Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Late fall


This leftover nest remains in one of the forsythias. The interior is smoothly  plastered with a thin coating of dried mud. I haven't done any research yet but think it probably belonged to a robin or catbird.

I spotted it while wrestling honeysuckle out of the bushes.

Most of the trees have lost their leaves, but our little crape myrtle was still showing some fine color. Earlier in November I cleaned up and enlarged the flower bed around its toes to make room for planting bulbs: mixed tulips, grape hyacinths, and the forgotten daffodils I dug up accidentally. If you think you have spotted a great place for bulbs, you probably already planted some there! The back corner of this little bed is now home to a new, small clematis called Chevalier. It is still green, but has been outside just long enough to begin to show a slight touch of bronze.

Behind this bed, and to the right of the forsythia, is what's left of an old viburnum. Through the years it has suffered from our indecision about its ideal form (small, multistemmed tree or large bush?). In the meantime, the main central group of trunks died and rotted. Now all but the base of the dead center has been removed, leaving a sparse and scraggly cluster of younger shoots coming up from the roots. We hope that pruning will encourage them to branch out and act like a bush again. In the meantime, the leaves are a lovely golden shade. (See photos below. Someday I'll learn how to align them better.)

Crape myrtle "Natchez"
Tulips, grape hyacinths, and daffodils

Clematis "Chevalier"


Mantis on fennel

When I stepped out the back door, there  she was on the fennel plant by the step, making her way south. Was she the remaining adult from the little band of mantis infants I saw when summer began?

Northwest of the fennel, on a patch of sedum, I spotted a mantis's egg case near where I had recently seen a different, greener mantis. I've never seen the hatchlings emerge, so I'll try to keep an eye out come spring.
Mantis egg case on sedum

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Brookside afternoon

Hot Maple

Fall color at Brookside
Yesterday afternoon found us enjoying a walk at Brookside Gardens, one of our favorite uses of our Montgomery County tax dollars. The many varieties of Japanese maples extended the color range beyond what we see in the surrounding neighborhoods.
Brookside camellia, Brookside bee

At this point in the fall, the main blooms were in the greenhouses, where we enjoyed the end of the chrysanthemum show (soon to be replaced by the popular annual model train exhibit.) But a few outdoor plants were still offering some flowers.  Pansies benefit from fall planting here for best spring display, and we admired a large bed of them. The camellias were also still in bloom and attracting bees as well as a few wasps.

In the visitors' center there was a nice display of wall hangings in botanical and nature themes, by Verena Levine, Diana Garrison, and Janet Wildman. They were described as quilts, and certainly used some quilting techniques, but the size (too small for a bed) and the surface detail were more suitable for hanging. Possibly the term 'quilt" seemed more accessible.  I especially liked "Forest Floor" by Levine and Garrison, for its use of applique across block boundaries to suggest ferns and vines.

Late butterflies

Late Butterfly
This Painted Lady (as I believe her to be) found late season  afternoon warmth on the west wall of our house. We were both enjoying the late October sun.

Fall surprise

Late summer was a busy time, and not much attention was paid to the yard. Then, in mid-October, after being away for a bit, I found these late instar Black Swallowtail caterpillars lingering on the bronze fennel next to the back steps. They are gone now, off to winter over (I hope) in their chrysalises. Failing to find them, I leave the fennel uncut. On a sunny afternoon the warm fennel smell still floats above the foliage.