Monday, August 18, 2008

Familiar Faces, New Discoveries

I hope y'all are not getting tired of morning glories (sorry, Torn...), but I was out in the garden especially early this morning and there's something so lovely about them when they are newly opened. I also like the way the one above is mingling with the frilly seedheads of the clematis vine.

The heat found us early today, which helped get me out into the garden by 7. I had noticed while dead-heading last evening that a few things were looking a little wilty, so I wanted to make sure everything got a good drink before the day's real heat came on, since the forecast promised we'd see 80 degrees once again.

You might remember me making a mental note the other day that next year I should plant the morning glories so that they climb up the very prolific sunflowers.

Well, this morning I discovered there's no need at all to wait for next year to try that experiment, as a great many of morning glories have slipped themselves around nearby sunflower stalks and are twining their way toward the sky.

I'm still enjoying the Olympics, even though Michael Phelps is all finished. There's so much amazing talent. Someone asked the other day if the swimming and gymnastics were my favorite events, but really, I'm kind of fascinated by just about all of it. I mean, those two are "big ticket" draws and there's always some fun controversy about scoring in the latter...but I think it's all pretty amazing.

Tonight, as I'm working on this, I've been watching some of the track and field events. The hurdles - that's just incredible. I can barely run, much less contemplate running and leaping like that. And the pole vault...who was the first person who said "hey, I know, let's run with this big stick and see how high up in the air we can get?" Was it something they came up with on purpose, or did the sport grow out of the surprising result of some early lumberjack accident? Here's a little history.

I feel a little repetitious, since I'm also showing you some more bachelor's buttons...but they are popping everywhere now, it seems...and we can add this nice maroony-magenta to the range of colors from that mixed pack of seed.

Besides, I know the day also brought some surprises and new things, so it'll all balance itself out before long.

Down below is another of those blue guys, with an Early Girl tomato not quite ripe in the background.

James over at Lost In the Landscape has been pondering different chairs for use in the garden recently, as he explores the varying designs and prices the market offers while seeking to accomodate the different needs of both he and John. Since he reviewed a number of options, but not one of my favorites, I thought I'd weigh in and showcase it here, even if it is sort of a retro choice at this point and maybe not too easy to find.

I've always found these basket chairs to be very comfortable and trust me, I have passed plenty of evenings in them around campfires, mornings watching the garden grow or afternoons nestled in them, reading in the shade.

I've grown accustomed to the bright orange color, though I wouldn't mind if I were able to find replacements in green when the plastic baskets eventually need replacing.

A bit of Coming Attractions for you all today: here's the latest of those mammoth sunflowers, which is nearly seven feet tall as of this morning and probably a little taller by tonight. I think these spikey-leaved flower buds are almost as exciting as the huge yellow flowers.
Speaking of exciting, this morning's commute got my heart rate up this morning, but not because of roads congested with tourists (although I suppose that might also have played a role). I am very proud of myself for not freaking out when this creepy mystery bug came flying across the inside of my windshield as I drove along Route 39.

This, I am told, is a robber fly, and as it flew in the passenger window this morning, it had some other bug grasped between its spiny legs. It all happened pretty quickly and I was doing 40 MPH at the time, so I can't tell you what that other creature was, though it appeared to make good its escape when the windshield came into play.

The robber fly makes a pretty intense buzzing sound, especially when its annoyed. Although much smaller in scale, this thing was definitely creepy enough to be one of the things winging through the Mist in the Stephen King short story of the same name.

Since it was unknown to me and nearly two inches long, I was pretty careful of it and took advantage of a handy parking lot to pull over and snap a few photos, before cautiously shooing it out the window with some paper towel. I'm glad I was cautious, since I've learned they will apparently bite humans if they are agitated. I'm sure it wouldn't be dire, but possibly painful, since they inject both a venom to calm their victim and saliva to breakdown the prey's internals. And did I mention creepy?

You can click on this picture for a closer view, if you're feeling brave.

It turned out to be a beautiful day, as the heat of summer returned to remind us that Labor Day has not yet arrived. Eager to enjoy a little of it myself, I stopped for a look around at Rock Harbor on the way home.
These gulls were enjoying their perch high above everything, but didn't seem especially interested in whatever fish it was kept breaking the surface in the harbor. I never got a clear look at it, but I was sort of pleased that I got at least some of the splash in a picture.

The tide appeared to be going out while I was there, though I haven't consulted a tide chart or anything to confirm that.

Actually, I ended up focusing more attention on some vegetation growing across the parking lot from the harbor, where I found a few of these datura plants growing beside some rugosa roses.

These flowers were only just beginning to open up for the evening, so I will have to go back later in the evening sometime. I felt a little teased by the delicious bits of purple I could see down inside.

I did notice those tiny ants on the flower and I wonder if they are as important to teasing open these flowers as they are with peonies.

To the left is one of the datura seedpods, which reveal why some of the other names its known by include Hells Bells, Devil's Cucumber, Thorn-Apple or pricklyburr.

