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!

Georgina Burne Hetley

Georgina Burne Hetley is best known for her book The Native Flora of New Zealand. She worked in the 1880s at a time when increased cultivation was reducing the botanical diversity of New Zealand. The Wikipedia entry for Hetley notes that Trilepidea adamsii (previously known as Loranthus adamsii) – one of the plants she painted – is now extinct. As I read her biography, it sounded modern in the sense that many biologists now feel the sense of working against an environmental degradation clock just as she did to “paint New Zealand’s indigenous flora before it was destroyed by the advance of cultivation.” She appears to have started out as an artist…coming to botany work in her 40s.

I am including 6 sample images from the book in this post. It is well worth browsing the images online in the book itself available from Internet Archive here. It was published in London in 1888.

Note that Art Album of New Zealand Flora was published shortly after this book in 1889 in Wellington, New Zealand. It was published in two parts and is also available from Internet Archive (part 1 and part 2). I posted about these volumes back in March 2013.

eBotanical Prints – August 2019

Twenty-one books added to the list of botanical ebooks collection this month. They are all freely available on the Internet. The whole list of over 1,700 books can be accessed here. Sample images and links for the 21 new ones are provided below. (click on the sample image to see a larger view) Enjoy!

These are not all the issues of Revue Horticole available from Internet Archive. I’m still working my way through issues in September!

Journal des Roses  (1906 ) * Cochet, M. Scipion * sample image * 1906

Manual of Grasses of the Unitied States * Hitchcock, Albert Spear; Chase, Agnes * sample image * 1950

The native flowers of New Zealand * Hetley, GB * sample image * 1888

Plantae utiliores V1 * Burnett, Mary Ann; Burnett, Gilbert Thomas * sample image * 1840

Plantae utiliores V2 * Burnett, Mary Ann; Burnett, Gilbert Thomas * sample image * 1840

Revue Horticole (1844-1845) * Librairie Agricole de la Maison Rustique * sample image * 1845

Revue Horticole (1846) * Librairie Agricole de la Maison Rustique * sample image * 1846

Revue Horticole (1847) * Librairie Agricole de la Maison Rustique * sample image * 1847

Revue Horticole (1848) * Librairie Agricole de la Maison Rustique * sample image * 1848

Revue Horticole (1850) * Librairie Agricole de la Maison Rustique * sample image * 1850

Revue Horticole (1851) * Librairie Agricole de la Maison Rustique * sample image * 1851

Revue Horticole (1849) * Librairie Agricole de la Maison Rustique * sample image * 1849

Revue Horticole (1852) * Librairie Agricole de la Maison Rustique * sample image * 1852

Revue Horticole (1853) * Librairie Agricole de la Maison Rustique * sample image * 1853

Revue Horticole (1854) * Librairie Agricole de la Maison Rustique * sample image * 1854

Revue Horticole (1855) * Librairie Agricole de la Maison Rustique * sample image * 1855

Revue Horticole (1856) * Librairie Agricole de la Maison Rustique * sample image * 1856

Revue Horticole (1861) * Librairie Agricole de la Maison Rustique * sample image * 1861

Revue Horticole (1862) * Librairie Agricole de la Maison Rustique * sample image * 1862

Revue Horticole (1863) * Librairie Agricole de la Maison Rustique * sample image * 1863

Revue Horticole (1864) * Librairie Agricole de la Maison Rustique * sample image * 1864

Ten Little Celebrations – August 2019

August 2019 was busy – but not as overwhelming as July. I savored the recovery time before the busy fall field trip season volunteering and my own travels. It was still easy to find little celebrations this month.

For three weeks of the month, I celebrated two mornings with Howard County Conservancy summer campers. What great experiences for me and (I hope) for the campers. Fossils, water and flight….interesting themes of high interest to the 5-12 years old groups. I could have counted 6 little celebrations but opted to count each week as 1 larger celebration since I had so many other things to celebrate.

Celebrating Coursera course Bugs 101: Insect-Human Interactions from University of Alberta (which I hope to finish by the end of the month). It was wonderful to have time to dig into an online course again.

Montessori teachers in the Wings of Fancy exhibit. A group of Montessori teachers in training came through the exhibit one morning (when it wasn’t too hot) and I celebrated conversations and that the method is still popular. My daughter certainly thrived in that type of pre-school.

