Photography Challenge Day 147: The dew drops and the fungi

So I’m still trying to decide on the next theme for a week of the photography challenge. I have some ideas–but I need to make sure that I can either a) get a picture within the theme at some point during the day, or b) I have several pictures already (that I hopefully haven’t shared) on my computer.

Therefore today’s photography challenge winner is one of the tiny mushrooms that pop up every so often–and if you aren’t looking for them, you’ll miss them.

Tiny mushroom hiding in the grass.

Though the humidity was high enough that I managed to catch some dew drops as well before they disappeared. These little guys seem to pop up after rain, and then quickly disappear.

Since I’m not an expert at identify most fungi (I’m pretty good at identifying oyster mushrooms and toad stools), I’m not to going to even try to guess what this one. While I’ve shared some other fungi pictures earlier, I don’t think that these are the same type. The only thing that the two have in common–is that they’re small.

This one was growing by itself, and the others I saw as a small grouping. I know that I could get even more pictures of mushrooms/fungi if I started going out to the area lakes and walking some of the trails. My main thing against that are the ticks–they’re numerous in Oklahoma, and I’ve developed allergic reaction to them even crawling on me. Once I find some new long/breathable leggings, and a hiking partner (or two)–I’ll probably try it. For now, my mushroom watching will be limited to areas that I know have very few ticks in them.

Fungi are an important part of the local ecosystem–they help decompose things, and recycle nutrients back into the soil. They can also have symbiotic relationships with bacteria, plants, and others.

No Comments naturePhotography

Photography Challenge Day 146: The white false garlic

Today’s winner of the photography challenge is another early spring wildflower: the false garlic (Nothoscordum bivalve), and also goes by the names of crow poison.

This is one of the more numerous wildflowers up at Boomer Lake in the early spring time, it looked like the entire field was covered with them.

Numerous blossoming white false garlic

It will bloom in the early spring, and potentially again in the fall (now I have something to keep an lookout for on my walks this fall). It is called false garlic, because it looks like a wild onion but lacks the onion odor.

It is a native wildflower to the south plains and south eastern states (basically from Arizona east to Virginia), and it’s blooming schedule is March through May, and then again possibly in September and October.

It can also be found growing in Mexico, Peru, Uruguay, Argentina and Chile as well.

I wonder that even though it doesn’t have the garlic/onion odor—would it have the garlic/onion flavor? This could be a possible native wildflower to plant in the yard to help naturally deter the moles from coming through and destroying everything—it is something to look into.

It would also be interesting to try to find the origin of the other common name–crow poison. Just a quick google search didn’t really turn up anything–it might require looking into older botany papers and books to see if origin (or even old wise tale) about the other name. My hypothesis: someone (years upon years ago) found a dead crow in the middle of a field of false garlic, and though it ate the seeds and died; they therefore named the flowers crowpoison.

That is one of two main reasons why I haven’t done much gardening over the years—the moles have a habit of eating the flower bulbs (didn’t realize they liked tulips as much as they did until they ate like two dozen tulip bulbs the second year we were living here). The second reason why I haven’t done much gardening—is the soil—it is really nothing more than solid red clay, and it is a pain to dig in. You need to add in some much extra mulch and topsoil and hope that you’ve added enough extra that the soil will actually drain and not drown the roots of your plants.

It’s looking like it could be August before I really try to do any type of even weeding of the front garden—starting Tuesday it’s going to be triple digit weather for at least 10 days—and that means I may not even get my morning walk in at Boomer Lake next weekend (depending on what the temperature and humidity is at 7am).

Starting tomorrow I’m going to try to do another week of pictures that follow a certain trend—something for me to think on tonight and most of tomorrow.

No Comments flowersnaturePhotography

Photography Challenge Day 145: White and Purple wildflowers

So I’m doing a dual flashback Friday post for the color/flower challenge. These flowers were some of the wildflowers that bloomed earlier this year up at Boomer Lake. I managed to spot both of these white and purple flowers, and I’m pretty certain they’re from the same family (if not the same flower species–just different color genes were activated during germination).

