This morning I took a lap around the property with camera in hand. Here’s what I found.

Common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)

Common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)


The “regular” milkweed is in bloom now. I have a lot of this stuff on our land now. When we first moved here, there were only three or four plants, but I let it grow. This year there are about a hundred of them. I’ve been eating them too, and like them very much!

But not as much as these:

Blueberries! (Vaccinium angustifoilium)

Blueberries! (Vaccinium angustifoilium)


There are a lot of lowbush blueberry plants here, mostly in the woods (as were these). They do not produce a lot of fruit though, probably because they are in the woods where they don’t get a lot of sun.

The dewdrops are still blooming:

Dewdrop (Dalibarda repens)

Dewdrop (Dalibarda repens)

And the sarsaparilla’s are producing fruit:

Sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis) fruit

Sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis) fruit


The roots of sarsaparilla can be used to make a root beer, but the fruits are not edible.

The berries on the wintergreen plants that still have them are huge. They are about the size of a pencil eraser most of the year, but these two were the size of dimes.

Huge wintergreen berries

Huge wintergreen berries

The wintergreen is getting ready to bloom. This one was the farthest along of any I saw today. I expect that by the end of the holiday weekend, they will open.

Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens) ready to bloom

Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens) ready to bloom

I guess I post a photo of this flower every year:

Dewdrop (Dalibarda repens)

Dewdrop (Dalibarda repens)


because it is one of my favorites. Every year I post this, I say the same thing – that this is the flower that taught me how to use a camera.

I used to have a Canon A85, which was a nice point-and-shoot, but it absolutely could not capture a decent image of this flower when left to its own automatic devices. Also, I didn’t really know what I was doing. I learned a few things right away: don’t use flash for macro shots. Also, use the macro setting when taking a macro shot. Also, “macro” means “close to the subject.” I also learned not to use the zoom in a macro shot.

These days, I put the camera about an inch from any macro subject – or how ever close I can get and fill the frame.

Those were the easy lessons. The harder ones were to set the exposure time manually, what the ISO setting does (I set mine as low as I can), and what the f-stop does (I try to max that out, even though a lot of people like low f-stops for macros – I’m not one of those people!)

With the f-stop maxed and the ISO minimized, that means the exposure time has to be long, and long exposures blur unless the camera is held perfectly still. So I use a tiny tripod. But when I press the button, the camera shakes, and that can blur the image too. So I make it wait two seconds after I release the button before it takes the picture.

Lastly (for now), if the camera won’t autofocus on the subject because it’s too small, I place my finger in the frame as near the subject as I can, and then let the AF do its thing by pressing the “take the picture” button halfway down. Then I move my finger out of the way. If I bumped the subject, I wait for it to stop moving. Then I press the button the rest of the way down.

But it was this plant that taught me all of that.

This morning I took Penny for a lap around the property. I brought my camera along.

In bringing the camera from the air-conditioned house to the humid, sweltering July heat, the lens fogged up. I took a few “soft” shots courtesy of this effect, but the mosquitoes were trying to carry me off. So I set the camera on the deck, went in, and grabbed some Off. After applying it liberally, I grabbed the camera and tried again. By then the lens had warmed up and the fog on it had lifted. Here are the results.

Dewdrop (Dalibarda repens)

Dewdrop (Dalibarda repens)


I finally found some dewdrop flowers that were not horribly misshapen. I am relatively pleased with this shot.

We’ve been getting a lot of rain for the past couple of weeks, and as a result, I have several pools of standing water in the woods (which explains the mosquitoes). Smack in the middle of one puddle was this blueberry bush bearing a modest amount of berries. I ate them after taking this shot.

Lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium)

Lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium)

The wintergreen is starting to bloom. I didn’t see any with open flowers, but they are very close. I like this shot because it shows two plants – one with flowers, and one still sporting a berry. Wintergreen hangs onto its fruit through the winter and even to the point when it flowers (as shown here).

Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens)

Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens)

I liked this mushroom. I haven’t tried to id it.

I don't do mushrooms, but here's one anyhow.

I don’t do mushrooms, but here’s one anyhow.

I was hoping to see some Indian pipe, and was not disappointed. This is the second of two clumps I found (the other clump being a solitary flower).

Indian pipe (Monotropa uniflora)

Indian pipe (Monotropa uniflora)


These plants are parasitic on the roots of other plants, and they produce no chlorophyll of their own. That’s why they are white.

Whorled loosestrife (Lysimachia quadrifolia)

Whorled loosestrife (Lysimachia quadrifolia)


The loosestrife is still going strong. I thought this shot in full sun came out pretty OK!

Saint John's wort (Hypericum perforatum)

Saint John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum)

As did this shot of some common Saint John’s wort.

Mouse-ear hawkweed (Hieracium pilosella)

Mouse-ear hawkweed (Hieracium pilosella)

This might be garlic mustard, or it could be some other mustard. I pulled it up after photographing it, as I don’t want it taking over.