Finding lots of botanical print books. Just when I think I am about to run out of online botanical books, I find a lot more…..and celebrate.

Getting a new laptop ordered. My old laptop is almost out of warranty and, even though it has a new battery and seems to be working well, I ordered a new one. I’m very excited about getting it all set up by the end of the month.

Flavorful cantaloupe. The CSA had very sweet cantaloupes this year. I celebrated melons that were as good as my memories of childhood cantaloupe from my grandparents’ farm.

Office rearrangement. I celebrated a new arrangement of my office furniture and general tidiness of my home office…in preparation for a new laptop.

Photographing a living cicada. Usually the cicada’s I photograph are not living – or are too cold to move. I celebrated seeing one fly into a tree and photographing it…while it was singing.

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Gleanings of the Week Ending July 27, 2019

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

Narwhals and belugas can interbreed -- ScienceDaily – It is a unique case….apparently not something that is common at all. It also utilized some relatively recent analytic tools to determine that the hybrid was a first-generation hybrid between a female narwhal and male beluga…and it was a bottom feeder rather than feeding like either of the parents.

Photography in The National Parks: Where Will That Trail Take You? Creating A Theme – For me - themes most often emerge from the experience rather than something I think about specifically in advance.

'Anthropocene Project' Artfully Captures How Humans Change Earth's Landscape: Goats and Soda: NPR – Some photographs from an exhibit currently in Bologna, Italy…depicting obvious, physical incursion on the Earth’s landscape created by humans.

Photographer Explores the Quiet Beauty of Venice at Night – A very different perspective on the city…sinking in its lagoon.

'Bathtub rings' around Titan's lakes might be made of alien crystals -- ScienceDaily – Rings made of solid acetylene and butane – maybe. It’s what happened in the lab. A spacecraft will need to visit Titan to know for sure.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: July – National Geographic Society Newsroom – Birds!  There are so many different kinds out there.

Cholesterol medication could invite diabetes, study suggests: Patient data shows association between statins and type 2 diabetes -- ScienceDaily – A drug prescribed to reduce risk of heart attack and stroke…doubles the risk of diabetes diagnosis which would require other drugs to treat…for the rest of the person’s life. Not a good prospect.  

The Pomological Watercolors: A Collection of Watercolor Fruit Paintings – Watercolors of fruits and nuts created over 56 years beginning in 1886 by the US Department of Agriculture. They have recently been digitized and are available via the Pomological Watercolor Database. It’s not as easy to browse as a book in Internet Archive, unfortunately.

Ice Cores Preserved 1,500 Years of Industrial Lead Levels - Archaeology Magazine – I was surprised that lead levels in the atmosphere now are 60x higher than in the medieval period and that is an 80% decline since the enactment of the 1970 Clean Air act in the US. How is the lead in the air we breathe impacting our cognition – particularly for children?

Found: An ‘Undisturbed’ Roman Ship Near Cyprus | Smart News | Smithsonian – Lots of amphorae. Cyprus’ location would have made it a link on the trade route that spanned the Mediterranean but studying a wreck like this one could fill in more of the details.

New South Wales and Joseph Henry Maiden

Joseph Henry Maiden was advised to take a long sea voyage for his health when he was 21 years old. He left London for New South Wales (on the east coast of Australia) and stayed there for the rest of his life making a career as a botanist studying Australian Floral; he died in 1925 at the age of 66. There are quite a few of his publications available on Internet Archive. I particularly enjoyed illustrations in The Forest Flora of New South Wales (available here). The forest plants of Australia are often very different from North America….even though there are some that have been brought to places in North America where they could thrive (eucalyptus, for example).

Journal of Botanical Research Institute of Texas

16 volumes (from 2007 to 2014) of the Journal of Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT) are available from Internet Archive here. I browsed through all of them in late May and early June. It’s interesting to compare the botanical illustrations used for research papers today with those from the 1800s. There are still drawings that look very similar to botanical prints…but there are photographs too. The photographs have replaced the colored prints that were a cornerstone of the 1800s books (and made them collectable). I appreciated the drawings as I browsed these BRIT volumes. It is easier to see structures in the drawings than in the photographs (and it is easier to deconstruct drawings into Zentangle patterns)! The sample images from the volumes below show the wide range of illustration types. Click on an image to see an enlarged version.

