy!

Download her full feature article here: http://www.cindydyer.com/BionicWoman.pdf

Hearing Loss Association website: http://www.hearingloss.org

Abbie’s revamped blog! http://www.contradica.blogspot.com/

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

My pretty boy…

26 04 2008

Jasper…he was watching a male and female cardinal singing to each other in our red oak. Immediately after this shot, he found the catnip bush and forgot about the birds!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Alliums in bloom!

25 04 2008

My ‘Purple Sensation’ alliums are beginning to bloom. I did some research (of course) and discovered there are nearly 400 ornamental allium species! Allium is a member of the same family as garlic, onions and chives. These sun-loving blooms look like a cluster of lollipops when you plant them en masse. They’re one of my favorite things to grow. These May-blooming alliums come back every year and are about 20-30 inches tall. They’re also fun to photograph in their various stages of bloom, from the ready-to-burst sheaths to full flower to past-their-peak. At the last stage, they resemble koosh balls (and feel springy like them, too!).

What is a koosh ball, you ask? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koosh_ball

Learn more about growing ornamental alliums here:


© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Monarch butterfly habitat poster

25 04 2008

I recently designed this sample poster for Happy Tonics to use as an educational tool to show what native plants will be grown in the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary that is being developed in Shell Lake, Wisconsin.

You can learn more about Mary Ellen, Happy Tonics, and the Monarch Butterfly Habitat at http://www.happytonics.org/. In addition to utilizing photos from my own archives, other images were provided by Happy Tonics, Jeff Evans (http://evansimagesandart.com), and Brian Loflin (http://www.loflin-images.com/).

Learn more about Monarch butterflies at this site: http://www.monarch-butterfly.com/

Brookside Gardens

23 04 2008

Jeff and I had a field trip to Brookside Gardens today. We joined Pat and Delores (coordinators) and other members from the Mount Vernon Garden Club. It was a beautiful spring day with ample photo opportunities. Thanks, Pat and Delores, for making us feel right at home with your group! Brookside Gardens is an award-winning 50-acre public display garden situated within Wheaton Regional Park in Wheaton, Maryland. Visit Brookside at http://www.mc-mncppc.org/parks/brookside/

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Ode to Clyde

23 04 2008

In reference to some recent photos I sent out, specifically one I titled, “Clyde Just Hanging Out,” my Dad had this to say:


I looked Clyde over very carefully, and I could not see the “hanging out” part—of course, I’m not a frogologist, so I may have overlooked it.

I believe the term “hanging out” has fallen into disfavor in the ‘hood. “Hanging out” has been shortened (just the term, not the part) to simply “hanging.” The preferred expression now is simply “hanging.” The change probably came about because “hanging out” generated all too many smart-alec responses.

I did notice that Clyde has that tell-tale glint in his eye (both eyes, actually) and it is springtime, so you may well soon suffer as the Egyptians suffered when Charlton Heston got pissed-off at Pharaoh and turned all those frogs loose in the land.

Yeah, I know, I know—some people have far too much time on their hands.


© 2006 Cindy Dyer, All rights reserved.

Signs of spring

21 04 2008

From our garden in April…

Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night. —Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters of Rainer Maria Rilke


© 2008 Cindy Dyer, All rights reserved.

Circular sun halo #2

19 04 2008

This was the second shot I got outside the Conservatory at Lewis Ginter. The building in the background is the library and administrative offices. I like this shot because it looks like something out of a science fiction movie!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved. www.cindydyer.com/GardenPhotos

Circular sun halo #1

19 04 2008

Carmen and I were in the Lewis Ginter Conservatory when I got a cell phone call from Michael to go out and look at the “rainbow around the sun!” The meter went crazy trying to set up a decent exposure pointed at the sun, of course, but I was able to get this shot just outside the conservatory entrance with a 100 ISO, aperture shut down to 22, and set to a 60th second exposure. My research has revealed that high cirrostratus clouds form the halo and this same cloud is on the advancing edge of warm fronts with their associated heavy rain. They can often be forecasters of rain, but that is not always the case. Whatever they are, they are otherwordly and really neat to witness (and hard to photograph!).


