Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Garden Update: What's Flowering?

I had a bit of a lull on flowers recently.  Some of the spring flowers died back and now we're in a sort of "in-between" period when flowers are not as plentiful as they were, but some are still going, and fall flowers haven't yet started.

One current standout in the flower department are my various squash, zucchini, and pumpkin plants.  They are putting out a daily show of gorgeous yellow blossoms that are enormous.  Most of them are male flowers, unfortunately, but I'm hoping for some females soon so that fruits will start to develop.

Daylilies are in their glory right now.  Here are some of the blooms today:

I love this cheerful lemon yellow one - not as golden as Stella d'Oro day lily, but just as lovely.

This one is a kind of peachy yellow with a red throat.

A pale yellow with lovely ruffled edges.

This is more of a coral or salmon colour than it appears in the photo.

All the day lilies were here when we moved here, so I didn't plant any and don't know their names.  I think this one is my favourite.  I love the deep burgundy colour and the ruffled petals are stunning.

This is a monkshood, also known as wolf's bane, or Aconitum.  I was surprised to see it this year because it didn't appear last year or the year before, and I didn't plant it!  It's extremely poisonous, but also very beautiful.

 The containers have been suffering a bit in the heat, even though I water them all regularly.  The petunias have been having particular trouble despite being watered.  These calibrachoa have been doing well though.

I found this evening primrose flowering in the garden this year - another surprise that didn't flower last year.

I bought a delphinium earlier this year and it's over now, but the blossoms were glorious while they lasted.  I might get another one next year.

The astilbe are finally flowering as well, and as you can see, there's a rudbeckia (far right) coming along that isn't quite ready to flower yet.  The hostas are all flowering as well.

It's great to be able to take a little wander outside and enjoy the colour in the garden.  I'm trying to do it more often these days, because I didn't do it often enough last year.  If you have a garden, I hope you're enjoying it!

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Insect Appreciation: Some Beautiful Visitors and a New (to me) Species!

As most of my regular readers know, I have a strong interest in all life forms, bugs included.  Here's a round-up of a few of my more interesting recent visitors.

This is a round-headed apple borer (Saperda candida).  It is a super cool-looking striped beetle, but I am really not pleased to see it.

My little apples are coming along on my 4-in-1 apple tree.  I have some 1 akane, 2 honeycrisp and 3 liberty apples.  The chehalis branch didn't have any blossoms this year.  So I will be keeping an eye out on the apple tree to ensure that the larvae of this beetle do not cause problems.

This beauty is a great spangled fritillary butterfly (Speyeria cybele).  I was delighted to see it and it was very kind about posing for photographs.

It was enjoying some nectar from my foxglove blossoms.

The white-looking patches on the hindwing are actually metallic-silver looking in the sunlight.  It's a really gorgeous butterfly.

Here's a new bee species that I didn't know about before photographing it and learning about it.  It's called the European Wool Carder Bee (Anthidium manicatum) - a particularly appropriate bee to have in my yard, considering my fondness for wool.

The bee has been given this name because it harvests hairs from leaves, such as from lamb's ears or other hairy-leaved plants, for its nest.  It lays eggs into the hairy nest, and provides a supply of nectar and pollen, which the baby bees eat after hatching.  It's a European bee species that was introduced to Canada sometime in the mid-20th century.

Interestingly, the males of this species tend to display territorial behaviour with flowering plants.  They ward off males to ensure they can mate with females that come to the territory.  I observed this bee flying around my foxglove plants without actually settling anywhere, which seems consistent with its territorial behaviour.  It even chased away the butterfly I shared in the pictures above.

Finally, because I am a bit moth-crazy, here are a couple of recent beauties to visit my porch.  This is the double-banded carpet moth (Spargania magnoliata).

This is the blinded sphinx (Paonias excaecata).

And this is the fingered dagger moth (Acronicta dactylina).   I think its face looks a bit like an owl.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Visiting my Parents

Earlier in July, I visited my parents for a few days.  It was great to step away from my desk and enjoy a few days with limited thinking about work commitments.  I took the camera to record any interesting birds, bugs, or other beauty that I encountered.  Here's a round-up of my captures.

Some beautiful roses (my mother has a super green thumb!)  No doubt you will find the visiting bee.

The birds were happy to put on a good show for me during my visit.  There were hummingbirds and American goldfinches, not to mention a very accommodating song sparrow who allowed me to repeatedly photograph him.

The finches looked so pretty next to the William Baffin roses.

There were honey bees in full force... well as bumble bees, both the common eastern bumble bee (Bombus impatiens)...

...and the two-spotted bumble bee (Bombus bimaculatus).

It may not be that exciting, but this common greenbottle fly has an amazing metallic green coat.

As always, I was happy to see their dog, Bella.

This tiny moth is the orange mint moth (Pyrausta orphisalis).  It's sitting on a begonia flower.  Probably it was visiting the monarda - which is one of its preferred food species.

Spending an afternoon in this gorgeous garden really is very restorative.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Fibre Update - Things I Have Done in my Limited Spare Time

I haven't had an awful lot of fibre fun lately.  It's difficult to be too excited about spinning or knitting or crochet when it's hot and sticky here.  We're not as hot and sticky as a lot of places, but since we don't have air conditioning, the heat really sticks when it comes.  The humidity has been high as well, so it's just energy-draining and not really conducive to wool-related pastimes.

That said, I have done a bit of knitting on cooler evenings or in the car with air-conditioning when Marc is driving.  I recently completed the "Sea of Shells" shawl, which reminds me of the ocean, and the waves progressively coming in to the shore.

I knitted this using local Fleece and Harmony yarn from Prince Edward Island.  They have a lovely flock of sheep and I really like their yarns.  I plan on visiting their operation again later this year.

This shawl needed to be blocked (wetted and then carefully pinned out) to really bring out the lace pattern between the shell shapes.  It then took a long time to dry after blocking because of the aforementioned humidity.  I tried to block it indoors and eventually gave up and took it out into the sunshine.

Now it's finished and carefully stored in the closet to await weather that calls for wool.

I also did a bit of spinning and plying.  I used some small scraps of fibre that I had to create these four mini-skeins.  I really love the lime green one.  All of them were chain-plied as 3-ply yarns.

I spun a Fleece Artist bump of kid sliver that was like butter - so smooth.  I enjoyed spinning it and I again chain-plied it.  At 50 grams, it only made a small skein, but I love the shimmer and lustre of mohair.

I also finally plied a bobbin of 50% merino, 50% tencel fibre that I'd spun over the winter.  It was from Creatively Dyed Yarns and I bought it years ago.  I have so much fibre languishing in my stash, but it makes me so happy to spin some up and enjoy the process.  I have no idea what it will become, but for now, I'm just enjoying the yarn.

The colours make me feel slightly cooler in this ongoing heat.