Garden phlox

9 05 2013

Perennial or Garden phlox (Phlox paniculata); attracts butterflies and hummingbirds

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

White Flowers Phlox?





The beauty of pollination

15 02 2012

Thanks to my friend Jeff for sending this amazing video to me!





Egyptian Star Flowers (with bonus bug!)

17 10 2011

This one is for Galen, expert bug-spotter. Can you spot the spider (that I just now discovered!) hiding in this photo? Photographed at Green Spring Gardens

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Monarch Butterfly on Egyptian Star Flowers

17 10 2011

Egyptian Star Flower (Pentas lanceolata) is a fall-blooming herbaceous perennial that is treated as an annual in my Zone 7 area. The cluster of buds open into small (1/2 inch at most) star-shaped flowers that are irresistible to butterflies and bees. Photographed at Green Spring Gardens

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Buttonbush

28 06 2011

I photographed this Buttonbush cluster (Cephalanthus occidentalis), also known as Button willow and Honey balls, this morning at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in Washington, D.C. A native wetland tree, it can grow 10-15 feet tall and spread 15-30 feet. The mid-summer blooms are rich in nectar that attracts butterflies and other insects.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Bumblebee on Bee Balm

4 06 2011

Bee Balm (Monarda), also called wild bergamot, Oswego tea and horsemint, is an herbaceous perennial that attracts butterflies, hummingbirds and other nectar-seeking creatures. Bee Balm flower colors include red, pink, white and lavender. Blooming early to late summer in full sun, Bee Balm grows two to four feet tall, multiplies readily and is easy to care for.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Blooming in my garden: Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ Beard Tongue

25 05 2011

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ Beard Tongue—this perennial plant gets its “Beard Tongue” nickname from the tuft of yellow hairs just outside of the throat of the flowers. A North American native, Beard Tongue likes full sun to partial shade and prefers drier, average soil. This easy-to-grow plant attracts birds and butterflies. Hardy to zone 3; grows 2-3 feet tall

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Cat’s Whiskers (Orthosiphon stamineus)

15 09 2010

Part of the mint family, Cat’s Whiskers are herbaceous perennial flowering plants originating in tropical East Asia. They grow up to two feel tall and three to four feet wide. The flowers have an orchid-like appearance and are white or lavender, sprouting long stamens that resemble cat’s whiskers. They attract butterflies and hummingbirds and can be harvested to use in herbal teas. I photographed this plant at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, Virginia.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Another Monarch for Mary Ellen!

3 09 2010

This one is for Mary Ellen Ryall, creator of the Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake, Wisconsin! I photographed this Monarch butterfly on a ‘Zowie’ Zinnia at Green Spring Gardens this afternoon. An overcast but very bright sky made for great lighting for photography. The gardens were swarming with insects—including Eastern Tiger Swallowtails, Spicebush Swallowtails, Monarchs, various Skippers, Sulphurs and Common Buckeyes. I photographed an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail on a ‘Zowie’ Zinnia  few weeks ago here.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Dolphins, oh my! and snorkeling gone awry

3 08 2009

On June 2, the day after Chantell and Austin’s sailboat wedding in Key West, our entire group went back out to sea in two boats for our great dolphin watch and snorkeling adventure. As Captain Gary predicted, we did see a plethora of dolphins. He told us that they were taking an afternoon siesta—that explained why they didn’t come up really close to the boat or show their faces very often—but I still got some nice record shots.

The morning started off beautifully—smooth aqua-colored water, sun in the sky, dolphins encircling both boats. We got to the snorkeling spot and disembarked. By the time I got the hang of the mask-in-the-water-tube-above-water-don’t-forget-to-breathe procedure (thanks to Kathy), the waves picked up (making it hard to keep the salt water out of our tubes!). We knew it was getting a bit dangerous to stay out. The sky went from sunny and blue to a menacing shade of gray. The boats were rocking so violently that we had trouble even getting back into the boat when our trusty captains called us in. The snorkeling jaunt was supposed to be 45 minutes long—we weren’t in the water more than 20+ minutes before the weather ended it all. The ride back to shore was incredibly violent and the rain started coming down so hard that we were soaked by the time we got back to the dock. It was so choppy that I couldn’t even shoot photos to show how rough the weather was! Despite the rocky and abrupt ending to our adventure, we certainly had a “Champion!” morning—as Zimbabwe-born Captain Gary had promised.