Not all colored patches in the sky are rainbows…click below:


© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved. www.cindydyer.com/GardenPhotos

Glorious day

19 04 2008

This morning Michael and Carmen and I headed to Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond (http://www.lewisginter.org/) to see the “million blooms.” The weather was perfect and although it was a little windy (tulips waving in the breeze are a wonderful sight!), I still managed to get some good photos in between gusts of wind. As I suspected she would, Carmen fell in love with their amazing garden shop. I’ve been to a lot of garden gift shops and Lewis Ginter outshines them all! They have a wide assortment of garden sculptures, fountains, art, knick-knacks, aprons, hats, t-shirts, scarves, umbrellas, benches, gazebos, trellises, stakes, seeds, plant markers, tools, a great selection of books and instrumental garden music CDs, containers of all kinds, gorgeous garden-themed jewelry, home decor (plates/vases/teapots & cups), and lots of things for kids. We shopped as soon as we got to the garden, then went out to photograph, had lunch, photographed some more, then came back and shopped again. These are some plant “portraits” I shot there today.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Snow(flakes) in the garden

17 04 2008

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved. www.cindydyer.com/GardenPhotos

Okay. I did my best to figure out which snowflake this is. I have failed you. So, if someone out there in blogging land can correctly identify (with footnotes, supporting evidence, etc.) this particular Snowflake, there will be a prize for your efforts.

What’s a party without confetti?

14 04 2008

This weekend the garden was quite festive with a profusion of pink petals from our crabapple tree.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved. www.cindydyer.com/GardenPhotos

Mating season

13 04 2008

After we left Green Spring Gardens, Tom and I stopped by one of my favorite places to buy perennials, Campbell & Ferrara Nursery (http://www.campbellferrara.com/). One of the nurserymen pointed out the frogs mating in one of their ponds. The little guy on top was making quite a ruckus. It’s obvious he feels left out and mate-less…take a look at what he’s standing on: two mating couples—so that makes him the “fifth wheel” in the pond! I didn’t have my Nikkor macro with me, so this was the best I could do.

Want to know more about frogs? Click here: http://allaboutfrogs.org/weird/general/cycle.html

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Swaths of color

13 04 2008

My friend Tom and I went to Green Spring Gardens Friday morning to see what was in bloom. (http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/gsgp/) . He’s working on a proposal to landscape a neighbor’s front yard and wanted to get some inspiration. These are a few of the quick shots I got during the brief time we were there. Description: The star shaped flowers in the top photo are Spring Starflowers (Ipheion uniflorum) and are a very pale blue color. This perennial is grown from bulbs and blooms in mid-spring for 3-5 weeks. This plant naturalizes very swiftly, spreading by self-seeding and from bulb offsets. The second photo is a small cross-section of the beautiful rock garden in front of the visitor’s center at Green Springs. It’s one of my favorite parts of the park. This is a deep pink creeping phlox, surrounded by various sedums and other rock-loving plants. The third photo is obviously beautiful red tulips, and the fourth photo is of a large cluster of lovely lime-greenish Euphorbias, waving in the spring breeze.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved. www.cindydyer.com/GardenPhotos

Scrumptious red tulip

11 04 2008

Blooming in my garden today…several of these intense, saturated red tulips. It’s a beautiful day here in northern Virginia!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved. www.cindydyer.com/GardenPhotos

Uh-oh, gotta have one of these now

11 04 2008

I really should be in bed now but after a full day of design work on the computer, I’m still up, restless and can’t sleep, so I’ve been perusing gardening blogs and bulb sites. Then this caught my eye and I’m thinking I must add at least one to my garden. I can just imagine the size of the hole I would have to dig to make a home for one of these bulbs (who am I kidding? I’d beg Michael to dig them for me). And they’re pricey, too. (Just imagine how sad you would be if your green thumb failed you on this purchase!). They’re “Giant white squills,” a plant I’ve never even heard about (and which I now seriously covet). The bulbs are each ten years old, 8 inches across, and cost $25 each! Whoa.

Get ’em here:


Afternoon light

10 04 2008

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved. www.cindydyer.com/GardenPhotos

Ah, spring!