Some kind of mustard (Brassica spp)

Some kind of mustard (Brassica spp)

There were several clumps of white campion here and there about the yard, but this one was in the shade giving a softer light more conducive to photography.

White campion (Silene latifolia)

White campion (Silene latifolia)

This one surprised me. I haven’t seen it growing on my property before. Samuel Thayer adamantly avows that these are quite edible (they have a reputation for being poisonous). However, he has eaten them many times, and they are a staple in many places (Africa, for one). Thayer thinks their reputation come from people who misidentify it and eat something else in the Solanum genus that is poisonous (but I don’t remember what). There are lots of Solanum’s out there, and many are poisonous.

Black nightshade (Solanum nigrum)

Black nightshade (Solanum nigrum)

Here’s some spreading dogbane. You can distinguish is from “regular” dogbane (A. cannabinum) by the way the petals recurve.

Spreading dogbane (Apocynum androsaemifolium)

Spreading dogbane (Apocynum androsaemifolium)

I also found some heal-all in bloom.

Heal-all (Prunella vulgaris)

Heal-all (Prunella vulgaris)


It’s been in bloom for a while, but this was the first time I had time to shoot it.

The eastern phoebes we found in that canoe a couple of weeks ago aren’t there any more. I don’t know if they met an ill end or if they have fledged and gone, but in their place we found these today:

Another Eastern Phoebe clutch

Another Eastern Phoebe clutch

I took a lap around my woods to see if the dewdrops had bloomed yet. A few had!

Dewdrop (Dalibarda repens)

Dewdrop (Dalibarda repens)

The wintergreen is still bearing last year’s berries. They seem to get bigger just before they drop. This one was about 50% larger (in diameter) than they are in the fall.

Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens)

Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens)

I also found that the partridge berry was in bloom…

Partridge berry (Mitchella repens)

Partridge berry (Mitchella repens)

…as was the whorled loosestrife…

Whorled loosestrife (Lysimachia quadrifolia)

Whorled loosestrife (Lysimachia quadrifolia)

…and the cow wheat.

Cow wheat (Melampyrum lineare)

Cow wheat (Melampyrum lineare)

David and I took Penny down to Sandogardy Pond. I wanted to see if the sheep laurel was in bloom. It was. This might be the best shot I’ve ever gotten of it.

Sheep laurel (Kalmia angustifolia)

Sheep laurel (Kalmia angustifolia)

The beach at the pond was covered with these guys:

Pickerel frog  (Rana palustris)

Pickerel frog (Rana palustris)


I think they are pickerel frogs, but it could also be some other species. They were so small that David thought they were insects at first glance. I knew better because I’ve seen them here before. They were only about a quarter inch long, and as we walked along the beach they were jumping out of the way. There were thousands of them.

The dewdrops (Dalibarda repens) are doing really well this year at my place. When I first found them, they were confined to one little clump next to my path. Then another year later, I found another much smaller clump, and the year after that I found another batch as well. But this year they seem to have spread all over the lower half of my west woods. And since I cannot resist their lure, you will have to look at more photos of dewdrops.

Dewdrop (Dalibarda repens)

Dewdrop (Dalibarda repens)


Dewdrop (Dalibarda repens)

Dewdrop (Dalibarda repens)


Dewdrop (Dalibarda repens)

Dewdrop (Dalibarda repens)

But I also have other flowers for you too. I went to Sandogardy Pond (again) yesterday with Penny and took these:

Arrowhead (Sagittaria graminea)

Arrowhead (Sagittaria graminea)

Arrowhead (Sagittaria graminea)

Arrowhead (Sagittaria graminea)


I’m pretty sure this one is not as far along as the one before. I guess the stamens disappear and turn into a little green ball after it’s pollinated. I can assure you though that they are both the same species.

The “purpose” of my walk (other than that I like walking there) was to find some floating heart (Nymphoides cordata) in bloom and get some photos of that. This one is a little tricky. It grows in water that’s a little too deep for my tiny tripod, and much too deep for my shoes. And if the blooms get wet, they turn transparent. I found a few transparent flowers, but since that doesn’t make a very compelling photograph, I didn’t take one. But I did take a shot of some of their foliage:

Floating heart (Nymphoides cordata)

Floating heart (Nymphoides cordata)


The water level was down here, so these leaves were lying on the ground. They normally float, and thus the name “floating heart.” I will keep trying to get a decent shot of the flowers, and next time I see a transparent one, I’ll try to photograph that too so you know what I’m talking about.

Penny and I did a little bushwhacking when we left the banks of the pond. It would have been easier to go back the way I came, but I thought I might see something Ihaven’t seen before if I took the non-road less travelled. I was right.

Unknown!

Unknown!


I don’t know what this is. I will probably try to find it in one of my books later tonight (unless any helpful New Hampshire Gardeners can tell me before then).

Hint, hint!

