Daffodils are my entry for the In A Vase On Monday Challenge, hosted by Ramblings in the Garden. The yellow and orange variety is displayed within a Victorian Milk Glass Hand Posy Vase. A sprig of evergreen Japanese Photinia helps to keep the stems in place. My outdoor gardens are coming back to life with Spring bulbs appearing in every bed, making it easier to once again take part in this challenge.
I drape beaded garlands from small hooks beneath the mantel and hang simple cardstock Easter bunnies on the length. A cottonball is glued on for the fluffy tail. I keep Christmas tree hooks at the ready all year long. They come in handy for projects and decorations; I even use them in the gardens.
I looked for a periwinkle a few days ago, and found nothing. I didn’t know it was hiding out within the mass of ivy beneath the pines. I love these small flowers. Now I know for sure Spring is on the way in South Jersey. It’s really cold and windy today, but this tender little blossom gives me hope. My periwinkle is part of Cee’s Flower of the Day.
This is the first time I have come across this great challenge. So happy to take part today after going on a bit of a nature walkabout with my camera. Cosmic Photo Challenge: Straight Lines; come along and walk with me…
The woods nearby yielded some interesting textures and lines. Weathered and worn, with straight lines engraved by years of lying on the woodland floor.
Cross the bridge with me, the straight lines of the planks support your steps, but add a bit of bounce and sway too as they carry you over a shallow gully.
A straight line of lichen grows within the confines of the tree bark. The beautiful greens match the color of my kitchen walls.
In the straight lines between the brick steps on my back porch the Creeping Jenny is showing signs of greening up into her Springtime chartreuse.
In the front garden beds, cress is beautifully unfurled between the straight lines of driveway and brick. This is one of my favorite plants for foliage pressings. More on that later on in the week.
Hyacinths and Ivy in a green Mason jar, surrounded by a sprinkling of sea glass. I brought a few in to have an up close and personal encounter with not only the gorgeous lavender blooms, but also to enjoy the strong fragrance that fills the kitchen as they mature. I hope they will keep on blooming all through the week.
I could interpret last week’s sixty-degree temperatures as a sign Spring is on the way, but I have lived through many seasonal changeovers, and I know that even though twilight is coming later every day, the hope of Spring arriving early is just folly and there are still weeks of Winter to live through.
I have grown the yellow tulips from bulbs I purchased in Autumn. Past attempts at forcing them have been mixed. I have kept them bare and in a cold place, forcing them in water. This year I planted thickly in terracotta pots, about six bulbs per pot, and left them outdoors on the porch for several months. I wasn’t sure when I should bring them in, but the tulips themselves told me by thrusting leaves above the surface. I bring one in each week, and this pot is my first success. It is a bit leggy, but grand just the same. I support the overgrown stems with small twigs in the soil. I like the seasonal look they give, and even though thin, they support the leaves and stems perfectly well.
There are loves throughout my life that have been questionable: people, habits, places, some friends. But my love of nature and the pollen-gathering creatures God has made is not a choice I feel will diminish or ever be deemed debatable. I don’t remember the exact moment in time I took this photo, but when I came across it today, it immediately brought back the spring/summer rush I feel when I grab my camera and run straight for the garden bed and insects gathered there.
The hum of bees is the voice of the garden. Elizabeth Lawrence
There is nothing motley about the pollen sprinkled across the bumblebees, in fact it seems ethereal, dusting the bumblebee’s fur/pile with magic.
Bumblebees have round bodies covered in soft hair called ‘pile’, making them appear and feel fuzzy.
Nature – Check out this article for amazing facts about bumblebees!
The sweet bumbler hangs on and collects pollen from lavender bee balm (Monarda fistulosa), a dependable perennial in my summer garden. Bee Balm blossoms are my Flower of the Day.
At least 65 years plus in age, my birdbath still holds water for my backyard birds. It mimics the full moon that has been gracing February’s cold night skies. It first belonged to my maternal grandmother. I remember being nose-high to its edge, peering over the rim at the silvery reflections. It resembles a crystal ball. Strange, I am considered a reasonable person, but I have no desire to know the future, near or far. I gaze into it to remember the joys of the past.
There is nothing fancy about the Sea Grape. I love the plant/bush because it reminds me of the first time I vacationed in Jamaica. We traveled there with my son and daughter-in-law, her parents and sister, and it was there we first heard the news that a new grandchild was on the way. Sea Grapes bordered the walkways of the Runaway Bay Club Caribbean. They grow wild all over the island nation. I fell in love with them at first sight. Thick leaves, with red veins intersecting the two halves; I began to dream of how to grow one at home. Unfortunately, transporting seeds/plants from one country to another is prohibited. I was out of luck. Eventually, I did order some seeds online from Florida, but they never sprouted.
