Category Archives: Dragonflies
“You give but little when you give of your possessions.
“The wise man does not lay up his own treasures.
Posted in animals, butterflies, butterfly photos, Color, Dragonflies, Dragonflies, Encouragement, Environmental Preservation, Flower Gardening, flower photos, Garden Tapestry, Gardening in Williamsburg, Nature art, Nature Photography, Photography, Silent Sunday, Summer Garden, Sunday Dinner, Wildlife gardening, Zone 7B Cultural Information
Tags: Black Eastern Swallowtail Butterfly, Butterfly bush, Butterfly garden, butterfly gardening, eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly, Encouragement, Gardening in Williamsburg, Generousity, Nature Photography, Photography, wildlife gardening, Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly
August is slowly, steadily, sliding into September.
Summer sun still bakes the beach,
and the garden ,
Nights whisper in
Frog and cricket song
Start a little earlier each evening;
Birds greet the sunrise a little later each day.
Dew gilded mornings feel fresh;
Clear blue skies deepening to sapphire.
Energy of beginnings :
Renewed interest –
Reawakened purpose –
Berries swell and ripen.
A season’s efforts almost complete.
Greens soften into plum,
crimson, gold, magenta,
Discarding the extraneous,
The exhausted, the empty husks of yesterday.
Words and Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014
Posted in animals, Autumn, Autumn Garden, Bald Eagles, butterfly photos, College Creek, Colonial Parkway, Color, Dragonflies, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly, Garden Resources, Gardening addiction, Great Blue Heron, James City Co. VA, Muscadine Grapes, Native Plants, Nature art, Perma Culture, Plant photos, Plants which attract butterflies, Plants which feed birds, Poetry, Summer Garden, toads, Trees, Use of Native Plants, Vines, Virginia Creeper, Weather, Zone 7B Cultural Information
When Jennifer issued her One Word Photo Challenge: Lavender this morning, I headed out between showers to capture a few photos of our lavender flowers in the garden.
We have been admiring the lavender Rose of Sharon from the living room windows.
In fact the hummingbirds have been hovering near them them all morning between the showers, and we enjoy watching them come and go.
But I suspected there might be other lavender flowers blooming this morning, if only I’d go out and notice them.
How does one draw a firm line between what is lavender and what is blue or pink?
There are so many shades, and all shine differently depending on the light.
Soon I was straying off the patio and into the wet grass, following the trail of lavender flowers through the garden.
And despite the wet, overcast weather, the garden was still buzzing with hungry creatures flying from flower to flower.
Perhaps moving a bit more slowly today, they seemed not to mind me closing in with the camera to capture their portraits.
I wonder how these flowers appear to our bees, and to our dragonflies.
Do their compound eyes see these colors even more intensely than ours?
Can they see flowers in ways we can only dream them?
What must it be like to spend one’s entire lifetime in pursuit of flowers, and the sweet nectar and pollen they hold? Might bees, like whales and dolphins, have a level of intelligence in advance of our own?
We have learned much about bees, and their language of dance, in recent years.
Now scientists have learned they can be trained, even more quickly than dogs, to sniff out certain odors.
New technologies are in development which use trained bees to sniff out drugs and other substances. It is all quite amazing to realize that bees can communicate with us in so many ways.
The low hum of their contented buzzing filled our garden this morning, much like the hum of a cat’s purr.
Hearing from friends across the country that bees are scarce in some gardens this summer, we feel special appreciation for the bees who choose to visit ours.
Another vital link in the web of life which brings food to our own table, we appreciate the lives of bees;
and all of the other small creatures who spend their lives in pursuit of nectar, moving from flower to flower in the garden.
Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014
One Word Photo Challenge: Lavender… Forest Garden
More One Word Photo Challenge: Lavender photos
Posted in Artemesia, Bee, Bees, Hummingbirds, Butterflies, and Dragonflies, Bumblebee, butterflies, chocolate mint, Color, Dragonflies, Dragonflies, Environmental Preservation, Garden Resources, Gardening in Williamsburg, Herbs, James City Co. VA, Nature art, One Word Photo Challenge, Perma Culture, Perma-culture, Photo Challenge, Plant photos, Rose of Sharon, Salvia, Stump Garden, Summer Garden, Wildlife gardening, Zone 7B Cultural Information
Texture, like color, presents itself to our eye and fingertips absolutely everywhere we turn in the garden.
Every petal, leaf, trunk and bit of gravel or soil present intriguing textures for us to explore and enjoy.
But so do the creatures who live here with us.
And of all the creatures buzzing and skittering around the garden today, our welcome guest, hummingbird moth, presented the softest and most inviting texture.
Would you love to reach and and stroke its velvety back?
Hummingbird moths are much calmer guests than hummingbirds.
Though their movements from flower to flower are so similiar that many people mistake the moths for the birds; the moths are less skittish around humans with cameras.
This guy allowed me to take perhaps 20 shots over several minutes, asking only the nourishment of Lantana nectar in return.
The hummingbirds who interrupted the photo shoot buzzed in and out before I could focus on them; chasing one another away from these Lantana flowers, and across the roof of our house towards the hummingbird delicacies growing around in the back.
They are also silky soft; immensely “petable” creatures… but I’ve yet to master the art of hummingbird whispering to draw them to land on a finger.
And so my focus returned to the little hummingbird moth; the insect who masquerades as a bird.
When in doubt, look closely for antennae, compound insect eyes, and clear wings. This identifies the creature as an insect, not a true bird.
This is the first one we’ve seen this season.
It is unlikely he is alone, so we will keep an eye out for his companions.
Other visitors sporting interesting textures today included butterflies, dragonflies, a grasshopper, and bees.
I was especially disturbed to find several lifeless bees, their bodies resting on leaves.
It is most unusual to find a dead bee here in the garden.
It may be another sign of the advancing season.
Just as a few leaves have begun to show gold and red, warning that autumn is coming sooner than we expect; so too the animals begin to respond to the ever turning wheels of time.
But our garden was alive for another summer day, animated and buzzing with a satisfying array of creatures.
Scaly skinks climbed the walls and window screens of the house. Shiny blue black wasps played in the grasses.
Bright red cardinals, and their mates, foraged among the ripening Hickory nuts.
And finally, the garden has come alive with several species of butterflies.
Noticing the varying textures of all this life is simply another way to appreciate its beauty.
Another way to drink it all in, while August lasts.
Words and Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014
Posted in animals, Bee, bees, Bumblebee, butterflies, butterfly photos, Culinary Sage, Dragonflies, Dragonflies, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly, Gardening addiction, Gardening in Williamsburg, Geranium, Hibiscus, Hummingbird Moth, Hummingbird Moth photos, Insects, James City Co. VA, Nature art, Painted Lady Butterfly, Photo Challenge, Plant photos, Rose of Sharon, Salvia, Summer Garden, Texture, Weekly Photo Challenge
I would love to join a “Dirty Hands” Garden Club;
One whose members know more about fertilizers
Than they do about wines…
I’d want our meetings spent wandering through nurseries,
Learning from expert gardeners,
Or building community gardens…
Not frittered away in chit chat over hors d’oeuvres .
And all of us would be at least a little expert in something,
Glad to share what we’ve learned;
And we all would love putting our hands in the dirt
To help something grow.
My club would collect species, not dues;
Re-build ecosystems rather than plant ivy and box.
We “dirty hands” gardeners can band together
In spirit, if not in four walls.
We can share plants and insights,
Instigate, propagate, and appreciate;
Perhaps we can even help rehabilitate
Some sterile lawn somewhere
Into something which nurtures beauty
And feeds souls….
Others can judge flowers,
Decorate homes at Christmas
And organize tours.
These things are needed, too.
(But I would rather be out in the garden;
Where cardinals preside over the morning meeting,
And hummingbirds are our special guests for the day.