Yesterday I went for a walk at lunchtime, and I became the lunch. There is a trail around exit 13 on I-93, and I had been there one time before. It’s about a mile hike from the office to there. At a brisk rate, I can be there in 20 minutes, spend 20 minutes poking around with the camera, and then hike back in 20 minutes. But the mosquitoes are thick! They nearly carried me off.

This trail is right along the Merrimack, but it doesn’t offer views of the river. Maybe that’s why I don’t go there more often. There was also plenty of noise offered by the Interstate, and I’m sure that played into it as well. A little deet would have warded off the mosquitoes, so that’s not much of an issue.

Here are some of the plants I found while there.

Fringed loosestrife (Lysimachia ciliata)

Fringed loosestrife (Lysimachia ciliata)


This is Fringed loosestrife (Lysimachia ciliata). The blooms nod, so you have to get beneath them and shoot up at the sky to capture their “fronts”. Here’s what they look like from a normal perspective:
Fringed loosestrife (Lysimachia ciliata)

Fringed loosestrife (Lysimachia ciliata)

This is the plant I thought I saw at Sandogardy the other day, but it turned out to be swamp milkweed instead.

Joe Pye weed (Eutrochium purpureum)

Joe Pye weed (Eutrochium purpureum)


I was surprised when I looked it up to see that the genus has changed from Eupatorium to Eutrochium. This is recent. I learned it as Eupatorium, which is the same genus as boneset (E. perfoliatum). The difference between the two genera is that one has whorled leaves (Eutrochium), while the other has opposite leaves (Eupatorium).

Here’s what it looks like from farther back.

Joe Pye weed (Eutrochium purpureum)

Joe Pye weed (Eutrochium purpureum)

It wasn’t long after I took that shot that I gave it up and beat a path back to the sidewalk to escape the mosquitoes. One nailed me behind the earlobe, but most of them bit my hands. One tried to get my nose right under the bridge of my glasses, but I managed to murder it first.

Here are some shots I took in my woods.

Moss

Moss


I used to know what kind of moss this is, but I don’t remember now, and I am not going to look it up (bad blogger!) This shows the reproductive bits. Those capsules will spew spores all over the place sometime soon. I think they look other-worldly.

And I can’t resist another shot of the dewdrops (Dalibard repens).

Dewdrop (Dalibarda repens)

Dewdrop (Dalibarda repens)

Earlier his week while I was walking around the church yard, I spotted a common mullein (Verbascum thapsus) in bloom. Michael (a youngster in our congregation) was tagging along, and he spotted this goldenrod crab spider (Misumena vatia) on the plant before I did.

Goldenrod crab spider (Misumena vatia)

Goldenrod crab spider (Misumena vatia)


These spiders have the ability to change their color from white to yellow, and all shades in between. They will typically match the color of the petals, but I have seen them match the color of a flower’s styles as well. Tricky little beasts they are!

Here are some other shots I have taken this week.

Cow wheat (Melampyrum lineare)

Cow wheat (Melampyrum lineare)


Pipewort (Eriocaulon aquaticum)

Pipewort (Eriocaulon aquaticum)


Yet Another Dewdrop (Dalibarda repens)

Yet Another Dewdrop (Dalibarda repens)


Indian tobacco (Lobelia inflata)

Indian tobacco (Lobelia inflata)


St John's wort (Hypericum perforatum)

St John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum)


My week has been a little off. On Sunday we took Beth up to Maine for summer camp. We haven’t heard from her since then, which feels pretty weird. I have enjoyed the quiet, but I have missed my little girl! I will go fetch her on Sunday.

I’ve been riding my bicycle some this week. Wednesday I got it out and turned left out of my driveway to ride straight up a long, steep hill. It goes up and up and up for about a mile. That will take the wind out of any guy with too much tummy. The ride down was over in an instant though.

One of the things I want to be able to do is ride my bike into Franklin and then back. Not that there’s anything so great about Franklin – it’s just a destination.

When I got home I looked at some topographic maps with the idea that if I had turned right (downhill) out of my driveway instead of left (uphill), and then hung two more rights, I would be on Oak Hill Road, which also goes to Franklin, but it is closer to the river. I figure that since it’s closer to the river, it should have less in the way of hills. The topo confirmed this.

So on Thursday, I figured go I’d try going that route, although not all the way to Franklin. Instead, I was planning to do a circuit. The problem is that Oak Hill is connected to Shaw Rd (where I live) by Gile Rd, and that road climbs 60 meters in about a kilometer – 200 ft in a half mile. That is one steep, hill. It’s basically the sum of the hill I went up on Wednesday, plus the hill I’d go down leaving my driveway. But I did it anyhow. That climb was brutal. The circuit was 8.3 miles, which is pretty much all I can do when there are 10% uphill grades involved.

I did it again today.

I think when Beth gets back, we may have to try the trip to Franklin. If we stick to Oak Hill Rd, I think we can manage it. Especially if we stop for ice cream when we get to Franklin.