Flash forward to Sanibel Island, Autumn 2021. I once again found several sea beans on the beach. I soaked them, planted several, and a few grew for me. Oh, Happy Day, it turned out one of those sprouts was a Sea Grape.
Sea Bean – Drift seed, a seed of any of a number of tropical plants growing in coastal areas, the seeds of which are found floating upon ocean currents, by means of which the seeds are dispersed.
The Sea Grape has thrived, although it grows slowly. The newest leaf it developed is the largest so far. Sitting beside the plant is a teacup of shells also found on the Sanibel Island beaches. We were horrified by the hurricane that slammed into this area in October 2022. We keep track of the progress being made in rebuilding, and we will certainly visit again and support the community as soon as possible.
I subscribe to this wonderful shell seekers YouTube channel. This video shows both South West Florida beachcombing, and some of the devastation on Fort Myers Beach. If you miss summertime, and are in a state of winter-induced torpor, this video is a good way to dream of warmer days.
The woods that border my neighborhood is a cherished retreat for me in all seasons. Of course, today’s first frosting of snowfall prompted me to grab my camera and head outdoors. I managed to zoom in and get a close-up for Cee’s Midweek Madness Challenge.
On the path before me a robin rustled among the leaves for insects. As I captured his image, I realized the woods was alive with a large flock of robins.
The robins are drawn to our woods by the native holly trees growing tall beneath the canopy of larger oaks, tulip trees, and sweetgums. I stood for quite a while, taking photos, an easier task than usual as there were dozens of birds all around. I stayed in one spot, and they soon perceived I was no threat. One few so close overhead, I was sure his wing must have grazed me as he swooped by.
It was a curious morning; the wintry frosting of snow belied the springtime sparkle of the sun. Half of the surrounding view shouted, ‘Spring,’ but the cold air and flurries adorning the foliage sagely disagreed and whispered, ‘Winter.” I felt myself in a natural sanctuary, blessed by the song of the birds, the brilliance of the sun. The atmosphere around me was aglow with one of my favorite colors, a light-infused ethereal green. I added my voice to the praise and thanksgiving, “Thank you Lord, this is one of my best days.”
A few of the friendly flock of robins. Amazing to see so many on the first day of February, 2023.
Though my orientation hadn’t changed, my feet exactly on the same stretch of ground from where I photographed the robins, I somehow captured the image of a new bird with my lens. This photo is part of Skywatch.
The Longwood Gardens Conservatory boasts a gorgeous display of orchids. Not only can you view hundreds of varieties, you can also gaze out upon the ongoing construction of Longwood Reimagined in the Orchid room. There are many signs on the grounds, and articles available on the web, that apprise visitors of the future gardens and buildings. It’s quite exciting to imagine myself walking in these structures in the future.
It’s been a long time since I have posted one of my vintage postcards. This one has entranced me for a week or two. I found it in a local Antique Conglomerate, in a box with many others, marked at just fifty cents. Oh my! What a bargain. It is postmarked September 1903, with the image of Edward VII on the half penny stamp. The ephemera I hold in my hand is just a few months shy of being 120 years old.
The age alone makes it a worthy treasure, but for me, it is always the written message, the address, the speculation over the person who picked out, wrote a message, and sent the card, Then, of course, next is wondering over what the person who received it thought of the correspondence. If you are like me, perhaps you too would come up with a whole story around the short message and names.
The postcard is in great shape. I tried to square it up for a photograph, and realized it wasn’t going to happen; the bottom is two to three millimeters less in width than the top. Comparing the date with the opening of the hotel I see it was probably one of the first images taken and sold as a postcard of the location.
Now for the fun part: the messages. The writer of the card had a lot to say in a small space and also used the front. I love the mention of the canaries. I wonder what the L stood for in the name. Was L a man, or a woman? I also wonder what the first name of Miss Young might be…
Eyemouth is a beautiful coastal town about fifty miles from Edinburgh. The word ‘Fruiterer’ means just what it sounds like, a seller of fruit. The recipient might have had a grocery shop, or small stand on High Street. ‘It’s a nicht one,’ is Scottish for night.
This postcard was very clear and easy to read. Other postcards I have are sometimes near illegible. At those times I take a photo of the postcard and magnify it on my computer, creating larger optics to better read the message.
My take on the messages:
Edinburgh 16/9/03 Front: Dear Miss Young I have just found time to send off the P.C. you requested me to forward. Hope it will find a space in your album. L. Tait Along the side: ___own Production” Could you sell any Back: I send this just for a “Lark” and hope your Canaries are getting on, & that you don’t miss the one I took home. Its a grand whistler. “Its a nicht one” Address: Miss Young Fruiterer High Street Eyemouth Postmark: Edinburgh 10:30 AM SP 13 03
Vintage postcards are a great way to break up the tedium of winter weather and staying indoors.
