Tag Archive | beauty

Eastern Comma ~ Polygonia comma

Eastern Comma ~ Polygonia comma on Pachysandra terminalis ‘Green Carpet’

Butterflies in the genus Polygonia are collectively referred to as anglewings. The eastern comma (Polygonia comma), is also known as the comma angelwing and the hop merchant.

In earlier years, farmers growing hops are said to have used the brilliant metallic markings on the Eastern Comma‘s chrysalis (which they found in numbers on their crop) to forecast the season‘s prices: if the markings were golden, the Hop prices would be high; if they were silver, the prices would be lower. Hence, the species‘ other common name, hop merchant.

When they aren’t feeding on rotting fruit, tree sap, salts and minerals from puddling and dung, males perch on leaves or tree trunks to watch for females. Females lay eggs in rows on host plants; all members of the elm and nettle families including American elm (Ulmus americana), hops (Humulus), nettle (Urtica), false nettle (Boehmeria cylindrica), and wood nettle (Laportea canadensis). Caterpillars are usually solitary and feed on leaves at night. Older caterpillars make daytime shelters by pulling leaf edges together with silk. Winter-form adults hibernate, some first migrating to the south.

A Papago Butterfly Legend

One day the Creator was resting, sitting, watching some children at play in a village. The children laughed and sang, yet as he watched them, the Creator’s heart was sad. He was thinking: “These children will grow old. Their skin will become wrinkled. Their hair will turn gray. Their teeth will fall out. The young hunter’s arm will fail. These lovely young girls will grow ugly and fat. The playful puppies will become blind, mangy dogs. And those wonderful flowers – yellow and blue, red and purple – will fade. The leaves from the trees will fall and dry up. Already they are turning yellow.” Thus the Creator grew sadder and sadder. It was in the fall, and the thought of the coming winter, with its cold and lack of game and green things, made his heart heavy.

Yet it was still warm, and the sun was shining. The Creator watched the play of sunlight and shadow on the ground, the yellow leaves being carried here and there by the wind. He saw the blueness of the sky, the whiteness of some cornmeal ground by the women. Suddenly he smiled. “All those colors, they ought to be preserved. I’ll make something to gladden my heart, something for these children to look at and enjoy.”

The Creator took out his bag and started gathering things: a spot of sunlight, a handful of blue from the sky, the whiteness of the cornmeal, the shadow of playing children, the blackness of a beautiful girl’s hair, the yellow of the falling leaves, the green of the pine needles, the red, purple, and orange of the flowers around him. All these he put into his bag. As an afterthought, he put the songs of the birds in, too.

Then he walked over to the grassy spot where the children were playing. “Children, little children, this is for you,” and he gave them his bag. “Open it; there’s something nice inside,” he told them. The children opened the bag, and at once hundreds and hundreds of colored butterflies flew out, dancing around the children’s heads, settling on their hair, fluttering up again to sip from this or that flower. And the children, enchanted, said that they had never seen anything so beautiful.

The butterflies began to sing, and the children listened smiling. But then a songbird came flying, settling on the Creator’s shoulder, scolding him, saying: “It’s not right to give our songs to these new, pretty things. You told us when you made us that every bird would have his own song. And now you’ve passed them all around. Isn’t it enough that you gave your new playthings the colors of the rainbow?” “You’re right,” said the Creator. “I made one song for each bird, and I shouldn’t have taken what belongs to you.”

So the Creator took the songs away from the butterflies, and that’s why they are silent. “They’re beautiful even so!” he said.

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Ruby-throated Hummingbird ~ Archilochus colubris

These were taken last fall, by my hubby. We had just gotten the new easy camera, a Nikon Coolpix, however still needed to figure out how to use it. Lucky for us, the neighboring camp host had a plethora of bird feeders for us to shoot birds at. I love hummers! They are such unique birds. We were very blessed to see one nesting above our camper last summer.

I hope the new feeder I received as a gift brings more of them to my house. Although I’ve never gotten any remotely clear shots of them in my front yard, I do get many of them visiting. I have planted many tubular flowers that are in the red ranges of color, a favorite of theirs.

For now, I know it’s a bit early for these beauties to be up here in Northern Illinois… I’ll just refer to my migration map and be ready for their arrival!!

 

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Simple Amusements – Nail Polish Edition 

When I was knee high to a grasshopper, I was a Tom-Boy. Any dolls I may have been given soon became buried in the bottom of the toy box, unused. I was happier playing with a hammer and pail of nails my Father would give to me.

It wasn’t too long after seventh grade that I discovered boys and the need to pretty myself for them. I became somewhat of a ‘lipstick dyke’, a pretty Tom-Boy, that still knew how to over-haul an engine, however wore a skirt while doing it.