The Muchemore family was on Captain Gary’s boat. Michael and I shared a boat with A.J. and his girlfriend, Christina (the couple shown in two of the photos below). A.J. is in the Army and was home on leave from Afghanistan and vacationing in Key West with Christina. The two met in Pontiac, IL (where he is from) four years ago and became the best of friends, which evolved into a “fairytale love story,” according to Christina. When he gets home in December (they’re hoping), he’ll be moving to Schaumburg, IL, where Christina majors in Interior Design at the Art Institute. She plans on getting her masters in architecture. A.J. will attend Harper Community College to finish his degree. And it appears that there’s an engagement and wedding in their future—need a photographer, Christina?

Check out these links below for more photos from our weekend in Key West, including Chantell and Austin’s wedding:

Birds of a feather
https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2009/06/05/what-20-bucks-will-get-ya-in-key-west/

A rather unusual tree
https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2009/06/11/amazing-tree-in-downtown-key-west/

Weekend in Key West
https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2009/06/04/weekend-in-key-west/

Here lizard, lizard, lizard
https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2009/06/05/here-lizard-lizard-lizard/

Cloudspotting
https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2009/06/05/cloudspotting-spinal-column/

Much more of the Muchemores
https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2009/06/11/much-more-of-the-muchemores/

Muchemore redux
https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2009/06/25/muchemore-redux/

Chantell and Austin
https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2009/06/26/chantell-and-austin-on-the-pier/

Yes, another wedding photo…
https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2009/06/28/yes-another-wedding-photo/

The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory
https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2009/06/28/the-key-west-butterfly-and-nature-conservatory/

A few more butterflies…
https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2009/06/28/a-few-more-butterflies/

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

SnorkelAdventure





A few more butterflies…

28 06 2009

…from the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

KeyWestButterfliesx3





Weekend in Key West!

4 06 2009

That title should explain my brief (and abrupt) exit from my blog. Michael and I flew into Key West on Saturday afternoon. We spent that evening exploring Key West, followed by a visit to a botanical garden and a butterfly conservatory on Sunday. Late Sunday afternoon we met up with the parents of the groom, Kathy and Kevin (groom’s parents), who are my parent’s neighbors in San Antonio. They had asked us to join them at their timeshare in Key West; the trip soon morphed into the impromptu sailboat-at-sunset wedding of their son, Austin, and his lovely bride, Chantell. I was asked to photograph the event and was thrilled to do so. This is just one of the photos I’ll be posting. I shot this shortly after they said their “I do’s.” (Notice the sunset behaved well for the shot, too!) It was the most fun wedding I’ve ever photographed (and I’ve shot over 100 of them since college)! Chantell and Austin—with their unbridled energy, enthusiasm, and sparkling white smiles (not much to improve in Photoshop there!)—were such a joy to photograph. Perfect weather, perfect wedding, perfect couple with perfect smiles, perfect day!

We had to get back so I could photograph an event for the American Horticultural Society (which I’m leaving for now, in fact), so we (sadly) couldn’t stay with them the rest of the week. This was our second time in Key West, but we saw quite a bit more than we did on our first trip many years ago. I felt like we were in some exotic country—almost forgot we were still in the U.S. It’s quite a different atmosphere—lizards, iguanas, roosters and chickens running loose everywhere…very laid-back atmosphere…brightly colored cottages and exotic flowers in bloom…and bicyclists and mopeds galore. It was a short but very adventurous four days!

More photos to come of botanical garden lizards and flowers, butterflies, Key West shots, parrots, Hemingway’s house, cats, boats, interesting clouds, dolphins, snorkeling…and, of course, more wedding and sailboat shots.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Chantell Austin Wedding





Ten for 10

21 05 2009

About a half hour before the Green Spring Gardens plant sale was to close this past Saturday, the Virginia Master Gardeners booth started hawking all of their plants as “ten for $10.” Yep…some of the same plants I had purchased about two hours earlier for $5+, much to my chagrin. Reasonable prices before, yes, but at $1 each—what gardener in their right mind would possibly pass on that offer? Never mind if we’ve run out of space in our gardens—they’re a dollar! Just a dollar! We’ve discovered that some of the vendors do that each year so they don’t have to drag all the unsold items back to wherever they originated…and I am only too happy to help them lighten their load.

