Blooming in the garden today…

22 07 2008

Since I began gardening about six years ago, I’ve become smitten with coneflowers (Echinacea). So much so that last year I added several more colors to the front and backyard gardens. I have the standard purple coneflower, white (‘Jade’), orange (‘Orange Meadowbrite’), buttery yellow (‘Sunrise’), deep fall gold (‘Harvest Moon’), reddish orange (‘Sundown’), a doubledecker purple one called ‘Doppelganger,’ and my new favorite—Echinacea Summer Sky, a gold coneflower that graduates in an airbrushed fashion to red toward the cone! I love growing them because a) they’re perennials, b) they are quite photogenic, c) they love the sun, and d) bees and other insects love them, too, so there’s always a subject to photograph! I also have some in partial shade but their color doesn’t seem as deep as those growing in full sun. My purple and white coneflowers are all in bloom now. I’ll deadhead the spent blooms tomorrow since I just read that the blooms could repeat if deadheaded (now why didn’t I already know that?) These North American native perennials are drought tolerant, long blooming, and low maintenance. The name ‘Echinacea’ means spiny in Greek (echino) and references the flower’s pincushion center. The name “coneflower” comes from the way the petals sweep back and down, forming a cone. If I had the room in my garden(s), I would add all of these on this site. Hmmmm…I feel a purchase (or two or three) coming on!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

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Blue Chicory

21 07 2008

Blue Chicory
It has made its way, on wind
far into the city, and it nods there,
on street corners, in what July wind
it slips garner. Since childhood
I have loved it, it is so violet-blue,
its root, its marrow, so interred,
prepared to suffer, impossible to move.
Weed, wildflower, grown waist-high
where it is no one’s responsibility
to mow, its blue-white
center frankly open
as an eye, it flaunts
its tender, living lingerie,
the purple hairs of its interior.
Women are weeds and weeds are women
I once heard a woman say.
Bloom where you are planted, said my mother.

Catherine Rankovic (reprinted with permission)

Learn more about Catherine here: http://www.catherinerankovic.com/

I photographed this tiny pastel-blue flower against a grand backdrop of sunny yellow sunflowers at McKee-Besher Wildlife Management Area in Poolesville, MD this past weekend. Here’s a map showing the location. Learn more about this wildflower’s history, growth habit and herbal use here.

Photograph © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





I will be the gladdest thing

21 07 2008

I will be the gladdest thing
Under the sun!
I will touch a hundred flowers
And not pick one.

— Edna St. Vincent Millay, “Afternoon on a Hill”

I ventured out to Green Spring Gardens this morning at about 9:30. Even at that time, it was already getting too hot to stay out long, so I shot less than 50 images total (and that’s quite low for me). There were some really beautiful flowers in bloom this morning, particularly the thistle flowers, which were humming with bees.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Really, really clever!

20 07 2008

Katie, a frequent visitor to my blog, had this posted on her site. It is really clever! I haven’t learned how to embed videos onto my blog (yet), so I’m directing you to Katie’s site to view it. Click on the link below and then click on the video to begin playing:

http://grevillea.wordpress.com/2008/07/11/more-youtube-silliness/

Thanks for the frequent comments, Katie, and thanks for sharing this really fun video!





Worth standing in the July heat for…

20 07 2008

While the sunlight was just too intense to photograph the Lotus blooms at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in Washington, D.C. this morning, I had a great time (often in the shade, as you might imagine) observing and photographing the dragonflies near the visitor’s center. I got my best results using a 150 macro lens on my Nikon D300.

I just found a great online resource for identifying dragonflies. It’s the Digital Dragonflies Catalog, by Forrest L. Mitchell, and sponsored by the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station. If I go on the assumption my dragonfly is a Skimmer, then I would click on the photo opposite the “Libellulidae” box and find one that looks like it. (I haven’t found one that matches it yet). Any takers?

Another good online reference is Mangoverde Dragonflies.

