wild, free, spontaneous

6.8.24 ~ North Carolina Botanical Garden
eastern tiger swallowtail

These pictures are from another walk we took when we were still sick, the weather being so nice we pushed ourselves out the door. It was good to see even more things blooming.

wild bergamot
Canada lily (endangered)

We stopped for quite a while to listen to a Carolina wren loudly singing from a high branch just off the path.

Carolina wren

And I’m also glad we went because, finally, the lemon drop swamp azalea was blooming! It was back in January I first spotted the little buds and kept thinking it would bloom soon. I checked on it each and every visit, wondering what color the blooms would be. A lovely shade of lemon chiffon, perhaps.

‘lemon drop’ swamp azalea

I do miss my wild beach roses but down here I’ve happily discovered wild Carolina roses, also known as pasture roses. They look about the same to me!

Carolina rose with bee

For myself I hold no preference among flowers, so long as they are wild, free, spontaneous.
~ Edward Abbey
(Desert Solitaire)

spider flower
tall thimbleweed

The very tall (up to 8 feet!) giant coneflowers towered over me!

giant coneflower
beebalm
woodland tickseed
white-breasted nuthatch
house finch

The height of a patch of native woodland sunflowers also caught my eye. Since I’m only 5 feet tall I guess I’m easily impressed.

woodland sunflower

And now, the weather is hot and humid, with no break in sight. But lots of flowers out there in the garden are surely thriving in it.

as spring becomes a memory

5.31.24 ~ North Carolina Botanical Garden
common yarrow

May ended on a very pleasant note, with lots of sunshine, mild temperatures and no humidity! Since we knew these conditions wouldn’t last we went out for a walk, in spite of us both being sick with colds. Who knows when such perfect weather will come around again?

bronze fennel

And of course, it being ten days since our last walk, different things were blooming. It’s never the same garden twice.

golden tickseed
bee visiting English lavender
purple coneflower

When I watched the sun rise this morning, due east, I felt that the universe, the solar system, the earth, the year, the season, the day, were still in order, no matter what stupidities man might achieve today. It is good to know such things about the place you live. It is good to know that there are certainties.
~ Hal Borland
(Hal Borland’s Book of Days)

hemlock cones
woodland pinkroot
crow poison (poisonous to humans and animals)
common sanddragon dragonfly
phlox

The single greatest lesson the garden teaches is that our relationship to the planet need not be zero-sum, and that as long as the sun still shines and people still can plan and plant, think and do, we can, if we bother to try, find ways to provide for ourselves without diminishing the world.
~ Michael Pollan
(Food, Inc.)

sun-drenched wings and petals

5.21.24 ~ North Carolina Botanical Garden
sun-drenched female northern cardinal

It was a borderline-humidity morning, between comfy and muggy, and Tim was still coughing from the cold he caught in Italy, but we decided to chance a walk anyway. This is the time of year when the sun feels too bright and my camera sometimes responded by turning the blurry bokeh effect into solid black.

pipevine swallowtail butterfly

We forgot the bug repellent and I came home with two mosquito bites, one on each forearm. But the pretty (and non-biting) insects were out enjoying the sunshine, too! I’m not 100% sure of all my identifications here, but I’m giving them my best guess. Some of the butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies seemed new to me.

fire pink
common whitetail dragonfly
oakleaf hydrangea
dusky dancer damselfly on hemlock needles

Summer, for the cold-blooded, represents the Elysian days. Warmth brings life and animation. Their blood responds, literally, to every rise and fall of the mercury. Chill is synonymous with sluggishness, cold with immobility. The sun directly regulates the intensity with which they live.
~ Edwin Way Teale
(Grasshopper Road)

white waterlily
ebony jewelwing (aka black-winged damselfly)
grass pink orchid
mating silver-spotted skipper butterflies
tulip prickly pear
variable dancer damselfly
stokes’ aster
chamomile
downy wood mint
Coastal Plain Habitat boardwalk in May

Even though it isn’t technically summer here yet, either meteorologically or astronomically, it can now be called summer for all intents and purposes!

the electric hum of cicadas

5.16.24 ~ North Carolina Botanical Garden
American columbo, going to seed?

Tim is back from spending an amazing week in Florence, Italy, with some of his brothers. They attended a cooking class and a three tenors singing performance, took a wine tour, ate at many great restaurants, visited museums and caught colds. (Not covid, thankfully.) While he was gone I tackled more of my family history boxes, sorting through and organizing.

The morning after he got home we took a quick peek at the botanical garden, and as expected, the columbo flowers had gone by, so I’m glad I got the blossom picture I did on that rainy day. Meanwhile…

new growth on the hemlock
new blooms on a rhododendron
tadpoles turning into frogs
a little Carolina rosebud
asters waiting to bloom
a spittlebug inside its foam shelter
(it will become a froghopper)
New Jersey tea flourishing

“The electric hum of cicadas, which was a low drone” continues. Tim says it sounds louder than it was when he left. If so, the sound must have increased so gradually that I didn’t notice it from one day to the next. (The quote is from a book, which I haven’t read, Abandoned Sulphur, Louisiana, by Mike Correll.)

The heat and humidity are creeping up now so there won’t be as many posts from me in the coming months. I will concentrate on my yoga and the massive family history project. But, I will post here on the rare occasions when the weather permits a walk and photos. And there might just be a few more frequent art and quote combinations…

two days later

5.4.24 ~ North Carolina Botanical Garden

Two days after we visited the columbo it was raining. Grateful for the rain, which we do need, I still had a gut feeling that the columbo might be blooming. We grabbed the umbrella and made a quick dash to the botanical garden. At the top of the flower stalk it was still mostly buds, but a few purple-speckled, greenish flowers with yellow stamens were opening!

