Friday, April 17, 2009

Another day of images, and another oddity

Well, I could not pass the chance to get out on a beautiful day like today. I traveled a bit of the highways and byways before I stopped at Mill Mountain to see what was blooming. The Bloodroot was gone, and the Vinca minor were thinning, but the Vinca major and others were popping into view. Here are some of the images I shot, including something I have never seen before. It is a four petal Vinca minor, in white, no less. Enjoy.

Forget-Me-Nots (Myosotis scorpiodes). I love this shade of blue. Found in moist soil and streamside.

This is a Primrose (Pimula vulgaris). The name is derived from Latin, prima rosa, meaning "first rose" for its early blooming period in Europe.

Here is my friend, the Periwinkle (Vinca minor), but this time in lavender. Finding this one allowed me to photograph the Periwinkle in all three colors... Blue, White, and Lavender.

This is Ragwort. I believe it is Balsam Ragwort (Packera paupercula), but it could also be Golden Ragwort (Packera aurea). The main way to tell is the leaves, but this wildflower has leaves that look a little like both species.

Large Flowered Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum). Very distinctive flower with its three petals

A Vinca minor? This odd Vinca minor has only four petals, instead of the standard five petals of the species. I have no idea how rare this is, but I have found no other mention of this configuration in any references.

This is a Wood Poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum). This is a very impressive bloom, but in spite of its hardy appearance, it is a fragile bloom.

Here is the same Wood Poppy as above, but photographed with a difference lens to give a different look to the wildflower.

This is Spring Beauty (Claytonia virginica). These are small, yet stunning wildflowers also prefer moist surroundings.

Another Wood Poppy, but since it was facing the ground, I was forced to shoot it from below. That was tough, becaise the bloom was only about 12 inches off the ground. That is the blue sky in the background.

Let me introduce you to Garlic Mustard. This wildflower is not anywhere near as abundant as Wild Mustard. The blooms are very small, and not very prominent.

Monday, April 13, 2009

A Sunny Easter Sunday Pays Off with a Rare Find

I was planning on taking it easy on Easter Sunday, but after seeing how nice a day it was, and how turbulent the weather was to be the rest of the week, I decided to head out to shoot a few images. I started out on the Blue Ridge Parkway. but the wildflowers are still a bit scarce at elevation, so I headed to Franklin County to see what was blooming there. That would turn out to be a good decision, as I was lucky enough to see a rare five petal Bluet. These can be found, but not very often, and most of the people I have talked to have never seen one. Well, below you will see some of the images I captured, including the rare Bluet. Enjoy.

This image of the Barren Strawberry (Waldsteinia fragarioides) was taken on the Blue Ridge Parkway. This was the only bloom on a very large embankment next to the BRP south of Roanoke.

This wildflower is everywhere in early spring, growing in fields and any open area. This is known as Wild Mustard or Field Mustard (Brassica campestris).

This wildflower is often called the Money Plant (Lunaria annua). This image was taken in Franklin County.

This is a Bluet (Houstonia caerulea). This specimen has the typical four petal design which makes Bluets easy to identify.

This wildflower is called Epimedium, also known as Barrenwort and Horny Goat Weed. Legend has it that it is an aphrodisiac, and was discovered by a chinese sheep farmer that noticed an increase in humping in his herd after the sheep would eat the Epimedium. Science has shown that this it partially true.

Although not technically a wildflower, I could not resist the chance to photograph an Apple Blossum.

A bunch of Bluets (Houstonia caerulea). Sometimes they will grow in groups like this, and sometimes they will be alone. These are beautiful wildflowers.

This is the image of the extremely rare five petal Bluet. From what I can find, the odds of this growth is one in millions. This little beauty is in Franklin County.

I have shown images of Periwinkles or (Vinca minor). This one is known is a Big Periwinkle, or (Vinca major). This bloom is between 1 and 2 inches across.

Here we have some Vinca Minor, or Periwinkle. But this is a variegated Vinca minor. If you look at the leaves, the variegation of white defines the species.

I cannot let the Apple have the only tree blossum. Here is a beautiful Pear Blossum.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Wildflower Move from Digital Roanoke

I started the Digital Roanoke Blog to document things that were happening around Roanoke through photographs. I started to post quite a few wildflower images that I had taken to that blog. Somehow, they didn't seem to go together, so I started a new blog just for my wildflower images. This is it. All future wildflower images will be posted to this blog, and I have transferred all of the previous wildflower related posts from Digital Roanoke to this blog. The wildflower entries will soon be removed from Digital Roanoke.
So, again, welcome to the Blue Ridge Wildflowers blog. If you are on Facebook, you can also join our group there at Blue Ridge Wildflowers.

4/2/09 - Another visit to my Mill Mountain refuge

Folks, if you have not been up to Mill Mountain and visited the Wildflower Garden, you really need to take the opportunity to do so. What a beautiful place it is. However, please keep your children and animals under control in this area. As I was photographing these wildflowers, a woman and a young girl were walking in the area. Unfortunately, the woman was letting her daughter walk all over the place, including walking off the paths and trampling the wildflowers that are growing here. While the child probably did not know better, the older woman was clearly ignorant of proper etiquette and manners by not relaying to the youngster that destroying other peoples property is wrong. When I see things like this, it really dims my hope for humanity and peaceful coexistence with nature.

I have photographed a few more of the flowers on Mill Mountain, and the variety in bloom grows every time I visit. Here are a few images.

