Sunday, June 29, 2014

A Few Flower Close-ups

Much of my time is being spent in the garden these days, where I'm still spreading mulch to try and control the weeds, in between grabbing my camera to take photos.  But it's great, because the garden is a continual unfolding of new flowers, along with the dozens of little butterflies all around parts of it at the moment.  Here are a few close-ups.

Bird's Foot Trefoil is all over the place these days, in our meadow, and along the roadside.  It's a widely naturalized agricultural crop, but it's bright and adds a lot of colour.

A miniature aster in our scree garden.  I like the light shade of purple.

And one of the many succulents in the scree garden, this one sends up thin spike about 6" with these bright compound flowers at the top.

One of the wild raspberries that I should really move out of the flower garden.

Not sure about this one; my consulting horticulturalist is out of town, but I like the two-part very lacy structure of the flower as well as the colour.

And another composite a few inches tall.  I thought this was purple, but maybe it's pink...?

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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Critters in the Yard

Another aspect of the seasons in late June and into July is the number of animal critters we see around the yard, just enjoying the banquet of fresh grass, clover, and sometimes flowers or veggies we grow for them.

This contented looking Cottontail was sitting five feet off our back deck the other night.  Luckily he was eating the weeds there where we're planning some new landscaping.  I was able to slowly raise the window to get the picture from the house.

And I saw him again this evening when I was out weeding, at least I presume it's the same one.  I just hope he stays out of the veggies garden.

And straight out the front door, this fat groundhog enjoys munching on the grass.  He rarely seems to go far from the burrow, so I think he's safe just eating grass.

He dashes away underground while our dog sits and looks at the curious creature!

As for the chipmunks, they're a different story.  This one is safe, sitting on a boulder in the old fencerow where  they have dozens of boulders to hide under.  But we draw the line when they head for the house and live under the front porch.  I've trapped five this week, and helped them emigrate from the neighbourhood to more natural surroundings!

This one is definitely not in the yard, but a couple of weeks ago driving home we saw a dark animal swimming in a pond.  We stopped to watch, and by the time we saw the large tail, we figured it was a beaver!

Then it climbed out on the shore a few yards, stood up on it's hind legs, and chewed off a branch.  Not a good picture, but the best I've got.

By the time it swam back out on the pond carrying the small willow branch, we knew we were right.  We've never seen a beaver this far south in Ontario, though we know they're around.

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Friday, June 27, 2014

More Valley Skies

Some days in June the sky seems as beautiful as it ever is, bright blue, and fascinating cloud patterns - though we've had our share of dark and cloudy skies, rainy days and fog too.  Here are a few skies all taken in our own yard.  I really liked the cloud patterns in the first four.

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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Stone Fence

I was driving back from my monthly breakfast with 'the guys' (we went to a Fifties restaurant and got chaufered on our way in an old Sixties car!), and I passed this beautiful old stone fence.  It was sunny and bright, so this time I stopped for pictures.

This is the only stone fence I've seen built as a dry stone wall out of these flat pieces of dolostone.  It's from the Manitoulin Formation, which I've featured before in pictures of several waterfalls - thin flat layers of rock.  We have hundreds of old stone fencerows where all manner of boulders have been piled in lines, but I've never seen a dry stone wall like this one!

There's obviously an outcrop of this formation on this farm, and perhaps scattered rocks in the fields all similarly thin.  The dry stone fence stretches all the way across the front of the 100 acre farm, from one side to the other.

The construction is amazing, obviously built by a talented stonemason decades ago.  It may even be over 100 years  old.  All the rocks have to be placed slanting in slightly, letting rain run away, to avoid frost damage.  With proper construction, such a dry stone wall will last much longer than one where the rocks are mortared together. 

You can see how there are larger flat dolostone slabs on top to help shed the rain.  And looking over the fence you catch part of the farmhouse and some interesting trees to the left.

This view, beside the driveway, provides good evidence that a stone fence like this needs regular maintenance!  And there's the patch of whitish looking trees in the distance again.

A closer look reveals that they are mature locust trees, sometimes planted around farmsteads 100+ years ago.  And they were in bloom when I took this picture, with luxurious white blooms.  Sorry I don't have a close-up.  I only know of three old farmsteads in the whole Beaver Valley region with old locust trees like these.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

More Butterflies

These are more of the butterflies that have been fluttering around our garden, along with lots of bees and other insects.  At this time of the season I look at the presence of all these bugs as a sign of a healthy garden!

There are small Northern Crescent butterflies everywhere!  I stand in the garden and see a dozen in the air or on flowers around me.  It's probably our most common butterfly now, and it's bright coloured to boot.

For the first time the other day I found a Red-spotted Purple, though I'm not sure there's much purple.  It is one of the few butterflies with noticeable blue markings though.

There were several White Admirals at the same time, fluttering so near they almost bump into me.  The little guide to Ontatio butterflies I use says that these two are just subspecies of the same butterfly, but they look very different to me!

There were so many White Admirals that I was getting multiple butterflies in one shot - the lower one looking a little tattered.  As you can see, the blooms on our Ninebark shrub are a big attraction for both species.

For a time these two were literally bumping into each other as they moved from bloom to bloom.  And you get a good look at the red spots on the underwing of the White Admiral here.  My butterfly guide proposes the name Red-spotted Admiral for both of these considered as a single species.

Another Northern Crescent, this one feeding on Valerian.  A tall flower with a strong scent, Valerian is very popular among the butterflies, so a good plant to have to attract them.  These little orange butterflies were fluttering all around me.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Moths and Butterflies

We now return you to regular programming on this blog .... back to the 'seasons in the valley'.  In mid-June, the moths and butterflies start dancing around the garden in surprising numbers if you watch closely.  In the past two days alone I've spotted 8 different species, and numerous individuals of some of those species.

The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail is one of the first to arrive, and it's been fluttering around the yard for two weeks.  I can count on seeing it when the Lilac is in bloom, where it's feeding in these pictures.

A close look at the beautiful soft underside of the Swallowtail's wings, with more orange than on top.

About the same time we usually see the hummingbird moth, though I've found it tricky to get a clear picture as its wings never stop moving.  I finally tried putting the camera on a 'sports' setting to capture this one.

And a side view shows its long proboscis sipping nectar from the Lilac flowers.

This is a new one for me, a Summer Azure I believe.  It flutters so fast and usually closes its wings on landing, so you rarely see the blue upper side of the wings, but when you do it's truly beautiful.

This is its usual posture; the wing underside a light grayish-brown.

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Blogger troubles - is anyone else having trouble with the Blogger Dashboard these days?  I've suddenly lost my list of recent new blog posts that I love to sit and read over coffee in the morning.  The Dashboard only gives me one new post from a blog on my long list, and tapping 'View More' does nothing.  I feel like I've lost all my morning friends, and have to go hunting for them!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Markdale Quilt Show Dolls

An interesting highlight of the quilt show for me was the wild and wonderful hand-made decorative dolls.  It was back as our extra cold extra long winter was starting that a couple of the quilters took a detour and spent several weeks making dolls instead of quilts.  I thought the results were truly unique!  Here are several of the results - our home was one of the centres of doll production!