In My Heaven…

27 07 2014

One of my favorite Mary Chapin Carpenter songs is “In My Heaven.” When I’m photographing in a garden, I’m in MY heaven. This is a type of sunflower (don’t know the exact name). What attracted me to this shot was the juxtaposition of the flower stalk against the trees and the bright blue sky. A fairly wide aperture created the beautiful bokeh.

UPDATE: I think these just might be Jerusalem artichokes (Helianthus tuberosus).

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Sunflower Sky





Daniel Scott’s Recycled Mosaics—prints now available!

5 08 2012

I met graphic designer and artist Daniel Scott, Jr. through my blog last spring. He asked permission to use a photo I had shot of a cluster of purple Spiderwort flowers as inspiration for one of his recycled mosaic illustrations, which he has been creating since 1995. My photo, shot at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, inspired him to create “A Vibrant Morning Wake,” which is seen here in a posting I did in July 2011, and in the collage below (upper left).

Each beautiful mosaic is made from thousands of tiny bits of recycled candy wrappers, drink labels, gum wrappers, and sugar and tea packets. He now has limited edition prints available for purchase in the store on his website here. His work is spectacular—check it out!





Ah Sunflower

5 07 2012

Ah Sunflower, weary of time,
Who countest the steps of the sun;
Seeking after that sweet golden clime
Where the traveller’s journey is done;
Where the youth pined away with desire,
And the pale virgin shrouded in snow,
Arise from their graves, and aspire
Where my Sunflower wishes to go!

William Blake (1757-1827)

Photo © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Hide ’n seek

31 08 2011

Photographed at the Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake, Wisconsin

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Wisconsin sunflower field

30 08 2011

I’ll prepare a panoramic photo to show you that this entire field was three times wider than this shot—just spectacular!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Love only the sunflower

21 07 2011

Ancient Aztec Flower Song (anonymous)

Be indomitable, Oh my heart!
Love only the sunflower;
It is the flower of the Giver-of-Life!
What can my heart do?
Have we come, have we sojourned here on earth in vain?
As the flowers wither, I shall go.
Will there be nothing of my glory ever?
Will there be nothing of my fame on earth?
At most songs, at most flowers,
What can my heart do?
Have we come, have we sojourned on earth in vain?

Photos © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Sunflower closeup

19 07 2011

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Same time, last year: One shot and he was off!

19 07 2011

I posted this photo last year around this time. Michael and I are headed up to McKee-Beshers in Maryland to photograph the sunflower field this morning (otherwise, this gal would not be up and typing this early! 😉 I hope to capture a slew of new photos—stay tuned for the results.

Originally posted in July 2010

Unlike the Dogbane Beetle, who let me photograph him for almost 15 minutes, I got just one shot of this Cucumber Beetle before he was off to another sunflower. I wish I could have had time to add some ring flash light to add extra sharpness to his body, but the composition draws me in, so I’m giving myself a brownie point for that!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Revisited: Sunflower closeup

16 07 2011

Originally posted July 11, 2010

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Re-post: Pollen buffet

11 04 2011

Originally posted July, 2008

Two bees (or maybe one bee and a flower fly, perhaps?) vying for pollen on one small sunflower. See the fella on the right? Look at how thick the pollen is on his body and legs!

UPDATE: This morning I received an informative comment below from a biologist in Argentina. (Visit his/her blog at http://polinizador.wordpress.com/)  Thanks for the details—I learn something new every day!

Nice photo. The one on the right is a female bee. The males don’t carry pollen on their back legs; in the world of bees the females do all the work. The one on the left is a flower fly, Eristalis; it is a male. You can tell because of its huge eyes.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Ah….nothing beats sunny yellow against cornflower blue!

13 07 2010

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Bee on Sunflower

11 07 2010

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Camouflage!

11 07 2010

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.






One shot and he was off!

11 07 2010

Unlike the Dogbane Beetle, who let me photograph him for almost 15 minutes, I got just one shot of this Cucumber Beetle before he was off to another sunflower. I wish I would have had time to add some ring flash light to add extra sharpness to his body, but the composition draws me in, so I’m giving myself a brownie point for that!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Sunflower closeup

11 07 2010

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Gina’s crimson sunflower

4 08 2008

Gina grew these plants from seed. (I’m so proud of you, grasshopper.) This might be the “Velvet Queen” variety—one of the darkest of all sunflowers with hues of burgundy, mahogany, chestnut red, and bronze with a very dark center. The flowers are 4-6 inches across and the plant can grow as high as 6 feet. They’re a magnet for goldfinches, which Gina can attest to—she has seen goldfinches picking at the seeds for a week now. What I wouldn’t give to be able to photograph a goldfinch landing on this flower…with the red, bright blue, and yellow. One can only dream…sigh…

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Drawn to the sun

22 07 2008

I must confess that the sunflower fields at McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area were a bit overwhelming at first. It was so much to take in visually! After climbing a ladder we had brought (as did a dozen other photographers sharing the field with us) to get a sweeping overhead view, I lost my sense of direction (physically and photographically) for a moment (or two). Once I shot the overhead perspectives, I had to narrow down my field of view to concentrate on closeups of individual flowers. The sheer number of flowers and insects buzzing about made that a bit difficult! To give you an idea of the number of sunflowers in the main field (there are two separate areas), I’ll upload the panorama-like shot on a separate posting. These four below are some of my favorites culled from Saturday morning’s photo adventure.

The downside about this place (my personal opinion) is that it is a public hunting area, no permit required. Read more here in a Washington Post article about why the sunflowers are really grown.

