Tag Archive | nature

Spring Blooming Flowers 5-23-2017

Happy Tuesday!

Only two more days of this shyt…..

Click to see previous years blooms 20162015 20142013

     

Veronica ‘Purpleicious’ ~ Speedwell   ||   Rhus aromatica ‘Gro-Low’ ~ Gro-Low sumac

Viburnum plicatum tomentosum ‘Mariesii’

Weedy grass or an ornamental… you choose.

     

Athyrium niponicum ‘Pictum’ ~ Japanese pained fern  ||   Look at this little trooper, growing through the pavers.

Podophyllum peltatum ~ May Apple

     

Geranium sanguineum ~ bloody cranesbill or bloodred geranium   ||   Cornus kousa ~ Flowering dogwood

Matricaria discoidea ~ pineappleweed

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Spring Blooming Flowers 5-22-2017

Happy Moanday!

It doesn’t feel like a Moanday. It feels like a Tuesday. I don’t think I’ve ever put more hours into a week before (59) or worked on a Saturday in 7 years. It was cold and rainy to ice the cake. Ugh. My poor husband is so busy that we can’t leave early for the holiday weekend, sad face. My co-workers, who are a tad overworked themselves, keep telling me, “Think about the numbers on your check…”. Is it worth it?

Click to see previous years blooms 201620152014 2013

     

Cornus sericea ~ Red twig dogwood   ||  Euonymus alatus ~ Burning bush

     

Syringa meyeri ‘Palibin’ ~ Dwarf Korean lilac   ||   Rhamnus cathartica ~ Buckthorn

     

Arisaema triphyllum – Jack-in-the-pulpit, bog onion, brown dragon, Indian turnip  ||  Trillium sessile ~ Toadshade or Sessile-flowered wake-robin

     

Rosa multiflora ~ Wild rose  ||  Aquilegia canadensis ~ Canadian or Canada columbine This little trooper was growing in the middle of our shade house.

Waldsteinia ternata ~ Barren strawberry

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

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

Build a Pondless Fountain, On the Cheap

We had to rebuild our pond when the original 5 gallon bucket we used proved not to hold enough water for us to leave for a weekend before it splashed out. Many times the Robins would sit on the fountain and during their bathing would flap a good portion of water out of the system. We decided a larger basin was needed. However, many of the basins that are specifically made for pondless fountains are very expensive. What is expensive? Anywhere between $400. and $700. dollars. I feel that cost places these fountains out of many folks price-points. I’d rather use that money towards the ‘art’ part. The part everyone sees… The fountain!

We dug-up everything that was buried and set it out for re-installation. We decided we were going to try a plastic storage container and see how well the $20. dollar bin would hold up. We dug the hole about 4″ inches larger than the bin and back-filled that area with pea gravel. We hoped it would allow the bin to freeze (expand) and thaw without cracking. So far, this fountain has been through one winter with no issue.

    

So the lid wouldn’t cave in, we set the central weight of the fountain on top of a 6″ piece of PVC pipe. The pump (with its filter) sat just outside the PVC pipe. We placed holes in the lid to drain the water back into the basin, however not enough to compromise its integrity.

After everything was installed in the basin, but before the fountain was assembled above, we checked if the pump was working correctly. Better to check now than to stack the fountain and realize there’s an issue. DoH!!

    

Everything was running well, so we continued to finish the installation by adding the grate, the pond membrane and returning the stone to the area. We then carefully stacked the fountain on the copper pipe. We plugged it in and stepped back to admire our work.

If you want to see other pondless fountain ideas, click here!

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Spring Blooming Flowers 5-16-2017 Illinois Beach Park

This day’s Blooming Flowers all occurred at Illinois State Beach Park. This place has such an awesome biodiversity. I love coming here and seeing all the birds and plants. I’ve never been here this early in the year before and got to see some new plants, along with some oldie but goodies.

Click to see previous years blooms 2016201520142013

Alliaria petiolata ~ Garlic Mustard

Alliaria petiolata ~ Garlic Mustard

    

Draba nemorosa ~ Yellow Whitlow-grass   ||   Baby Oak leaves ~ Quercus

Arabidopsis lyrata ~ Lyre-leaved Rock Cress

Got me!

