The clock is humming

They don’t even do that anymore, do they? Actually, we have a grandfather clock out in the living room that runs the old-fashioned way, weights and pendulum and ticking and all that, and it remains pretty close to atomic time after I spent two weeks adjusting the length of the pendulum rod. Okay, that’s not hard, but it has to be done in small increments and then observed for a day or two to see if it’s keeping in sync with modern technology. And of course the weights have to be raised every six days or so, but hey, when the EMP pulse slams our entire electrical grid, we will continue to know what time it is! Why, I don’t know…

But all that’s just blather – the point is, the 3D printer alongside me has 93 minutes to go on a print job, and I consider that a good deadline for this post. Which is to celebrate the holiday today, it being Not Everything Blooms In The Spring Day, and to demonstrate, we have a selection of the various flowers from right here in Walkabout Estates, right here this very day.

mauve morning glory closeup
mauve morning glory in just blue channelThe morning glories have been an interesting saga this year. I planted a bunch, including right underneath the window with the climbing rack from last year, and several places around the yard, as well as starting some in a pot. The pot was the only one that took, but boy howdy did it, and while I waited in vain for the others to gain a toehold, the potted ones grew out of control. Eventually I had to disentangle those vines from numerous other plants to move the pot under the climbing rack, which they overwhelmed quickly. Despite being decimated twice by the deer, they’ve been pushing out blooms routinely. Both of these images are actually the same, only the one on the right is strictly the Blue channel, just because. The bloom is almost entirely white in the Red channel, and Black in the Green one. Make sense? Too bad – moving on!

There were some nice delicate white-with-a-hint-of-blue glories, but they were in deeper shade and hard to get to, so I really didn’t do them justice, but we’ll have a frame anyway.

pale morning glory with a hint of blue
Yes, those are my fingers back there, holding the blossom around where I could photograph it – you’re not supposed to be looking at that. I have to note that I was mostly shooting wide-open (f4) with the Mamiya 80mm, partially to see what I could get, partially to use the light conditions, and partially (mostly) because I was too lazy to set up the macro flash rig. Thus, all of these have pretty short depth.

The Girlfriend found some small blue-flowering plant on sale locally, only it wasn’t tagged with a species and we have no idea what it is, if it’s annual or perennial, or anything, really, but I’ll probably try and figure it out before fall to determine if I should put it in the greenhouse or not.

unidentified blue flower
Initially, it was light overcast out there, but eventually the sun came out, so I did a couple different shots of some of the flowers, plying the misting gun for the latter to get some sparklies.

unidentified blue flower with water drops
The other thing that I did as an experiment was to leave the white balance set for Auto, which I generally consider a bad idea, and these two frames show why to some extent. But I have better examples coming up.

diamond spire gardenia Gardenia hybrid 'Leefive' PPIP blossom
The Girlfriend got one diamond spire gardenia (scientifically known as Gardenia hybrid ‘Leefive’ PPIP – yeah, don’t ask, flower breeders are in their own little world,) late last year, and we’d transplanted it into the front yard. It started well this year then faltered badly, and she got another to replace it while I repotted the first and tried to determine the problem. It was probably a fungus and seems to be recovered now, but this is the replacement anyway. Just means two more for the greenhouse this fall…

unidentified orange-flowered weed with crab spider Mecaphesa
Doing the rounds to see how many things really were flowering, I took a close look at this weed, unidentified and clearly past its prime, and I would have passed it up if it wasn’t for the tiny crab spider (Mecaphesa) still staking it out. Nothing handy for scale, but believe me, the spider wasn’t after honeybees, which outmassed it by several hundred percent.

some variety of Abelia
Some years back, The Girlfriend and I came across a massive, dense stand of abelia bushes in a botanical garden, absolutely inundated with butterflies, and we decided we wanted that. What we purchased later that year, however, does not seem in any way related to what we’d seen, and it has been sparse, leggy, and relatively unproductive the entire time. What you see here is an example of maybe a dozen little blossoms on it this year. Pfeh.

spearmint Mentha spicata flowers
Back at the old place, we’d effortlessly established a huge patch of spearmint (Mentha spicata.) Attempts to emulate this here have largely failed, but this year we managed a decent crop at least, enough to brew up some extract for spearmint jelly, though I totally screwed up my first batch. These are what the flowers are doing right now, though, and they smell as wonderful as the leaves.

Okay, the butterfly bush.

butterfly bush Buddleia davidii with not dewdrops
Butterfly bushes (Buddleia davidii) are a staple of mine because they attract so many arthropods for photos, and we have three in the yard. But they’re not thriving, partially because of the heat/drought, and partially (I think) because we have a few centimeters of topsoil before you hit clay, and they’re just not getting the nutrients. One was faltering so bad that I transplanted it in midsummer into a pot, where it exploded in delight and grew huge – all of these photos are from that plant (we made it a point to create some primo potting soil this year, and it’s been kicking ass.) This isn’t dew of course, but the misting gun once the sun came out – who doesn’t like water drops?

butterfly bush Buddleia davidii with hidden surprise
While this view came later, after they’d dried up, and it contains a hidden detail. I made it a point to frame it against the lighter portion of the background to make it stand out, because believe me, you wouldn’t see it at all unless you were disturbingly close to the blossoms. Given the subject, however, I did several angles as it wandered around trying to avoid me.

butterfly bush Buddleia davidii with jagged ambush bug Phymata between blossoms
This is a jagged ambush bug (Phymata,) quite small and tending to remain as subtle as possible; it usually requires a close examination of such flowers to spot one. I like them – in appearance, they’re this blend of goofy and menacing.

butterfly bush Buddleia davidii with jagged ambush bug Phymata peeking out
I don’t think it liked the misting, and I know it didn’t like me looming over it, but you know, we all must deal with adversity. This was the best portrait that I was going to get, unless I slipped it out of its cover for a dedicated ‘studio’ session, and I decided against that today. Maybe later on.

But you know what I said about Auto White Balance? Go back and compare the photos of these identical flowers on the same plant. Yeah, that’s the kind of thing that happens, especially with closeups that fill the frame. Even in grey overcast light, I’d rather shoot in the Sunlight setting and tweak the color register afterward if needed.

So, while we’re on arthropods…

butterfly bush Buddleia davidii with feeding butterfly possibly skipper
As I was sitting on the ground alongside the bush, this little guy came by to feed and I could do this direct portrait. I’m calling this a skipper, but I don’t know for sure and can’t be assed to look it up right now – the printer is plugging away.

Chinese mantis Tenodera sinensis peeking from depths of rosemary plant
The rosemary plants, on the other hand, are doing great, and for the past couple of weeks have hosted an adult Chinese mantis (Tenodera sinensis) that was originally found routinely on the clethra bush alongside it – these definitely have more cover. Back when the sky was overcast, I did the dramatic angle, but when the sun came out I gave the mantis a spray. It’s been cool enough at nights (hitting the dewpoint easily) that I don’t think they’re in desperate need of the moisture anymore, but it doesn’t hurt either.

Chinese mantis Tenodera sinensis with water drops across face
That’s the same look The Girlfriend gives me when I spray her with the hose. I don’t get it – it’s hot, the water feels good, I’m just trying to be helpful. Geezz

And finally, an update on another regular.

juvenile carolina anole Anolis carolinensis peeking from foliage
While I check routinely, it’s only occasionally that I spot one of the juvenile Carolina anoles (Anolis carolinensis) that reside in the yard, despite one (this one) living just outside the front door. It remains very cautious and spooky, which is fine and commendable from a survival standpoint, but a little less so from a photographer’s. So I get peeks from time to time, often when I have no camera in hand, but hey – they’re here, and that’s the important bit. I’ll get more chances.

Ha! The printer has twelve minutes to go. One more quick proof, and I’m done. No sweat.