Most of the images of the columbo found online show it standing straight up. But the top of this one is bending over, as if all those buds were too heavy.

American columbo
with raindrops and orbs

Still in a rush to get out of the rain, I couldn’t help noticing a mountain laurel starting to bloom…

mountain laurel

There are many times I do wish I had a waterproof camera! There is so much beauty to be found in a garden on a rainy day.

buzzzzzzzzzzzz

4.29.24 ~ Piedmont Nature Trails

The periodical (every 13 years) Great Southern Brood of cicadas are fascinating creatures and they are everywhere! Walking in the woods we found the one (above) sitting on a sign post. When inadvertently disturbed it flapped its wings and landed down on the leaf litter with its wings spread out.

4.29.24 ~ Bolin Forest

Returning home, we noticed our dogwood tree was covered with the empty nymph cases, still clinging to the twigs and leaves.

We wondered about the noise they were supposed to be making, but in a few days we started hearing a faint buzz outside which got a little louder each day and soon could even be heard from inside the house. The buzzing is constant. To me, it sounds like a lawnmower in the distance, not at all like the jack hammer some folks were suggesting. But who knows? Maybe they haven’t reached their peak yet.

A few days later we stopped by the botanical garden to check out the American columbo and to take a May Day picture of the trees at my eight seasons spot. It was a very bright and sunny day and for some reason my camera decided to give me a black background for this sun-drenched iris.

Much to my delight the mountain laurel is starting to bloom!

When we got to the American columbo plant the flower stalk looked like it was about three feet tall now. It’s kind of hard to make out in the third picture here, with all the other greenery surrounding it. It looks top heavy, with the bundle of buds bending way over.

American columbo buds
marshallia (aka Barbara’s buttons)

The next picture is my scene for Karma’s “same location for all 4 seasons” photo hunt. I made it an 8 season endeavor, including Groundhog Day, May Day, First Harvest and Halloween, which fall between the solstices and equinoxes. If you want to join in please see her instructions at the end of this post HERE at Karma’s When I Feel Like It Blog.

5.2.24 ~ Courtyard Gardens
May Day (8 seasons series)

I can’t believe the difference from the first two pictures I took and this one. It will be fun to post them all together at the end of the year. And I will keep on checking the American columbo! It’s getting hot. It was almost 90°F that day, above the average mid 70s, and Tim didn’t last too long. (I was finally in a short sleeve shirt with no jacket!) And the drought monitor officially has us at abnormally dry. It should be an interesting late spring and summer.

the purposeless life misses nothing

4.24.24 ~ North Carolina Botanical Garden

On this visit to the botanical garden there wasn’t much change in the American columbo’s flowering stalk, but we’ll keep checking back. In the meantime there were more new blooms to appreciate as spring continues along its way.

common sage
onion

Paradoxical as it may seem, the purposeful life has no content, no point. It hurries on and on, and misses everything. Not hurrying, the purposeless life misses nothing, for it is only when there is no goal and no rush that the human senses are fully open to receive the world.
~ Alan Watts
(The Way of Zen)

Stokes’ aster starting to bloom
narrowleaf blue-eyed grass

Back in Connecticut we had eastern blue-eyed grass.

I heard a towhee singing “drink your tea” and was determined to locate him somewhere in a nearby tree. At last I spotted him and did my best to get a picture of the elusive bird. My last attempt was in 2020, when we heard one rummaging around in the brush on the ground. If you’re interested see this post, eastern towhee. What a treat to get a picture of him singing!

It is only when singing that the Towhee is fully at rest. Then a change comes over him; he is in love, and mounting a low branch, he repeatedly utters his sweet bird s-i-n-n-g with convincing earnestness.
~ Frank Michler Chapman
(Life Histories of Familiar North American Birds)

eastern towhee
wildflowers in a sassafras sapling grove
marshallia
(these reminded me of the Sno-Caps candy I used to love)
Georgia false indigo aka Georgia indigo bush (rare)

As for the wild spontaneous Flowers of this Country, Nature has been so liberal, that I cannot name one tenth of the valuable ones.
~ John Lawson, describing North Carolina in 1709
(Carolina Comments, January 1982)

downy woodpecker
female house finch
male house finch

The finches seemed to be a pair. He kept coming down from the tree to the feeder but she wouldn’t follow him. Wish I could have gotten a picture of them together. And so ended another lovely morning in the garden.

anticipation

4.19.24 ~ North Carolina Botanical Garden

The folks at the botanical garden are very excited because one of the American Columbos they planted 19 years ago is looking like it might flower this year! This flowering stalk (above), also known as yellow gentian, is about 2 feet tall and it could grow to between 3 and 8 feet tall.

After spending 19 years in our Mountain Habitat as an unassuming rosette of leaves near the ground, one of our American columbos is about to put out a spectacular flowering stalk for the first and only time. Then, after reproducing, it will die.
~ NC Botanical Garden Facebook page

will it flower???
a rosette of America columbo leaves on the ground ~
apparently this one not going to be flowering this year

We also enjoyed the presence of other plants and trees, already blooming…

fringe tree blossoms
northern sundial lupine
sandhills bluestar
wild azalea
white-throated sparrow

A nice, quiet and cloudy late morning in the garden. We were a couple of hours later than usual and there seemed to be fewer birds out and about.