Saturday, August 29, 2009

Last Days of August

Reflections of the pink petaled Echinacea in the markings of the Aphodite Fritillary are magical and striking... this is the first time I recall ever having noticed that phenomenon. Another first is sighting the Black-throated Green Warbler in the Viburnums last week... he was as curious about me, as I was intent on capturing his image. You can see him stretching tall in one photo... checking me out... and showing off his black throat... then he flew across to the crabapple tree... never taking his eye off of me, he then flew right over to where I was standing. At first he hid a bit behind a lilac leaf... and peeked out... within seconds he came out and perched nearly right in front of me... not more than two feet away... the better to eye this human! Precious! What a sweet gift! I would guess this beautiful warbler is a trusting immature male. I had noticed a new song in the air last week but could not find the bird. I feel certain he is just passing through for there were none nesting here this summer or any in the last twenty years that I am aware of. Flower Hill Farm offers the perfect habitat for this bird... I hope he will return and nest here in the spring. Another gift in the garden comes from the Magnolia stellata... its interesting seed pods are well formed this near last day of August, and will continue to enchant as they open... revealing bright orange skin... of the seeds within. Stay tuned!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Blooming Friday Berries and Blossoms

The steamy hot hazy days... seen in the last three photos above... have passed and the temperatures are delicious and cool. You really need to click on the images to see them better. There are many berries and a few blooms here and there in the gardens... to see other blooms the world over visit lovely plantswoman Katarina's... 'Roses and Stuff'. Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Hummers Last Perch? Leaving Flower Hill Farm in the Lurch?

Not quite the last perch but August is waning and nearly gone now. The waxing moon is setting in the west later each evening... its belly still in the dark swelling into the light more each night. Venus is bright and rising over Walnut Hill before dawn... her shimmering and twinkling awake me just long enough for sleepy admiration. Migrating birds and butterflies are passing by. Movements and rhythms of nature are stirring... exciting activity of wings to air, limbs to roots in earth... various flights from one point to another. From tips of trees or plant tops to buried roots, life forces are dreaming of retreating.

Soon with September's arrival the hummingbirds will join up with others and fly away from Flower Hill Farm and I shall miss their dazzling animation in the gardens. The males are the first to go, as they were the first to arrive in early spring. They are solitary creatures mating with more than one female, forging no bonds and afterwards taking no interest in their young... but males will allow females they have mated with to forage in their territory. The female cares for her young on her own, and they will leave the gardens soon after she departs... heading south flying over tree tops only coming down for food and rest along their migration route. I will miss their squeaky chirps, tiny iridescent, sparkling green bodies and curious flights up towards my face checking me out. It is always a delight to site one resting, as here in the crabapple tree and to observe their many gestures. In the seventh photo down you can see two hummers ... a rare catch for me ... be it ever so muddled. A rarity for another reason too ... as they seem to leave each other alone. Once the little one flies away, the crabapple seems a bit empty... that is until the next bird flies into its canopy.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Blooming Friday Monarchs, Mimicry, Lacy Queens and Hydrangeas

Flower Hill is nearly deflowered this blooming friday... unless you look to the wild and in my studio, where I am putting together wedding flowers for this weekend. Joe Pye weed, a cluster of lilies, a few rose blooms, Hostas and Sedums just beginning and Hydrangeas still lacy... along with Queen Anne's Lace... all attracting bees and butterflies are blooming and bearing the hazy heat. The Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are still darting about in the Himalayan Balsam and inquisitive as ever. There are several last blooms of Buddleia enticing and feeding butterflies and here you see the Monarch of butterflies... there is no other flutterby that moves and navigates as this King and Queen of the air waves. It has been a dismal year here for the Monarchs, mostly I believe due to the rainy wet spring and early summer... I have eyed the lovely mimic Viceroy a few times and then again yesterday, when I also saw my second Monarch butterfly of the summer. The tear to the Viceroy's fabric of wing reveals that mimicry is not always safe... and I have seen many a Monarch with torn wings as well. Birds have learned to eat only certain parts of the abdomen, and to spit out the part that holds the toxic chemical ingested by the caterpillars from their host plant milkweed. It is easy to see the differences in these two butterflies. I have inserted a photo, of a male (the tiny sacs on both wings indicates the sex) Monarch with wings fully open, from last year to help illustrate this point. Along the open wings of the Viceroy, it is as if a thick black spun thread is woven through the mosaic pattern, whereas there is no such thread going through the Monarchs wings. There are many other variations including; the head, thorax and abdomen, the large black brush strokes along the base of the upper wings, the shape of the wings, the milky white spotting and wing coloration when folded... truly they are totally different creatures with similar markings and colors. Though the Viceroy is but a imitation of the Monarch for supposed protection, both butterflies are equally vulnerable, bold and radiant when lit by the sun, in their stained glass orange luminous gowns. The photo from last year shows a fresh Monarch bathed in full sun on ageratum... not quite fair to the Viceroy shown more in shade. To paint both would surely show you all the minute details unique to each. My photos from yesterday show a Monarch feasting on Buddleia, while the Viceroy is sipping Queen Anne's Lace. I am featuring Hydrangeas this Blooming Friday... to see more blooms from around the world go to Katarina's Roses and Stuff.
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