White Carolina anemone

So this plant goes by two different names, and depending on what name you call it—it can change it’s scientific name.

One name is the Carolina anemone (Anemone caroliniana), and that places it within the genus Anemone and the family Ranunculacae. It is also native to the central and south eastern parts of the United States.

Purple Carolina anemone

The plants flower in early to mid spring, with coloring of white, soft rose, and occasionally purple flowers, with one flower per stem.

The other name that they can go by is windflower. Now windflowers can refer to anemones in general (so that is fine)—but the main anemone that goes by that common name is Anemone nemorosa (or the wood anemone), and it found mainly in Europe.

So if one is referring to them as windflowers—we also need to add in the other common name of Carolina anemone.

I’ve always loved anemones, as they’re some of the first flowers to bloom in the spring time. We have some of the smaller purple anemones planted in the front yard, but they’re slowly dying off (since it’s been about twenty years since I originally planted the seeds). I’m thinking that maybe it’s time to get some more seeds and start a new batch of anemones in the front yards.

No Comments flowersnaturePhotography

Photography Challenge Day 144: The pink-purple (maybe wine colored) poppy mallow

Today’s flower/color photography winner is also a Thursday throwback to the spring when more of the flowers were in bloom. That was one of the really nice things about walking up to Boomer Lake–the hill closest to where I’d cross the street was in full bloom of wildflowers during late spring and early summer months.

The bright pink/purple (or maybe even wine colored) flowers are poppy mallows and the main winners of the photography challenge.

The poppies and other wildflowers were in bloom

This is the common name for the nine species found within the genus Callirhoe. These plants are all native to the prairies and grasslands of North America.

Since I see these flowers basically yearly (though I will admit I’ve only really started noticing plants as I’ve started to get more into photography), I’m pretty sure that these are one of the species that are perennials (meaning they come back year after year).

One of the things I’ve been thinking of doing is figuring out what type of native flowers and plants we could get that would add both color to the yard and also attract bees, butterflies, and birds.

I’ve actually looked into trying to get seeds of the poppy mallow to plant around the house–but they need basically full sun, and there is only one area of the house that gets full sun. That would be the side of the house, and it is also the side that everyone forgets about–these are such pretty flowers, they should be planted in an area where they’d be seen more than maybe just once or twice a day (or week).

So I still need to do some research into different types of flowers and plants that are hardy for the extreme weather changes and seasons in Oklahoma, and that can also deal with either total shade, or part shade/part sun. It would be nice to get some color (other than mainly green) in the yards again.

No Comments flowersnaturePhotography

Photography Challenge Day 143: the rose and I do miss gardening

Today’s winner is the red rose. We have a climbing rose vine on the side of the house, that seems to grow taller each year.

With the way the weather is going, the rose vine actually flowers in early to mid spring, and is done by the time the summer temperatures hit. Some years are better than others in terms of how many roses bloom on the vine, and whether or not I remember to get out and get a picture of them.

Red rose

This particular rose vine has flowers that are both red and then ones that are on the pinker side of things (or that may be how the light was reflecting off of them as I was taking the picture).

The roses do attract the bees during the early months of spring before other plants are even thinking of flowering.

The rose vines

Did you know that there are over 300 different species of roses, with thousands of different cultivars (which is a plant variety that has be produced in cultivation by selective breeding—usually for color, texture, or some other physical property).

We use to have smaller rose bushes in the backyard–but the Saint Bernard didn’t like where I had planted them, and she pulled them up. The bush only survived getting replanted twice before it died. One thing I might do when I move is start a small garden in pots and maybe look into have a mini rose bush in my kitchen or living room (depending on which room gets more sun).

Having plants (gardening) is one way of naturally dealing with, and lowering stress and anxiety levels. While everyone can’t have a full size garden in the middle of the city–there are community garden areas (I saw one or two out in Boston), and I’d guess even having small potted plants in the apartment can help deal and lower stress and anxiety levels. If nothing else–they’re pretty to look at.

