I take a lot of pictures throughout the year and not all of them make it into a blog post. At the end of the calendar year, it’s a good time to reflect on the beauty of nature as well as share some of the extra pictures.
The first two months were normal, of course; we were just suspecting by the end of February that something was about to change; a few activities continued until mid-March … we’ve been home ever since, with limited forays into natural areas. At least half of my weekly blog topics normally depend on outings and learning new plants, so this year has been a bit of challenge. Several times the topic was simply about what was blooming in my yard.
|Prunus caroliniana: two types of leaves|
|The green tree frog (Hyla cinerea)|
I love finding the tiny annual bluets (Houstonia pusilla) every spring. This year I found a big population in a lawn within walking distance of my house in March. It’s hard to get the camera to capture the sweep of them. Keep an eye out for yourself come spring.
Early April proved that looking carefully can find fleeting discoveries: a trio of tiny morel mushrooms popped up near the front steps. They were only there a few days before withering. If I had been more active (and therefore not home), I would have missed them.
|The first morel I've seen|
I spotted a most unusual insect on the side of the house in May just as dusk was falling. This photo taken with my phone was the best I could do given the light and the short duration of her visit. It is a female dobsonfly, another good indicator of a healthy ecosystem. The larvae grow up in rocky streams (and we have one on the property).
In June, I ventured out for a site evaluation for a plant rescue location. A new plant found was the large-bracted plantain (Plantago aristata). This species is fairly widespread in Georgia and is considered mostly an annual and a bit of weed in some areas. I think it’s kind of pretty. Click on the picture to enlarge it and see the tiny flowers.
The ‘tiny hands’ photos that I talked about in May continued through the growing season. He was eager to pose and the blooms on this scarlet hibiscus were fabulous this year, many of them low enough for him to reach like these in July.
|Monarch gets ready to fly|
Katy Ross of Night Song Native Plant Nursery introduced me to one of her favorite perennials: Brickellia cordifolia or Flyr's brickellbush, blooming here in September. I already grow the more common Brickellia eupatorioides which is cream-colored. This pink-flowered species looks a lot like blue mistflower (Conoclinium coelestinum), especially when not blooming.
In October we ventured up to look for North Georgia apples to pick. We were too late for that but stumbled upon a gorgeous field of late annual sunflowers (Helianthus annuus). A few migrating monarch butterflies were there too.
Fall color was surprising good in spots even after the Zeta storm in late October roared through and stripped off a bunch of leaves. One of the November highlights in my yard was the parsley hawthorn (Crataegus marshallii) which turned completely red. Some years I only get a few red leaves on it.
|Parsley hawthorn (Crataegus marshallii)|
As awful as this year has been, there were occasional bright spots: spending more time in my own garden as well as the time we’ve been spending with our grandson. He loves to be outside and, as long as the weather is nice, we roam out into the yard and woods to see what’s going on. This photo was from a mild day in December.
I hope that this year has inspired you all to add more native plants to your landscape and spend more time out in nature.