In the studio: Mary Ellen Ryall

1 11 2013

Butterfly posterMary Ellen Ryall and I crossed paths more than eight years ago when I purchased milkweed seeds from her through eBay. This connection quickly morphed into a frequent e-mail exchange and a great friendship! I do volunteer design and photography for her environmental education organization, Happy Tonics. For several years, I designed and produced her quarterly 4-page newsletter, Butterflies & Gardens, as well as other marketing materials. I also designed a Monarch Butterfly Habitat Poster for her a few years ago. The poster included original photographs by me and my friends Brian K. Loflin (www.bkloflin.wordpress.com) and Jeff Evans (www.evanimagesandart.com).

I had the chance to visit Mary Ellen in her former home base in Minong, Wisconsin, in August 2011. (Sidebar: at the time I was making the three-hour drive from the Minneapolis airport to Minong, I called Michael and learned that I had just missed a big earthquake in the D.C. area; it was enough to scare both him and our cat, ZenaB, and for a vase to fall off a bookcase and break!). While in Shell Lake and Minong, I visited Mary Ellen’s Monarch Butterfly Habitat and met many of her friends, most notably Diane Dryden, a published author and feature writer for the Washburn County Register. Diane’s novels, The Accidental King of Clark Street and Double or Nothing on Foster Ave., are available on Amazon here.

About a year ago, Mary Ellen relocated to Fitchburg, MA, to be closer to her sister. She talked of slowing down, but I knew she wouldn’t—she’s brimming with far too many ideas! An author and truly dedicated environmental educator, Mary Ellen’s first book, My Name is Butterfly, was published by Salt of the Earth Press in 2011. This teaching book about a little girl and a Monarch butterfly was illustrated by Marie Aubuchon-Mendoza and is available here.

TwoBooksEarlier this year, I assisted Mary Ellen with producing The Monarch Butterfly Coloring Book. Written by Mary Ellen Ryall and illustrated by Moira Christine McCusker, It is available for purchase here. It is published by Mary Ellen’s new company, Butterfly Woman Publishing. Our next project is a plant guidebook, which we hope to debut in 2014. She visited the D.C. area a few weeks ago to attend a three-day conference for the North America Pollinator Protection Campaign (NAPPC). She is presently on a task force to design a smart app called S.H.A.R.E. (Simply Have Areas Reserved for the Environment). This app will allow gardeners around the country to list their habitats on a national map. Mary Ellen blogs about organic gardening and open pollination for diversity on her blog here.

After seeing the portraits I did of her while she was in town, Mary Ellen said, “now I see that I have to go out and buy a new wardrobe!” The outfits she is wearing came from my “modeling rack” as well as my closet. She feels I captured her energy in the shots—and if you’ve ever met her, you know how high-energy this woman is!

P.S. Butterflies are the second largest group of pollinators after bees. Butterflies as pollinators are in trouble too. The Monarch butterfly population is down to only five percent in 2013. The Monarch and other butterflies need native host plants. We need to plant native wildflowers to bring butterflies home. Milkweed is the only host plant of the Monarch butterfly. If you would like to be part of the solution to stop the decline of Monarch butterflies, plant some milkweed seeds in your garden! Mary Ellen sells seed on her website here.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

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Sedum and Lantana with Bumblebee

28 09 2011

Can you spot the tiny “bonus” bug in this photo? Photographed at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, Virginia

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Bumblebee on White Coneflower

20 06 2011

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Bee on Passion Flower

18 08 2010

Photographed at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, 8.15.2010

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)

6 08 2010

Lobelia cardinalis is a perennial herbaceous plant is often found in wet places such as stream banks and swamps. This Virginia native wildflower blooms in August and is pollinated by hummingbirds. Photographed at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, Virginia

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.






Magenta!

2 08 2010

Does anyone else find it difficult to maintain detail in flowers that are in the pink-red spectrum? This was photographed under a bright, but overcast sky.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.






Blooming in my garden today…

3 08 2009

Two passion flowers on the vine this morning…in our zone 7 area, passion flowers must be treated as an annual. I bought this vine from Home Depot and bring it indoors right before the first frost, put it just inside my office patio doors (where it gets filtered light and I keep it watered) and take it out again in spring. I’ve been able to keep it going strong for four consecutive years now—not bad for my $20 investment, huh?

I noticed that passion flower is spelled as one word and as two words all over the web—by experts and novice gardeners alike. In past postings, I’ve spelled it as one word. Which do you prefer? Are they both correct?

There are more than 500 known species and several hundred hybrids of passiflora. Most are vine-flowering, although some are shrubs, and a few are herbaceous. Just nine species are found in the U.S. and Southern Asia has the most native species–17. The most common species in the southeastern U.S. is the Maypop, Passiflora incarnata. Its edible fruit is sweet, yellow, the size of a chicken’s egg, and few pests bother it. It is the larval food of a number of butterfly species and important to local wildlife. Carpenter bees are important pollinators of maypops.

For more information on passion flowers:

Passiflora Online is a comprehensive website with growing tips, FAQs, plant ID, hybrid and species images, pollinators, and much more.

Plants in Motion has videos of a passion flower in bloom and also short clips of bees visiting the flowers.

Tradewinds Fruit has a great database of passion flower blossoms. Click on the “related species” section on the left of the site to see a wide variety of passion flower plants.

See more of my passion flower photos in the links below:

https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2008/08/26/its-about-time/

https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2008/06/22/backyard-blooms/

https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2008/06/21/meanwhile-in-the-garden/

https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2008/07/28/lady-margaret/

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

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