I found this journal after I discovered Eula Whitehouse’s work back in March (see the blog post about her here). The organization she worked for eventually became BRIT.

eBotanical Prints – June 2019

I added 29 new books to the collection this month bringing the total of botanical print books I’ve found to almost 1,700 - available free of charge on the Internet. The whole book list can be accessed here. The list for June 2019 is below the sample images. I’ll be posting about several of the books in more detail in subsequent blog posts.

There is quite a date range for the June books. The oldest is from 1553 – authored by Rembert Dodoens. The newest is the last volume available on Internet Archive of a botanical journal published in 2014.

Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas V2 no 2 2008 * Botanical Research Institute of Texas * sample image * 2008

Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas V3 no 1 2009 * Botanical Research Institute of Texas * sample image * 2009

Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas V3 no 2 2009 * Botanical Research Institute of Texas * sample image * 2009

Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas V4 no 1 2010 * Botanical Research Institute of Texas * sample image * 2010

Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas V4 no 2 2010 * Botanical Research Institute of Texas * sample image * 2010

Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas V 5 no 1 2011 * Botanical Research Institute of Texas * sample image * 2011

Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas V 5 no 2 2011 * Botanical Research Institute of Texas * sample image * 2011

Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas V 6 no 1 2012 * Botanical Research Institute of Texas * sample image * 2012

Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas V 6 no 2 2012 * Botanical Research Institute of Texas * sample image * 2012

Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas V 7 no 1 2013 * Botanical Research Institute of Texas * sample image * 2013

Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas V 7 no 2 2013 * Botanical Research Institute of Texas * sample image * 2013

Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas V 8 no 1 2014 * Botanical Research Institute of Texas * sample image * 2014

Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas V 8 no 2 2014 * Botanical Research Institute of Texas * sample image * 2014

The florist : containing sixty plates of the most beautiful flowers  * Bowles, Carrington * sample image * 1770

Purgantium aliarumque eo facientium, tum et radicum, conuoluulorum ac deleteriarum herbarum historiae * Dodoens, Rembert * sample image * 1574

Florum, coronariarum odoratarumque nonnullarum herbarum historia * Dodoens, Rembert * sample image * 1568

Frumentorum, Leguminum, palustrium et aquatilium herbarum * Dodoens, Rembert * sample image * 1566

Remberti Dodonaei ... trium priorum de stirpium historia commentariorum imagines ad viuum expressae * Dodoens, Rembert * sample image * 1553

Alpine flora of the Canadian Rocky Mountains * Brown, Stewardson; Mrs. Charles Schaffer * sample image * 1907

The Fern Garden : how to make, keep, and enjoy it ; or, fern culture made easy * Hibberd, Shirley * sample image * 1872

New and rare beautiful-leaved plants * Hibberd, Shirley; Fawcett, Benjamin * sample image * 1870

Garden Favorites * Hibberd, Shirley * sample image * 1858

Australian Wild Flowers * Flockton, Margaret * sample image * 1912

The Forest Flora of New South Wales V1 * Maiden, Joseph Henry * sample image * 1904

The Forest Flora of New South Wales V2 * Maiden, Joseph Henry * sample image * 1907

The Forest Flora of New South Wales V3 * Maiden, Joseph Henry * sample image * 1908

The Forest Flora of New South Wales V4 * Maiden, Joseph Henry * sample image * 1911

The Forest Flora of New South Wales V5 * Maiden, Joseph Henry * sample image * 1913

The weeds of New South Wales, pt. I  * Maiden, Joseph Henry * sample image * 1920

Anne Kingsbury Wollstonecraft and Cuba Botanicals

I found out about this author from a National Geographic Article: 'Lost' book of exquisite scientific drawings rediscovered after 190 years --- and the 3 volumes are available on Hathi Trust here. The author died young (46 years old) in 1828 and her work was not finished so it is in manuscript rather than published form. It had still been referenced a few times in the 1800s and those references are what started the search for it. Eventually, it was determined that the manuscript had been given to Cornell University in 1923 by a faculty member that was a descendant of the author. It had been in Cornell’s Rare and Manuscript Collection since! These volumes are well worth browsing. I’ve included sample images below…..but there are many more in the volumes to look at online.

eBotanical Prints - May 2019

27 new books were added to the collection this month bringing the total of botanical print books I’ve found to over 1,600 - available free of charge on the Internet. The whole list can be accessed here. The list for May 2019 is below the sample images. I’ll be posting about several of the books in more detail in subsequent blog posts.