After I passed 40, I stopped wearing make-up and ditched many of my skirts for jeans. I used to be ‘little in the middle, but I had much back’, which made wearing jeans very difficult. Now that I have a middle, my jeans don’t fall down when I walk 😉

Only two of my girly traits have stuck with me all these years. My love for doing braids (etc) in my hair and my love for nail art. I had some color change nail polish years ago, but it didn’t work too well and was only two colors. Ah modern technology has many more options now! This is a no-chip type of polish and it changes to three colors!! Find it here on Amazon. There are many color options. Here, I clearly have two different color polishes, however they both work quite quickly with the temperature change. They are so much fun!

John, this video is for you, my buddy from down under, who always seems to notice my nails in the shot!

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

The Crab Apple ~ Malus Species

Like many heralds of spring, crab apples explode with color upon the dreary backdrop of April.  For a tree that can grow in almost all 50 states, there are not many other species that can offer the colors, shapes and sizes the crab offers. It also has three season interest (as seen below), with blooms in spring, beautiful green (or red) foliage in summer, along with berries for winter. Fall is usually uneventful, as fall color is unknown to this tree.

Crab apples are loved by many of our wildlife friends.

  • The leaves are eaten by caterpillars of many moths and butterflies.
  • The flowers provide an important source of early pollen and nectar for insects, particularly honeybees.
  • The fruit is eaten by birds including cardinals, robins, thrushes and finches.
  • Mammals, including mice, raccoons, vole and squirrels also eat crab apple fruit.

Although all of the blooms are similar shaped, they come in a plethora of colors, buds that bloom to another color and different bloom times. Crabs can grow from 5′ – 50′ feet, but on average, stay between 15′ to 25′ feet range. This makes them a great choice for under wires or a street tree, along with the fact they are salt tolerant. Varieties can vary from columnar, weeping, spreading, vase-shaped to pyramidal which allows them to be planted almost anywhere. Click here for my favorite ‘cheat sheet’ (It’s a PDF) on crabs, which shows size, shape, bloom and berry colors, along with other great info.

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Sadly, there are many things lurking out there to attack crabs. Although many of the new varieties are resistant to one or more disease; scab, fireblight, leaf spot, rusts are among the top killers of crabs. Buying a resistant variety is the key to longevity.

Although the fruits are very tart, they are plentiful and able to be turned into jellies and jams quite easily, due to their high pectin. Here’s how you can do it!

A Makah Legend

The Indians who live on the farthest point of the northwest corner of Washington State used to tell stories, not about one Changer, but about the Two-Men-Who-Changed-Things. So did their close relatives, who lived on Vancouver Island, across the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

When the world was very young, there were no people on the Earth. There were no birds or animals, either. There was nothing but grass and sand and creatures that were neither animals nor people but had some of the traits of people and some of the traits of animals.

Then the two brothers of the Sun and the Moon came to the Earth. Their names were Ho-ho-e-ap-bess, which means “The Two-Men-Who- Changed- Things.” They came to make the Earth ready for a new race of people, the Indians. The Two-Men-Who-Changed-Things called all the creatures to them. Some they changed to animals and birds. Some they changed to trees and smaller plants.

Among them was a bad thief. He was always stealing food from creatures who were fishermen and hunters. The Two-Men-Who- Changed-Things transformed him into Seal. They shortened his arms and tied his legs so that only his feet could move. Then they threw Seal into the Ocean and said to him, “Now you will have to catch your own fish if you are to have anything to eat.”

One of the creatures was a great fisherman. He was always on the rocks or was wading with his long fishing spear. He kept it ready to thrust into some fish. He always wore a little cape, round and white over his shoulders. The Two-Men-Who-Changed-Things transformed him into Great Blue Heron. The cape became the white feathers around the neck of Great Blue Heron. The long fishing spear became his sharp pointed bill.

Another creature was both a fisherman and a thief. He had stolen a necklace of shells. The Two-Men-Who-Changed-Things transformed him into Kingfisher. The necklace of shells was turned into a ring of feathers around Kingfisher’s neck. He is still a fisherman. He watches the water, and when he sees a fish, he dives headfirst with a splash into the water.

Two creatures had huge appetites. They devoured everything they could find. The Two-Men-Who-Changed-Things transformed one of them into Raven. They transformed his wife into Crow. Both Raven and Crow were given strong beaks so that they could tear their food. Raven croaks “Cr-r-ruck!” and Crow answers with a loud “Cah! Cah!”

The Two-Men-Who-Changed-Things called Bluejay’s son to them and asked, “Which do you wish to be–a bird or a fish?”

“I don’t want to be either,” he answered.

“Then we will transform you into Mink. You will live on land. You will eat the fish you can catch from the water or can pick up on the shore. ”

Then the Two-Men-Who-Changed-Things remembered that the new people would need wood for many things.

They called one of the creatures to them and said “The Indians will want tough wood to make bows with. They will want tough wood to make wedges with, so that they can split logs. You are tough and strong. We will change you into the yew tree.”

They called some little creatures to them. “The new people will need many slender, straight shoots for arrows. You will be the arrowwood. You will be white with many blossoms in early summer.”

They called a big, fat creature to them. “The Indians will need big trunks with soft wood so that they can make canoes. You will be the cedar trees. The Indians will make many things from your bark and from your roots.”