That ingesting the plant can cause mental and physical distress, including the inability to tell reality from fantasy, might have something to do with why it's also known as the Devil's Trumpet. Still, it's a cool plant and I do like the flowers.

When I go back for later pictures, I may harvest one of those seedpods so I may cautiously give this plant a try next summer. Interestingly, it is one of those species which butterflies and moths rely on. Isn't Nature clever that butterflies and moths thrive on plants which are toxic to other species, offering them some protection from being eaten?

The zoom feature on the new camera is pretty sweet. I think so, anyhow, since it helped me get this great shot of these sparrows without bothering them very much.


Java said...

That datura flower is gorgeous! Though the seed pod looks frightening. The robber fly looks dastardly. I did NOT embiggen that one. I like the clematis seedhead juxtaposed against the morning glory. Nice textural variation.

The pole vault looks like a good way to breach an enemy's fortress wall.

dykewife said...

sunflower bud or triffid? i saw a show/series based on the day of the triffid and they resembled the sunflower bud.

interesting that you would have daturas featured today. they're one of my favourite flowers. i was introduced to them by friends who had a huge datura bush. they were absolutely gorgeous.

the mist is one of stephen king's stories that has stuck with me 30 years. i still get pre-sleep jitters from that one.

Sooo-this-is-me said...

Robber fly, yikes looks like he was trying to do a bit of car-jacking too!

I never really saw morning glories up close before until this year, my boyfriend has some really nice ones climbing up garden walk-ways. I am hooked and will try them next year on my balcony to see if they climb up the railing. Great pictures as always

TigerYogiji said...

Fabulous as always! Although that fly was nasty! Ack!

Cheer up, Hon! Tourist Season is almost over! :)

Greg said...

Java, the robber fly did look pretty dastardly. I think it may've had a dragonfly in its clutches when it flew in the car, but I didn't get a clear look at the victim, who escaped.

The datura is pretty cool, as plants go. I look forward to getting to know it a little better in the future.

Dykewife, I love the whole Triffid story, but haven't seen the movie or read the book in years...since becoming a gardener, actually. I'll have to search for them!

The Mist always creeped me out, since I lived in a town with the same name as the fictional setting of that story - it was too easy to see it all in great detail. ; ) And now that I've met the robber fly, even moreso!

Steven, car-jacking, indeed! Morning glories are great fun, as long as they've got a good place for them to climb and can keep them well-watered!

I love them, but I'm glad I only got the one pack of seeds this year, tho--they are trying to take over! (I can think of worse things, really...)

Hey Tiger!! You know, the robber fly helps put the tourist thing into perspective, and you're right...soon we'll have the beaches to ourselves again! ; )

Anonymous said...

You can sure see a marked improvement in the quality of the photos you are posting with the new camera. One can never tire from the morning glories you post. I see this blog as a way of having my own garden without doing any of the labor. Every day I check to see what else has sprung up in my "virtual" garden. Those basket chairs bring back memories of wicker basket chairs my parents had in the late 60's/early 70's. They were "featured" pieces in the master bedroom. ;-)

Butch said...

The Robber Fly was huge! I am surprised you were able to keep your head and not drive off the road into a ditch or something.

The first picture is really beautiful with the flower gently, jumping off the page in a 3-D like way. ;-)

lostlandscape said...

Cool chair--definitely a retro, loungey model, but aren't we all? It looks nice and portable as well.

There was some press about datura abuse by high school students a few years ago, including a few who didn't return from their trips. But the plants are spectacular enough to look at--who needs to munch on them? Being first-cousin to your morning glories, I can see they push a lot of the same buttons for you. It's such a cool (and mysteriously evil) family of plants. Gotta love those nightshades...

Joie Mayfield said...

Honestly, if that bug flew into my car, I think I'd just have a heart attack. It would scare me so bad!!

The Olympics are going well, I think. I'm loving them. :)

Beautiful pictures, as usual!

Greg said...

Thanks, Afod. It's a great camera and I'm having a great time getting to know what it can do. Can't wait 'til I've replaced my monitor, so I can be a little more efficient on the color side of things.

BTW, I think it's amazing that you should have come across that robber fly taking down a dragonfly the same day one flew into my car--great shots at your blog!

Butch, Joie, it did sort of startle me...but okay, confession time, I was singing along with the "Music Man" soundtrack when it happened...and I think that helped me keep my cool. ; )

James, I guess I must have a touch of Borgia in me, since I do like all those "evil"/toxic plants--I've always been a fan of the look of deadly nightshade!

Robin Easton said...

We have so much datura around here and it's leaves and flowers are massive this year due to all the rain we've had. I think it's an elegant plant. But my favorite pic here is these little birds on the fence rail. They are adorable. It is an excellent photo, one I'd print and put on a wall or for cards. Just precious. I actually went, "Oooooh, I like that!" the moment I saw it. It has a LOT of personality with the interaction between the two birds nearest the upright post. GREAT!