What I’m thinking of doing is an small herb garden, have a few flowering plants, and then some cacti as well. I just want to make sure that I will be in a place long enough to enjoy the benefits of getting the plants (it would be a pain to start having plants only to give them away if I have to move long distance again–I don’t think they’d survive the move).

But that is still at least eight to ten months out–what I can do now is try to clear out the front garden, so that flowers and bulbs can be planted in the fall. The flowers would give immediate color, and the bulbs if they survive the winter–flowers and color in the spring, summer, and maybe fall. This will be something to do in the earlier hours of the morning on the weekends (at least until the heat index is below 95 by 3:00PM).

No Comments flowersnaturePhotography

Photography Challenge Day 142: The coral (or trumpet) honeysuckle

Today’s winner of the color/flower photography challenge is the orange-red honeysuckle flower. The name honeysuckle refers to members of the genus Lonicera, which include arching shrubs or twining vines (though most species are vines).

This particular type of honeysuckle I see on my walks around Boomer Lake, and also up at the bus stop in the mornings. They are definitely more of the twining vines than arching shrubs. I’m pretty sure that this is the coral or trumpet honeysuckle, with how the flowers look like mini-trumpets.

Trumpet honeysuckle growing at Boomer Lake.

These plants are native to the northern hemisphere (so this includes any country/land mass that is north of the equator). To date there have been ~180 different species identified throughout the northern hemisphere, with over half the species being found in China.

I love the flowers as they are nice and fragrant, and bring back childhood memories of picking flowers and sucking the nectar out of them. The flowers also attract hummingbirds and butterflies that also like to drink the nectar as well. Though I do see some bees around the backyard honeysuckle in early spring when they’re just started to flower.

The trumpet honeysuckle is a native species to the eastern parts of the United States. There are several different cultivars of the plant that have been grown and selected for their variation in flower colors. Depending on where they’re growing in the US, they can be considered either evergreen (in the warmer climates) or deciduous (in the colder climates), this also can result in their flowers being pollinated from mid-spring through the fall by hummingbirds and various insects.

One thing I didn’t realize (or more accurately haven’t thought of) is that they also produce fruit. The honeysuckle fruit can be either a spherical or elongated berry that can be either red, blue, or black in color. While the most of the fruits are non-edible for humans, they are edible for wildlife—which allows for the spread of the plants (which is one of the numerous ways that plants ensure their survival).

I’m going to have to try and be on the lookout for the berries this fall—not to eat, but to photograph.

No Comments flowersnaturePhotography

Photography Challenge Day 141: The yellow-red iris

So continuing with a combination (flower and color) scheme today–the winner is the yellow-red bearded iris that we have in the front yard. We have them planted in a couple of different areas in the front yard, but only one actually flowered this year (the rest just showed the leaves).

Yellow-red iris

So the name iris–actually refers to both the flower and the genus Iris (which has somewhere between 260 and 300 different species within). The origin of the genus name comes from the Greek goddess of the rainbow–Iris.

I’ve realized over the past few years that I have probably planted them in the wrong areas of the yard (they’re all currently under trees), to where they aren’t getting that much direct sunlight.

The one that flowered this year, it did get direct sun during the day off and on (depending on how the leaves were coming out on the trees). The ones that were planted in the other front garden, they’re in total shade. I may have to go out in the spring and dig them up and replant them in a more sunny area of the yard.

Hopefully if they’re replanted in sunnier spots, they’ll flower and attract the bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Gardening is something that I enjoy doing (when it doesn’t feel like a million degrees outside), and maybe just maybe I need to start trying to make it a priority again (even if it’s small container gardening to begin with).

No Comments flowersPhotography

Photography Challenge Day 140: Little blue flowers

So I decided that I would try switch things up and may start a theme for this week in terms of my photography challenge. I just haven’t quite decided if the theme is going to be flowers, colors, or maybe both.