My 10-for-10 purchases included:

PrimroseOenothera Lemon Drop, common name ‘Evening Primrose’—a low-maintenance, herbaceous perennial that blooms in full sun from June-September. This perennial is tough, tolerates poor soil, and loves the sun. Bright yellow blooms all summer. Deadheading is not necessary, it’s drought and heat tolerant and grows 8-12″ tall. It can also be grown in containers, where it will trail over the sides. And of course I already have some of these in my front yard garden, courtesy of our friend Micheline, who shared them with us when she downsized houses a few years ago. There was a large bank of these cheery flower blooming profusely in her backyard garden. Photo courtesy of Missouri Botanical Garden PlantFinder.

AnemoneOne sorta sad-looking (had to rescue it, though) Japanese Aneomone or Windflower (Anemone hupehensis)–-the tag indicates the flowers will be pinkish/mauve, so this might be the variety ‘September Charm.’ This perennial plant bears poppy-like flowers in September and October. The plants reach a height of four to five feet with each flower having five or more petal-like sepals that enclose the golden stamens. The leaves turn wine-red in autumn. Wish this plant luck—it will need it! Photo © Cindy Dyer.


WhiteWoodAsterTwo White Wood Asters (Aster divaricatus)—also known as ‘Eastern Star’—perennial herbaceous native to the eastern U.S. Grows 1-3 feet high with 3/4 to 1-inch white ray flowers that bloom profusely from August to September. The center of each flat-top flower starts yellow then ages to a reddish purple hue. The leaves are heart-shaped, stalked and sharply-toothed. White Wood Asters grow in part shade to full shade, are low-growing and low maintenance, and attract butterflies. They thrive in dry shade but become lush in moist soil. Cut hard at least once in spring to set the foliage back. Photo courtesy of Missouri Botanical Garden PlantFinder.

Viola striata (other common names: Striped cream violet, Common white violet, Pale violet, Striped violet)—native perennial herb blooms white and purple flowers April through June. Requires part shade and moist, loamy soil. This plant spreads through its rhizomes. Flowers attract bee flies, butterflies (particularly caterpillars of Fritillary butterflies and several species of moths) and skippers. Seeds are eaten by mourning doves, wild turkeys, mice, and rabbits.

MaxSunflowerI should be punished for purchasing another Maximilian sunflower (Helianthus maximiliani). I bought the same plant four years ago because I thought it would be perfect at the bottom of the steps of our front porch. The plant label purported, “cheery little yellow flowers on 4 ft. stems.” Four feet tall—nice size for the front entrance, right? By the end of the summer, visitors were asking us if we were growing corn in the front yard. We measured it and the tallest stalk was about 12 feet high! I just did some research and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center site claims they grow 3-10 ft. high. What kind of wild range is that? (Imagine this scenario: Officer: Ma’am, how tall was the man who stole your wheelbarrow? Me: Ummm…he was three feet tall….then again, he might have been ten feet tall. I can’t be certain!) The plant grows Jack-in-the-Beanstalk high and then very late in the summer it sprays forth masses of miniature (2-3 inches across) yellow sunflowers that are at their most beautiful when they sway against a cornflower blue sky. And if I really want to get some good closeup shots of the blooms, I have to drag out the tall ladder to do so! Did I need another of these plants? No. But it was only a buck! Anyone have room in their garden for it? Photo © Cindy Dyer.

EchinopsRitroGlobe Thistle (Echinops ritro)—Clump-forming herbaceous perennial with coarse, prickly leaves (and how!) with 1-2 ball-shaped silvery-lavender-blue or dark blue flowerheads blooming in early to late summer on rigid branching stems 24-48 inches tall. These beautiful ornamentals grow best in full sun to mostly sunny areas, attract bees and butterflies, are good for cut flowers (and dried bouquets as well), will tolerate the heat and are deer resistant. And yes, I already have one—it’s about three years old and is the size of a small shrub already. I expect a plethora of blooms this season. Photo © Cindy Dyer.

SnowonthemountainSnow-on-the-Mountain (Euphorbia marginata)—I photographed this beautiful annual plant at Green Spring Gardens last year and posted the images on my blog here. A member of the spurge family, it flowers in the summer. Reaching 18-24 inches high, it requires sun to partial shade, and will attracts a plethora of butterflies, moths, bees, wasps and other insects—a veritable photographic smorgasbord! Now I’ll have one of my very own…once I find a place to plant it, that is. Folks, it was just a dollar, remember? Photo © Cindy Dyer.