Whatever kind of dragonfly it is, it was certainly a great model. Even when startled enough to fly away, it always came right back to this spot. I think I shot well over 100 views (let’s blame my photographic delirium on the heat, shall we?). His (her?) stripes were a beautiful metallic rust-red and shimmered in the sunlight. Every shot I got shows a different position (tail up, tail down, tail straight up, just landing, flying off, etc.). He pulled out every trick in his bag and I recorded every one of them! This is one of my favorites. And, as always, a special prize (honest!) to the first person to correctly identify (with supporting evidence, of course) this beautiful dragonfly!

UPDATE, JULY 24: While photographing the American Horticultural Society’s National Children & Youth Gardening Symposium on the University of Delaware’s campus this morning, I thumbed through a book on butterflies and dragonflies written by author Jane Kirkland, who was the dynamic and wildly entertaining keynote speaker at the opening session. The first page I flipped to had a photo of this exact dragonfly! Thanks to Jane’s book, I now know this is a “Halloween Pennant” dragonfly. This was an omen that I had to own the book, so I bought it and had Jane sign it for me! Jane created a field guide for teachers entitled, “No Student Left Indoors,” and she is also the creator and author of the award-winning nature discovery books— Take a Walk Books. You can read Jane’s blog here. Jane has also appeared on Animal Planet TV and PBS.

For more about the Halloween Pennant dragonfly, click here. Read photographer Bill Horn’s tips for photographing them on his Photo Migrations site.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved. www.cindydyer.wordpress.com





Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens

20 07 2008

Bright and early this morning (too early), Michael and I headed out to photograph the sunflower fields at the McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area in Poolesville, MD, then headed over to Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens to photograph the Lotus blossoms. We first learned about the sunflower fields from my friend Nanda, who went to see it after reading about it in the Washington Post here. We’ve gone the past two years and have gotten there either before the blooms appeared or too late in the day when they’re spent and facing downward. This year, thanks to advice via e-mail from fellow blogger and local photographer Patty Hankins, we finally got to photograph the flowers at their peak! (Patty shot some really beautiful images; you’ll see them on her blog). I’ll be posting the sunflower photos later.

After an hour and a half of photographing sunflowers, we headed to Kenilworth in Washington, D.C. And once again, we arrived during the Annual Waterlily Festival and the Lotus Asian Cultural Festival (I thought it was next weekend). Since it was later in the morning than we had expected to get there, it wasn’t the optimum time for photographing Lotus blossoms because of the harsh sunlight. Despite that, photographing the myriad dragonflies ended up making it well worth the trip anyway!

To see the Lotus blossom images I shot at Kenilworth in 2006 and 2007, click here and here.

Here’s an article from the Washington Post about this “oasis in the city.” If you’ve got the room (and the pond!) to grow these beautiful flowers, read these growing tips from Doug Green. And take a look at Patty Hankins’ Lotus blossom photos and glean some great photography tips on her blog here.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





wordle and how many of me

19 07 2008

Wordle is a really neat website that I found on Rik & Michelle’s blog. It takes text, a blog, an URL or RSS feed and creates a word cloud with the most frequently used words. With wordle you can customize your layout, color, font, or even let it generate at random. I had wordle generate some fun ones for me from this blog’s address—see the colorful and graphic selections below.

And here’s another neat site that Rik & Michelle found: www.howmanyofme. Pretty cool! I ran my name through it and discovered that there are 292,450 people in the U.S. named Cindy. There are 63,973 people with my last name, Dyer. And there are only 61 people in the U.S. named Cindy Dyer.

I ran Michael’s name through it and there are 4,022,709 Michael’s in the U.S. (it’s the 4th most popular first name!). Fewer than 335 people have his last name: Schwehr. And there are 4 or fewer with his entire name—Michael Schwehr. Oh, and just because I had a few more minutes to kill, I typed in…you guessed it…”John Doe.” There are (unbelievably) 300 people with that name. Try it for yourself!

I put Rik & Michelle’s blog on my blogroll some time ago because a) the postings are really fun to read, and b) they find the neatest links and share them with us. (Check it out when you get the chance). Thanks, Rik & Michelle!