The flora sylvatica for southern India: containing quarto plates of all the principal timber trees in southern India and Ceylon V2 * Beddome, Richard Henry; Bentham, George * sample image * 1869

Specimens of the plants and fruits of the island of Cuba V1 * Wollstonecraft, Anne Kingsbury * sample image * 1826

Specimens of the plants and fruits of the island of Cuba V2 * Wollstonecraft, Anne Kingsbury * sample image * 1826

Specimens of the plants and fruits of the island of Cuba V3 * Wollstonecraft, Anne Kingsbury * sample image * 1826

Icones florae Germanicae et Helveticae V 17 * Reichenbach, H.G. Ludwig * sample image * 1855

English Botany or Coloured figures of British plants V1 * Syme, John T. Boswell (editor); Lankester, Phebe; Sowerby, James de Carle and Salter, John Willam and Sowerby, John Edward (illustrators) * sample image * 1863

English Botany or Coloured figures of British plants V2 * Syme, John T. Boswell (editor); Lankester, Phebe; Sowerby, James de Carle and Salter, John Willam and Sowerby, John Edward (illustrators) * sample image * 1864

English Botany or Coloured figures of British plants V3 * Syme, John T. Boswell (editor); Lankester, Phebe; Sowerby, James de Carle and Salter, John Willam and Sowerby, John Edward (illustrators) * sample image * 1864

English Botany or Coloured figures of British plants V4 * Syme, John T. Boswell (editor); Lankester, Phebe; Sowerby, James de Carle and Salter, John Willam and Sowerby, John Edward (illustrators) * sample image * 1865

English Botany or Coloured figures of British plants V5 * Syme, John T. Boswell (editor); Lankester, Phebe; Sowerby, James de Carle and Salter, John Willam and Sowerby, John Edward (illustrators) * sample image * 1866

English Botany or Coloured figures of British plants V6 * Syme, John T. Boswell (editor); Lankester, Phebe; Sowerby, James de Carle and Salter, John Willam and Sowerby, John Edward (illustrators) * sample image * 1866

English Botany or Coloured figures of British plants V7 * Syme, John T. Boswell (editor); Lankester, Phebe; Sowerby, James de Carle and Salter, John Willam and Sowerby, John Edward (illustrators) * sample image * 1867

English Botany or Coloured figures of British plants V8 * Syme, John T. Boswell (editor); Lankester, Phebe; Sowerby, James de Carle and Salter, John Willam and Sowerby, John Edward (illustrators) * sample image * 1868

English Botany or Coloured figures of British plants V9 * Syme, John T. Boswell (editor); Lankester, Phebe; Sowerby, James de Carle and Salter, John Willam and Sowerby, John Edward (illustrators) * sample image * 1869

English Botany or Coloured figures of British plants V10 * Syme, John T. Boswell (editor); Lankester, Phebe; Sowerby, James de Carle and Salter, John Willam and Sowerby, John Edward (illustrators) * sample image * 1873

English Botany or Coloured figures of British plants V11 * Syme, John T. Boswell (editor); Lankester, Phebe; Sowerby, James de Carle and Salter, John Willam and Sowerby, John Edward (illustrators) * sample image * 1872

English Botany or Coloured figures of British plants V12 * Syme, John T. Boswell (editor); Lankester, Phebe; Sowerby, James de Carle and Salter, John Willam and Sowerby, John Edward (illustrators) * sample image * 1886

Orchidophile V1-2 * Gedefroy-Lebeuf, A.  * sample image * 1882

Orchidophile V3 * Gedefroy-Lebeuf, A.  * sample image * 1883

Orchidophile V4 * Gedefroy-Lebeuf, A.  * sample image * 1884

Orchidophile V5 * Gedefroy-Lebeuf, A.  * sample image * 1884

Lindenia - iconography of orchids vol 1 * Linden, Jean Jules * sample image * 1885

Lindenia - iconography of orchids vol 17 * Linden, Jean Jules; Linden, Lucien * sample image * 1901

The genera of the Eupatorieae (Asteraceae) * King, Merril; Robinson, Harold * sample image * 1987

Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas V1 no 2 2007 * Botanical Research Insitute of Texas * sample image * 2007

Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas V2 no 1 2008 * Botanical Research Insitute of Texas * sample image * 2008

Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas V1 no 1  2007 * Botanical Research Insitute of Texas * sample image * 2007

Brookside – May 2019

I’m just now getting around to posting some pictures I took at Brookside Gardens in May: the butterfly exhibit, the conservatory – and everything blooming outdoors. So many subject to photograph – flowers, immature seed pods, seeds, leaves, garden furniture and fountains….peonies, poppies, magnolias, alliums, maples, dogwood…what’s not to like. Enjoy the big slideshow!