Whorled Milkweed (Asclepias verticillata)—This tough native is deer-resistant and provides food for larval butterflies. Clusters of sweet-scented white flowers appear on 1-2 foot stalks in June and July. Whorled milkweed can be found in prairies, pastures, open woods and by the roadside. Learn more about attracting Monarch butterflies to your garden (and purchase milkweed seeds, too) at www.happytonics.org.

Salvia

‘Ostfriesland’ Salvia (Salvia nemorosa)—also known as Violet Sage, Ornamental Meadow Sage, Perennial Woodland Sage—this sun-loving herbaceous perennial grows 12-18 inches high with fragrant violet-blue flowers blooming from summer to autumn. Attractive to bees, butterflies and birds, and deer resistant. I couldn’t find this version in my files or a suitable one to reprint, so I’m showing a similar salvia I photographed at Butchart Gardens. Photo © Cindy Dyer







A very fine (birth)day, indeed!

20 10 2008

On Sunday my friend Karen treated me to a day-before-my-birthday lunch and a matinee showing of The Secret Life of Bees. Michael and I read the book, written by Sue Monk Kidd, when it came out in 2002 and loved it! I vowed that if no one ever made a movie based on this story, I would scrape together enough money to buy the rights and make it myself (pipe dream, I know). Thank goodness I never had to do that. The screenplay writer, director, and actors did a superb job bringing this story to life.

Then this afternoon Michael and I spent several hours at one of my favorite places to photograph, Green Spring Gardens. Although Michael and I had grand plans this morning to hit the road on a day trip, I’m glad we spent the time rambling around this local garden instead. There was so much still in bloom and so many bugs and butterflies to photograph. The afternoon light was amazingly golden, too. I was happy to see two new butterflies I hadn’t seen before (don’t worry, I’ll identify them later—unless someone wants to beat me to it—consider it my birthday present!).

I started preparing these images when I got home. The doorbell rang and I was the recipient of the most beautiful bouquet of flowers from Elizabeth and Rob, proud new parents of baby Josie. Thanks to you both for such a lovely birthday gift! And it was pure pleasure to photograph Josie. (And you know I’ll be photographing the bouquet you sent as well, so stay tuned.)

View the sweet photos of Josie in the links below:

https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2008/10/17/daddys-very-little-girl/

https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2008/10/17/josephine-margaret-and-family/

https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2008/10/19/josie-au-naturel/

To top off my perfect day, I had dinner at Macaroni Grill with Michael, and dear friends Regina, Jeff, and Tom. I had the parmesan-crusted sole—it’s a new item on the menu and it was delicious!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.






Wings of Fancy at Brookside Gardens

5 09 2008

This morning Michael and I went to photograph the “Wings of Fancy” live butterfly exhibit, in its 12th year at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, Maryland. The exhibit is at the South Conservatory and is open from 10:00 a.m. — 4:00 p.m. daily through September 21. Admission is $5.00 for adults, $4 for children ages 3-12, and free for children age 2 and under.

The website mentions that the greenhouse is usually ten degrees warmer than the outside. They weren’t kidding about that! It got pretty uncomfortable after about 20 minutes, but we were so excited about the myriad photographic opportunities that we just plugged ahead—glasses steamed, brows sweating. One of the volunteers said there are several hundred butterflies in the conservatory, representing 60 different species from Asia, Costa Rica, and North America.

These are just a few of the butterflies in the conservatory:

Atlas Moth (with a wingspan of at least 6 inches!)
Zebra Mosaic
Clipper
Giant Swallowtail
Julia Heliconian
Paper Kite
Banded Purple Wing
White Peacock
Cydno Longwing
Mexican Shoemaker
Tiger Longwing
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
Question Mark
Agentinean Canna Skipper
American Giant Swallowtail
Malachite
Browntip
Painted Lady
Red Postman
Gray Cracker
Common Morpho
Common Mormon
Monarch
Gulf Fritillary

The collage below shows 29 different butterflies and moths in the exhibit. You’ll notice three of the same type (the dark brown and light blue butterfly; 5th one down). I was able to get numerous different shots of this species. The most elusive was the Common Morpho, which rarely settled in one place long enough to photograph one. Wings closed, this rather large butterfly is various shades of brown with bronze-colored “eyes” on its wings. Wings open, it is the most gorgeous shade of metallic azure blue! I was able to get one shot with wings close and just a touch of the blue showing. I’ll post that separately. I did get one shot open, but it was on the window and the image isn’t tack sharp. I’ll post it anyway just to show how beautiful this butterfly is. Two of the images in this collage show mating butterflies, which the volunteers pointed out to us so we could photograph them.