9 04 2008

Look what’s blooming in my garden now. I just love, love, love days (and photographic opportunities) like these! Sue calls the unusual pale blue grape hyacinth (center) “Lladro blue.” I thought that was a great description.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved. www.cindydyer.com/GardenPhotos

Bionic Woman = Cover Girl

7 04 2008

This past Saturday I had the honor of photographing Abbie, who drove down from New Jersey just to be photographed for the cover of the next issue of Hearing Loss Magazine. She brought along her cousin, Patty, who ended up being my right-hand woman during the photo shoot (kudos, Patty, for your art direction, wardrobe selections, and for organizing the wardrobe rack for me!). After getting the requisite cover shots out of the way, we moved on to the “Vogue” sessions. Even though she swears she has never modeled, Abbie took directions beautifully and was such a joy to photograph. The last photo shows Abbie with her cousin (and my extraordinary assistant), Patty. Thanks, Abbie & Patty, for a wonderfully creative day!

Check out Abbie’s blog about her cochlear implant journey here:

Learn more about the Hearing Loss Association of America here:

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Even the (colorful) weeds are welcome…

2 04 2008

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved. www.cindydyer.com/GardenPhotos


I took a break from the computer this afternoon to get some fresh air on this beautiful April day…went out into the garden to see if anything new had appeared. And yes, something had. A lowly (lowly to many, but not to me) dandelion, upstaging the hellebores with its garish yellowishness. I’ve heard the saying, “a weed is just an unloved flower,” but have always wondered who gets to decide what is or isn’t a weed. They’re pretty in every stage, from flower to wish-upon-a-dandelion puffballs.

(From “The Wishing Handbook” by Gloria T. Delamar—When you see the first dandelion of the season, make a wish. Blow on a dandelion puff and make a wish. Then say, “Dandelion, puffs away, make my wish come true some day.” If all the “whiskers” are gone after the third puff, your wish will come true.)

Everything you ever wanted to know about dandelions can be found at this website here: http://www.oardc.ohio-state.edu/weedguide/singlerecordframe2.asp?id=950

and then some: http://fohn.net/dandelion-pictures/folklore.html

The dandelion, one of the hardiest plants known to man, is a perennial, herbaceous plant with long, lance-shaped leaves. They’re so deeply toothed, they gave the plant its name in Old French: Dent-de-lion means lion’s tooth. Dandelion has been used in many traditional medical systems, including Native American and traditional Arabic medicine. Historically, dandelion was most commonly used to treat liver diseases, kidney diseases, and spleen problems. Less commonly, dandelion was used to treat digestive problems and skin conditions. Today, dandelion is used by some as a liver or kidney “tonic,” as a diuretic, and for minor digestive problems. The plant’s roots are often roasted to make a drink similar to tea or coffee. Some wild birds rely on the seeds of this flower as a main staple of their diet. Bees frequent dandelions for nectar. The greens can be used in recipes and even wine making.

And speaking of edible…how about making dandelion fritters? Here’s a recipe from Kimberly Gallagher (http://www.learningherbs.com/dandelion_recipes.html) They look pretty tasty…but then, what doesn’t look tasty when it’s fried?

Dandelions entice entrepreneurs and activists as well. From The Durango Telegraph (http://www.durangotelegraph.com/03-05-01/second1.htm): The Dandelion Brigade will come to your home and dig your dandelions, roots and all, for less cost than pesticides. The profits go to the Children’s Permaculture Garden. The Brigade will also teach you how to use the plant for food medicine, make you fresh dandelion juice, and for an extra charge, they’ll make wine or beer from the flower heads.

Perhaps the Brigade will consider franchise rights across the U.S.? Franchise prices should be rather low considering you’ll have your own ample inventory!

Dandelions even inspire other bloggers such as Charles Hodgson in his podcast for word lovers: http://podictionary.com/?p=740

How a plant this useful could be so maligned is a mystery to me. Yes, I know they can be invasive, killing off grass—but I don’t have grass, so it matters not to me. And I’ll probably be banned from all gardens clubs in North America because of my defense of dandelions (and imagine what a bad example I’m setting for my own garden club members!). Now do you see your “weed” in a different light?

Blooming in my garden…

2 04 2008

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved. www.cindydyer.com/GardenPhotos


From my 35mm slide archives…

2 04 2008

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.