Therefore the winner of today’s photography challenge is the little blue flower I noticed on some of the ground cover in the backyard.

Partial blue flower on some of the ground cover.

So I’ve realized that I’m not the greatest gardener or botanist in the world. When I decided to share this particular photo, I knew that I needed to know more about particular ground cover that it was a part of–so I turned to google.

Well, it is going to take me awhile to figure out the specific type of ground cover that we have in different parts of the yard. We’ve been calling it ‘periwinkle’, and that turns out to be the wrong name for the plant. Our other ground cover, ‘vinca’, is actually known as ‘periwinkle’ due to the color of it’s flowers. So our actual ‘periwinkle’ hasn’t started to flower yet.

This ground cover is actually an perennial that popped up in the yard years ago, and comes back every year. I actually need to move some of it to an area where we really don’t have anything growing and see if it will 1) take, and then 2) come back the following year.

Even these little blue flowers are important for the bees–it gives them food, and they help pollinate other similar plants (as I have no idea of this particular ground cover self pollinates or not). I actually saw some bees in the yard today–so that made my day.

I miss the days when I would walk past a holly bush and see them swarmed with honey and bumble bees. Now I feel like maybe things will turn out if I can see just a small handful during the week.

So the theme for the week’s photographs will be either color, flower, or both (it will depend on my mood and what I manage to photograph).

No Comments flowersnaturePhotography

Photography Challenge Day 139: Black Swallowtail Butterfly

The winner of today’s photography challenge is the state butterfly: the black swallowtail butterfly.  These butterflies are found throughout most of the eastern United States, parts of Canada, and south through Mexico and Central America. It is also the state butterfly for New Jersey and Oklahoma (where it can be seen from March through October).

Black Swallowtail Butterfly on wildflowers

On my walk this morning, I was fortunate to see the black swallowtail butterfly on some of the wildflowers along the shore. I wasn’t able to get super close to the butterfly—I didn’t want to scare it off, so pictures don’t do full justice to the beautiful butterfly.

I’m not certain whether I managed to get several pictures of a male or female black swallowtail. The distinguishable area is towards the bottom of the wings–the females have more blue towards the bottom of their wings. Also the males have larger yellow spots than the females do, but since I could’t get closer to it (I didn’t want to scare it off), I can’t say for certainty which sex it is.

Black swallowtail

These are rather large butterflies, as their wingspan can be between three and a quarter and four and quarter inches (so somewhere between eight and eleven centimeters). Females will lay eggs on the leaves and flowers of host plants (such as carrot, celery, dill to name a few), which then serve as food to the caterpillars. The young hibernate as a chrysalis (pupa) before emerging as an adult.

Black swallowtail

The adults feed on nectar from flowers, which include milkweed, thistles, and red clover (to name a few). One goal for this summer is going to try to identify this flowering plant. The black swallowtails aren’t the first butterflies I’ve seen on it this summer.

No Comments butterfliesflowersinsectsnaturePhotography

Photography Challenge Day 138: The fuzzy, little caterpillar (short post)

So today’s winner of the photography challenge was the fuzzy, little caterpillar that I brushed off my leg when sitting outside.

Fuzzy, black caterpillar crawling around outside.

I’ve always heard the old tales that fuzzy caterpillars were a sign that the winters were going to be really bitter and cold. Since this is the first one I’ve seen so far, I don’t know how much I’m going to believe that tale (until I start seeing quite a few of them).

It was really trucking along

I’ve always been curious to know what type of moth or butterfly different caterpillars change into, and so far I haven’t been able to identify the “adult” version of this caterpillar.

Hopefully it isn’t one that is going to strip the leaves off any of the trees or build the really ugly silk tents in the trees (as they strip off the leaves).

Once I’m able to figure out the adult/mature version of the caterpillar I will be back to update the blog post.

No Comments insectsnaturePhotographyScience