The daily agenda ranges from watering to transplanting;
From pruning to watching for turtles and dragonflies.)
We wear our muddy shoes and well worn gloves with pride,
Our spades and pruners always close at hand.
We converse with Nature,
And re-build the web strand by strand,
Plant by plant.
If this invitation speaks to you,
Perhaps we can work together,
From wherever we might find ourselves
Around the globe.
We can each put our hands in the dirt
and create a garden,
And restore health and vitality to our Earth, together.
Does a “Dirty Hands” Garden Club
Appeal to you?
Posted in animals, Annuals, Bee, bees, Blue tailed Lizard, butterflies, butterfly photos, Canna, Catnip, Colocasia, Dill, Dragonflies, Dragonflies, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly, Echinacea, Environmental Preservation, Garden planning, Garden Resources, Gardening addiction, Gardening in Williamsburg, Gladiolus, Herbs, Hibiscus, Hibiscus moscheutos, Hummingbird photos, Insects, Iris, James City Co. VA, Lantana, Lizard, Morning Glory, Native Plants, Nature art, Nepata cataria, Organic Gardening, Perennials, Perma Culture, Perma-culture, Plant photos, Plants which attract butterflies, Plants which attract hummingbirds, Plants which attract pollinating insects, Plants which feed birds, Poetry, Redbud, Redbud Tree, Rose of Sharon, Roses, Salvia, Spider, Summer Garden, Use of Native Plants, Wildlife gardening, Zone 7B Cultural Information
Tags: Blue Hawaii, Colocasia, Dragonfly, eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly, Forest Garden, Garden Club, Gardening in Williamsburg, Hibiscus moscheutos, Poetry, Summer garden, Virginia, wildlife gardening, Wildlife photography
It was a long night with a Category II hurricane blowing up the coast.
From a tropical depression just a day or so ago, this storm quickly bulked up into a strong hurricane.
It came ashore across some of our favorite areas on the Outer Banks of North Carolina during the dark hours of early morning.
We watched the storm’s progress until nearly midnight, and then gave up and went to bed.
It grazed my beloved Topsail Island, and was headed to our special spots on Ocracoke and Hatteras as we watched the cast of the Weather Channel struggle against the strong wind and rain describing its progress in painful detail.
This “Arthur” was touching friends and family all across the Carolinas. We hoped its touch would be as gentle as possible.
We knew that Route 12, where we’ve spent many happy hours driving through the wildlife refuge and photographing the shore birds, would be wrecked by morning.
We love the coast of North Carolina and Virgina.
A hurricane on this special holiday weekend is the last thing we wanted to watch; and yet we watched the unfolding, hoping it would weaken and turn away from the coast.
I awakened a little before three AM to the sound of wind in the garden and rain on the roof.
I had to know the progress of the storm and the updated forecast. So as quietly as possible, I headed back to the TV, pillow in hand.
Our local meteorologists were broadcasting the story all night long.
Their reporters stood in the weather giving updates, alongside crews from The Weather Channel and other networks.
At three I heard of a possible tornado on the Lynnhaven Inlet at Virginia Beach.
The warnings were extending northwards. I watched and worked my counted cross stitch for the next hour, until it was clear the storm had begun to move out to sea.
Then to the couch for a little sleep.
I checked in again at five, and saw that somehow Jim Cantore was still standing in Buxton.
We had assumed that his producers were planning a Coast Guard rescue by helicopter, once that part of the island completely over-washed in the waves.
That would make really good TV, and could be re-played by the Weather Channel cast for years to come.
But, alas, he had found a steel and concrete structure and was braced against it, barely able to stand, ankle deep in sea water; but still giving live commentary as the storm rolled past.
By a quarter to six, the forecast track clearly showed the storm turning out to sea.
We were getting our much needed rain, and I still could hear the wind blowing through the trees. But the tornado warnings were gone.
I decided to get some more sleep.
