Volunteering at Wings of Fancy at Brookside Gardens XV-XIX

The 5 most recent shifts at Brookside Gardens’ Wings of Fancy have not been overly hot – unusual for August here in Maryland. Before the 15th shift, it was damp. I took some pictures under a bald cypress of a Cypress Gall (Midge) that had not matured enough to kill the small branch and some developing cones. When I walked over to the boardwalk toward the nature center I walked through a spider web that has been built overnight; not the best way to start the morning. I brushed myself off and headed into the conservatory. The shift was a special one for photographers – so not crowded at all and calmer than the public shifts.

It was raining for the entire 16th shift. I managed to find some dry spots under trees along the stream when I got there for my walk around the gardens prior to the shift. Some big rocks have been added to the stream bed to stabilize the banks. There is one area that eroded perilously close the fence and the road just beyond.

The slide show below is the rest of my walk. I moved fast when I was being rained on but took pictures when I found a sheltered place: 1) of a curve in the stream, 2) in the rose garden under the crepe myrtle trees, 3) a waterlily (note the ripples from the raindrops into the pool), and 4) under the cypress trees that kept the butterfly bench mostly dry. Wings of Fancy got off to a slow start that day because the ticket seller was late…and it was raining harder. The conservatory leaks! The tiny space between the ticket taker awning and the caterpillar house becomes a little waterfall when it is raining hard! But the exhibit was a good rainy day activity for people once they got into the conservatory.

The 17th shift was not rainy. It was an early shift for photographers again and I relaxed before hand with a good walk around the gardens noting blooms (sumac, joe pye weed, sunflowers) and then some oddities on the bald cypress (something that looks like tiny yellow ‘flowers’, and a fuzzy caterpillar with horns), jewelweed growing near the boardwalk on the way to Brookside Nature Center (the plant is supposed to be good for treating poison ivy…but it often grows in locations the poison ivy does), and a cocoa tree in the part of the conservancy not used for the butterfly exhibit.

The 18th shift was sunny – but not too hot. I’m paying more attention to the tiny yellow blobs on the bald cypress; one of them had red filaments. The rose garden is beginning to bloom more now that the high heat of summer is over.

The rest of the garden has benefited from the rain too and looks lush. I enjoyed trying to photograph the skipper butterflies on the Mexican sunflowers.

The 19th shift was sunny and cooler than I excepted; as I was walking around I was glad I was going to be in the conservatory once my shift started where it would be warmer. I talked to one of the Brookside staff about the tiny yellow blobs on the cypress; it’s not something they have seen before.

I headed up toward the scent garden and saw a dragonfly in the air. It landed on one of the maples…and sat while I managed to find him in the foliage for a zoomed image. The maple leaves are beginning to change color for fall.

Another sign of fall in the gardens – a cardinal molting and getting new feathers on its head. This is not bald…but all the new feather shave not come in so the crest looks scruffy and around the eye still needs additional feathers to look ‘normal.’

I walked over to the boardwalk to photograph the jewel weed again and got side tracked when I noticed a spider near one of the flowers. It took long enough to get the photograph I wanted that i hurried to the volunteer entrance to get into 'flight attendent' gear and ready for the shift. It was a busy morning in the exhibit.

The Wings of Fancy is over for 2017 on September 17….I’ll most about the last of my shifts just after ‘the end.’ It’s been a great volunteer experience!

Previous posts re Volunteering at Wings of Fancy: prep, I, II-IV, V-X, XI-XIV.