Tuesday, May 31, 2016


Charlie and Fred discussed politics, world events and beer for the next three hours.   Eventually their wives called and each asked, "Where are you and whatcha doin'?  Dinner's ready and it's on the table getting cold!"   The writing was on the wall.  It was time to go home.

Monday, May 30, 2016


I found my own secret garden at Oatlands.  It was a charming little area, a pond full of waterlily pads, and several frogs, one of which I shared here.  

I could have stayed for a couple of hours or more, with its peace and tranquility.  It would be a great place to bring a book, or just to meditate.

I had it all to myself until Gregg caught up with me and we enjoyed it together.  

As often happens and because of our mutual hobby of taking photos, we occasionally get separated as we focus on different things.  I told him I was heading here. I saw it at the end of a long pathway with a wall of hedgerows and trees on each side.  In this photo I am looking back at where I came from.

He hadn't heard me and we lost each other. Maybe I hadn't told him and just thought I had.  That happens and yes I am smiling.   At times I get so intensely focused on where I want to go. He wandered in another direction, and later texted to ask where I was.   I eventually saw him at the end of that long path as he retraced his steps and followed my directions.

I had already been in the secret garden for 20 minutes and was waiting for him to catch up, totally mesmerized by how many frogs there were in the pond. 

After a while it became a game to see how many I could find, and I was once again in touch with my inner child.

I found several as they weren't exactly quiet.

Cell phones and texting are useful at the right time.  The garden is large enough that it would have been a long time before we caught up with each other.  In days of old when our son was young, we always chose a place to meet up if we were ever separated.  Maybe Gregg and I should start this practice again.

It was hard to leave but eventually we moved on,

passed this handsome statue....

 and with one last look at the secret garden, I knew we would be returning.  We have added it on our list of places to go back to.

I am sharing these with Michelle at Rambling Woods.  You can click on this link to visit Nature Notes and also see other participants of this great meme.

Sunday, May 29, 2016


Keep reading those books Mr. Toad, and pass along that enthusiasm!

I am sharing with the following as they become available, with my thanks to all our hosts whose memes are a lot of fun to participate in.

Jesh at Seasons
Tom at Tuesday's Treasures
N. C. Sue at Wordles (on Tuesday) at Image-in-ing

Wednesday, May 25, 2016


Now that warm and sunny, but more to the point, dryer weather is here, we have been going to our favorite local garden.  These are the latest photos from our visit last Monday.

Gregg found another path near the visitor center....

which took us through a wood.

These are Redvein Enkianthus - Enkianthus Campanulatus - Red Bells.  I found a great page with extensive information here.

I was very interested looking at the different plants and trees.  It had been raining hard and everything was damp but verdant.

I think that plant in the photo above is a Virginia Creeper, and the one below a Bloodroot.  I am no expert so you will have to do your own research if you want to confirm.  I tried hard to identify them and found photos very similar.  I was very careful not to touch any of the plants I looked at, as my knowledge for identifying plants that can cause a nasty reaction to touch is very small.  I know poisonous ivy and poisonous oak and that's about it.

Golden Star
Chrysogonum virginianum

I visited Betsy's Wildwood Home and she has a great post on poisonous plants that you can read here.

I was beginning to wonder how long our walk through the wood was going to take, but finally we reached the clearing.

We were nearer the children's garden, which you may have seen on my blog before, as I have often shared posts about it.

The turtles were out enjoying the sunshine.

and the Canada Geese were bathing.

If you can't access the video below, you can see it at this link.

The turtles did not appear to be impressed.

Neither did the Red-wing Blackbird.

The sculptures looked mildly interested though.

There was one other bird we were able to take a photo of.  Not sure what kind it is.  

(Added note: 5-26-16 - thank you Eileen of Viewing Nature with Eileen, who identified the bird below as an Eastern Kingbird.  Eileen pointed out the white tips on its tail feathers.  Thank you Eileen.)

There will be more photos from the garden in another post.

Here are some links for you to look at:

1)  Three Goldens, one suspect here.

2)  Grumpy Cat found in London here.

3) Getting back to nature in the UK here.

4) Nature's benefits on mental health here.

5) Summer's coming.  How about a Strawberry and Rhubarb Pie?  You can get that here.

I am sharing with the following memes as they become available, with my thanks to all our hosts for bringing them to us.  If you click on their names you can visit other participants.  

Congratulations to Stewart on 200 posts of Wild Bird Wednesday.

Theresa at Good Fences
The Team at SkyWatch Friday
Misty at Camera Critters
Anni at Bird D'Pot
Stewart at Wild Bird Wednesday

Tuesday, May 24, 2016


Last week we visited The Oatlands Plantation, near Leesburg, Virginia.  We have lived here for years and have passed the entrance I can't remember how many times, but this is the first time we visited.  After a friend told us about taking her granddaughter, and when Gregg said we should take a ride somewhere, I suggested Oatlands.  

We didn't actually tour the house, but were more interested in walking around their extensive garden.  This post for Michelle's Natures Notes is about the magnificent trees we found there.  Other posts will follow about the garden.

The tree in the photo above is called a Yellow Buckeye.   According to the website page, it says it is "Perhaps the most beautiful of the buckeyes, it has yellow flowers borne on erect panicles in early spring.  Since colonial times, buckeyes have been carried by many school children and adults as good luck charms, even though they are poisonus.  Cultivated 1764 - Aesculus octandra - Virginia Native."  The Buckey leaf is below.

The Osage Orange

I love the bark on this tree.

Again from the website, "Osage Orange.  While George Carter was building his house and plantation at Oatlands, this tree was notated in the Lewis & Clark expedition journal on March 26, 1804 in St. Louis, Missouri.  From the wood, native Americans made archery bows and early settlers made a yellow dye for fabric that was extracted from the root bark.  Before barbed wire was introduced, rows of these thorny trees were planted as living fences/hedges.  Cultivated 1818 - Maclura pomifer - Native."

Shagbark Hickory

The tree in the photo above and below fascinated me.  I had never seen anything like it before, the way its bark peeled away from the trunk.  The description on this one read, "The Shagbark Hickory.  Not just another hickory tree at Oatlands.  This large specimen flaunts foot-long shingles warping away from the trunk.  The nuts were highly prized by Native Americans and early settlers.  In autumn our squirrels rush to their droppings.  Cultivated 1629 - Carva ovata - VA native."

Bald Cypress

"Next to the Osage Orange is a cone-bearing deciduous conifer that naturally thrives in swamps.  In the fall, bronze needles drop in a rusty carpet below.  This type of tree can live over one thousand years, and its durable timber has been known as "the wood eternal."  Cultivated 1640 - Taxodium distichum - Virginia Native"

There are other trees at the plantation and you can read them at this link.

The Oatlands Plantation exceeded expectations.  We are definitely going to be adding this on our places-to-go list.  Leave that place and you will definitely want to hug a tree.  I'd like to end with this.

Prayer of the Woods

"I am the heat of your hearth on the cold winter nights, the friendly shade screening you from the summer sun, and my fruits are refreshing draughts
 quenching your thirst as you journey on. I am the beam that holds your house, the board of your table, the bed on which you lie, and the timber that builds your boat. I am the handle of your hoe, the door of your homestead, the wood of your cradle 
and the shell of your coffin. I am the bread of kindness and the flower of beauty. "Ye who pass by, listen to my prayer.  Harm me not."

(I don't know the author but I read that this prayer has been used in the Portuguese forest preservations for more than 1,000 years.  I hope someone can verify this.  It is a lovely prayer.)

I am joining Nature Notes, with my thanks to Michelle for hosting this wonderful meme.   You can click on the link below to visit Michelle's blog and to visit the other participants.