The side of the conservatory not used for the butterfly exhibit always has interesting plants in bloom – or photo worthy in other ways (like giant water droplets on green leaves).

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The door that volunteers and staff use is surrounded by greenery. Somehow it seems bigger this year.

I arrive 15 minutes before my shift in the butterfly exhibit. Sometimes I have a few minutes between the orientation and the arrival of the first visitors arriving to photograph butterflies.

May is a big month in the gardens. I have a series of Brookside Gardens rose pictures that I’m saving for another post.

eBotanical Prints – April 2019

April was a slim month for botanical print books. I was thrilled to find two volumes of Curtis’s Botanical Magazine that I had not found before; the magazine began in 1787 and has continued through to the present with some name changes periodically but reverting back to the original name and is widely cited. Hopefully more volumes will be made available as the copyright on them expires; the most recent I’ve found online is from 1920. Find the list of all 1,628 volumes of botanical prints I’ve found online here.

Handbook to the ferns of British India, Ceylon and the Malay peninsula * Beddome, Richard Henry * sample image * 1892

Curtis' Botanical Magazine Vol 7-8 * Curtis, William * sample image * 1794

Curtis' Botanical Magazine Vol 25-26 * Curtis, William * sample image * 1807

The flora sylvatica for southern India: containing quarto plates of all the principal timber trees in southern India and Ceylon V1 * Beddome, Richard Henry; Bentham, George * sample image * 1869

 

I have already passed the 4 volume mark for May – more botanical prints into the collection by the end of the month!

Moving the Compost Bin

Last week we had some warm days and I moved my compost bin. It is so hard to turn the whole bin of material adequately, that it’s better to just move the bin periodically and get a good mix of the materials (and take the ‘finished’ compost out for other distribution). The stakes that I’d used to hold the cylinder of rigid plastic up were leaning toward the center too. I decided to move the bin just a few feet away on a bare patch of dirt – still under the red maple.

I got side tracked looking at the haze of yellow in the forest: spice bush in bloom.

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And the baby ferns in the mossy area under the deck.

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And a shell that had collected some water (probably need to turn it over so it doesn’t become a mosquito nursery).

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And some robin nests (neat enough to be from this year) on the deck support beams.

I pulled the stakes out from inside the bin - then lifted the plastic and repositioned it. I put the stakes back in using some branches from the brush pile to cross brace too. Then the material that still needed to decompose was moved with a pitchfork to the newly placed bin. Lesson learned: pine needles and egg shells take longer to decompose than kitchen scrapes and shredded leaves/paper!

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I found something that had sprouted in the compost as I spread the compost from the bottom of the bin around under the red maple in front of the brush pile. Maybe a beet top from last fall’s harvest?

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100 Desert Wildflowers in Natural Color

Dodge, Natt N. 100 Desert Wildflowers in Natural Color. Southwest Monuments Association. 1963. Available from the Project Gutenberg here.

Natt Noyes Dodge (1900-1982) was the regional naturalist for the Southwest Region of the National Park Service from 1935 to 1963. He was also an author and photographer – both of which are shown in this book along with his knowledge of the region. The version available from Project Gutenberg is from the third printing in 1967 which was a revision from the original in 1963.

I’m glad that the copyright holder has allowed this book to be available online....easy to enjoy the photos of desert wildflowers.

I had bought several of Dodge’s books is national parks when traveling to New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado from our home in Dallas in the 1970s, but I didn’t have this one.

Tree Bud Project – Week 3

It’s Friday – I’m updating the status of the branches I brought inside 2 weeks ago (previous posts: week 1, week2). This will be the last post. The flowers and leaves are wilting because the small branches can’t get enough water to the new growth.

The cherry blossoms opened but stayed small – then started to show stress – the delicate white petals wilting.

The tulip poplar branch lasted longer with more and more small leaves emerging from the bud.

Four leaves emerged from one bud and one of the leaves unfolded before they all began to wilt.

