I believe that each day is an opportunity to find and appreciate something beautiful in the native plants and creatures of Georgia. The photos above include a fanciful "2" from a scarlet oak leaf, a sand dollar from my trip to Jekyll Island, a black swallowtail caterpillar from a friend's house, and an interesting look at a sweetgum ball that shows the seeds and some tiny bits of chaff.
In January I went up to North Georgia to scout a field trip location to a waterfall. I thought this moss was pretty unusual and it's always nice to see something green in January. Early February was a trip to a place with white ash (Fraxinus americana); I looked for seeds on the ground to confirm it (the seeds are slightly different from our more common green ash).
In March I was working in an area of my garden when I spotted this green tree frog, our state amphibian (Hyla cinerea). It always amazes me when I find new things after 16 years. April brought the delightful blooms of a fragrant crabapple (Malus angustifolia) and one very happy Eastern tiger swallowtail who enjoyed them for hours.
In May, I celebrated the beautiful blooms of nettle-leaf sage (Salvia urticifolia) in my garden. I first saw this plant on a BotSoc field trip and asked around until I found someone selling it. In news of the wild and weird, I happened upon this wasp who specializes in capturing spiders for her young. This was in June; she does paralyze it first but the poor thing looked quite sorry to be dragged to her lair.
Critters are a special part of the natural environment. This year, in July, I saw the first fox in our yard. She had 3 kits with her but they were moving too fast for a picture (learning how to chase chipmunks). This was our second year having the piebald deer - it's a boy! This picture was taken from my neighbor's yard in August; they liked to treat him to corn in the evenings. We haven't seen him since so he may have moved on.
I was visiting a friend's house in September when I saw this gorgeous native Clematis viorna seedhead. So many colors! A moment of nerdness for October, please: I've been trying to find a New York ironweed (Vernonia noveboracensis) in my area so that I could learn to distinguish it from giant ironweed (Vernonia gigantea) and in October I finally did. Those elongated phyllaries are the difference.
November brought a bright spot of color when I found this meadow katydid on a very dull thistle seedhead. Those blue eyes are quite something. A day in December on a plant rescue allowed me to find two different praying mantis egg cases so I used them for a side by side comparison picture. On the left is the more round, 3-dimensional egg case of the Chinese mantis. On the right is the flat, almost 2-dimensional case of the Carolina mantis.
I wish you a Happy New Year, full of beautiful and productive encounters with our native wonders. For more pictures, you can also follow me on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/usinggeorgianativeplants/