The Two-Men-Who-Changed-Things knew that the Indians would need wood for fuel. So they called an old creature to them. “You are old, and your heart is dry. You will make good kindling, for your grease has turned hard and will make pitch. You will be the spruce tree. When you grow old, you will always make dry wood that will be good for fires.”

To another creature they said, “You shall be the hemlock. Your bark will be good for tanning hides. Your branches will be used in the sweat lodges.”

A creature with a cross temper they changed into a crab apple tree, saying, “You shall always bear sour fruit.”

Another creature they changed into the wild cherry tree, so that the new people would have fruit and could use the cherry bark for medicine.

A thin, tough creature they changed into the alder tree, so that the new people would have hard wood for their canoe paddles.

Thus the Two-Men-Who-Changed-Things got the world ready for the new people who were to come. They made the world as it was when the Indians lived in it.

 

*** Did you like this post? I have more coming that show trees in all of their seasons. Stay tuned!!

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

If Its Gray, It Stays…

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My grays hide when my hair is pulled back...

When I mention the amount of gray hairs my head is producing, my slightly, balding husband always responds, “If its gray, it stays.” I tried searching the internet to find out if this was actually true, however couldn’t find any research saying it’s true. I could, however find many debunked myths about how someone gets gray hair such as:

  • Pluck one, get 10 in return
  • Wash your hair daily to rid them
  • Trauma causes them
  • Low vitamin B12 levels
  • Sun damage
  • Smoking

I did find some research as to how gray hair does happen. Researchers at the University of Bradford in the United Kingdom believe that when hydrogen peroxide builds up in our bodies, we go gray. Hydrogen peroxide is produced naturally in the human body and interferes with melanin, the pigment that colors our hair and skin. The body also produces the enzyme catalase, which breaks down hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen. As we age, catalase production diminishes, leaving nothing to transform the hydrogen peroxide into chemicals the body can release. Thus turning your colored locks into a sea of white.

Gray hair starting

There they are!! I am blessed with opalescent white hair.

Although you don’t need to be old to enjoy the look… Seems gray is the new blonde! Young stars such as Rihanna, Adam Lambert, Zayn Malik, and Kelly Osbourne are all sporting silver manes.

I’ve been a slave to the bottle since I was 16. Yes, there was hair dye in the early 1800’s 😉 I’ve been every color in the book and then some….. A few of my high school friends went into cosmetology school and I was their hair model. Luckily, I didn’t have to wear any hats after their assignments!!

I’m now 40 something and dying my hair every 5 weeks is getting old. Out of all the colors I’ve been, gray was not one of them, so I’ve decided to give it a shot. I’m not running off to buy a bottle of bleach… I don’t want to destroy my hair. Another reason that I want to stop dying it is that I’d like to grow it as long as possible. Everyone has a feature that is taken for granted, however everyone else would kill for. My hair is one of those features. I’ve been threatened to be scalped … even with my Eddie Munster hairline!

xmenrouge2

Rouge from XMen

Here’s my plan:

Dye my hair back to its ‘pre-gray’ color, which is a dark reddish brown (Level 4). (Black=10 / Blonde=1).

Let hair grow in at least 2 inches (about 3 months) to see just how gray I am…. I think I’m70%.

Go with gray highlights of some sort, or a balayage look of just doing the hair framing my face? How about going Rouge?

See my PINTREST page here for other gray styles I love!

 

What are your thoughts? Are you going to go gray naturally or die dying??

 

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Monarch Butterfly on Liatris

Finally! A Monarch Sighting!!

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Last year, I thought I saw the most amount of monarchs ever. Throughout the whole season, I saw many. This year, not so many. In fact, this one was the first one I’ve seen this year. As you can see, he’s enjoying Liatris, which is a late season flower. He is probably on his way south to over-winter in Mexico.


© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Rock Stack Pondless Fountain

This fountain may look familiar to you if you were around when I first started my blog in 2013. It was one of my first few posts. What started this whole fascination with pondless fountains was my husband bringing home a large clay pot from a client’s house. I looked at it, thinking to myself, “Gee, this would look cool laying on it’s side, spilling out water.” And the rest is history.

After having him install that first fountain, we were addicted. When I started my garden design business, I was approached by a client wondering if I installed these type fountains. I said, “Heck yeah!” and showed her the clay fountain we had installed. She had found some copper pots and hoped my artist hubby could figure something out for her. He did and it is so unique. (check out the link above to see it).

Since then, he’s been putzing around with other designs. He likes the ‘rock-stacked’ look and this one was created. I love it! It was placed in the front of my house. When the windows are open, I can hear the splish-splash of the water. I like to sit in the window on weekends and see all the wildlife that visits it. Bees, wasps, birds of all sizes (saw my first flicker!!), squirrels, bunnies and chipmunks all take their turns enjoying the water.

I was so excited to reinstall it after having to temporarily remove it so I could redesign the front garden. After two long years, its back in operation at the Farrell house! Woo-Hoo!!

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I’m not the only one to see it back in operation!!

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl