Sunday, December 28, 2014

2014 in Pictures

It’s time to say farewell to another calendar year and it’s a good time to reflect on what nature has given us.

I enjoy appreciating the beautiful flora and fauna that surround us. Each day is an opportunity to spy something beautiful.

Like this fluffy feather I found in January, resting lightly on an old leaf. Taking more pictures over the last few years has given me a keener awareness of objects and natural objects are especially compelling.

Erythronium umbilicatum

Of course appreciating the early February flowers of trout lily (Erythronium umbilicatum) is always high on my list.

These small hardy flowers come from teardrop-shaped bulbs. They grow in rich woodlands and can sometimes provide a carpet of speckled leaves. I have brought a few into my woodland. It's fun to look for the early leaves as they unfurl above the old leaves and pine needles.

While taking pictures for a spring maple post, I heard a loud pounding and looked up to find a beautiful pileated woodpecker in the trees above.

I love these happenstance moments. It’s not my best picture (he moved fast), but it is a happy memory.

March found me in the Okefenkokee Swamp, enthralled with the unique environments found there. I was participating in the annual Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage hosted by the Georgia Botanical Society.  

Okefenokee Swamp

Mining bee

This was a year of great bee interest for me and this little lady was the first one of the year. I spotted this bee going in and out of the ground and realized I had found a ground-nesting solitary bee, the first I had ever seen in my yard.

The folks on BugGuide kindly identified it as a type of mining bee (Andrena). I did some checking on my own first and had already decided I thought it might be that so I was really happy to have my id confirmed.

Wild quinine (Parthenium integrifolium)  with new camera

In May I decided to stretch myself by getting a new camera that would allow me to explore the option of manual focus while still have auto focus functionality too. After some family-assisted research, I bought a Nikon D3300.

Slender bluet damselfly

In the absence of most butterflies this year, other bugs got more attention. It seemed to be a bonus year for dragonflies and damselflies and I identified quite a few different species.

I was excited to find a spicebush caterpillar for the first time ever on my spicebush (Lindera benzoin) and I found a tortoise beetle on a morning glory vine.

Spicebush swallowtail

Golden tortoise beetle

Discovering new plants in the yard where I have lived for 11 years is always a surprise. Where did this milkvine come from? Ok, if you know me then you probably know that I rescue a lot of plants and bring in strange dirt as a result. A seed could have come along.

Milkvine (Matelea gonocarpos
Sometimes new plants are from friends. This Heuchera villosa was a gift from a friend; it bloomed in August this year for the first time. I thought it was very pretty on the porch, keeping company with the fern in the kitty cat planter.

Heuchera villosa
As you all know, this was an uncertain year for the monarch butterfly. I always felt that monarchs that came through Georgia on the way south only wanted nectar. This year I found out I was wrong.

Monarch nectaring on Mexican milkweed Oct 11th
I don’t often take a trip up to the North Georgia mountains to see the fall color, but this year I did. Several of us went to visit friends for lunch and the day was beautiful all around. 

Viburnum acerifolium with fruit
Oak leaves in North Georgia

As the end of the year approached, I was anxious to get another Georgia State Park visit under my belt. Too much time goes by without getting out to explore these marvelous places. I took one of my remaining vacation days and went down to Providence Canyon State Park with my daughter. The lead picture of this post (with our boots) is actually from that trip. I'll have to do a full post of that trip, but here's a preview of the amazing scenery there.

Providence Canyon State Park 

Best wishes to all for a Happy New Year.

Let's use more native plants in our projects in the year ahead and get out there and enjoy the nature we have.


  1. Just wanted to thank you for your dedication in sharing the native flora and fauna of Georgia. I look forward each week to your blog posts, and never fail to learn or see something new!

  2. I agree! I also look forward eagerly to your posts every week. Please keep them coming!

  3. I'm sure you would be humbled by these statements of appreciation, Ellen. You would probably say something like, "All I do is take my lead from nature itself. I merely record what is there from week to week." But I know that selecting, organizing and presenting is a major task, even if Mother Nature "hands" it to you. So I can only join the chorus and say, "Good work, and keep on keeping on as long as the energy is there!"

  4. Did you really forget where the matelea came from?
    You should also have a matelea carolinensis... and possibly even a yellow flowering form...

  5. Was it YOU? It was in such an odd place, but then I plant things in odd places. I'll keep looking for your treasures. :)