Sunday, November 16, 2014

A Long Fall...

No, I didn't trip...Post title refers to one of the most extended autumn seasons in recent memory.  Well, in my mind at least.   Aren't there years when just as we're about to enjoy the scarlets and golds of the landscape...POOF!..they're gone!  And seemingly overnight!
This year, I can't tell you how many days (weeks!), I was able to trek about town and amass tons of colorful photos!  Of course it's helped that we had a wonderful run of perfect weather.  Cool enough for photosynthesis to take effect yet warm enough for foliage to remain intact.  Oh, Glorious days!
 Neighbors' bright Ginkgos take my breath away every
time I leave and return home!  Please don't ask how many times I've pulled over for pics.
Even on the cloudiest days they provide sunshine!
 If you grow Japanese maples, this was their best year, wasn't it?!  I've added 3 new varieties to my garden this year....though just saplings, I can't wait for their 'show' next fall.
Leaf-peeping goes hand in hand with birding so don't forget to look up!  I actually heard this cute little White-Breasted Nuthatch before I saw him.
And you can't mistake the "Coo, coo, coo"s of a Mourning Dove...
I'm truly lucky to be 10 minutes away from this beautiful walking trail of the Raritan River.
I try to avoid peak crowd hours though and time it when the sun lights the landscape just so...
Maples usually turn to shades of red so this golden hue was a very unusual and very special find! 
As was this soft pink seedling...I'm sure due to heavy shade on woodland floor. 
 Not much to share in the way of garden blooms.
Seeds of  these butterfly weeds (Asclepias tuberosa) are just bursting open.  Hopefully, they'll land and take hold in a fertile spot...multiplying my collection.
Also of late interest are seed heads of Clematis terniflora, commonly called Autumn Clematis. 
A volunteer in my garden this year...maybe a trellis will be added at it's base.
Hope you enjoyed the Fall colors.
Thanks for visiting!  Until next time...

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Mum's the Word!

Chrysanthemums, that is.  This past weekend's visit to Longwood Gardens (Kennett Square, PA), made a renewed mum fan out of yours truly.  With the advertised event of  Night of a Thousand Lights, how could I resist a tour?
It was too chilly a November eve to stroll through the grounds, but 4 acres of conservatories, filled with blooms...I could do that.  With each new season, the amazing staff/volunteers transform this space into a drop-dead-gorgeous wonderland.  This was actually my first visit during the Fall I recently acquired 'Membership' status.
I arrived just after 4pm and the next 3 hrs. passed in a blink.  There were guided tours of how the Chrysanthemum displays came to be.  The man hours required to nurture and train plants into rounds, spirals and's astounding!  From a single stem cutting, it took 17 months and 1,500 hrs. to create each of these perfectly shaped domes!
This peacock fan in the Children's Garden was adorable!
The glow from the setting sun made the Conservatories even more magical!
I was enchanted by the use of these beautiful lanterns.
How cool are these Bonsai Mums? Something we can try at home?
It was interesting to learn that many of the blooms need to be grafted to different plant stock in order to achieve certain heights and forms.
When night came, these floating lanterns made a spectacular scene!  Photos do not do it justice.  Although the Night of a Thousand Lights was a special event, the Chrysanthemum Festival will be on display through November 23rd.  If you're in the area, it's worth a visit!
Thanks for visiting, friends.  Hope you enjoyed the tour... 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

My First Time

How is it that I've lived in New Jersey for 18+ years and have never been to Cape May?!
Crazy, right?!  And the drive couldn't have been easier.  Once on the local highway, it took but a few turns and just under 3 hours!  With my new-found birding hobby, Cape May will be an annual (at least!) destination here on out.
The day started out overcast and drizzly.  Garden work crossed off the To-Do List and with the weekend to myself, it was time for a new adventure.  Cape May Point is the southern most tip of our Garden State so that's where I headed.   A leisurely stroll on Sunset Beach sounded perfect.  Though fingers crossed that the weather would clear up and the sunset would be worth the effort.
 Other than a handful of fishermen, the beach was pretty quiet so it was mainly me and the birds!  Lots and lots of them!
 Clouds were rolling fast so the light was ever changing.  I love the glitter effect on the ocean's surface as the sun peeked in and out of storm clouds.
 And how vibrant blue it was in the next frame.  The object in the water is the stern of the SS Atlantus.  It was the 2nd concrete steamer (out of 12) and was launched in 1918 as part of the World War I Emergency Fleet.  In 1926 it was purchased with plans to be used as a ferry dock.  Unfortunately, a storm hit and she ran aground 150ft. off the coast of Sunset Beach.
How funny that at one time there was even a billboard painted on the side of the ship, advertising boat insurance!
Growing up in Southern California, the beach was a part of the landscape I took for granted.  It was just there, something you drove by.  As an adult, I treasure each visit home and make sure I get daily beach time.  If ever there was a place one needs to 'get away from it all', the shore is it.  Beach therapy ranks right up there with Garden therapy....don't you agree?
Though my 'Life List' is still very meager, I was thrilled to be able to add at least a dozen different shore birds (mostly gulls) to it.
By late afternoon, the crowd picked up and it was fun to see beach goers of all ages,
and breeds!
Oh! By the way, I learned, after the fact, that one is not allowed beyond the grass dunes.   These plantings help provide a strong line of defense during storms.  They really are resilient and the town even has an annual "Volunteer Plant Day".  I was sweetly scolded by a resident gentleman, as he saw me crouching here, behind the dunes for photos. Supposedly, the fine is  $1000.....yikes!!
Before I knew it, it was that magic time of day.  More visitors arrived for the last glimpse of the dipping sun.  It was cool to see a few photographers set up tripods that sported huge lens!  And me, with my handy point and!
 I have a renewed love for the beach.  The smell of salt water, the gentle lapping of the waves at my feet, the wind in my face...all combine to create such a sense of peace and calm.
 I loved that this mom-to-be happened into my frame.  I know she felt that sense of peace.   
In a blink, the sun kissed the horizon and the crowd sighed in wonder.  I decided to extend my adventure and spend the night in hopes of catching the sunrise the following day.  I'll share that on another post.  Thanks for visiting, friends!  Have a beautiful day, wherever you are....