A red begonia framed in blue in Alger, Washington.
I saw these multi-colored trailing petunias in a hanging basket in downtown Bend. Since they produce so many flowers, another common name for this plant is ‘million bells.’
These perennials are hybrids from plants originally grown in South America. They bloom from spring through first frost and they’re easy to grow. They make a perfect addition to hanging baskets.
emerge from sandy shorelines
embrace life, vanish
Note: These sand “mountains” near Waldport, Oregon are about 1/2 inch tall.
These colorful lichens at Lake Abert look like bits of captured sunshine.
Here’s a picture of tulips up close growing in my garden. There’s something special about these two flowers.
They are the first to make it to this stage without being eaten by our resident deer!
Last month, we collected petrified wood bits from Bear Creek, south of Prineville Reservoir in Oregon. The following pieces are one inch or less in size. Getting decent photographs of these tiny stones proved to be a challenge.
I set up a tabletop studio and tried a Panasonic Lumix and a Galaxy Ultra phone camera. I had to keep adjusting the spotlights outside of the studio. Each stone was given a quick spritz of water to bring out their color. After many unsuccessful attempts with both cameras, I finally got some good shots with the Panasonic.
A white poppy up close growing in our garden last year. Poppies come in a variety of colors, but they’re also pretty in white.
This picture of an ammonite fossil up close shows their beautiful spiraling structure. In ancient times they were called “snake stones” or “serpent stones.” The stones were thought to have healing and oracular powers. Fossils of these once abundant, now extinct, marine molluscs are popular with collectors.
This is a beautiful piece of stilbite up close. Specimens like these, from the stilbite subgroup, can be found near Mill Creek, Polk County, Oregon. The crystals on this mineral are gorgeous, but I also like the parallel lines surrounding the cavity in this piece.
Here’s a picture of a piece of polished labradorite up close. This feldspar mineral has a unique appearance. Its iridescence catches your attention and is referred to as “labradorescence.” I like holding a piece with a lot of color and tilting it to see different colors in the light. The parallel lines of color within the stone, the twinning surfaces, reflect the light.
Here’s a photo of blanket flowers up close that I took last summer. These perennial flowers are big and showy. Their contrasting colors make them stand out as a star in any garden. These easy to grow plants are also drought tolerant. They attract butterflies and birds.
This larch in waiting photo shows one of their tiny cones up close. The western larch needles turn gold in the fall before dropping. The pompom needle clusters in this photo were just beginning to turn. This unique tree is one of my local favorites.
I saw these marigolds up close in a park at the end of July. These vignettes show orange, yellow, and white flowers that were growing in a border planting. Marigolds are an easy to grow annual that blooms for weeks during the summer months.
A couple I once knew had a memorable experience involving mushrooms, up close and personal. They went out mushroom picking with friends in the rainforests near Olympia, Washington. That night, they prepared a fancy meal that included the mushrooms they harvested.
After dinner, they sat around the table exclaiming how wonderful the freshly-harvested mushrooms tasted. Suddenly, they noticed the family cat had jumped onto the counter and eaten a little of the mushroom sauce. She immediately began to vomit.
The dinner guests looked at each other with horror. When they picked the mushrooms, they weren’t sure of the exact species. Even when you look at mushrooms up close they can be difficult to identify. If you eat the wrong type, it might kill you.
Out of an abundance of caution, they decided to go to the hospital. Everyone had their stomach pumped in case the mushrooms were poisonous.
When they returned home, they were surprised to find the cat with a litter of newborn kittens. The cat wasn’t sick from poisoning—the vomiting was due to her labor.
At the time it happened they decided to err on the side of caution, but later, they thought their reaction was pretty funny. 😀
Here are a couple pictures of autumn cascara leaves up close. I spotted these beautiful multi-colored leaves on shrubs near Santiam Junction in Oregon. They were growing within an inhospitable looking lava bed.
This tall shrub is attractive year round. The oblong leaves, with their distinctive parallel veins, are glossy green for most of the year. Autumn cascara leaves have spectacular colors. Cascara produce greenish-yellow flowers in the spring, and dark purple fruit in the summer.
One of their common names is Cascara sagrada, Spanish for “sacred bark.” The bark is well known for its laxative effects. See the Names section of Cascara, Frangula purshiana for funny Chinook names based on these qualities. 😉
Here are three photos of a milkweed seedpod up close. As you may know, milkweed flowers are a favorite of monarch butterflies. North American populations of this butterfly have been rapidly declining.
I got a packet of seeds for free from Deschutes Land Trust, one of our local conservation nonprofits. To find milkweed seeds near you, use the Milkweed Seed Finder courtesy of the Xerces Society.
We planted milkweed starts in our garden this year, but they fried during a week of unusually hot weather. 🙁
My friend, Suzy, planted hers last year and had greater success. This seedpod she gave me measures 4 inches in length. A couple of days ago it split along a seam. Each seed is attached to a little wispy fluff known as coma.
Does this milkweed seedpod remind anyone else out there of the pods in Invasion of the Body Snatchers?
I saw these fading hibiscus flowers at a local garden center in early June. The petals are past their prime, but the flowers still have a style all their own.
We planted a couple artichoke plants in our garden this year and assumed they died after a week of extreme heat. Several leaves on both plants turned brown from the sun, but the plants survived. Here are their purple blossoms up close. Artichokes are pretty and tasty!
I saw this yellow & white iris in bloom in mid June. When you see them blooming, summer is on the way. The golden colors in this blossom mirror the warmth of summer days to come.
Whirlybirds up close on a maple tree in my High Desert yard. I have fond childhood memories of collecting whirlybirds from the ground and tossing them up into the air. Watching them helicopter towards the ground was cheap entertainment in those days.
This morning I was out taking pictures of the sunrise and noticed this baby bird among the berries. It was lucky to have landed in a place covered with a cushioning layer of western juniper leaves.
I looked up in the tree overhead and spotted the nest. An adult American robin perched nearby, completely motionless. I talked to it and got no response at all. I have read that birds sleep with one eye open but this one didn’t follow that theory.
When we placed the baby bird back in its nest, it squawked and that finally got the attention of its parents. I hope it stays in the nest and fledges with its siblings.
Robins like junipers because they provide shelter and food. In the fall, they and other thrushes eat as many as 220 berries in a day.
The nest is in this tree. Can you spot it?
Ponderosa pine bark up close. This bark is made even more interesting with drips of amber pitch.
These colorful lichens are growing on a rock in my High Desert yard. So much variety in a tiny landscape!
Manzanita blossoms are putting on a show right now in Central Oregon. The delicate pink blossoms contrast with the thick, leathery green leaves and red bark. The bark on these shrubs peels like on a madrone tree. It’s one of my favorite local plants but it refuses to grow in my garden. That gives me an excuse to seek them out in the wild.
A rainbow of colorful lichen up close. These lichens grow on the rocks in my High Desert yard. Though they are small, they have a big presence
Here’s a white coneflower up close in my garden. I usually see pink or purple coneflowers, but they’re also pretty in this color. Their scientific name, Echinacea, comes from the Latin word for ‘sea urchin’ and the Ancient Greek word for ‘hedgehog.’ The spiny cone-shaped central disk resembles some type of prickly creature.
Close up view of a frosty ponderosa pine pom-pom in black and white.
Close up view of rough & rippling bark of a western juniper tree near Bend, Oregon.
Close up view of a cluster of crystals sprouting off of a matrix.
Showy layers of crepe paper-like red petals encircle a yellow melon-shaped ovary. Golden-anthered stamens stand guard over the precious seeds within.
This yew plant in my garden measured three feet in height for many years. I don’t think it was fond of our High Desert temperature fluctuations. Last year it finally grew taller so now it’s almost five feet tall.
Yesterday I caught one of our resident “landscapers” chewing on the new growth. Guess he thought it needed a trim. 😉
A blooming cosmos is one of my favorite sights to see in a garden. We had several colors of cosmos in our garden this summer, but this magenta-colored flower was my favorite. I love how the color contrasts with the bright yellow center. The bees appreciated them as well.
Oregon grape up close in my yard dressed in seasonal colors. The prickly leaves on this semi-evergreen shrub get burgundy highlights in the fall. Oregon grape plants have yellow flowers in the spring and purple berries in the summer. It’s striking year-round.
The following images of igneous rocks up close were taken in my yard near Bend, Oregon.
What’s an igneous rock? Geology.com describes them as being “formed from the solidification of molten rock material.” For example, granite, gabbro, basalt, scoria, and obsidian are all types of igneous rock.
You probably notice some of these rocks have round bubble-like holes in them. These “vesicles” form when gas is trapped within the melted rock at the time it cools and turns solid.Continue reading
These colorful flowers are on a goldflame honeysuckle plant. Hummingbirds frequently visit this vine’s gorgeous flowers. In North America and Eurasia, 180 species of honeysuckle have been identified.
This delicate beauty is sweet alyssum. Sweet to see and sweet to smell. Most common as a white flower, this dwarf variety has lavender purple blossoms.
This golden-mantled ground squirrel was not exactly shy. It came right up to me looking for a snack at the High Desert Museum. Yes, it was cute but it didn’t get anything from me besides a photograph.