Autumn leaves

I’m intrigued by autumn leaves – so many shapes, sizes, colors, and textures, and always changing. When I look closely at individual leaves they often strike me as true works of art. Here is a sampling from the backyard.

The bur oak leaves are our largest – some are over twelve inches long.

bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa) leaf
Bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa) leaf

This close-up reminds me of an aerial photograph.

bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa) leaf close-up
Bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa) leaf close-up

The blueberry (Vaccinium simulatum) leaves create a bright splash in the garden right now.

blueberry (Vaccinium simulatum) leaves
Blueberry (Vaccinium simulatum) leaves

This mitten-shape-leaf on the young sassafras is one of many variations on the same tree.

sassafras (Sassafras albidum) leaf
Sassafras (Sassafras albidum) leaf

I like the jewel tones of these small fragrant sumac (Rhus aromatica) leaves.

Fragrant sumac (Rhus aromatica) leaves
Fragrant sumac (Rhus aromatica) leaves

Photography note: These images were made with my small point-and-shoot Canon Power Shot SD1200 – macro setting without a tripod. I like to see the light coming through the leaves and used a 60 watt bulb to backlight all the images except the bur oak leaf (first image).

Pink grass

This was the view from the dining room window this morning. I was enjoying the sun on the prairie dropseed (bottom right) and Indian grass (left of middle). Then I noticed the the soft pink blooms of the muhly grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris).

Prairie Dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepsis), Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris), and Indian Grass (Sorghastrum nutans)

What a delightful, unexpected surprise! It’s a new plant and when I looked at it recently I saw no sign of it blooming. I was thinking it might need to be replaced. Now I’ve decided it’s a keeper.

Close-up of pink muhly grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris)

The bloom appears airy and delicate and reminds me of pink cotton candy – a bit of magic in the garden. I’m glad it’s proving to be  sturdy and drought tolerant – the backyard is sooooo dry right now.

I am quite fond of my native grasses. I like the way they catch and change with the light and how they bend with the wind. It’s nice to know they will still be around when the summer flowers are gone.

Seeing more with a camera

Autumn colors are here and beauty abounds. I find that using a camera helps me focus and notice nuances I would otherwise miss. For example, we are enjoying the fall colors in our tupelo tree (Nyssa sylvatica), also called black gum.

Tupelo also known as Black Gum (Nyssa sylvatica)

However, until I photographed it I hadn’t noticed the rich mixture of red, orange and green leaves and the dark contrasting branches.

Close-up of red and green tupelo leaves in fall

Using a camera helps me see things that would otherwise escape my notice. I recently wrote an article for the Lexington Chevy Chaser encouraging people to use a camera to see more.

I’d be glad to know if you have had similar experiences. I’d also like to hear other ideas for seeing and enjoying the beauty that’s close at hand.

October butterflies

It’s October and I’m still enjoying butterflies in the backyard.

The New England Aster (Aster novae-angliae) has recently been a magnet for butterflies and bees. It was great fun this past Saturday to observe bumble bees (large, medium, and small), honey bees, and butterflies including cabbage, pearl crescent, and several different skippers. I also managed to capture these images.

orange sulphur butterfly (Colias eurytheme) on New England Aster

I see Orange Sulphurs (Colias eurytheme) fairly often and enjoy their bright spots of color.

gray hairstreak (Strymon melinus)

Gray Hairstreaks (Strymon melinus) are less common and seeing them is a special treat.

varigated fritillary (Euptoieta claudia)

I was especially glad to see a variegated fritillary (Euptoieta claudia) for the first time this year.

Since Saturday, daytime temperatures have dropped to the 50s and 60s. Was this my last backyard butterfly show of the year? If so, it was a good one.