Brookside Gardens – June 2019

The plants at Brookside Gardens are lush this time of year. I took pictures before every shift with the butterflies…and sometimes afterward as well.

The gardeners that maintain the north conservatory succeeded in getting a lotus to bloom in the pool there. When I photographed it, there was a tiny insect on the flower….a little pollinator?

Now for the outdoors - Some days it was raining and I focused on water on the plants; some days I worked with lighting to get the background dark; other days I was intent on filling the frame with a single flower or the unfurling of a single frond. Some plants are still in bud and others are already making seeds. I find myself being pleased with how many I can easily identify but even happier to just savor the shapes and colors…remember the smells. June is a great month for gardens here in Maryland.

Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens – June 2019

The plants that are the main attractions during  the June and July at Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens are the lotuses and the water lilies.

The lotuses were in full bloom in the later part of June when we visited but there weren’t many seed pods yet.

I also found a rolled-up lotus leaf that was interesting. The leaves are round, balancing on a central stem but they start out as a scroll like structure that unfolds. This one was still tightly coiled. I might use it as a prompt to create a Zentangle pattern.

 The water lilies did not seem as dense as they have in previous years and I wondered if the rains and cool temperatures earlier this summer impacted the water lily development.

The button bush was beginning to bloom; I didn’t notice any seed pods yet. There is a ways to go before all the flowers are pollinated…lots of bee activity.

Two trees stood out:

There was a group of developing pine codes high up in a pine near the entrance and

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Some shelf fungus growing around a knot (maybe where a branch had been). It looks a little like a bear face to me. I’d noticed it last year too. The shelf fungus look more cracked this year but they still have the orange underneath.

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I heard green frogs and searched the shallows from where the sound seemed to emanate….but never  saw the frog.

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A pearl crescent butterfly opened its wings as it sat in the grassy path and paused long enough for me to get a picture.

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We saw two different kinds of turtles (identified with the help of a reference from Maryland Department of Natural Resources): a small red-eared slider (not native to our area but invading) and

A large northern red-bellied cooter – which is native to our area. It was a large specimen. I wondered how long it had taken to get that big…about 12 inches.

Both ponds had a lot of algae and muck so the turtle shells looked grubby but the heads were vey distinctive…enough for the identification.

Overall – the field trip to Kenilworth was worthwhile and very enjoyable. We went in the morning before the day got too hot.

Weekend in State College - Sunday

On Sunday morning we headed to the Arboretum at Penn State.We spent the most time in the Children’s Gate Childrens Garden just like the last time we visited in October 2016 (posts about that visit are here and here). The entrance includes a water feature with a slightly stylized Great Blue Heron sculpture.

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There are areas growing food plants and models of fossils…a water feature to wade into, rocks positioned enable close examination, and a man-made cave (the included bat models hanging from the ceiling)… snake sculptures and real chipmunks that seemed to be everywhere. I kept thinking about how wonderful the garden would be for field trips!

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One of my favorite features is a bowl with kaleidoscopes positioned around it. Last time it had colorful gourds and squash. This time it had succulents.  I took pictures through the scopes!

In the rest of the garden there were many late summer blooms…and spiders too.

There was a lily pond. They had quite a variety of water lilies.

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The one lotus plant they had was spectacular. It must be a hybrid with all the extra very curly petals. I was glad I took a closer look at it.

After lunch we headed home. It was a short but spectacular jaunt into Central Pennsylvania.

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in August 2018 – Part I

Last week we made our last trip to Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens for this year. The lotus flowers are nearing the end although there were still a few plants blooming.

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There are many more seed pods than flowers now…at all stages of development.

The button bushes have a few blooms still…but are also showing off seed pods.

There was an oak leaf in the parking lot that looked a lot like a city map (white roofs) with noticeable greenways.


The rose mallows are still full of buds and blooms.

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I was glad to see the water lilies still blooming. The extra rain might have prolonged their season a bit this year.

Stay tuned for a post about insects and a turtle we saw at Kenilworth tomorrow…and then the birds we saw will be featured in the post for Friday.

Belmont Hikes with Summer Campers III

Yesterday I was at Howard County Conservancy’s Belmont for photography hikes with the summer campers. We could hike because the rain moved out during the night and the morning was sunny. The cardinal flowers near the entrance were blooming well after the deluge of the previous days.

I started off the younger group with an activity looking at sycamore leaves from the branches I had cut from my tree at home: looking at the holes made by caterpillars and comparing the sizes of the leaves. We made a pattern on the pavers of the patio in front of the Carriage House as a subject for our first photographs.

We found a very small caterpillar on one of the leaves.


Then we went around to the other side of the house and looked at the pollinator garden and the surrounding vegetation.

The older group of campers went to the formal gardens behind the manor house. There were three kinds of butterflies that I managed to photograph….but missed the monarch that some of the campers managed to catch on the cone flowers. I took the common buckeye, a cabbage white, and a hairstreak (maybe a gray hairsteak). The last one was new to me….had to look at it closely when I got hope. It looks like it has antennae on both ends!

We gathered around the water feature in the gardens and enjoyed the variety water lilies and a lotus growing there. There were bees – usually head down – in several flowers.

Dragonflies are hard to capture with cell phone type camera (which is what most of the campers were trying to use) but everyone saw them…and I managed a picture.

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Behind the formal gardens – the campers with cell phones experimented with the macro lens to photograph lichen.

There were tree roots damaged by mowers that look like eyes in the soil!


Overall – a good day for hiking and photography!

Kenilworth Gardens - Lotuses and Water Lilies

We try to make a trek to Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens when the lotuses are blooming….and last weekend was a good time. The day was partly sunny, and we managed to get to the park before the parking lot filled up. There was plenty to see. I’ll be posting about it over the next few days; today I’ve collected the best images of lotuses and water lilies.

There were lotuses in all stages of development. Everything about these plants are beautiful: the shape and texture of the leaves, the buds and flowers standing above the leaves gracefully opening and following the sun, the pods beginning to form. My favorites are the flowers that have a lot of white in their petals with ping around the outer edges.

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I saw a petal in some water near the path and photographed it as the water turned it.

The petals wilt quickly once they fall from the flower so catching them in the cradle of a leaf always seems special to me.

There was an unusual white plant at the edge of the ponds just as we came into the gardens. Was it a kind of lily? I don’t know. It looked exotic to me and I took a picture.

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The water lilies were still blooming in the ponds. Sometimes they are beginning to ebb by the time the lotuses are blooming but this year they seem to be still blooming profusely.

Two flowers that I noticed in my pictures after I got home that looked like they had punches out of their leaves – a lotus and a water lily. I wondered what insect made the holes!