Mid-Week Monochrome #120 – My mode of transportation yesterday, out in the woods, searching for robins. I am hoping to combine several of my photos into a watercolor painting. Recently, I captured a few moments on video of this happy robin bathing in a swamp. There was a sweet magic in the moment.
I’m taking part in the Lens Artist Challenge. It’s rare now for me to post twice in a day, but I have been waiting to use this macro photo and today the challenge seemed to present the right time to do so.
This is a cull/waste glass gathered from the earth after laying buried for well over a hundred years. Bits and pieces were dumped decades ago when the town was founded on a thriving glass industry. It is smaller than a dime. I posted more about this and where this piece, along with many others, lay in the ground: The Woods.
I collected this piece of glass a few months ago, studded with sand and bits of earth, and placed it in a plastic container with some mosses until I had time to create a terrarium. Two months later, I finally got around to the terrarium, and was surprised to find delicate lichens growing on the glass. Amazing.
To say they are exactly what I hoped for is an understatement. LED grow trays, Kennedich Seed Tray Kits, are performing beyond my expectations. No leggy seedling growth is occurring beneath the intense lights. Hooray! These, and other similar trays, are still available for purchase online. In combination with seedling heat mats, even seeds three years old are sprouting in days.
Here’s a sampling of the hanging baskets in the Longwood Gardens Conservatory yesterday. It’s hard to capture the size/scale of the flower baskets. To say they are large is an understatement.
Some of the plants are: Cape-primrose (Streptocarpus), Anthuriums, Cinnamon-Wattle Acacia, Bromeliads.
My favorite walk was along the acacia passage. The Cinnamon-Wattle acacias were in bloom. The fragrance was incredible. There was definitely a feeling of enchantment present as we gazed down the corridor. Periwinkle is one of my favorite colors, and the combination of the streptocarpus with the soft yellow of the acacia was stunning. The streptocarpus are part of Cee’s Flower of the Day.
I also had some moments of inspiration. I don’t know if this is a hanging basket of some type for displaying flowers, a light fixture, or something totally unique to my imagination. I am determined to create better hanging basket arrangements this year for the porch and outdoors and this will be my artistic muse for the project.
As we walked within the walls the soft winter sun outdoors illuminated everything inside with a glow of Royal Silver. I wish I could somehow capture and copy the indescribable atmosphere in a watercolor painting.
Here’s a silly self-portrait of us in the conservatory; a visual description of our joy. It’s a little distorted, the mirror had a funhouse quality, but it still captured our happiness in being in a place filled with flowers and fragrance.
What a beauty! My husband and I went on a meadow/woodland walk over the weekend, on an intense search for praying mantis pods. We found three.
Over the course of the past two years, I stopped putting the mantis pods about the gardens because the hatched mantises might eat what I loved: butterflies, ladybugs, and hummingbirds. In fact, in my error, I think I even carried away from the yard a mantis pod or two. Big mistake!
When did I realize I had made the bad judgement call? A week or two ago, trying to get a jump on eradicating insect pests without using chemicals, I gave earnest thought to why my plant foliage had suffered constant assault during the past two summers. In short, sawflies, and other insects who devour foliage, have bamboozled me! The sawflies have been the bane of enjoying the garden beds. The hibiscus, and especially my roses, become the victims of their larvae stage munching. The rose leaves begin to resemble stained glass as the insects eat and grow larger. I have tried to handpick the pests off, but with dozens of rose bushes, it is impractical. I wondered anew why the problem has been impossible to control and realized the infestations coincided with me banning mantis pods from my gardens. We went on the mantis pod hunt a few days after this light bulb moment.
Within twenty minutes, half a mile from my home, we found three pods in the weeds bordering a dirt road. We knew there were probably hundreds more we didn’t see as they are well camouflaged among the beige and brown grasses. I don’t feel bad about moving them. The border grasses and wildflowers edging the road are considered disposable and are frequently mowed. We probably saved the pods from the whirling destruction of mower blades.
Praying Mantises are often themselves the victim of predators. Several on the predator list live in my yard or frequently visit: spiders, bearded dragons, lizards, chickens, snakes, hawks, owls, cardinals, scorpions. I would add large toads to the list and other insect-eating birds.
Strathmere, New Jersey, in summer, wish I was there. Cee’s Midweek Madness Challenge, pick a topic photograph, prompted me to think ‘beachy’ for some reason. It’s warmish here in the Mid-Atlantic today, but I would still exchange it for hot summer. Look at that lovely sky!
More ‘beachy’ vibes, two beautiful seagulls.
Four more ‘beachy’ birds round out my Wednesday post. I was trying for a Wordless Wednesday but couldn’t keep from writing just a bit.