Longwood Gardens – September 2019

Now for the highlights from the rest of the Longwood Gardens. Before the waterlilies we enjoyed the plants around the main entrance to the conservatory.

We always stop at the indoor children’s garden at the very beginning since later it will be a busy place. This time we got there before any families, so it was very quiet. The place it full of accessible water and natural materials made into art.

On the way to the waterlily courtyard, I noticed different colors of cannas and a bird-of-paradise flower.

After the waterlilies we walked through several more ‘rooms’ of the conservatory including one with plantain and banana plants (both with heavy pods of fruit). And the orchid room was there too.

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Then it was outdoors to the trial gardens. They are particularly lush right now after growing all summer. The sunflowers were heavy with the forming seeds.

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We walked to the chimes tower going up the steps of the tower

And then more steps to follow the water to the Eye of Water. Last time we’d come to Longwood, the eye had been closed for renovation, so we wanted to see it this time.

We trekked to the other side of the visitor center for the flower garden walk. There were beginning to be more people around by this time. A hummingbird flew ahead of us but wasn’t stopping for long; too many people about. Just past the Whispering Bench, there were pots with pitcher plants. I remembered them being there last time as well.

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We made our way around the Large Lake to the Italian Water Gardens.  I zoomed in on some of the sculptures. The renovation several years ago is holding up well.

The day was warming up, but we decided to head out to the meadow anyway. The plants are well established now, and we hiked all the way across to the Forest Edge kiosk/bench. I saw taller Joe Pye Weed than I’d ever seen before…lots of goldenrod…a few thistles…skippers and buckeyes…large dragonflies. We were glad to get back to a shady part of the trail. It was a good morning to be at Longwood!

Waterlilies at Longwood Gardens

One of my favorite places at Longwood Gardens in the late summer/early fall is the waterlily courtyard. Last weekend was no exception. It was a sunny day – and not too hot. We had left our house early enough to be at the visitor center about 15 minutes after the gardens opened. There were a couple of groups that had obviously planned to meet others waiting in the building or just a little way into the garden. Everyone was enjoying the prospect of the day at Longwood – just as we were. As usual – we headed for the Conservatory first…..making our way to the waterlilies half way through the conservatory walk through.

The courtyard always has a few photographers and there is usually someone around to answer questions. We were around early enough that it wasn’t crowded. I love catching the bees on the flowers. My favorite picture of the slideshow below is a flower with 4 bees (there were probably more on the inside of the flower)! Waterlilies often look somewhat alien to me because the colors are vibrant, and the flower parts are robust. I love photographing them….and enjoying the images after I get home.

Ten Little Celebrations – September 2018

Every month when I look at the notes I’ve made for each day of little celebrations – I enjoy them again. Many times, it’s hard to pick just 10 for this blog post. Here are the picks for September 2018:

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Volunteering on the last day of Brookside Gardens Wings of Fancy exhibit – It was good to be there for the good-bye day…and know that the next exhibit will open again in April. I enjoy being in the butterfly house and interacting with visitors…it’s a happy place.

Window cleaning – I am surprising myself at how satisfying cleaning the windows (taking the panes apart and cleaning all surfaces except the one on the outside) on a rainy day can be. Instead of spring cleaning – I’m doing fall cleaning! I celebrated the difference clean windows make.

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A monarch butterfly emerging – Caterpillars crawled up from our front flower bed to make chrysalises at the top of the window frames. I finally managed to notice one that was still emerged - hanging from the bit of chrysalis still attached – and then crawling up onto the lentil to finish drying. Celebration!

Yummy zucchini bread – I made a double batch of zucchini bread from squash frozen earlier in the summer. We enjoyed it for days. I celebrated the spicy flavor…helped me feel ready for fall.


Howard County Conservancy volunteers and staff – With the training for fall field trips, we always have a pot luck lunch and this one – for me – was a celebration of those people (and that they are all such foodies)!

Elementary School Butterfly – What a celebration when the first Monarch butterfly emerged from a chrysalis I took to the elementary school! I wasn’t there for the excitement but got the description from the teacher. They even found another chrysalis on the fence around their school garden while they were releasing their butterfly.

Haircut - I told the stylist – with some trepidation - that I wanted it short….and celebrated the results.

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A birthday spent at Longwood - This is a great place to spend celebrating a family birthday…better than a too-sweet cake!

Yard work – Just as the window cleaning – I celebrated the results. It’s good to know that I’m ending the month in relatively good shape when it comes to the yard…before a lot of leaves have fallen.

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Lacewing larvae – Celebrating seeing (and recognizing) a new-to-me organism (looks like lichen since it covers itself with pieces of the stuff)!

Zooming – September 2018

The zoom on my new camera (60 vs 40 optical zoom…and then comes the digital zoom too) makes it even easier to stand well out of the flowerbed, get a good angle, not scare the butterfly or bee. It’s easier to hold myself steady using the viewfinder rather than the screen like I had to previously. Sometimes I use the monopod…but other times I find that I can simple hold myself steady enough that the camera image stabilization does the rest.

The images I selected this month are from several places: Longwood Gardens, home, Brookside Gardens, and Howard Count Conservancy’s Mt. Pleasant Farm. Some of my favorite places to be.

Enjoy my picks of zoomed images for September 2018!

Longwood Gardens – Part IV

Of course – there is a lot more of Longwood Gardens outside that in the conservatory. We walked out of the conservatory a few minutes before the 11:15 presentation of ‘Fountains Then and Now’ – and found seats in the front row on the terrace in front of the conservatory. Last time we had visited the gardens, the fountains were being renovated so we savored that a lot of what we remembered is still there plus there are high jets of water from air canons and nozzles that move to make arcs of water than move with the music. Afterwards we walked down to see the fountains closer and looked back toward the conservatory from the terrace of the big fountain. Under that terrace they now have some history of the fountain machinery….a little bit about how they got the water pressure needed originally and today. Part of the gardens (the Tower and Eye of Water) was closed off in preparation for the fireworks that were schedule for the evening (sold out long before we decided to visit) so the only perspective I got of the tower was from afar.

Then it was time for lunch. The air temperature was much hotter when we emerged from the café. We enjoyed the dahlias – and bees.

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The garlic chives in the demonstration garden were popular with the bees as well.

There was a funnel spider with a web full of water droplets.

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We walked past the fountains again to the formal garden rooms. I noticed some stone walls and realized that they probably told the geology story of the place.

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I always like the stairs with water in the Italian Garden…but it was so hot – with no breeze - by the time we were there that the shade and water did not restore draining energy.

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We walked along a boardwalk in the meadow full of joe pye weed and goldenrod on the way back to the visitor center. We cooled off walking around the gift store before starting the drive home.

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Longwood Gardens – Part III

The water lilies are in a courtyard surrounded by the Longwood Gardens Conservatory. There are several shallow ponds and then beds around the edges with water loving plants. The courtyard is closed in the winter – everything there requires warmer temperatures that the Pennsylvania winter.

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Even the lily pads and leaves of water plants are different than the native water lilies we see elsewhere.

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The day was cloudy which makes for excellent waterlily photography because the water often looks black. I was surprised it was bright enough to create any reflections. The variety of blooms - colors, structure, stage of development…always something a little different to photograph.

And then there are the bees. This time I observed some bees that entered through the side of the flower center and then exited through the opening at the top!

Tomorrow – the gardens away from the conservatory. They were profuse and colorful.

Longwood Gardens – Part II

My favorite plants to photograph in the Longwood Gardens Conservatory are orchids, fiddleheads, and hibiscus.


The only time I used my clip-on macro lens for my phone was to attempt to capture some very tiny orchids. This was good practice for photographing native orchids which are very small in our part of North America.

Then I noticed the different kinds of slipper orchids. They are probably my favorites. There was a couple in the room with us that had been growing orchids for years and they told me that the slippers are often the easiest ones to grow…good to know if I ever get the yen to grow orchids. They warned me that the hobby can be addictive.

Another bit of orchid-lore from them: some orchids have a butterfly mark in their center!

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Fiddleheads are always fascinating to look at closely. They are always spirals – sometimes spirals within spirals - that will eventually unfurl into the fronds of ferns. Often there is a fuzz covering the spirals that will be green – maybe shiny – when they are totally unfurled. The fuzz in white

Or brown (tree ferns). I am always surprised at how large the primitive plants can be – realized that earlier in earth’s history, ferns were the ‘big trees.’

There were some that were unfurled enough that the ‘fidddle’ was more of a ball of green.

I managed to see and photography several that were the spirals within spirals. Maybe these are ideas for a Zentangle tile!

Finally – hibiscus. I like their huge petals, the blends of color, the gentle curves, and the complex centers.

Tomorrow – I’ll post about the Longwood water lilies.

Longwood Gardens – Part I

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Last weekend we made the day trip up to Longwood Gardens. We got there shortly after they opened at 9 and headed for the Conservatory since they only allow tripods before noon and we’re always interested in photography in the gardens.

I had my new camera on a monopod and was experimenting to get the perfect height to use the viewfinder…and not hunch over the camera. There were plenty of flowers to practice with the monopod and the additional zoom capability of the new camera.

The Childrens’ Garden is another reason to get to the Conservatory early….to walk through the confined place before the children arrive. Years ago when my daughter was small there were fountains that she loved to hold her hands under but nothing as fancy as the mosaic bottomed fountain there today.

The area is quite a bit larger than it was 20 years go but full of nooks and cranes for children to enjoy: a metal spider web sculpture near the floor, shells on the low arches of an entrance (adults need to duck!) and several bird/animal sculptures that are water features – at a good height for little hands.

There was a collection of cycads in a tropical forest room with a walkway at canopy level. I was fascinate by one of the ripening cones.

My daughter was intrigued by the leaves of the Swiss Cheese plant.

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We were all remined of Hawaii by the Torch Ginger.

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The ‘new to me’ plant was a Cocoon Plan in the desert. Somehow, I had not noticed it before. It is a succulent.