Tag Archive | nature

Summer Blooming Flowers 6-28-2017

We leave for Door County today!!! OMG, I am so ready to kick up my heels. Not that we’re a ‘relax-on-vacation’ kinda couple. We’ve got a rain day plan of going to an art studio that has all kinds of different activities, then we’re totally going kayaking again, we’re going to catch a fish boil, go fishing where Hubby grew-up fishing, there’s a place I want to go that I’ve not remembered what the name of it was! Doh! It’s a natural oddity.. crater.. thang in the rocks.. I’ll surely post it when I go there.

I’m not a fan of Faceplantbook, I do have a page for this site, however stopped linking posts to it years ago or even visiting it. Too much pettiness and folks were stealing my stuff! Angry face! I still post this blog to Twitter. I also forward (Gesh, I don’t know what it’s called to just throw back out a tweet..) things I feel strongly about. I don’t actually go on Twitter. I’ve only got a handful of followers there. I think it’s because I don’t read IST. Oh, that’s Internet Slang Terms. I have a pretty vivid imagination (heehee), I can come up with some pretty good answers to any given acronym.

So after trying those two and not feeling the love, I’ve been trying to embrace Instagram.  For those who visit my page, for realsies, on the computer, on the left sidebar, I’ve added a ‘What I’ve Seen‘ header, that is my account. I have been posting things that are a no-no.. Like ya’all probably think we’re alcoholics. I assure you, we’re working alcoholics.

I would love to hear any tips, unwritten etiquette, #Helpmewithhashtags, and even connect with anyone else enjoying Instagram.

I’ve got some posts set to pop off on schedule for the weekdays while I’m away. Internet is pretty good up there, I should be able to answer comments. However, I will be embracing Instagram and posting many photos from our adventures during the next 7 days, in lieu of posting them here. Enjoy your Independence Day!

Click here to be taken to the past: | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 |

     

Aquilegia vulgaris ~ Columbine in White   ||   Veronica longifolia ~ First Lady Speedwell

Muuuuuuull-Beeerries! Nom. Nom. Nom.


     

Baptisia alba ~ White wild indigo

     

Rosa ‘Radrazz’ ~ Knockout rose       ||    Wisteria frutescens ~ American Wisteria (I totally missed this one. Lame. It’s on my house!!)

     

Allium ‘Globemaster’    ||    Arenaria serpyllifolia ~ Thyme-leaved Sandwort

Erigeron annuus ~ Fleabane

Catalpa speciosa ~ I call it ‘The Cigar Tree’ because the fall fruit looks like a blunt.

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Lightning Bugs or Fireflies ~ Lampyridae Species

image

Fireflies produce cold light, meaning there is no heat produced as a by-product. Fireflies generate light by mixing a chemical (luciferin) with an enzyme (luciferase) and oxygen. Fireflies produce their light by controlling the oxygen supply to the light organs that contain the chemical reaction.  Fireflies use their light to attract each other, which is rare, as most insects use scent instead of sight.

As I again, feel like these little cuties are known the world round, I will launch into some fun stuff, like some Japanese folklore as to where they came from:

Once upon a time, a woodman and his wife lived on the edge of a beautiful forest beneath Mount Fujiyama in Japan. They had a cozy, little house and a beautiful garden, however they were not happy, because they wished for a child. One moonlit night, the wife slipped out of the house and laid herself down before the great mountain with its shining snowcap. She begged for Fujiyama to send her and her husband a child.
As she prayed, a tiny light appeared high upon the mountain and began to drift down toward the woman. When the light reached the branches of the bamboo, it stopped. The woman was overjoyed when she found it was a Moonchild, sent by the Lady in the Moon herself. She took the child home and her husband was overjoyed as well.
The Moonchild grew into a beautiful young lady, a Moon Princess, and was beloved by all who saw her. When the Emperor’s son saw her, he asked for her hand in marriage. However, she refused, saying that her mother, the Moon Lady, had bidden her to return home when she reached the age of twenty.
When the night came for her to leave, the woodman, his wife and the Emperor’s son were all there to say goodbye, and they were inconsolable. The Lady in the Moon sent down a silver moonbeam for her daughter, and the Princess floated up upon it. As she floated, the Princess cried silver tears for those she left behind. As they fell, they took wing and flew all over the land.
The Moon Princess’ tears can still be seen on moonlit nights. Some call them fireflies, but those who know the legend know that they are the Princess’ tears, searching for those she loved on Earth and had to leave behind.

This is a great video segment about the Fireflies in Tennessee, they are very unique.

 


© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Summer Blooming Flowers 6-26-2017

Happy Monday to everyone! It is a happy Monday because in 48 hours, we’ll be on our way to Door County, Wisconsin for a week. I can’t wait!

