Zooming – September 2019

The images I selected for this month reflected the season and many of the places visited during the month. Season reminders…

  • The flowers of autumn like sunflowers and autumn crocus,

  • Hummingbirds eating to fatten up for migration,

  • Seed pods of the golden rain, maple, buckeye, and dogwood trees

Reflections of the places I visited:

  • Patuxent Research Refuge (north tract) – sunflower and hummingbird,

  • Longwood Gardens – waterlily, sunflower, tower,

  • Brookside Gardens – insects and flowers and tree seeds,

  • Mount Vernon – the greenhouse and beautyberry

Overall it was a good month for getting outdoors to capture the beauty of summer and early fall. I am anticipating a lot of leaf photography for October.

Enjoy the September 2019 slide show – hurray for cameras with good zoom lenses!

Brookside Gardens at end of September – part I

The growing season is waning, but there is still plenty to see at Brookside Gardens when we went last weekend. Some plants have already produced their seeds – the sumac and sunflowers and castor beans among them.

The magnolia pods are as colorful as the seeds. Some of the seeds have already been eaten by birds or squirrels.

But there are still flowers to see too. I spent time photographing asters with tiny water droplets still coating them from the morning dew.

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But there are other things still blooming as well.

There were some lights that were turned on covering the trunks and lower branches of trees around one of the court yards – evidence that the crew putting up lights for the holiday light show has already started.

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Outdoors at Brookside Gardens

I try to take a few minutes before each shift volunteering at Brookside Gardens Wings of Fancy to walk around outside in the gardens. There is a lot going on in August. I am featuring some of my favorite things I noticed and photographed in this post.

Button bush and cone flowers and sunflowers – with and without bees.


Joe Pye Weed in bloom…very popular with the tiger swallowtails. One morning I photographed a dark morph female with several of the yellow and black versions.

Monarchs are more prevalent in the garden than they were earlier.

I can never resist checking the gingko tree near the conservatory. I like the way the leaves look outlined in gold of the morning sunshine.

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The sumac is a plant I am tracking this year. I recognize the seed heads but want to capture how the seeds develop. This will take me further into the fall since they don’t look like they’ve changed too much during this month.

There are always a lot of funnel spider webs in the low pines around the conservatory….and sometimes the spider is visible.

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There are several kinds of datura in the garden.

I had never nptoced what the seed pod looked like before.

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Some of the trumpets hang downward and I appreciated that the screen on my new camera can pivot so I can see what the camera is seeing when it is point straight up! I’ve always wanted to photography the unfurling flower.

The bald cypress has the scale insects like it did last summer but seems healthy enough to survive. The cones are beginning to form.

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The cannas are beautiful this time of year. Some are producing seed pods.

This is the view from the ticket taker table for Wings of Fancy. I ended up doing the job when no one had signed up for it….a  last minute change of plans.

There are milkweed plants close to the entrance to the caterpillar house and there are often insects on the plants other than caterpillars. When there are no visitors in the area…I roam around and take pictures; more on the caterpillars tomorrow.

Brookside Gardens Macro Flowers

Yesterday I enjoyed some macro photography at Brookside Gardens. There were several flowers blooming around the parking lot next to the conservatory. I took a photo of the plant and then a macro of the flower. I am always surprised at how different the impression of the plant is from a macro perspective. Here are my favorite pairs of pictures.







Cone flower


Yellow composite


Joe-Pye Weed


I was surprised there were not more insects (butterflies) around the flowers. The Joe-Pye Weed is not quite blooming yet. Maybe next time in am in the gardens they will be. Last year – there were clusters of tiger swallowtails on the plant.

Birding through a window – September 2017

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The goldfinches are enjoying the sunflowers on the deck…making them easier to photograph. The look about after each acrobatic move to pluck a seed.

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A fledgling was making quite a fuss on the deck roof outside my office. I looked around to see what else was going on and discovered the parent in the gutter --- ignoring the noise from the fledgling and enjoying a bath!

A few days later our resident Carolina Wren was out early and singing. There was still water in gutter and it soon took a bath and emerged very wet and bedraggled looking.

Road Trip Home from Nebraska

We retraced our road trip to get home from Nebraska – taking two days (again) to make the drive.

I took some last pictures around the hotel the afternoon before we left: the art in front of the gas station when we were filling the tank, the sunny parking lot, and the curtains in the room (they are a good prompt for a Zentangle!). This trip was the first time I had ever been in Nebraska and I was surprised that it was hilly; somehow, I expected it to be very flat like the panhandle of Texas. As we headed east the next morning we made one stop while still in Nebraska. There were a few people that were making an early start like we were – but not the crowd at the rest stop on eclipse day! The rest stop included some signage about the Native American use of the area.

We crossed the Missouri River, leaving Nebraska and entering Iowa. The rest stop at Council Bluffs has good signage about the history of the place and the fossil record; artistic ‘bluffs’ near the entrance, a floral mosaic inside, and low dividers around some of the picnicking areas; and a reddish colored walkway that might have been patterned after the river we’d just crossed.

We stopped at mid-morning to eat watermelon another Iowa rest stop. There were plenty of tables in the shade but it was cool enough that we picked one in the sunshine. There was a cicada that was very slow moving – too cold to make noise or fly away when I got close to take a picture! We stopped in Iowa City for lunch at a McDonalds and part of the decoration had physics and chemistry formulas! Right before we entered Illinois, we made one last stop and I took pictures of sun flowers. I like to see plants that are good for pollinators and birds in the rest stop gardens.

The Mississippi River is the boundary between Iowa and Illinois and I took a picture as we drove over the bridge. This is before the river joins with the Missouri…so it’s not as muddy looking. The only rest stop we used in Illinois had planted their formal beds with things good for last summer and fall insects and birds…good for them! It seems to be the trend in rest stop maintenance!

We hit a lot of traffic as we drove to the south of Chicago and into Indiana. I took a picture as we entered the state. We made a stop at a gas station before we got to the hotel in Elkhart, Indiana….tired after a long drive. There was a restaurant within walking distance from our hotel and it felt good to get the exercise after sitting for so much of the day.

The second day we had a shorter drive. The Ohio rest stops are more formal grass and trimmed bushes. There are some margins that might provide plants for insects. There are lots of travel brochures and I picked up several – thinking that north east Ohio could be a good destination for a fall or spring road trip. The rest stops have either barrel or dome sections over their food courts. I realized in the last one we stopped at that there was a Ohio map on the floor!

I took picture through the car window as we went into Pennsylvania. The Alleghenies make for a lot more elevation change and winding in the highway. The clouds were fluffy that day too. The skyline of Pittsburgh…the Heinz sign…the Squirrel Hill tunnel (my son-in-law’s apartment is on top of the tunnel!). After we left my daughter in Pittsburgh, we made a stop at one of the service plazas on the Pennsylvania Turnpike…and then it was through the Allegheny Mountain tunnel.

Our only stop in Maryland before we got home was at the South Mountain rest stop. By that time the fluffy clouds were mostly gone. The stop has mowed grass around the picnic tables…but the beds are planted with meadow type grasses and small flowers rather than exotic flowers. Those plants probably are easier to maintain and give the butterflies/bees a boost!

An hour later – it was good to get home.

Previous posts about our Solar Eclipse trek: Road Trip to Nebraska for the Eclipse, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Solar Eclipse – August 2017, Nebraska Sunrise.

Sunflower Pictures to Brighten a Rainy Day

As I begin to write this post, it has been raining all day. I need something that brightens up the wet! What could be better than sunflowers! I looked back at pictures I’ve taken since mid August and come up with some cheer. There is the big sunflower that I got as a volunteer at Brookside Gardens.  The goldfinches are already stopping by for snacks.

Then there are sunflowers that came up from seed that shed into the pots from last year’s plants. The flowers aren’t as big but they are still cheerful.

When they are toward the end of their blooming the petals droop like limp hair around the ‘face’ of the flower.

Up close, one observed the texture of the petals causes water droplets to align when there is a heavy dew.

And that brings us back to a very wet day that needed some sunflowers to brighten my mood!