Friday, May 27, 2016

Bachelor

Centaurea cyanus is also known as cornflower, basketflower, bluebottle, hurtsickcle and more commonly, perhaps, a bachelor button.   It is hard to understand how this was considered a weed that filled the fields and thus got the name cornflower, like a grain.  Then with agriculture growth and herbicides used to control weeds, it became endangered.   It can be found in only 3 sites in England where it used to be in over 250 areas.  Yet again, since it "sneaks" into grain seeds that are sent around the world, it is also known as an invasive weed or naturalized flower in other areas around the world!


In the United States they are popular in "grandma's garden."  The name bachelor button came about as bachelors wore them in their lapels when they were sweet on someone they wanted to date.  The longer the flower lasted, the stronger that the love was true love.  If the flower died fairly soon, than the bachelor had to find another true love.

The flowers are edible and look nice in salads.  They are also used in Lady Gray teas.  When picked, it should be in the early morning while still in bud and they will last longer in the flower arrangements.

My plant came out of a package of "wildflower" seeds that I scattered in a small bed.  I have only two little plants, but I do love that true blue color.  

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Welcome to the Jungle

These are the weird and wild days. "Global warming?" the skeptics decry, "WTF?" This spring has been extensive in days that are very cool---temperature wise.  I am not complaining.  I understand that this is an example of global warming, folks.  Usually our springs last a week or two and then we are into hot and humid summer where birds and frogs can barely breath the thick air, much less sing or croak.  


The forest has become a jungle with trees growing inches each day and letting their heavy branches drape like green shawls almost to the ground.  Even the volunteer jack-in-the-pulpit which grows beneath the blackberry bushes has out grown them by inches already!  And it has "pupped."

 
This year I could be standing on some planescape in a more Northern clime watching gauzy mist and ethereal clouds rolling in across gray green planes of wet vegetation.  I feel like that wanderlust lass in a romance novel waiting for her lover's ship to come in.   Then as the fog or mist lifts, ever so rarely, there are jewels of flowers with over-washed faces and limp hair-dos wondering what happened to the sun. 





It seems unfair that such rain makes everything so rich in growth and yet so beaten down with water.   I am not complaining, because I do not look forward to hot and humid.  But being of the Mediterranean gene pool, I do like to see the sun once in a while!

 

 

Friday, May 20, 2016

Almost Missed These

Yes, it is a gorgeous and long spring this year. Thought I would share some newcomers to the world. Below are Wood Ducks in a nearby marsh. 

Monday, May 16, 2016

Stalking the Songbird

That sun, which has been hidden behind dark and stormy clouds for days and weeks, is given free reign today.  He is already changing the lime greens to emerald.  He is warming up the throats of birds.

I sat under my sugar maple (planted a few years ago) and played a recording of a Tanager because my husband had seen and heard one the day before.  I was very patient and actually feeling more comfortable in the shade than the bright sun.  I waited and listened.  I waited some more.  I watched my self-seeded larkspur stand tall and feathery in the flower bed and shine with its own quiet song.


My Centranthus - Jupiter's Beard, which I saw on the TV show Doc Martin covering all of their walls, does very well in my garden including transplants.  In a while I may see the humming birds visit it.  It will re-bloom lightly later in the summer if I cut it back. 


Still I replay one of the Summer Tanager's recordings and wait.  I take a photo of that prodigal sun through the perfect leaves of my sugar maple.  No bugs have come to eat holes through the green skin and wind has not torn the edges yet.


The trunk is riddled with necklaces of holes that were drilled by the sapsucker a few weeks ago.  But the tree provides perfect shade.

Nearby a vireo does acrobatics swinging from branches and eating insects in the red bud tree.  He even hangs upside down and then does a flip and lands on the edge of a lower branch just for fun!

Then out of the corner of my eye in the distant tulip tree I see movement.  It looks like a dark medium bird.  I grab my binoculars and smile.  It is the tanager trying to see who has invaded its territory.  I am patient more minutes as it darts into the green canopy of our woods and then I can hear him mimicking the song of my recording.  I wait some more and his mate who is not the brilliant red, but a more golden, green, red, joins him in their search for the singing interloper.  I hope they stay and have a nest somewhere.  I turn the recording off and just sit and rest under my tree.

No bird photos because I had only the small camera and I was so enjoying myself just sitting and hiding.  Spring!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Greens


This week I went on a road trip to look for paw paw trees.   Actually Husband was looking for the trees and I was looking for Virginia scenery. We had time to visit the home of James Monroe, our fifth president, and the last of the founding fathers to serve in the White House.   We were treated to a most interesting tour of his restored home, told about some new archeological findings and toured the grounds.  Below are some pictures to show you how wet and green our spring has been.  How many colors of green do you see?  Click on photos for a closer experience.

 

Monday, May 09, 2016

May Jewels


April showers bring the flowers that bloom in May. 
May showers beat the hell out of those flowers or...
bedeck the foliage with jewels...
if you are a glass half full person

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Weather or Not

There is always some beauty in those huge ugly storms.  We have been spared the cloud shears and the impressive tornadoes.  But we have our share of dark skies being chased back by the sun at the end of the day.  This was yesterday's capture down by the osprey nest.  There was a double rainbow, but that might be hard to see in the photos.