By the time I awoke again a little after seven, it was light outside. A gorgeous morning here with light rain and cool, moist breezes greeted us.
We decided to head out to the Parkway to see what the morning held, and what the storm had left behind.
A few branches had blown down, but we were so very fortunate to have no real damage.
Our power was on, there was no flooding near us, and the trees in our community stood through the night.
We saw the outermost curved band of “Arthur” in the sky as we left our driveway.
It was a thin skim of clouds against the clearing morning sky.
The wind is still with us this afternoon.
The storm continues moving north and east, towards another landfall in New England.
I hope all touched by the storm can pick up the pieces, clean up the mess, and move on from this.
It is only the first named storm of the tropical season.
We’ll be watching our coastal waters from now until the end of November, hoping that all of the systems which form stay well out to sea, and far away from our beautiful coasts and our loved ones.
Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014
Posted in animals, Bald Eagles, Black Snake, Canada Geese, Canada Geese, Colonial Parkway, Cypress, Dragonflies, Eastern Box Turtle, Environmental Preservation, Gardening addiction, Great Blue Heron, Hurricane Arthur, James City Co. VA, James River Ferry, James Towne, Jamestown Island, Nature art, Osprey Eagle, Plant photos, Summer Garden, Trees, Weather, Wildflowers, Wildlife gardening, Zone 7B Cultural Information
Contrast– The art of bringing unlike things together
with an intent to heighten the appreciation of each element.
Contrast is an essential principle of good design, whether we are cooking a meal, decorating a room, building a life, or constructing a garden.
We enjoy sweet with salty; creamy with bitter…
We bring disparate elements together in fresh ways so the element of surprise wakes us up, invites us to see what might otherwise be overlooked.
Contrast jars us into thinking, sometimes. It invites us to make choices; to see the relative values of things.
Our garden is one of sharp contrast: We move from cool shade to bright sun in a single step.
We have areas of dense growth and areas of lawn. Areas carefully curated, and areas sown by nature.
Skillful contrast helps us frame the view to tell our story.
“Happiness ain’t a thing in itself;
it’s only a contrast with something that ain’t pleasant.
And so, as soon as the novelty is over
and the force of the contrast dulled,
it ain’t happiness any longer,
and you have to get something fresh.”
Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014
Posted in animals, Bee, Bees, Hummingbirds, Butterflies, and Dragonflies, Caladium, Canna, Container flower gardening, Container gardening, Dragonflies, Garden planning, Garden Resources, Gardening addiction, Gardening in Williamsburg, Nature art, Perma Culture, Photo Challenge, Plant photos, Plants which attract butterflies, Plants which attract hummingbirds, Plants which attract pollinating insects, Rose of Sharon, Roses, Summer Garden, weekly challenge, Wildlife gardening, Zone 7B Cultural Information
Do you remember the Where’s Waldo books?
My daughter and I enjoyed them when she was just learning to read.
We would page through the drawings, competing with one another to find “Waldo” before the other one could.
A friend came with my partner and me to visit at Forest Lane Botanicals today.
We enjoyed the company of a beautiful blue dragonfly as we admired Alan and Wendy’s Pitcher Plant collection.
Have you found the dragonfly in the photos yet ? (The dragonfly appears in the first, second and fourth photos. It may be in the third one, and I just haven’t noticed it …)
We could also hear the frogs, but never spotted them today, sadly. We found a few tadpoles darting around the partially submerged pots, and heard a tell-tale “splash” as we drew near.
Mostly we enjoyed Alan’s guidance to the garden, and the sheer pleasure of wandering around discovering one beautiful plant after another.
We especially enjoyed the many varieties of Hosta and fern in the garden. We can grow the ferns, but our attempts at Hosta are usually “grazed short” by our visiting deer.
We are always inspired with new ideas as we explore what Alan and Wendy Wubbels have done with their shade garden.
We left with pots of new treasures to grow and share.
