Backyard blooms, berries and beyond

Backyard blooms, berries and beyond

Following on in the “B” theme, look in this blog post for a bull frog, blue damselfly and Indiana dunes beach….

IMG_8536

The butterfly weed is in bloom.  We are waiting for the monarch butterflies to visit…

IMG_8509

Veronica spicata Spike speedwell ‘Royal Candles’ a little bit past its prime.  Red hot poker flowers in the background.

IMG_8523Kniphofia red hot pokers in front of miscanthus ‘morning light’ ornamental grass.

IMG_8590

The view from the patio.

IMG_8551

Aruncus goat’s beard does well on the north side of the house.

IMG_8508

The first gaillardia blooms.

IMG_8585

Bright yellow yarrow, and in the background salvia ‘blue hill.’

IMG_8548

The alyssum re-seeds itself each year and is starting to bloom now.

IMG_8460

Does cauliflower count as a flower?  I cooked this up in a soup today!

IMG_8527

The collards are looking nice and we are trying to keep up with eating them before the cabbage worms do their munching.  This plant does not look too chewed on.

IMG_8550

We haven’t had to buy lettuce for a few weeks.  This leaf lettuce is nice, but the romaine is starting to bolt with the hot weather.

IMG_8599

In a bowl this morning from our yard – serviceberries, strawberries, mulberries and raspberries.  I enjoyed them with my oatmeal.

IMG_8572

Ripening serviceberry.  I am competing with the birds for these now.  The robins are often in the serviceberry tree.

IMG_8530Unfortunately this berry loving cedar waxwing died after crashing into our kitchen window!  I saw a big serviceberry in its mouth before it died.

IMG_8518

A downy woodpecker has been visiting the birdbath.

IMG_8596

There seem to be a lot of wasps in the yard this year.

IMG_8562

Blue damselfly on miscanthus ornamental grass.

IMG_8410

We visited Indiana Dunes State Park last weekend.  We hiked for a couple of hours in the dunes before enjoying our lunch with the crowd on the beach.

IMG_8426

A little cactus along the prairie trail.  This state park has quite a few endangered species.

IMG_8462

Tomahawk Slough in the Palos Forest Preserve, where we hiked last Sunday.

IMG_8464

One of many bullfrogs at Tomahawk Slough.

IMG_8496

There were also a ton of little toads or frogs hoping around near the water and on the trail.  I guess it is time for them to head out on their own and see if they survive.

IMG_8480

Great blue heron at Tomahawk Slough.

Birding:  I signed up for a birding blitz in the Palos Forest Preserve for June 17th.  I am just an amateur birder, so I was looking forward to going out with someone who could identify a ton of birds.  I showed up in the parking lot at 5:30 am and then remembered to check my email on my phone.  The blitz had been canceled for weather reasons, as thunderstorms were predicted.  I could hear all the birds around me, but the expert birders were not there.  We did not get any rain on Saturday as I guess the rain fell somewhere else.  But it was probably a good thing that I was not involved, as my foot has been giving me some trouble after all that hiking last weekend.  So it is a good weekend to just rest and recover and get this blog post done!

 

June Garden and Illinois Waterways

June Garden and Illinois Waterways

Everything is growing and green now!  The trees have leafed out, the flowers are taking their turns blooming, the vegetables are getting going and the weeds are doing what weeds do…  The birds and the bees are active!

IMG_8324

The chinquapin oak tree is on the left and the crabapple tree on the right.  The crabapple is having another bad year, with the leaves turning brown and falling.  Last year we did not have any crabapples and that might happen again this year.  But we are enjoying the irises blooming this week.

IMG_8333

Red iris

IMG_8330

The male northern flicker was hanging out looking for an ant meal.

IMG_8345

The yarrow flowers have finally turned yellow.  In the back you can see the first pink foxglove flower.

IMG_8346.JPG

Foxglove in foreground, on the left the lady’s mantle is blooming, and in the back penstemon – beardtongue – is getting ready to bloom.

IMG_8350

The grasses in the unmowed “meadow” catch the morning sunlight.  The grasshoppers and damselflies love this area.  The robins are starting to visit the serviceberry bush for a berry snack.  The raspberries on the fence are forming and will ripen in a few weeks.

Road Trip

10 days ago we headed out for a four-day vacation in central Illinois.  The day we took off was rainy, so we spent time driving down to Alton, IL.

IMG_7850

The fields were just getting started.  We enjoyed being out in the country.

IMG_7871

Thursday morning we visited the Audubon Center at Riverlands in Alton, where we spotted this Eastern Kingbird.

IMG_7914

The male indigo bunting kept its distance, but the color is wonderful!

IMG_8018

Many areas along the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers were flooded.  We went hiking at Pere Marquette State Park.  Climbing the hills got us away from the flooding and provided wonderful views of the Illinois River.  Can you see the little brown ribbon of a trail we took to get us up to this hilltop where a few benches provided a rest area?

IMG_8021

Dan on the Pere Marquette State Park trail.

IMG_8089

The next morning we visited the Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish and Wildlife Area and enjoyed a walk around this little pond.

We did not stay long as our goal was to visit Emiquon, run by the Nature Conservancy.

IMG_8134

Emiquon is a Nature Conservancy project in a flood plain along the Illinois River, and a lot of migrating birds stop over here.  However, migration season is mostly over and this time of year is when the flooding is the highest.

IMG_8156

We tried, without much luck, to zoom in on birds across the water that looked like pelicans.

IMG_8133

We drove by a snapping turtle, but did not get too close.

Then we crossed the Illinois River and went over to take a look at Chautauqua National Wildlife Refuge, where the flood waters were high as well.

IMG_8177

A lot of drift wood came to rest on the shore at Chautauqua Lake.

IMG_8194

Red-headed woodpecker at Chautauqua National Wildlife Refuge.

 IMG_8277

On Saturday we visited Matthiessen State Park on the Vermillion River.  Since it was Memorial Day weekend the crowds were large and the trails had turned into muddy pits, that took a lot of skill to navigate!

IMG_8269

Cedar waxwings were in the tree above the river.  I have seen them in our yard this week, too, looking for serviceberries or other ripe berries.

IMG_8288

Sunrise view from the hotel in Yorkville, where we stayed Saturday night.

IMG_8299

We visited Silver Springs State Fish and Wildlife Area on Sunday morning.  There were several lakes as well as a trail along the Fox River.

We enjoyed all the places we saw and now will get back to hiking in our wonderful neck of the woods.

I Spy In July

I Spy In July

It is full summer now.  After hot dry days we had plenty of rain this past week and all is growing well.

IMG_4913

Male downy woodpecker on yucca plant.  Each year I wait to see it the woodpeckers will come to attack the yucca plant seed pods outside my front window.  Moth larvae grow up inside the seed pods.  It did not look like the woodpecker was very successful on this attempt, but wait a few days and they should soften up…

IMG_4842

A few weeks ago I just got a glimpse of this cedar waxwing.  It was the end of the mulberries ripening, so I think that was what brought it to our yard.

IMG_4929

Black-eyed Susans with miscanthus ‘morning light’ and Russian sage.

IMG_4939

This was taken in early morning light and shows what these flowers looks like from the patio where I eat my oatmeal.

IMG_4881

Orange butterfly weed

IMG_4931

Swamp milkweed, grown from a seed packet labeled ‘red milkweed.’  I am still waiting for monarchs, though there are plenty of red admiral butterflies around.

IMG_4883

North flower bed with joe pye weed, liatris and echinacea – purple coneflowers.  The messy meadow is on the left and kale in the foreground.

IMG_4888

Laundry usually dries quickly these days.

IMG_4845

Zucchini still in its somewhat tidy state.  The marigolds have been cheerful this year.

IMG_4876

We have been able to keep up with the zucchini by picking it small.

IMG_4869

Cucumber vines grow out in all directions.  We have a lot of cucumbers, though, and my refrigerator is starting to get full!

IMG_4865

Invasive viburnum leaf beetles mating.  We removed the raspberry tart viburnum  and the blue muffin viburnum bushes, that were both so beautiful.  It looks like next year we will be getting rid of the Chicago lustre viburnum bushes as well.  We don’t have the energy to fight these beetles year after year, so we will start over with other plants.

IMG_4995

Sunday soup.  Sometimes we put a little too much in the pot!