Thursday, June 28, 2012

Queen Ann's Lace & Daisy Fleabane

Today was so beautiful!  A front came through and dried up the humidity of the weekend and blew a steady breeze through the trees all day. The sky was deep, clear blue. Around midday I headed through the woods to the top of the hill, where Old Thompson Road meets the pipeline.  This spot almost always has more than just a regular breeze, probably because the open field that stretches from east to west is like a highway for the wind. Sure enough, a cool, stead wind blew across this pine-shaded spot.  I spread a beach towel out and settled down to draw. Daisy and Duke stretched out for a nap nearby.  It was heavenly. It's hard to believe the end of the week highs are supposed to be near 105 degrees.  I hope they are wrong.

In another corner of Middlewood, we've had hungry visitors return to my flower garden after a 20 year absence.  When we first moved out here we lost some day lilies for two summers, then it stopped.  Perhaps our other dogs did a better job of keeping wildlife away than our present combination of Daisy and Duke. From the look of my garden, I'd say it's a whole family of white-tailed deer nibbling in the night.

The only deer I've seen in person, during the day, is tiny and delicate.  I call her Bambi, and I no longer care about the flowers.  There are enough blooms left for us to enjoy, and the tiny fawn can have her greens.   I hope to get a photo of her soon.  Stay tuned...

The phlox Bambi forgot to eat.

 The hydrangea Bambi couldn't reach.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Waynesville, NC - Strawberry-Raspberry!!!


This flower cannot be found in any of my field guides.  It grows along a shady path behind our cabin outside of Waynesville, in the Southern Appalachians, opening in June.  It's neighbors are Christmas and Lady Ferns, Hemlock Trees, Jewelweed, Mountain Asters,  Yellow Buckeye Trees, various Maples and Ashes, Virginia Creepers, and a healthy population of Poison Ivy plants. It looks like it would be in the Rose family, but the seed looks not at all like a Rose Hip, and more like a big, red, but very dry raspberry.  The leaves are very angular and stiff, and have thorns along their main stems.  When I tried to pick this branch I got quite tangled in its thorny hold.

Anyone with information on this flower should contact me immediately!  (This is not the first time I've tried to figure out what it is.)

The nice part of the outing was being with my friends and neighbors, Rose and Rachel, who walked down the hill mid morning with their sketch books.   We wandered down the path that runs behind their old farmhouse to find something to draw.  Even though the bugs were out - mosquitoes being the main irritant - we persevered and got a good bit of drawing done.

We were at our cabin in the mountains for a week, with cool and wet weather for the first half, listening to the rain on our tin roof - and cool and dry weather for the latter half of the week.

Here are some photos from our week in the mountains.   As you can imagine, it was hard to come home.

!!! UPDATE !!!!  
I went to a botanist's house for dinner tonight and took my journal with me.  With the help of her 6" thick, Manual of the Vascular Flora of the Carolinas, we figured out what the flower is:  Rubus illecebrosus, common name: Strawberry-Raspberry, member of the Blackberry family.  A rare plant, it is a native of Japan.  My friend said it would have been an early garden plant that escaped.  The fruit was stewed or made into preserves.

The plant was first recorded by Wilhelm Olbers Focke (1834 - 1922), a medical doctor and botanist who did much work throughout his life on the taxonomy of Rubus (Rosaceae) and published several studies.

One of several websites where Rubrus illecebrosus can be found:

:-)  I am happy now!  Thanks Gil!

Bunny in our yard

 Rhododendron blooming beside the cabin

 my favorite morning activity: breakfast with the birds

East Fork of the Pigeon River

 Wonderful big rock

 a storm rolling in over the mountain

 storm clouds hover over the mountains

 Fog rolling over Devil's Courthouse - we drove in thick fog for quite a while

 Skinny Dip Falls in Pisgah Nat'l Forest

 Looking Glass Rock as seen from the Blue Ridge Parkway

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Nature Journaling Classes today!

I was invited to be the guest author at the Spartanburg Junior Writers' Program this summer.  It's an annual summer event located at USC Upstate.  There were two classes, and in the first gathering it was great to see more adult teachers (from another writing program taking place) than kids.  After a 30 minute talk about the hows and whys of journaling, we all went outside to the Arboretum.  The weather was the best imaginable for June in South Carolina - 70/75 degrees, breezy, sunny, with no humidity.  Wow!  Those of you who live down here know what I mean.  There were huge tadpoles in the creek, many little wildflowers, interesting trees casting deep shade, and numerous birds singing around and about: the mockingbirds and blue jays were the loudest.

My visit left me with a big question.... what kind of tree has leaves like the one above?  They were lovely, but I know they're not native, and although we were sitting in the arboretum, there was no name plaque for the large tree.  If any of you tree experts out there know what it is, please let me know. 

On the way back to the classroom, the kids I walked with complained that the day wasn't long enough.  ;-)  Ha! That was good to hear.  

What a fun day!


Here are a few photos I snapped while everyone concentrated on their journals:

The Program Director sent me these photos - here I am watching the geese fly over!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Yellow Mushroom Under Pine

A delightful morning to be hiking with the dogs to Lawson's Fork... except that half way there I remembered hearing two four-wheelers yesterday afternoon, and my husband saying, "They never came back -  I bet they are going to camp out down by the river."  Hmm...  In case that guess was correct, for their privacy and mine I decided not to hike that far.

It was a beautiful day no matter where we went.  The stiff, dry breeze along the pipeline felt cool and kept the morning bugs away while I picked out birdsong: yellow-billed cuckoo, indigo bunting, wood thrush, brown thrasher, and in the distance the repeated screams of a red-tailed hawk. I rambled around inspecting blooms: Queen Ann's lace, butterfly weed, meadow beauty, white yarrow, and scattered here and there, the remaining lance-leaf coreopsis. All of these grow in full sunshine.  I wanted to draw something in the shade

At the top of the hill I noticed a splash of school-bus-yellow in the fallen needles of the piney woods.  It was a mushroom with a white stem rising from the earth, still wearing a cap of pine needles. The breeze was strong here, the dogs exhausted from running, so I sat to draw the mushroom.  Daisy and Duke collapsed nearby. Duke put his head down and immediately went to sleep. Daisy put her face into the wind and half-closed her eyes, guarding me like I was her sheep.

I drew slowly for over an hour, so that by the time I packed up, the mushroom had grown a bit, and its pine needle hat had shifted, separated, and begun to slide off.