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The only branch that didn’t seem to develop at all was the black walnut. Maybe it was just way too early for those buds to develop even in the warmer temperature indoors.

Tree Bud Project – Week 1

I started a project to photograph tree buds this week by cutting small branches from trees in our yard: cherry, plum, red maple, tulip poplar, black walnut, and sycamore. Unfortunately, there were no branches low enough for me to reach on our oak.

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The plan is to bring the branches indoors (where it is warm) and monitor the buds – see how many of them would open indoors over the next few weeks. Once they do, I’ll check to see what is happening with the buds on the tree outdoors.

I took pictures of the buds with the 15x macro lens clipped to my smart phone…starting with the cherry. The buds are enlarging but still firmly closed. Our tree lags the blossoms down in DC around the tidal basin.

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The plum buds are still very small. They already show the pink color of the flowers. The tree usually blooms after the cherry.

The red maple twig is easy to identify - opposite twigs, red buds. I was surprised that there were so few branches with buds on the lower branches; the deer must be the culprits. It took a lot of looking to find a branch I could reach with buds.

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The tulip poplar already had a popped bud! The others on the branch were still closed. The leaf scars are interesting to notice too.

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The black walnut has a lot of buds at the tip of the branch. This tree was also heavily browsed by deer. The branch leaked sap as I was taking pictures. Hope is it OK with the water from the vase.

Finally – the sycamore buds are still tight. In a previous year, a sycamore bud on my indoor branch opened and a tiny leaf unfurled.

I’ll be posting about the leaf buds about once a week if there is action to report.

Zooming – February 2019

So many pictures captured with the zoom feature of the camera:

  • The framing of a sunrise so that no post processing is required

  • Birds photographed only because my presence was not detected

  • Documenting an oddity like a unique squirrel tail

  • Plants filling the frame…but the bit of background a blur

I estimate that most of the pictures I take use the zoom on my camera. The advantage of positioning myself at the right angle but not needing to be overly close is not to be underestimated. Before modern lenses, sensors, and autofocus photography was much more challenging. Now it is much more about composition and that is the part I enjoy more than anything else anyway. Being at the right place – and fast enough to use the technology – is the remaining challenge.

Icy Trees

Last week, we had some icy weather. It caused schools to close or start late. I was glad I could just stay at home and enjoy the scene through my office window. The zoom on my camera allowed me to get some pictures of the ice coating the vegetation. Many times, it looks like water droplets simply froze before they could fall to the ground. The sycamore had one last-season leaf catching the icy bits. The ice on the stems was coating the buds that looked enlarged…maybe getting ready for spring.

The remnants of a seed head from last summer collected flatter panes of ice.

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The evergreen bushes are sometimes damaged by the ice because their leaves hold so much of it. It seems that ours all came through the ordeal without any breakage.

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The Thundercloud Plum tree is showing its color even in the winter. Once the ice is gone, I’ll have to check to see if there are any split branches; the tree has had problems in previous ice storms. This time we were fortunate that it was relatively calm; ice followed by wind is what causes most breakage.

The next day I noticed that the icicles on the sycamore were quite a bit longer.

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 The red maple had very red buds. Hopefully the ice protected them rather than destroying.

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The shelf fungus on a tulip poplar back in the forest supported a mini ice flow

The trees that had the hardest time were the pines. Each needle became encased in ice. It remined me of art glass. The pines in our neighbors’ yards survived without breakage but I noticed as I drove to my errands the next day that there were some pines that did not fare as well. There were some significant branches that were ripped from trees along my route. Fortunately, there were enough people that had been out before me and all the branches were moved off the roadway.

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Smartphone Nature Photography – part 2

Continuing from yesterday’s post….

Identification. Sometimes I take a lot of photos so I can identify something later. This was the case with these caterpillars. They were devouring dogwood plants at Brookside Gardens last summer. They remind me of lemon bars (yellow custard underneath powdered sugar). I defaulted to thinking they were a moth or butterfly larvae…but they turned out to be a dogwood sawfly larvae!

Stories. Some pictures tell a story. If you are aware at the time…make sure you take the pictures of the whole story. This Achemon Sphinx Moth was discovered by summer campers going out between rain showers during a nature photography activity. Moths are more active at night and usually are hiding in foliage during the day. This one was on the ground and twitching. I knew from experience in the Brookside Gardens Wings of Fancy exhibit that it had probably been bitten by a spider. We took our pictures and left it where it was. I regret that I was too busy helping campers to keep my camera at the ready to shoot the moth being pulled between two rocks – presumably by the spider that never did make itself visible.

