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Courtyard Chickadees

Courtyard Chickadees

We moved into our new home in July 2013 and our courtyard remained a sand pit til the late fall. Susannah Davis of Davis Land Design in Marion designed the courtyard and it was worth waiting for. We had definite ideas of what we wanted including a small pond, a fireplace, and butterfly and bird attracting plants and shrubs. Susannah and her team were able to achieve them all. We took one of our bird houses from our Lakeville backyard and placed it in the courtyard. It was like one of those “build it and they will come” miracles. The chickadees appeared around May 10th and together, Dick...

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New Houses

New Houses

With the beginning of spring and all the exciting life and growth in the garden, I felt inspired to blog again. My mind races ahead and I want to share our backyard adventures, but practicality sets in and most of them remain just a memory or a story or photo for another time. I wanted to be true to this blog as I originally envisioned it with a focus on nature and photography, centered on my favorite place to photograph-our own backyard. As my husband's illness has progressed, I have prioritized  spending time with and caring  for him and writing on a more personal level on his lotsahelpinghands...

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The Marketplace at Vernon

The Marketplace at Vernon

While we were in France we visited the town of Vernon, situated on the banks of the River Seine about 70 km from Paris. We spent most of our time in the village of Giverny, so visiting Vernon (population 25,000), was like venturing off to the big city. They hold an outdoor marketplace twice a week which covers a 16 block area in the town center. It was filled with everything from live chickens and parakeets and luscious fruits and vegetables, to brilliant cloth and stylish dresses. There was ready to eat barbecue chicken and raw fish. There were shoppers overflowing onto the streets. The scene...

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Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly

Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly

The swallowtail family of butterflies are my favorite.Their large wings, graceful shape, and colorful markings lure me into the garden. The butterflies are lured into the garden by various larval plants, each specific to their species.The eastern black swallowtail favors parsley, dill or fennel as its host plant and we have had caterpillars on all three.A few years ago the Tripps from Windy Hill Farm gave me some bronze fennel plants from their garden. They are very sturdy plants which reach 3 feet in height.  Probably due to their prominance in the garden,  I now find most of the black swallowtails...

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French Farm/Countryside

French Farm/Countryside

These photos were all shot at a 16th century farm near Giverny, France. Most of them were shot in HDR (High Dynamic Range) mode.We took three photos of the same image at different shutter speeds. We then combined the photos with a software process to bring out the details in both the shadows and the highlights to get a deeper range of color.This ancient farm was the perfect setting to experiment with the HDR process with the varied textures and contrasts of the rustic buildings.We also enjoyed photographing the beautiful French countryside. Everywhere we went you could see these incredible fields...

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Monarch Butterfly

On these crisp, sunny, fall days we have had a dozen or more monarch butterflies hangin' out in our backyard .They prefer to cluster on the purple buddleia bushes, which this late in the season are more like  trees. We have really been enjoying the dance of the monarchs as they flutter overhead before they head off on their miraculous journey! Through the years we have participated in tagging the monarchs in the fall season through the Monarch Watch program sponsored by the University of Kansas. Researchers use these tags  to track the butterflies migration to Mexico. We've also raised monarch...

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Turkeys, Chipmunks & Spiders, Oh My!

Turkeys, Chipmunks & Spiders, Oh My!

There are a flock of wild turkeys which roam our neighborhood.Last fall when a section of our fence came down in the hurricane, they visited our backyard.We recently found them on our front lawn, followed them to the neighbors yard, and made sure they all successfully crossed the street!   We have a family of chipmunks who live in the stone wall by the garden and entertain us with their antics!       This is one of the largest spider webs I have ever seen! Look who took over the wren's house!

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Monet’s House & Gardens

Monet’s House & Gardens

Monet's distinctive pink stucco house with green trim overlooks a one hectare (2 and one half acre) walled garden. The flower garden is known as Le Clos Normand. On either side of the central path, there are multiple paths with exquisite flower beds in an array of colors that both contrast and complement each other. Vertical arbors are used for climbing vines.We had the pleasure of photographing in the garden for 5 days and made new discoveries every day! You can see why impressionist artist Claude Monet used his gardens at Giverny as inspiration for his works. Please see my blog post of 6/24/12...

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Tree Frogs

One night, a couple of years ago, we heard the most unusual, intense, shrill call from the wild. Being adventurers at heart, we donned flashlights and headed outside to track the call. The loud chorus made it easy to pinpoint the culprit- a gray tree frog! It was in the tree by our pond and he has once again found a home in our tree this summer. As their name implies, gray tree frogs spend much of their lives high off the ground, living in trees and shrubs. They are nocturnal creatures, only becoming active after dark to feed on moths, crickets and we hope mosquitoes! They move about the trees...

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Return of the House Wrens

Return of the House Wrens

It's been difficult to spend much time in the backyard as our lives have been overrun with radiation and chemo treatments, negotiating doctor's appointments, health insurance, pharmacies, closing a business, and the like. About 2 weeks ago, I decided that we needed to give ourselves at least a fifteen minute break in the garden each day. The very first day, we were rewarded with finding a new family of house wrens who had moved into our birdhouse! Please see my blog of March 10, 2012 in the Archives entitled,"Nesting House Wrens" for information on the nesting pattern of the wrens. If anyone can identify...

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