© Cindy Dyer. All right reserved.





Photographic smorgasbord

8 08 2008

I photographed this series of photos at Green Spring Gardens yesterday morning. The plant is Euphorbia Marginata. A member of the spurge family (Euphorbiaceae), it is also known as ‘Snow-on-the-Mountain’ and ‘Summer Icicle.’

According to the U.S. Geological Society, there are about 7,000 species of Euphorbiaceae worldwide, including rubber trees, cassava, and tapioca (one of my favorite desserts!).

The name ‘marginata’ was used because of the showy borders of the upper leaves and tracts. I also learned that it is a self-sowing annual and the USGS site qualifies it as an herb. The milky sap is toxic if eaten, and can cause contact dermatitis for people with sensitive skin. It is grown from seed in the spring and has a long vase life. Thompson & Morgan sells seeds for this half-hardy annual.

This plant attracted a vast array of insects—bees, wasps, flies, and butterflies. I stayed at this site for at least 20 (very intense) minutes and was overwhelmed by the number of (fast-moving) subjects to photograph. If I had room in my garden, this plant would definitely be included!

ADDENDUM: I started doing some research to try to label the insects below.

PHOTO #1: I’m pretty confident this is a Honey Bee (my very first photograph of one—and I hope not the last, given the issue of colony collapse disorder that is threatening honey bees worldwide). On one site I read that a honey bee’s wings stroke over 11,000 times per minute, thus making their distinctive buzz. (No wonder I had a hard time photographing these critters!)

PHOTO #2: Your guess is as good as mine—some kind of fly, I’m betting. Care to do the research for me?

PHOTO #3 is either a Paper Wasp—there are twenty-two species of paper wasps identified in North America, and although the Wikipedia site shows the Polistes dominula species predominately (yellow and black in color), this one could be a Polistes carolina. The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension site details the life cycle and habitat of the paper wasp. OR, it could be a Spider Wasp, Tachypompilus ferrugineus. Now, I’m really confused.

As scary (and feared) as wasps can be, they are crucial to ecosystems. They can be either parasitic or predaceous and play a vital role in limiting populations of insects such as caterpillars and other larvae that destroy crops. Both yellow jackets and paper wasps are beneficial in this way. Wasps feed on flower nectar and play a role in pollination, too.

PHOTO #4: This one could be a type of Spider Wasp (Episyron biguttatus), too. Check out this video to see why they’re called “Spider wasps.”

PHOTO #5 (and #7): I’m 99.9% sure this is an Eastern Yellow Jacket. Learn more about them here.

PHOTO #6: This could be a Greenbottle Blow Fly (Lucilia). And for all you CSI fans out there, did you know that this species of fly is often used by forensic entomologists to determine time and place of death? Visit Wikipedia to learn more about this fly. (FYI: The original CSI beats Miami CSI and New York CSI anytime. David Caruso should really retire…and soon). Hey, since you’re already researching #2 for me, it shouldn’t be too much trouble for you to verify this identification, should it?

AND….THE ONE(S) THAT GOT AWAY—I saw digger wasps just like these (from a distance too far to shoot) and wasn’t sure exactly what I was seeing until I did some research. The bottom one was feeding on the flowers and the other was…ahem…let’s just say this was one multi-tasking pair!

Now that I’ve had time to think about it—I sure was up close and personal with a plethora of “could-really-sting-me” insects that morning, wasn’t I?

© Cindy Dyer. 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: www.cindydyer.com/ButterfliesGardens2.pdf 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, (http://www.happytonics.org/) have begun establishing a monarch butterfly and native plant sanctuary near Shell Lake, Wisconsin.

Read here about her efforts: http://www.superiorbroadcast.org/butterfly.htm

© Cindy Dyer, Dyer Design. All rights reserved.

happy-tonics-2.jpg