Come with me to the past blooming flowers: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013

     

Alchemilla mollis ~ lady’s mantle   ||  Lychnis chalcedonica ~ Maltese cross (a fav of mine!)

     

Malva moschata ~ musk mallow or musk-mallow   ||    Lychnis arkwrightii ‘Orange Gnome’

‘Orange Gnome’ close up

Rosa ~ Rose

     

Clematis ‘Serious Black’   ||   Knautia macedonica ~ ‘Thunder & Lightning’ This guy was planted 4 years ago, and started out with variegated leaves. He has since reverted back to the regular green leaves.

Kalimeris incisa ‘Blue Star’ ~ Japanese Aster (It’s way more blue than this photo)

Filipendula rubra ~ Queen of the Prairie

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Spittlebug or Froghopper ~ Cercopidae species

Midwesterners may have noticed there has been a rise of folks spitting on plants… Nah, I’m just pulling your leg! Spittlebugs are on the rise this Spring, as I’m seeing them not only in my ornamental garden, but in the forest preserves and right of ways. These little Froghoppers are in the Cercopidae family, which contains 23,000 different family members.

For strawberry farmers (a fav of spittlebugs), the spittlebugs are mildly annoying at one spittle mass per square foot, also called “aesthetic threshold”. At five or more spittle masses per square foot, harvests can become affected. I think we’re there this year.

Spittle is produced by the nymph manipulating its body and using broken-down plant juices to blow the tiny bubbles. After there are enough bubbles to surround their bodies, they use their rear legs to cover themselves. Ironically, it’s not spit that makes the spittle… it comes out of the other end of the nymph (farttle?) 😉 The spittle protects them from predators, temperature changes and helps them from dehydrating.

Adult Froghopper

Although spittlebug nymphs and adults do feed on plant sap, the damage is minimal and populations are generally small and don’t warrant pesticide use. In extreme cases, they can cause stunting and weaken plants or reduce yields. An easy way to rid yourself of them is to dislodge them with a blast from the hose. I have read about predatory wasps of the spittlebug, however not sure if they are here in the Midwest. Should you have a severe infestation, be sure to remove plant debris in Fall and lightly till the soil to reduce the amount of eggs for the next season.

After five instars, spittlebugs become froghopper adults, named as such because of their resemblance to frogs. They now have a hard exoskeleton, which keeps them from drying out and they are able to emerge from the spittle. Adult froghoppers travel by jumping, with some species jumping vertically as high as 28 inches/70 cm! This feat surpasses the ability of fleas!

One last little tid-bit:
There are two other insect families that are not related, however look just like the froghoppers; treehoppers (Membracidae), and leafhoppers (Cicadellidae). One of my favorite sites to research bugs is: BUGGUIDE.NET, Here’s how they tell the difference,
A leafhopper (Family Cicadellidae) has a row of prominent, regular spines on its rear tibiae (the second long leg segment). Spittlebugs/froghopper (Cercopidae) have no such regular spines, (but may have a few irregular ones). Treehoppers (Membracidae), usually have elaborated pronotums.

 

     

On Lychnis chalcedonica ~ Maltese cross  ||  On Weedy Grass

     

On Echinacea    ||    On Chaenomeles speciosa

They’re everywhere!!!!

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Ah, Home Sweet Home!

This is my front door. I took the left side photos May 30th and the right, June 20th.
     

Most of April and all of May was a rain-out. We had 10 inches (25cm) of rain in those 8 weeks. Even when it wasn’t raining, Sweet Sol was hiding behind her fluffy, white shawl. There’s not even a trace of her shadow on the wall. At least, the foliage looks green and lush in this light!

June 9th it got hot… like Hell Hot. I’m not complaining… Yet.

Things grew very well until the heat. Things were looking really sad and I even had to water my established perennials.

      

We don’t use our front door. It’s too awkward to enter here. No overhang. No space. No where for shoes… It’s so much easier to enter from the garage. It’s like having a huge foyer! So, this year we finally decided to embrace our inner Red Neck and start sitting on the porch. It’s so nice to enjoy all the beautiful things that fill our senses. The flowers smell so sweet, the fountain sounds so melodic, the birds look so joyful and the chipmunks make us smile.

Ah, Home Sweet Home!

 

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

 The Last Spring Blooming Flowers 6-20-2017

Happy last day of Spring / First day of Summer!!! I’ve got mixed feelings. I can’t believe Spring is over, however that means my job gets easier. The rains have finally seemed to back off a bit, as I thought I’d have to build a Plant Ark. Can’t forget about the plants when another flood wipes most of us pink apes out 😉

Come with me to the past blooming flowers: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013

       

Syringa reticulata~ Japanese Tree Lilac

Not smelly, but pretty.  Also salt tolerant. A great street tree.