Lake Michigan – The view from our back window

Fragaria vesca ~ Woodland Strawberry

    

I’ve still not figured this one out…   ||   I suck at grasses, at least the non-ornamental ones.

Opuntia cymochila ~ Prickly Pear

Lithospermum incisum ~ Narrow-leaf Puccoon

© 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

Spring Blooming Flowers 5-12-2017 Volo Bog 

Happy Fooking Friday!

This week has sucked. Like really sucked. I’m starting tomorrow with 42.5 hours under my belt. I’m exhausted. Yesterday, I had a nursery tell me the 6 – 7″ caliper pears I ordered have not been dug for an order that was placed last March. Oh. My. God. Remember the small digging window trees I spoke of earlier this week? Well, these are a small window trees and the window has CLOSED on digging them. The color drained from my bosses face when I told him. I’m going to another nursery to view trees that were dug last year and over-wintered. That’s usually nt a good thing, however what choice do I have?!? Gaaa!

We are going camping this weekend. I will switch off that part of my life when I leave the parking lot! 🙂

Click to see previous years blooms 2016201520142013

Aquilegia canadensis ~ Canadian or Canada columbine

Pasque Flower ~ Anemone pulsatilla

There’s a turtle down there, I swear…

Geranium maculatum  ~ Wild Geranium


Beautiful pond

I can see it’s yellow….

     

Nope. I’ve got nothing.   ||   Dodecatheon meadia ~ Prairie Shooting Star

Geum triflorum ~ Prairie smoke

Now just look at that HAIR! Don King would be proud.

The actual Volo Bog, surrounded by tamarack trees.

      

Menyanthes trifoliata ~ Buckbean   ||   I’m going to guess a viola

     

Equisetum arvense ~ Horsetail   ||   Sisymbrium loeselii ~ Tall Hedge Mustard

Sarracenia purpurea ~ Pitcher plant

Phlox divaricata ~ Woodland phlox

Lithospermum canescens ~ Hoary Puccoon

Say that three times fast 😉

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Western Painted Turtle – Chrysemys bellii

I’ve written about the Eastern Painted Turtle, however the photo for that post was lacking. And, admittingly, I think it actually was a Western Painted Turtle, as the Eastern are not supposed to be in my area. Although the painted turtle is found in most of the United States and some parts of Canada, there are four different species, and a lot of inter species mingling. As you can see, Illinois has either Western or Midland or a combo of both. Miss-identification can happen sometimes.. I’m a horticulturist, Jim! Not a herpetologist 😉

One of the more interesting things I learned about these turtles is that their sex is decided by what temperature the eggs are exposed to while in the clutch. These temperature-dependent turtles lack sex chromosomes, thus relying on the temperature to decide. Low temperatures during incubation produce males and high temperatures produce females. Think Jurassic Park!!
Since Painted turtles are cold-blooded, they need to bring their temperatures up when they want to be active. Basking in the sun is the best way to achieve this. Turtles of all varieties bask in large groups on logs, fallen trees, and any object that’s just above the water. Sunning also helps rid them of parasitic leeches. Ick.
Painted turtles feed mainly on plants, small fish, crustaceans, aquatic insects, and carrion. Young painted turtles are mainly carnivorous, possibly because they need the extra protein to grow, acquiring a taste for plants later in life. Turtles have no teeth, although they have tough, sharp plates for gripping food. Painted turtles like to eat in the water since their tongue does not move freely.

The painted turtle was designated the official Illinois state reptile in 2005 after winning the vote of the citizens of Illinois in 2004.

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Spring Blooming Flowers 5-9-2017

Happy second week of May. Last weeks rain was pretty tough on the tree farmers. If you guys were not aware, many trees have specific times they can be dug. Some trees have a large window, other trees the window is more like a peep hole. Pears can only be dug while in flower, Maples only while they are budding and most other plants need to harden off their new growth before being dug.

