Sunday
Aug172014

Late Afternoon in the Woodland Garden 

It is mid August, and I like to stroll through my woodland garden in late afternoon as the heat of the day subsides. Already I can feel hints of autumn in a cool breeze. Dusk has not yet begun to steal the light away, and the scene is breathtaking. I did not create my woodland garden with the transforming magic of late afternoon light in mind, but one could think so, if I were that talented a gardener. I am simply blessed.

Golden sun rays radiate through the entry to the woodland garden, illuminating the moss path and gilding the plantings:

I walk through the woodland garden slowly, dreamily admiring the light in the trees:

I gaze at the glittering leaves of 'Waterfall' Japanese maple:

Here is the view across the main planting bed in the woodland garden:

Near the Japanese maple is 'Lady in Red' hydrangea, named for its striking red stems:

There are not many flowers in the woodland garden in August. An exception is this hosta 'Royal Standard' bloom:

A few more lovely woodland plants catch my attention:Clockwise from top left: Abelia blooms; Variegated Japanese Pittosporum with Wood Aster in background; Japanese Painted Fern; Hepatica nobilis.I see a spider web, and I am reminded it will soon be "spider season", when female spiders build webs in a frenzy, preparing to catch food to sustain themselves while they mate and lay eggs. (The male spiders are so focused on the female spiders that they don't feed and die soon after their own role in reproduction is done.)

The late afternoon light glows through the fronds of a Birds Nest Fern. This is a tropical fern in a pot that I bring in for winter, but it flourishes outside through the summer in the woodland garden:

I find a small downy hawk feather caught in a branch.Then nearby I see a larger hawk feather on the ground. What story does this tell? Normal shedding, or something tragic?A nice breeze blows through the wind chimes.I close my eyes and listen to the music. 

The magic light that turns the woodland garden into a dreamland does not last long, and dusk creeps in. The mosquitos are biting. Time to go inside! 

Sunday
Aug102014

The Good, the Bad, and the Very Clean Bug

Sometimes it is odd the things that stick in one's memory. Every year when I was a child my family would drive down to the Gulf Coast for summer vacation. I remember traveling through clouds of little yellow butterflies and the horror I felt when inevitably some of them would end up smashed on the front of our car's windshield. I loved seeing the butterflies, but I dreaded the carnage. 

Butterflies are definitely the Good Guys in my garden, and yesterday I was delighted to see a Cloudless Sulfur butterfly flitting about the patio like a small ambassador of joy. It was especially interested in my red petunias:

Best wishes to you, little yellow butterfly, and may your journey be safe!

I also saw a Horsefly (Tabanid), lounging at the edge of my window. This biting, sucking creature can carry disease, and I would call it a Bad Guy. I have no good wishes for him.This horsefly was outside the corner of my kitchen window. Correction: This is a Robber Fly. See addendum below.

I rotated this photo to get another perspective. Notice his proboscis, visible on the far side of his front leg.The butterfly and the horsefly both caught my attention, but the bug that won my heart was a young Praying Mantis. He flew over my shoulder and landed on my leg. He seemed very curious about me.

Hello there!

After sitting on my leg for a while, he jumped up on my camera and looked at me eyeball to eyeball. This was a little too close for me so I gently lifted him off the camera and put him on the nearby table. He began to explore a crumpled paper sack that was on the table.

Are you still watching me?

OK, the paper sack was boring. What's down here?Then he hopped off the sack and began to give himself a bath!

That sack was dirty! See, I have to hold my foot so I can wash it.

Now I have to get this next foot.Got an itch!

Bath is over. It was nice visiting with you. See you later!

I hope you enjoyed a look at the good, the bad, and the very clean bug. Have a great week!  Deb

Addendum: Thank you Eve, who posted the following comment. It was a case of mistaken identity, and it seems I was wrong about my bad bug!

I dislike horseflys as much as the next guy. But I'm pretty sure this little feller is my favorite of all bugs. I believe it is one of the many kinds of Robber Flies. We here on the hill call them Dobby Flies since they remind us of Dobby on Harry Potter. They are actually very good bugs that eat very bad bugs and they are sweet and will sit with you if you let them. No biting will you endure. Look into these sweeties, they come in many colors and sizes and they are all, in my book...cute as a button!! Hahaha! You learn something new everyday! So here you have The Good, the Better, and the Very Clean Bug!!