Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Critters in the garden

 As you know, I have a large garden in my backyard.

 The cottage garden has a lot of variety, yet I have more of one particular type of flower than any other.

 That one flower would be ECHINACEA - CONEFLOWERS.

I absolutely adore my coneflowers. Most of mine are from seed; I collected seed and planted it years ago, and it just keeps going on and on.

 We have had a lot of goldfinch activity on the coneflower seedheads recently.
I have heard that it is good to leave the coneflowers standing over the winter, both for winter interest and for the birds to eat. However, I don't see much bird activity on these over the winter; it's NOW that they are coming to my garden to partake.

A favorite photo I took in the garden last summer

 Also in the garden - the hunter
Unfortunately, I think the two hawks I've been seeing in my gardens with some regularity are here for the small birds.  :(

 We normally see red-tailed hawks here; this bird's tail is not red. I don't know if this is a juvenile or perhaps another kind of hawk.

 Also seen in the garden

It gives me a lot of joy to see the monarchs and the monarch caterpillars in my garden. I counted fourteen caterpillars on my butterfly weed recently. I have four full-sized butterfly weeds in my gardens, plus several tiny ones (it self-sows prolifically). I also have common milkweed and swamp milkweed. This year most of the cats are on the butterfly weed.

 Speaking of butterflies, here's an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail on what I find to be a butterfly magnet: Verbena bonariensis.

 There aren't too many Black Swallowtails in the garden this year - I captured this image last year.

Another photo from last summer - photo I took at the Discovery Garden at the Iowa State Fairgrounds
Although I have seen quite a bit of monarch activity in the gardens this year, I haven't gotten many photos at all. It takes a lot of patience to capture butterflies with a camera. :)

After almost six years of blogging, I'm losing the joy in the process. This may or may not be my last post. I don't want to be one of those bloggers who doesn't say they are stopping blogging and leave people to wonder what happened to that person...If this is it, let it be said that I stopped with a post filled with beauty. Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

One of my favorite places

Vacations - who doesn't enjoy getting away for rest and relaxation and seeing new things?
We're vacationing in one of our favorite places in the whole world: Estes Park, Colorado.
It's beautiful, there's lots to do, and the cool mountain air is a refreshing break from 90 degree Iowa temps.

 At Bear Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park

 This is where we're staying. It's our fourth time at these condos. They meet our needs perfectly.

 Fall River runs right in front of the property.

 Downtown Estes Park has lots of cute shops, and many pretty flowers.

 We hiked to Nymph Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP).

Another image of Nymph Lake

 Beautiful water lilies on Nymph Lake

 Picturesque Dream Lake

 We did a lot of hiking to get to these lakes. Along the trail, beauty abounds.

 Yesterday we traveled up Trail Ridge Road, toward the Continental Divide. As you can see, we were above the tree line. This area is called the alpine tundra.

 Taken from the visitor center at the alpine tundra

 Look at these tiny bluebells I spotted on the alpine tundra. My Virginia bluebells are much larger, and bloomed in April or May.

 A canyon of colored rock as we walked the trail to Alberta Falls

 Downstream a bit from the falls

 Beautiful Alberta Falls

 In town, we took a tour of the Stanley Hotel. "The Shining" was written here by Steven King. The movie was filmed elsewhere, though. Legend has it the Stanley is haunted. It appeared on an episode of "Ghost Hunters."

 Enjoying my vacation!

"The mountains are calling. I must go."  - John Muir

Exactly how I feel! Love it here!


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