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Insects. Insects can be very fast moving and difficult to photograph no matter what camera you have. They often are slow or immobile when it is cooler. Cool mornings are good to find cicadas – silent and still…but maybe not dead. Butterflies can be under leaves roosting if it’s cool…or it is dusk and they are seeking a place to spend the night. Then there are masses of milkweed bugs that are prevalent in the fall. They are moving but there are so many that it’s easy enough to get a good number; I always try to figure out how many instars are shown in the same picture.

And sometimes it is just luck. This blue morpho sat on my wrist while I was at the exit of last summer’s butterfly exhibit at Brookside Gardens. I had my phone on the lanyard so was able to pull it out and one-hand the phone to take the picture.

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Specimens. There are nature photography shots that might be of specimens rather than out in the field. The shot of the blue morpho wing was from a specimen that had died using the 15x macro lens. I’ll try the 60x next summer. I included the label in the picture of the dogwood tree cookie…for documentation; I liked the irregularity of the rings.

Wet day color. Sometimes a rainy-day hike is a good thing. The color of fungus is often more intense on these days – and the phone handles the raindrops better than more traditional cameras.

Light. Sometimes an image is made by something special about the light – spotlighted ferns, the shadowing of a sectioned Nautilus shell, a sunrise.

Clipping. Because the camera only has a digital zoom, I often take the picture without zooming then make a clip after I get home. In the example below – the two butterflies (tiger swallowtail and male monarch) are clearly identifiable even though the clip has a painterly look.

So – go out and take some pictures! The only blooms we have outdoors right now are the witch hazels. There are other winter opportunities too: tracks in the snow (or mud), seed pods, snow landscapes, and ice crystals. And maybe a squirrel will be close enough and still enough….

Smartphone Nature Photography – part 1

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We almost always have our smartphones with us….ready for those natural events that just happen and for planned photoshoots. I pulled together a presentation of a Maryland Master Naturalist retreat on the topic and am using it as a basis for the blog posts for today and tomorrow.

Gear

Learn about the camera in your phone. Two critical aspects: 1) Usually the autofocus is reasonably good but tapping on the screen where you want the focus to be can sometimes improve results. Do some experiments to see how close you can be and maintain the focus on your subject. 2) Realize that the zoom is digital – not optical. You are better off getting close to your subject rather than zooming. This is difficult if your subject is an animal that will move if you get close. Birds are notoriously difficult to photograph with a phone.

Consider a lanyard. I like to carry my phone on a lanyard (one that is structured to not obstruct the camera) so that I can be ‘hands free’ while I am hiking or rolling over logs…just doing regular naturalist things.  I want my phone to be easy to access – easier than getting it out of a pocket or pack.

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I enjoy using macro lenses. I have 3 different kinds (8x, 15x, and 60x) and tend to use the 15x clip the most. Sometimes I just have it on my phone so that I can move it over the camera as needed. The depth of field is very shallow with the magnification and the phone must be close to the subject. Practice the best stance to steady your hands. I find that tucking my elbows into my body helps….and using one had to hold the phone and the other to take the picture.

Examples of Smartphone nature photography

BioBlitz. Almost all the BioBlitz pictures are taken with smartphones or tablets. Sometimes we use hands for scale – and sometimes the macro lens gives a new perspective! These are pictures taken during BiobBlitz: spotted salamander, wooly bear caterpillar, milkweed.

Landscapes.  The joy of being outdoors! Try to get something of high interest in the landscape: the trail as a leading line, clouds over the trees, an early winter scene with bare trees/large rock/pines.

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Macro. The macro lens offers to many opportunities to observe more closely than you can observe with just your eye: clams filter feeding, the center of sunflower.

A chicory flower, a newly hatched Monarch butterfly caterpillar turning to eat its egg covering, and damselfly larvae.

A few minutes observing. I play a game with myself looking closely at one thing and taking photos as fast as I can over a short period of time. In this case it was a sweet bay magnolia. There were seed pods at several stages of development and some eggs under a leaf (maybe a leaf footed bug…if I was patient enough I could see what hatched but that was outside my time box).

(To be continued tomorrow…)