I knew there was an association for virtually everything, but I just discovered there is one dedicated just to sunflowers—the National Sunflower Association, located in Bismarck, North Dakota. Sunflowers have become an important agricultural crop for U.S. producers.

___________________________________________________

Ah Sunflower

Ah Sunflower, weary of time,
Who countest the steps of the sun;
Seeking after that sweet golden clime
Where the traveller’s journey is done;

Where the youth pined away with desire,
And the pale virgin shrouded in snow,
Arise from their graves, and aspire
Where my Sunflower wishes to go!

William Blake (1757-1827)

Photos © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Pollen buffet

16 07 2008

Two bees (or maybe one bee and a flower fly, perhaps?) vying for pollen on one small sunflower. See the fella on the right? Look at how thick the pollen is on his body and legs!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Purple overdose

16 06 2008

In an effort to keep my sister Debbie entertained (and it’s not hard to do, I’m happy to say), we drove up to the Pennsylvania Lavender Festival in Fairfield, Pennsylvania. An annual event, the festival is hosted by Madeline and Tom Wajda, owners of Willow Pond Farm. The 32-acre, family-owned herb farm is located fifteen minutes west of Gettysburg. Willow Pond Farm offers nearly 100 certified organic varieties of lavender on three acres. Three of the varieties, ‘Madeline Marie’, ‘Rebecca Kay’, and ‘Two Amys’, were developed at the farm. There are also a dozen demonstration gardens—culinary herbs, edible flowers, antique roses, mint, scented geraniums, salvias, medicinal herbs, biblical plants, and dye plants. There is also a silver “moon” garden, a sun garden, a shade garden, a butterfly garden, and a 200-foot-long perennial border.

I had the opportunity to talk to author Susan Belsinger. Susan co-authored The Creative Herbal Home with with Tina Marie Wilcox. Susan wrote three of the books in my personal library—Not Just Desserts, Gourmet Herbs, and The Garlic Book. Check out the other titles in Susan’s bookstore.

Author Tina Marie Wilcox has been the head gardener and herbalist at the Heritage Herb Garden at the Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View, Arkansas, since 1984. She has collaborated with Susan on articles that have appeared in The Herbarist (published by the Herb Society of America), The Herb Companion and Herbs for Health.

She is also a contributing editor of The Herb Companion, an excellent resource for all things herbal. Susan said the magazine was recently redesigned and is even better! Since I sometimes have a hard time finding the publication at local bookstores, I decided to finally sign up for a subscription on the spot.

We sampled the lavender lemonade, chocolate and lavender scones, and lavender cookies. You can order culinary lavender from Willow Pond Farm. There were about a dozen vendors offering a variety of products such as soaps, lotions, garden crafts, pottery, jewelry, French linens, teapots and accoutrements, and food. This year there were several free “cooking with lavender” sessions as well as several fee-based workshops on a variety of topics—nature leaf painting, making herbal teas, photographing your garden, making herbal cordials, and making natural dyes ($15 each). There is a “make your own lavender wand” craft session for $7.50. Willow Pond Farm also sells a variety of lavender and herb plants. And for just $5, you can cut your own lavender straight from the field!

Debbie’s husband Bill did a search on the Web to see where we were and discovered that there was a (much larger than the one we went to) Blanco Lavender Festival taking place at the same time in Blanco, Texas. Blanco is about 45 minutes from their home in San Antonio. There are eight lavender farms on the Blanco Lavender Festival tour. Three guesses where I’ll be next June!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Carmen’s Friendship Garden

21 10 2007

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

carmen-garden.jpg





Bee’s Knees

12 09 2007

This is one my favorite garden photos. Sue grew one of the Mammoth Russian sunflowers last year and called me over to record it. I would like to claim that I saw this little bee “coming in for a landing,” bee’s knees bent for impact, but that would not be true. I was shooting madly as the afternoon light was fading. It wasn’t until I browsed the images later that I noticed this little guy in flight. I had gotten numerous other shots with the bees already in place, gathering pollen, but this was pure serendipity.

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

knees-bees.jpg

I did a little research (not surprised, are you?) on the origin of “bee’s knees” and found some interesting tidbits:

http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/the-bees-knees.html

And, speaking of sunflowers, here are some interesting facts:

—The scientific word for sunflower is Hellianthus, referring to the ability of the sunflower bloom to follow the sun from sunrise until sunset. The word is derived from helios, meaning sun, and anthos, meaning flower.
—Argentina is currently the largest grower of sunflowers.
—The sunflower is grown for the seeds and oil it produces.
Each mature flower yields 40% of its weight as oil.
—The tallest sunflower grown was 25 feet tall and grown in the Netherlands.
—The largest sunflower head was grown in Canada and measured 32.5 inches across its widest point.
—The shortest mature sunflower was just over 2 inches tall and grown in Oregon using a bonsai technique.
—Sunflower stems were used to fill lifejackets before the advent of modern materials. —Low-pollen sunflowers have been developed in recent years which not only helps asthma sufferers, but extend the flower’s life.
—The flower was cultivated by North American Indians for many years as a food crop.
— The sunflower is not one flower, but a cluster of more then 2000 tiny flowers growing together.
— The sunflower is the state flower of Kansas and the national flower of Russia.
— The French word for sunflower is tournesol, or literally “turn with the sun.”
—The sunflower has been around for at least 8,000 years. Archeologists believe that Native American cultivated sunflowers as early as 2300 B.C., well before corn, beans, and squash.
—There are over 2,000 varieties of sunflowers identified to date. Unfortunately, many varieties have not been located and may be extinct.