Thursday, December 17, 2015

Bring Me Purple Pansies

O give me not red roses,
That early dews have wet!
They speak to me of kisses
That are remembered yet.
O bring me not white roses,
That summer winds have drest!
For once I placed white roses
Upon a quiet breast.

But bring me purple pansies ...
If so you wish to please ...
For them I have affection ...
For pansies are "heart's ease."

— Louisa Cooke Don-Carlos

Friday, December 4, 2015

The Ugly Duckling Tree

I was delighted when I came across this tree recently while rambling around Vicksburg.  I couldn't resist stopping to capture it with my camera.

I had never seen one of these trees and after doing a little research, I discovered that it is called a "Chinese Pistache" tree. Known as the “Ugly Duckling” of the tree world, the Chinese Pistache starts out as an unattractive and misshapen young tree but grows into a magnificent specimen. It is a tough tree that can withstand urban conditions and is commonly used in dry landscaping. This tree is popular in California and is often put to use as the understock for commercial pistachio growers.

From a distance it is magnificent, but up close its gorgeous orange leaves and clusters of red berries are truly breathtaking.


Click on the following link if you’d like to know more about this magnificent tree.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Powerful Words

These eloquent and poignant words of the fourth and last verse of our national anthem, written by Francis Scott Key in 1814, couldn't be more fitting today. It's a shame that this verse is seldom sung at public events, because ... in light of the way things are in today's world ... I think its words would touch the hearts of all Americans who love this great country of ours.

They touched MY heart and inspired me to share these powerful words here, and offer them as a prayer for America:

"May the heav'n rescued land Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto:  'In God is our trust.'"

And may God please save America from those who want to destroy it.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

A visit with an Ebony Jewelwing Damselfly

We recently had a visitor at the water feature in our courtyard and, at first glance, I thought it was a butterfly. But upon closer inspection, I saw that it was a brightly-colored creature that resembled a dragonfly. 

I grabbed my cameras and took about 500 shots of the little guy, who was fluttering in the shade amongst our azaleas. As I watched him through the lens of my camera, I became more and more curious about what kind of insect he was, and thanks to Google images and this website (…/ecology/ebony_jewelwing.htm), I discovered that he is an Ebony Jewelwing Damselfly.

Damselflies are closely related to dragonflies and they look very much alike. The easiest way to tell dragonflies and damselflies apart is to look at the wings. Dragonfly wings stick straight out from the body when the dragonfly is resting. Damselfly wings usually fold back above the body.

I determined that ours is a male because, according to the article about Jewelwings, male Jewelwings are larger and have a big black head, green body, and black wings. Females also have black wings, but they have a lighter colored body. They also have a white spot on their wings.

Out of close to 500 pictures, I managed to find a few I think are worthy of sharing. The next time you are in a shady spot in your yard, you might be surprised to find that you have a damselfly, too!


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Hello, Sunshine!

After several days of heavy rains and stormy weather, the sun made a welcome appearance in Vicksburg today. I walked around our yard this afternoon and was delighted to see my Louisiana Swamp Irises blooming.  I guess they felt right at home in our soggy flowerbed.


Saturday, May 16, 2015

Hummingbirds 2015

Our hummingbirds are becoming active again after their brief time out for nesting.  I put fresh nectar in the feeders yesterday and this little one couldn't get enough ...


A few interesting facts I found about hummingbirds:

Hummingbirds are very intelligent, and are able to remember places and individual people from one year to the next. 

For a hummer that hatched during the summer, there's no memory of past migrations, only an urge to put on a lot of weight and fly in a particular direction for a certain amount of time, then look for a good place to spend the winter. Once it learns such a route, a bird may retrace it every year as long as it lives (just think about the "awesomeness" of that!).

The initial urge is triggered by the shortening length of sunlight as autumn approaches, and has nothing to do with temperature or the availability of food; in fact, hummingbirds migrate south at the time of greatest food abundance.

When the bird is fat enough, it migrates (most hummingbirds of the United States and Canada migrate south in fall to spend the winter in Mexico or Central America).

It's not necessary to take down feeders to force hummingbirds to leave, and in the fall all the birds at your feeder are already migrating anyway. Hummers can remember food sources from previous years, and if you remove your feeder, birds will just feed elsewhere, but may not bother to return to your yard the next year.

Hummingbird expert Lanny Chambers recommends continuing to maintain feeders until freezing becomes a problem.

Hummingbirds can fly right, left, up, down, backwards, and even upside down.

They do not spend all day flying, as the energy expended would be prohibitive; the majority of their activity consists simply of sitting or perching.

Hummingbirds feed in many small meals, consuming up to five times their own body weight in nectar each day. To do so, they must visit hundreds of flowers daily.

At any given moment, they are only hours away from starving. They spend an average of 10-15 percent of their time feeding and 75-80 percent sitting and digesting.

Hummingbird bills are long and tapered, perfectly suited for probing into the center of tubular flowers and feeders for the nectar, which they take up at the rate of about 13 licks a second. Often one can see long translucent tongues spilling out of their long beaks, licking the air, as they approach bright colored flowers.

It is very important to keep fresh sugar water in our feeders and keep them clean. Only white granulated sugar is proven safe to use in hummingbird feeders. A ratio of one cup sugar to four cups water is a common recipe. Boiling and then cooling this mixture before use is recommended to help deter the growth of bacteria.  The nectar should be changed every two or three days to ensure freshness.  

Sources:, by Lanny Chambers, St. Louis, Missouri
The Hummingbird Web Site, Larry & Terrie Gates
Journey North Hummingbirds

Thursday, April 30, 2015

A Glorious Day in the Neighborhood!

Yesterday was a truly glorious day in Vicksburg, with brilliant blue skies, fluffy white clouds, the birds were singing and the bees were buzzing, Spring bursting out all over, and morning temperatures hovering in the low 60s … a perfect day for a photo shoot.
After spending the morning driving around town, I headed to the National Cemetery in the Military Park. The southern magnolia trees were magnificent! They seemed to be standing taller, their leaves a darker, richer green, and their buds and blossoms even more exquisite than all the ones that have gone before them. 


Unfortunately, most of the blossoms were in the tops of the trees, as if they were seeking the warmth of the sun, so it was difficult to get good pictures of them. I did manage, with the help of my zoom lens, to capture a few that were keepers, in my humble opinion.




I'm looking forward to capturing more pictures of magnolia blossoms soon when I can find a tree that has some closer to the ground.  

I hope you are having beautiful Spring days where you live and are taking time to enjoy them.  Summer will be here before we know it!