I with a Saxifraga stolonifera, Strawberry Begonia or Strawberry Geranium- (both common names are used) and my friend with a pot of beautiful Selaginella, or Spikemoss.
Both will grow in the cool shade in beds beneath mature trees in our gardens.
Readers in Eastern Virginia who have not yet visited Forest Lane Botanicals nursery will be delighted once you find them.
A gardening friend told me about Alan and Wendy’s nursery last summer, but it took us nearly a year to make our first visit.
We are so glad we did. Now we enjoy watching the gardens evolve as spring turns to summer.
There is always something new to notice and enjoy.
Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014
All photos were take at Forest Lane Botanicals in York County, Virginia
Posted in animals, Container gardening, Crafting with plant materials, deer, Dragonflies, Ferns, Garden planning, Garden Resources, Gardening addiction, Gardening in Williamsburg, Hosta, Hydrangea, Native Plants, Nature art, Perennials, Perma Culture, Pitcher Plant, Plant photos, Plants which attract butterflies, Plants which attract pollinating insects, Shade Gardening, Use of Native Plants, Wildlife gardening, Yorktown, Zone 7B Cultural Information
We have been corresponding this spring about the plight of the Monarch. She has been involved in creating habitat for them. And she responded to the post with photos of a Monarch we found near Yorktown, Virginia, in late May.
Eliza asked, earlier today, whether we had found any eggs or signs of Monarch larvae on the Milkweed by the pond where we have been watching for butterflies.
So my partner and I returned this evening, to see what we might see.
We found the Milkweed plants just covered in bumblebees, feasting on their tiny flowers just as the flowers were opening. And the bumblebees were so blissed out on the wonderful nectar, they were totally oblivious to my presence.
Just inches away, they continued to feed while I took photos.
But in the entire time we explored, there was only one small butterfly or moth. I don’t know its name, but suspect it is a moth.
Not a single Monarch to be found. And at Eliza’s suggestion, I searched for signs of eggs or larvae on the Milkweed plants.
I”m so sorry to say that I couldn’t locate either. The Milkweed leaves look pristine- no larval munching. I checked the closest Milkweed plants and found no eggs, either.
Perhaps the Monarch did lay her eggs on one of these plants closer to the pond; one I didn’t climb down the bank to inspect. Let us hope that is the case.
And we’ll continue to check back from time to time to see what evidence we may find as the summer unfolds.
Today we were happy to find a brilliant blue dragonfly.
He was quite happy to sit still while I snapped off several portraits of him.
He was watching me, but didn’t even flinch until I moved away. He was a great sport, and I appreciate his patience.
The swans have moved on, too. But we found Egrets wading further down the road.
Early summer brings such a pageant of life to our community.
We enjoy the staccato music of the frogs and the basso continuo buzzing of bees under the melody of birds calling to one another.
So much life, and such beauty.
All Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014
Posted in animals, Asclepias, bees, butterflies, Colonial Parkway, Dragonflies, Egret, Environmental Preservation, Gardening addiction, James City Co. VA, Milkweed, Monarch butterfly, Nature art, Perma Culture, Plant photos, Plants which attract butterflies, Plants which attract pollinating insects, Purple Milk Vetch, Use of Native Plants, Wildflowers, Zone 7B Cultural Information
On a beautiful, wet, cool day in August, the dragonflies, hummingbird moths, and butterflies are having a hard time keeping to their usual routine. With skies heavy and grey, rain showers coming more than going, its a tough day for all beings with wings.
This beautiful Libellula luctuosa found a secure spot to wait out the weather this afternoon in the ginger lilies. Usually camera shy and full of pep, this beautiful dragonfly clung to his wet leaf and allowed us to come close enough to appreciate his beauty. The bright white spots mid-wing telegraph that he is a male, and the steel blue sheen of his body shows he is an adult. The garden is alive with dragonflies of all colors and sizes this year. This King Skimmer was kind to stay still long enough for me to get a clear photo to share.
Photo by Woodland Gnome