The Bloodroot are in bloom, and more of them are coming up every visit.
This wildflower is a personal favorite.

This wildflower is a Marsh Marigold. I was finally able to identify it
with one of my reference books.

Another image of the Bloodroot, this time with a pair of blooms
attended by a Periwinkle in the image.

A cluster of Bloodroot before they are in full bloom.

Primrose (Pimula vulgaris).

This is a rarer color for the Periwinkle, white.
It can also be found in lavender, but is primarily blue.

Another image of the white Periwinkle, this time with some image of the leaves.
This wildflower, Vinca minor, is known as Periwinkle, Myrtle, and Creeping Myrtle.

Cyprus Spurge (Euphobia cyparissias).

This is a closer, more personal, image of the Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris).

3/18/09 - A Beautiful Day for Photography

The sun was shining, the temperature was in the mid '70's, and I wanted to get out and run around a bit. I started off by driving to South Roanoke and parking, the jumping aboard the "Star Line" for a ride downtown to have lunch with a couple of friends. It was my first time on the Star Line, and it was a pleasurable experience for the most part. However, whoever thought of making the benches from wood, and then finishing them with a shiny, smooth coat of finish should sit on the bus when it makes an unexpected stop. I think they should reconsider the covering for the benches. After I rode the bus back to South Roanoke, I jumped in the car and decided to shoot some more wildflowers. Again, a very relaxing and calming experience for me. I just love to photograph these flowers. I always have, and probably always will.

I hope you like them.

Ahh. The trees are in bloom. This cluster of blooms was on a tree in South Roanoke.

The Hellebore are still blooming, but this combination of blooms caught my attention. I looked around and I saw no others that appeared to be looking at each other, yet this close.

This is my first chance to photograph this beautiful, elusive wildflower. This is Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis). It is an early spring bloomer, and really stunning to look at.

This wildflower is the Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris).

This is another Bloodroot wildflower, but further along in growth from the other flower in the image above. Please do not pick these wildflowers. They are hard enough to find already.

This is Periwinkle (Vinca minor), and this little bloom was standing alone next to a log.I could not resist the contrast to the log in the background. This fragile bloom is about 3/4 of an inch across its face.

3/9/09 - Early Start to the Wildflower Season

Last year, the start of the wildflower season slipped right past me. I was not going to let it slip by again this year. I have been photographing the wildflowers in the Roanoke area since they started blooming a few weeks ago, and here are some of the images so far. Again, I am having trouble identifying some of these wildflowers, so if you can help out, just send me a comment. I would appreciate it.

This is Winter Jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum). A very early blooming shrub. This one is growing on the hillside on the road below the Discovery Center on Mill Mountain. Thanks to Paul and Phoebe at the Discovery Center for their help identifying this wildflower.

This Hellebore (Veratrum viride) is a green wildflower. It is one of the most unusual wildflowers that I have seen in quantity. Beautiful species.

The wildflowers above are called Periwinkle, and is also known as Vinca Minor (apocynum cannabinum).

The wildflowers above are called Snowdrops, and its variety is known as the Common Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis).

This wildflower is known as a Corn Speedwell (Veronica arvensis). It is a wildflower, but it is often treated as a weed by lawn snobs.

This is Red Dead Nettle (Lamium purpureum)

This is Winter Jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum), but this bloom is completely yellow and has 5 petals. This flower was growing on Wiley Drive.

10/13/08 - Action in the Gardens at the Garden Clubs Facility

After taking in the Orchid Show, I stepped out into the crisp, cool breeze and bright, warm sunshine. I closed my eyes and tilted my face to the sun for one of my favorite experiences. I love the feeling of the sun warming your face, and then a cool breeze sweeping the warmth away, only to warm up again after the breeze subsides. It is one of life's simple pleasures.

That is when I noticed that the Roanoke Council of Garden Clubs had some flowers in one of their gardens. I decided to grab a few more shots. As I was shooting the east side of the garden, I noticed movement in the west side of the garden. I turned to see a small assembly of Monarch butterflies tasting the flowers.

I can't pass up a chance to photograph butterflies, but this could very well be an exercise in futility. You see, the best time to photograph butterflies is in the morning, just before the sun rises. They are chilled from the night, very lethargic, and usually will not move, except to spread their wings to gather the warmth from the rising sun and warming air currents. This was mid-afternoon, and with a very stiff breeze. Even when they lighted on the flowers, they were moving in the breeze. But, they were there, I was there, what the heck.

As I slowly moved closer, they noticed and scattered, moving to flowers at the far west side of the garden. From past experience, I moved to a good shooting position and then froze for a while. Sure enough, they eventually relaxed and came back to my area. They were very cooperative, but had to keep their wings closed to keep from being blown off the flowers. Still, I managed to take some good shots, thanked them for being so cordial, and went on my way.

A nice cluster of Black Eyed Susan's, back lit by the afternoon sun.

This is the Bachelor Button (Centaurea cyanus), also known as a Cornflower. Thanks to Cheryl Kessler in identifying this flower for me.

This is a large Marigold (Species is Tagetes, not sure of this particular Genus). Thanks to Cheryl Kessler in identifying this flower for me.

A nice close-up of one of the guests.

I was having real difficulty getting the butterflies to open their wings while on a flower. So I asked this one if it would help me out. It did, much to my surprise.

I really like the composition of this shot.

But, I believe this is my favorite shot of the butterflies that afternoon.