Philadelphus (Mock Orange) x. ‘Buckley’s Quill’ ~ Buckley’s Quill Mockorange

These smelly little cuties are right under my window that is downwind. These have such a strong sweet smell. It’s 92F /34C out and windy. I have the window cracked ever so slightly to get the smell in without bringing in too much heat. Electric bill be dammed!!

Peonies in a backyard on Bangs Lake. Beautiful!!!

Valeriana officinalis ~ Garden valerine

Another smelly one!

Common asparagus beetle – Crioceris asparagi

Ugh. Just when you were enjoying all the smelly flowers, this stinker joins the party. Sigh. Welp. It’s time to offer them a swimming lesson, free of charge. Well, it’s not really a swimming lesson, as you will only learn to die at my pool. My fav way to trap these buggars is to use what they know as my advantage. They like to drop to the ground as a defensive tactic to avoid predators. So, I place a cup of water under them, wave my hand above them and watch them do the belly-flop into my cup. I mean, it’s like shooting fish in a barrel!!

     

Asparagus officinalis ~ Very small bloom   ||   Onoclea sensibilis Sensitive Fern

     

Nyssa sylvatica ~ Black tupelo   ||   Mullberry update = Almost!

Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Spring Blooming Flowers 6-19-2017

Come with me to the past blooming flowers: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013

     

Dianthus gratianopolitanus ‘Firewitch’ ~ Cheddar pinks, carnation   ||   Lotus corniculatus ~ Birds-foot Trefoil  (so cool!!)

     

Lonicera japonica – Japanese honeysuckle   ||   Plantago lanceolata ~ Buckhorn plantain (weed)

     

Not even gonna try on these grasses. Guessing weedys.

     

Barbarea vulgaris ~ Garden Yellow Rocket    ||   Stellaria media ~ Common Chickweed

Chickweed is known for its soothing and healing quality. Its high saponin content is thought to be the reason for its effectiveness in relieving skin problems, such as erysipelatous and other forms of ulceration, as well as many forms of cutaneous diseases.

Hesperis matronalis ~ dame’s rocket, damask violet, dame’s-violet, dames-wort, dame’s gilliflower, night-scented gilliflower, queen’s gilliflower, rogue’s gilliflower, summer lilac, sweet rocket, mother-of-the-evening and winter gilliflower.

Here, many folks think this is ‘wild phlox’. Sure, you could call it that if you like. However, the easy way to tell the difference is that this one has 4 petals and phlox has 5.

       

When this gets with this, does this happen?

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

 

What’s That Bird? 

Knowing that my camerone can’t take a photo at a distance, I’ve learned that shooting a quick video can make-up for the lack of detail. I may even be able to pull a still from the video. Sadly, not in this case.

I am a beginning birder and try to key these little guys out to the best of my knowledge, however it is based on personal perspectives also. Although I think Juncos are black and white birds, many keys have them under brown. I furiously search under black, then white and can’t find them. Now, I’ve also employed other websites like allaboutbirds.org to know even more about the birds I have identified. I’ll admit I don’t feel like I’m any better at ID, but I’ll learn. I’m used to plants that love to be admired and stand still white I look for identifying features, leaf shapes, petal count, undersides… etc. Birds and animals… Not so much.

This little, yellow guy has a black face and is not a American Goldfinch, at least not a common one, I know those. I’ve looked through trushes, flycatchers, finches… exhausting!

I was in Central Illinois during Memorial Day, not sure if migration was still happening or these guys are residents. I was in a prairie/savanna area, not too far from water.

Any guesses??

 

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

White-Crowned Sparrow ~ Zonotrichia leucophrys

This post was a bit lost in my drafts folder… These guys were passing through last month. They, like the Juncos, like to be up North for the summer. And I mean like the Great White North! I’m also too far North to be in their Northern, Southern range. Ah, alas I am in the migration range only.

The male does most of the singing, however the female likes to belt out a few delicate, but more intricate tunes. Males learn their songs not only from their fathers, but from all of the other White-Crowned Sparrows in the neighborhood. If a male grows-up on the edges of two communities, they might sing two different songs, one from each community, you could say bilingual. 

They mainly eat seeds, however will feed insects to their young. These guys were happy to see many protein-packed sunflower seeds and peanuts on the ground, as they need a bunch of energy for their migration. These guys have been known to stay awake for two weeks straight! Not only that, the can fly for a long time without tiring. Scientist have this little guy running tread mills and other endurance tests. They are trying to figure out what keeps the little guy ticking for so long. Clearly, Scientist’s want to learn how to keep us humans working longer than our standard, 40 hours, sigh.

See you next Fall, White-Crowned Sparrow! I wish I could go with you to Mexico for the winter!!

     

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl