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.