Please be kind to your landscaper. Trees don’t grow on trees 😉

Click to see previous years blooms 2016201520142013

Lonicera tatarica ~ Tartarian honeysuckle

My shade / spring ephemeral garden (Where’s Breck?)

     

Geum coccineum ‘Cooky’ ~ Cooky Avens or Scarlet Avens  ||   Vaccinium corymbosum ~ Blueberry!

Lamiastrum galeobdolon ‘Yellow Archangel’

Polemonium caeruleum ~ Jacobs Ladder

     

Thlaspi arvense ~ Field Pennycress   ||   Polemonium caeruleum ~ Variegated Jacobs Ladder

     

Uvularia grandiflora – large-flowered bellwort or merrybells   ||  Lonicera periclymenum ‘Scentsation’ ~ Honeysuckle

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Mallard Ducks ~ Anas platyrhynchos

When I was a little girl…. That’s how my Grandfather would always start his stories 🙂

When my family visited my Grandparents, we had a general routine for Saturdays. We’d go to lunch at a favorite buffet location where we would stuff bread in my mom’s purse for the ducks we’d feed at the park later!

These guys are the most common and well-known duck in the world. So common, that I think I’ll just go into a story.

The wintry winds had already begun to whistle and the waves to rise when the Drake and his mate gathered their half- grown brood together on the shore of their far northern lake.

“Wife,” said he, “it is now time to take the children southward, to the Warm Countries which they have never yet seen!”

Very early the next morning they set out on their long journey, forming a great “V” against the sky in their flight. The mother led her flock and the father brought up the rear, keeping a sharp lookout for stragglers.

All day they flew high in the keen air, over wide prairies and great forests of northern pine, until toward evening they saw below them a chain of lakes, glittering like a string of dark-blue stones.

Swinging round in a half circle, they dropped lower and lower, ready to alight and rest upon the smooth surface of the nearest lake. Suddenly their leader heard a whizzing sound like that of a bullet as it cuts the air, and she quickly gave the warning: “Honk! honk! Danger, danger!” All descended in dizzy spirals, but as the great Falcon swooped toward them with upraised wing, the ducklings scattered wildly hither and thither. The old Drake came last, and it was he who was struck!

“Honk, honk!” cried all the Ducks in terror, and for a minute the air was full of soft downy feathers like flakes of snow. But the force of the blow was lost upon the well-cushioned body of the Drake, he soon got over his fright and went on his way southward with his family, while the Falcon dropped heavily to the water’s edge with a broken wing.

There he stayed and hunted mice as best he could from day to day, sleeping at night in a hollow log to be out of the way of the Fox and the Weasel. All the wit he had was not too much whereby to keep himself alive through the long, hard winter.

Toward spring, however, the Falcon’s wing had healed and he could fly a little, though feebly. The sun rose higher and higher in the blue
heavens, and the Ducks began to return to their cool northern home. Every day a flock or two flew over the lake; but the Falcon dared not charge upon the flocks, much as he wished to do so. He was weak with hunger, and afraid to trust to the strength of the broken wing.

One fine day a chattering flock of Mallards alighted quite near him, cooling their glossy breasts upon the gently rippling wave. “Here, children,” boasted an old Drake, “is the very spot where your father was charged upon last autumn by a cruel Falcon! I can tell you that it took all my skill and quickness in dodging to save my life. Best of all, our fierce enemy dropped to the ground with a broken wing! Doubtless he is long since dead of starvation, or else a Fox or a Mink has made a meal of the wicked creature!”

By these words the Falcon knew his old enemy, and his courage returned. “Nevertheless, I am still here!” he exclaimed, and darted like a flash upon the unsuspecting old Drake, who was resting and telling of his exploit and narrow escape with the greatest pride and satisfaction. “Honk! honk! ” screamed all the Ducks, and they scattered and whirled upward like the dead leaves in autumn; but the Falcon with sure aim selected the old Drake and gave swift chase. Round and round in dizzy spirals they swung together, till with a quick spurt the Falcon struck the shining, outstretched neck of the other, and snapped it with one powerful blow of his reunited wing.

Do not exult too soon; nor is it wise to tell of your brave deeds within the hearing of your enemy.

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl