Nasturtium blossoms up close: Macro Monday

Nasturtium blossoms up close

Bright nasturtium blossoms up close in our High Desert garden. These flowers look pretty and they taste good. They have a distinctive spicy flavor.

Macro Monday

Focus on the form of cactus: LAPC

The Lens-Artists Photo Challenge this week is Symmetry. I decided to focus on the form of cactus in my garden by showing them in infrared. It highlights their prickly symmetry well.

Focus on the form of cactus in infrared 1October2020
Close up of cholla cactus infrared 1October2020
Cholla cactus fruit up close 1October2020
Prickly pear cactus in infrared 1October2020
Focus on the form of catus - Prickly pear fruit 1October2020

To see some of these cactus blooming in brilliant colors, see Prickly and pretty.

Bachelor buttons up close: Macro Monday

Bachelor buttons up close Bend, Oregon August 2020
Bachelor buttons up close in Bend, Oregon August 2020
Close up of flower July 2020

Bachelor buttons up close in our garden. I never knew they had so many colors. This flower has such an interesting structure – like a bouquet of tiny trumpets.

Macro Monday

Bright blossoms haiku: Friday Flowers

After waiting years
for bright blossoms to appear,
luminous at last

Bright blossoms - yucca in Bend, Oregon July 2020
Golden sword yucca

Friday Flowers

A praying mantis of another color: Macro Monday

When I first saw this praying mantis on hop plants in our garden of plenty, I thought it must be a species I had never seen. Its coloring was so light it was almost white. I learned that when some types of mantis shed their skin, they stay white for a short period of time. They can molt 10 times before reaching their adult size. This one will probably turn green, like others I have seen on our property.

A praying mantis in Bend, Oregon August 2020
Molting mantis on hop plants Bend, Oregon August 2020
Ghostly looking insect on hop plants Bend, Oregon August 2020

Macro Monday

The Oregon Garden in late summer: LAPC

The Lens-Artists Photo Challenge this week is to pick images that go with five possible words. I chose to use all five.

I am featuring pictures from a late September trip to The Oregon Garden, in Silverton, Oregon. It’s an 80-acre botanical garden that is beautiful to visit during any season.

This mixed border is an “exuberant” mix of colorful flowers of various sizes and textures.

The Oregon Garden mixed border September 2018

This planting looked “comfortable” with every plant spaced out so you can appreciate the details.

Landscaping in botanical garden in Silverton, Oregon September 2018

These chrysanthemums are “crowded” together in a quilt of color.

Chrysanthemums September 2018

This landscape is “growing” red as fall approaches.

The Oregon Garden September 2018

The cactus garden is “tangled” with the spiky leaves of prickly pear.

Prickly pear cactus in Silverton, Oregon September 2018

It can get crowded at The Oregon Garden, so if you don’t want to get tangled in traffic, plan your visit for a comfortable time of day so you can experience this growing attraction with the exuberance it deserves.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Pick a word

To see how our efforts have paid off in our own growing garden space, see Garden of Plenty, posted a couple days ago.

A garden of plenty: Homegrown Harvest Photo Challenge

Last year we started to create a new garden space in our backyard. After a lot of work, it’s looking like a garden of plenty now.

A garden of plenty in Bend, Oregon August 2020

This is how it looked several years ago when we bought the place. The house included a fenced dog run with a heated doghouse.

A garden of plenty before 2013

Some of the beds in our newly-created garden are bordered by rocks collected on our property, and others are store bought. Smaller rocks we collected on our rock hounding adventures decorate the edges of the raised beds. See the obsidian from Glass Buttes?

Obsidian rocks around a raised bed garden August 2020

What’s growing in our garden

This year we have lots of flowers filling in the spaces between the fruits and vegetables. The flowers include sunflowers, Bachelor’s buttons, sweet alyssum, clematis, hollyhocks, nasturtium, and poppies.

Hollyhocks up close July 2020
Hollyhocks
Bachelor's button August 2020
Bachelor’s button
Red poppy up close 27August2020
Red poppy

The sunflowers grew so tall, we had to clip through the bird netting to allow them to reach their full height.

Sunflowers growing through bird netting August 2020

We’ve had a great crop of veggies including kohlrabi, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, and beets.

Cucumbers August 2020
Cucumbers
Beets August 2020
Beets
Green tomatoes August 2020
Tomatoes

The raspberries we put in last year are finally producing. We had a few strawberries this year in the garden and they were tasty and sweet.

The garden is fenced with two kinds of fencing and bird netting, but we still find unexpected visitors. This tree frog looked very comfortable around the beet plants.

Pacific tree frog on beet plants August 2020

Our fruit and vegetable garden has filled out and the rest of the landscaping has too. Here’s what it looks like now.

A garden of plenty from behind August 2020

The spruce trees are huge and the birds love them. The Russian sage, the large shrub with purple flowers in the middle of the picture, is more than six feet tall.

Like many of you out there, we are putting more time into gardening this year. Our repurposed dog run has been transformed into a garden of plenty.

Homegrown Harvest Photo Challenge – Your Homegrown Harvest

Ice plants up close: Macro Monday

Ice plants up close near Bend, Oregon July 2020

Here’s a photo of ice plants up close from my garden near Bend, Oregon. I always look forward to seeing their bright, long lasting blooms.

Macro Monday

Plant ID – To weed or not to weed: Friday Flowers

To weed or not to weed. Sometimes weeding is a big job, so how can you tell which plant is a weed?

Are the tall plants in this photo weeds that I should pull?

Mullein plants near Bend, Oregon July 2020

What about this plant with pretty purple flowers?

Spotted knapweed near Bend, Oregon July2020

Are these two plants weeds?

Oregon sunshine & iceplant near Bend, Oregon July2020

You can’t always determine what kind of plant it is, but plant ID tools will help.

Websites & Apps

A good place to start, is the Wildflower Search website. You can narrow down the possibilities by clicking on a map with the general location you saw the plant. You can narrow it down more by inputting if it’s a tree, shrub, flower, grass, etc. Entering the color of the flower and the time of year you observed it narrows it down even more. This site goes into more detail with options including the growth pattern of leaves and the number of flower petals but most of the time, just selecting the options already mentioned helps determine what it is.

Wildflower Search Plant ID July 2020

Here in Oregon, you can get a paid app for Oregon Wildflower identification. It has similar features to the Wildflower Search site. This app is great to have on your phone when you’re out in the field. Is there a plant ID app where you live? They are a great resource!

Oregon Wildlfowers Plant ID July 2020

Books & Extension Units

Of course you can consult a wide selection of field guides. Use those that cover your geographic area. Here are a few I use. Yes, that copy of Sagebrush Country has spent a lot of time in the field. 😉 If you’re looking for a more recently published field guide, see Wildflowers of Oregon: A Field Guide to over 400 Wildflowers, Trees, and Shrubs of the Coast, Cascades, and High Desert.

Plant identification field guides July 2020

Don’t forget to consult your local Cooperative Extension Unit. If you take in a cutting, they can help you identify the plant. At the Oregon State University Extension Service office closest to me, I can “Ask an Expert” by sending in a photograph of an unidentified plant. They’ll help you with plant ID. Cooperative Extension Units have a wealth of information for gardeners. The one here in Central Oregon has a great publication on water-wise gardening that I have referred to numerous times.

Water-wise gardening handbook July 2020

My Favorite Plant ID Tool!

I saved my favorite plant identification tool for last. Install the Google Lens app and take a picture with your phone. Open the picture and click on the icon and your screen will sparkle like it’s been sprinkled with pixie dust. Then it will magically show you pictures with names of possible plants. I have also used this app for identifying random antiques, but identifying plants is what I use it for the most. Does Google Lens work perfectly in identifying everything? No! Yesterday I took a picture of a lizard on a juniper tree. It told me it was a pangolin, a type of scaly anteater, on bamboo. 😀 However, Google Lens usually narrows things down and then you can refer to field guides, etc.

So back to my original questions about if I should pull the plants pictured.

Google Lens mullein plant near Bend, Oregon July 2020

Google Lens tells me the first plant is a type of mullein. They are considered a weed where I live. However, birds love the seeds on those tall stalks so I leave a few in the landscaping for them. It’s okay to keep plants that aren’t native if you keep them from getting out of control.

Google Lens spotted knapweed near Bend, Oregon July 2020

The second plant, with the pretty purple flowers, is spotted knapweed. It is so invasive around Central Oregon that you can be fined up to $750 a day per lot. I pull every one of those I see. The local Noxious Weed Program helps landowners identify aggressive, non-native plants.

The last picture is a twofer. Are these plants weeds? I can click on each plant and Google Lens will tell me what they are. The yellow flowered plant is Oregon sunshine. This native plant grows like a weed, but I love its cheerful color and long-lasting blooms so I don’t pull it. The pink flowered plant is iceplant. It’s an escapee from a landscaped part of our yard. It gets no water where it is but it’s doing great! Both these plants will stay where they are.

Good luck with your attempts at plant ID. Hope these tools help.

Friday Flowers

Blue flax flowers up close: Macro Monday

Blue flax flowers up close in my garden. These delicate flowers are difficult to photograph because they have a habit of turning away from the camera. I guess they are a little camera shy!

Macro Monday

Art at the Amphitheater in Bend

Art at the Amphitheater , Bend, Oregon November 2018

When I walk my dog in the Old Mill district, I always smile when I see the art at the amphitheater. The Les Schwab Amphitheater is the main venue for large events in Bend, Oregon. Minneapolis artist, Erin Sayer, painted the crow on one side of the stage and the owl on the other.

Fellow Minneapolis artist, Yuya Negishi, assisted her. Yuya painted a dragon mural on the side of a building across the river and another mural on a staircase.

Owl mural in Bend, Oregon December 2018
Artwork on utility box in Bend, Oregon November 2018

Even the utility boxes are painted.

There’s a big, open field in front of the stage.

Art at the Amphitheater , Bend, Oregon November 2018

The Deschutes River runs behind the stage. Here’s a view from across the river. Those silos on the right side belong to Deschutes Brewery.

View of amphitheater in Bend, Oregon November 2018

Events are temporarily postponed or cancelled because of coronavirus. Huge crowds, such as these seen at Bend Brewfest, often fill the fields at events.

Brewfest in Bend, Oregon August 2018

The flower border along one side of the field is spectacular at certain times of the year.

Flower border in Old Mill district of Bend, Oregon September 2017

Accommodations for entertainers at this venue are unique. They are old boxcars resting on a section of train track. You can see the old train station, built in 1911, across the street.

Accommodations for entertainers in Bend, Oregon April 2019

Here’s a closer view of the train station on a winter day. Now it’s the Art Station, managed by Bend Park and Recreation District. It offers art classes for adults and children.

 Art Station in Bend, Oregon 9March2019

Art at the Amphitheater shows up in many forms including murals, concerts, colorful flower borders, art classes, and locally brewed beers. 😀

Yellow flowers with petals radiating -Tanka: LAPC

A single flower
With petals radiating
Captures warm sunlight
To share on overcast days
Illuminating us all

Prickly pear cactus with petals radiating Bend, Oregon 4June2020
Prickly pear cactus
Salsify blooming in Bend, Oregon 29May2020
Salsify
Cinquefoil in bloom, Bend, Oregon 14June2020
Cinquefoil
Oregon sunshine with petals radiating, Bend, Oregon 14June2020
Oregon sunshine

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – One single flower

All about Purple sage: Friday Flowers

Purple sage and Indian paintbrush  at Gray Butte, Oregon May 2016

     You may have heard of this plant referred to in the classic western, Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey. But did you know purple sage is not actually in the sagebrush family? It’s a type of sage in the mint family, Lamiaceae, and one of its common names is “mint sage.” If you crush the leaves in your hand you’ll be able to tell why.

     I’ve seen purple sage, Salvia dorrii, in various high desert locations in eastern Oregon. Gray Butte, just northeast of Smith Rock, is a great place to see this native shrub in full bloom.

Wildflowers at Gray Butte May 2016

    Purple sage grows in the western United States and northwestern Arizona, south to the Mojave Desert. It grows on open slopes, flats, or foothill areas receiving 7-15 inches of annual precipitation. This shrub grows in low to high elevations in sandy, rocky, and limestone soils. It often grows in stands of sagebrush and in pinyon-juniper habitats.

Wildflowers at Gray Butte May 2016

     This plant is a semi-evergreen shrub that grows to a height of 1-3 feet and a width of 2-4 feet. Its narrow, grey-green leaves are rounded at the tips. The flowers are purple and dark blue and they appear in spike-like clusters. Purple sage blooms from May through June. Their gray to red-brown fruit is 1/8 inch or smaller.

Honeybee on purple sage Bend, Oregon June 2020

Purple sage in the garden

     Purple sage can be grown in gardens. This plant grows in full sun and has very low water requirements. Purple sage is propagated by seeds, dividing the plants in early spring, or taking cuttings of new growth. It attracts bees, butterflies, and birds, including hummingbirds. This shrub is deer and rabbit resistant. Purple sage grows in USDA plant hardiness zones 4b through 10a. That includes areas with an average annual extreme minimum temperature of -30 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit.

High desert landscape Bend, Oregon June 2020

Ethnobotany

     Native Americans made use of this plant throughout its range. Stems and leaves of purple sage were used as a cure for colds by the Kawasiiu, Paiute, Shoshoni, Okanagan-Colville, and Washoe tribes. They also applied poultices to the chest, smoked the dried leaves, and made steam baths from parts of the plant. It was used in various forms to treat headaches, stomachaches, fever, influenza, pneumonia, gonorrhea, swollen leg veins, eye problems, and general illness. Hopi, Kumai, and Paipai used this sage to treat epilepsy, headaches, stomachaches, and other conditions. The Kawasiiu people threw it into the fire to ward off ghosts.

Fun Fact: The genus name of this plant, Salvia, comes from the Latin word salveo. It means “Be well/ in good health.”

Many shades of obsidian: Weekend Challenge

There are many shades of obsidian in nature. The Weekend Challenge from GC and SueW, and their monthly color challenge for June, is the color Obsidian.

By coincidence, I was out in the yard yesterday morning rearranging some of the obsidian I’ve collected at nearby Glass Buttes. Here in Bend, Oregon, we recently had a huge storm with high winds, rain, and hail. My rocks all had a nice bath. 😉

Here are few portraits of obsidian rocks in my garden.

A piece of black obsidian in with the ice plants. I like to pick up pieces that have interesting textures.

Many shades of obsidian. Black obsidian & ice plant. Bend, Oregon May 2020

Here’s a larger piece of black obsidian tucked in under the mint plants.

Black obsidian & mint plant. Bend, Oregon May 2020

Here are a trio of mahogany obsidian rocks.

Mahogany obsidian from Glass Buttes, Oregon May 2020

Here are three smaller pieces beneath a cholla cactus. Spotted mahogany colored rocks, like the middle piece in the photo below, are called leopardskin obsidian. If that’s true, is the striped piece on the left tigerskin obsidian? I don’t think so!

Go to OreRockOn and look under the Obsidian & Knapping for Sale tab to see pictures of many varieties of obsidian.

Obsidian beneath a cholla cactus. Bend, Oregon May 2020

This is green sheen obsidian. It has stripes of green color crossing the black.

Green sheen obsidian . Bend, Oregon May 2020

This piece of silver sheen obsidian is being guarded by a prickly pear cactus. Silver sheen, and other types of obsidian, have a sparkly iridescence when you tilt them in the light.

Many shades of obsidian. Silver sheen obsidian . Bend, Oregon May 2020

This gunmetal obsidian, next to an Oregon sunshine plant, blends in with the color of the gravel. Gunmetal is solid gray in color.

Gunmetal obsidian & Oregon sunshine plant. Bend, Oregon May 2020

These are just a few of the many shades of obsidian located an hour away from my house. Lucky me!

For more on Glass Buttes, in eastern Oregon, see Glass Buttes Obsidian Field Trip and Glass Butte Dragonglass . I Like Rocks! shows more rock pictures taken in my gardens.

Chive Blossom up close: Macro Monday

Chive blossom up close Bend, Oregon May 2020

Here’s a view of a chive blossom up close in my garden. We have a bumper crop this year!

Macro Monday

Rainbow of soft colors in my garden: LAPC

Right now I have a rainbow of soft colors in my garden. Many plants are blooming in the high desert.

This lupine has delicate shades of purple and peach on the same plant.

Soft colors in my garden Bend, Oregon May 2020

My purple sage shrub started blooming last week. This plant is a member of the mint family. If you crush the leaves you’ll get what some refer to as a “mildly intoxicating minty aroma.”

Purple sage in bloom. Bend, Oregon May 2020

This a sweet little carnation with dusty green foliage and small blossoms in varying shades of pink.

Pink carnation in bloom. Bend, Oregon May 2020

The orange globe mallow has small blossoms that contrast well with its muted green leaves. The large heart-shaped rock adds a nice accent. I Like Rocks! shows examples of other rocks in my garden.

Orange globe mallow. Bend, Oregon  May 2020

This is a cushion spurge plant. I love the soft yellow blossoms and colorful variegated foliage on this ‘First Blush’ variety.

I recently featured a close up of another spurge in my yard. They are cheerful little plants. 🙂

Soft colors in my garden in Bend, Oregon. Cushion spurge May 2020

I always appreciate the soft colors in my garden, but even more so now.

Just living is not enough… one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.

Hans Christian Anderson

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Delicate colours

I like rocks!: LAPC

The Lens-Artists Photo Challenge this week is Pastimes so I immediately thought of rocks. I have always collected them.

Here’s a still life of rocks in my collection. Some we found, some were purchased, and others were gifts.

I like rocks collection of various rocks in Oregon May 2020

A couple of weeks ago we visited Glass Buttes, one of my favorite places. Yes, there are several types of obsidian in this haul, but I also picked up ones that looked cool. I like the large one in the upper left in particular.

I like rocks collection of various rocks in Oregon May 2020

I try to incorporate the rocks we find at various locations into our landscaping. Here’s a few around a cholla cactus I started from a single “leaf.”

Rocks around a cholla plant, Bend, Oregon May 2020

Stones encircling a golden sword yucca plant.

Rocks around a yucca plant, Bend, Oregon May 2020

Igneous rock from our property was used to make the border of this raised bed in the vegetable garden. The hops and chives are growing well.

A rock border in a vegetable garden, Bend, Oregon May 2020

As you may know, I like to paint rocks. I have previously featured pictures of an Australian shepherd and Tyrannosaurus rex I painted.

However, I am not the only rock painter in my neighborhood. When the lock down started due to the coronavirus, a few of my neighbors began to paint rocks with positive messages and distribute them around the neighborhood. This one was by my mailbox one day. This is one of my most precious rocks!

A painted rock with a friendly message, Bend, Oregon May 2020

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Pastimes

Cypress spurge up close: SMM

Cypress spurge Bend, Oregon

This pretty plant is the first to bloom in my garden in the spring. The tiny flower of cypress spurge is framed by bright yellow bracts.

Sunshine’s Macro Monday (SMM)

Sharp-shinned hawk cooling its jets: WWE #24

Sharp-shinned hawk cooling its jets near Bend, Oregon 27March2020

This sharp-shinned hawk was either cooling its jets because it was overheated or it was pretending to be a piece of yard art to lure in an unsuspecting songbird. 😉 It stood in my backyard creek for a LONG time!

Water, Water Everywhere (WWE) #24

Buckwheat blossoms in the summer: Floral Friday #13

Buckwheat blossoms near Bend, Oregon 28June2019

These wild buckwheat blossoms were photographed in the High Desert near Bend, Oregon. I believe this is a variety of Eriogonum umbellatum, the sulfur flower. Their yellow blossoms brighten up the desert like little rays of sunshine!

Floral Fridays

Spruce cones up close: SMM

Spruce cones up close

A photograph of spruce cones up close that I took in my Bend, Oregon yard.

Sunshine’s Macro Monday (SMM)

Summer’s bounty on display: LAPC

Snowy quilts now cover the gardens, but I remember summer’s bounty

Glossy purple eggplants, leafy green artichoke buds, and garlic cloves wrapped in crisp colorful coverings

Summer's bounty, Bend, Oregon farmer's market 19 June 2019

Rainbow shades of plump tiny tomatoes

Summer's bounty, Colorful cherry tomatoes, Bend, Oregon 19 June 2019

I remember the fresh taste of cool cucumbers, the crunchiness of celery, and the sweet snap of carrots

Summer's bounty, Vegetables at a farmer's market in Bend, Oregon 19 June 2019

Smooth rounded new potatoes, rough deep red beets, and elongated pods of green beans

Summer's bounty, Bend, Oregon Vegetables at a farmer's market 19 June 2019

Winter is on our doorstep, but I look forward to the tastes, textures, and colorful tones of summer’s bounty

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge (LAPC) – On Display

Blazing star beauties: Friday flowers

Blazing star beauties in Bend, Oregon August 2019
Wildflowers blooming on Pilot Butte in Bend, Oregon August 2019
Pilot Butte view in Bend, Oregon August 2019

I saw these blazing star beauties at the top of Pilot Butte in Bend, Oregon last August. Pilot Butte is an extinct volcano that is a state scenic viewpoint. It’s a great place to visit for a 360 degree high desert view! You can see in the photos that these flowers are growing on cinder rocks. The Sisters volcanic peaks are in the background of the last picture.

Blazing star, Mentzelia laevicaulis, is a native plant that grows along roadsides and on sandy, gravelly, or rocky slopes. This plant has showy star-shaped flowers filled with bunches of yellow stamens. The flowers can measure 5-6 inches across.

They grow 3-6 feet tall and bloom June through September. The rough leaves are gray-green in color. One of their common names is ‘stickleaf’ because the leaves have barbed hairs that stick to clothing, etc.

Native Americans used them medicinally for several ailments. Roots were used in treating earaches, rheumatism and arthritis, and thirst. Fevers, mumps, measles, and smallpox were treated with a root infusion. Root infusions were also used to reduce swelling of bruises. Leaves were boiled and the liquid was used for stomachaches and as a wash for skin conditions.

Blazing star plants range from southern Canada south through the western United States (Zones 9a-11).

They can be grown in gardens from seed or starts. This plant grows well in full sun in gravelly or sandy soils. They require little water and the bright yellow flowers look great in rock gardens.

Blazing stars are biennials or short-lived perennials. They are hardy and deer-resistant. The blossoms are of special value to bees, butterflies, and moths.

Fun fact: The spectacular flowers open mid-morning and stay open throughout the night so they are a favorite with nocturnal pollinators like hawk moths and carpenter bees.

Purple coneflower up close: SMM

purple coneflower up close

These coneflowers’ colors are fading as summer turns to fall. Their form is still beautiful and I look forward to seeing them bloom next spring.

Sunshine’s Macro Monday

When the flower blossoms: Sunshine’s Macro Monday

When the flower blossoms

When the flower blossoms, the bee will come.

Srikumar Rao

Sunshine’s Macro Monday