Lady Banks, Laurie, and Critters

lady banks rose

Lady Banks, Laurie, and Critters

Lady Banks, Laurie, and critters: what more could a day in May need to be perfect? This old species rose was breathtakingly beautiful in the late afternoon light. Many different roses are doing well this year. But this one was spectacular!

lady banks rose
Soft yellow beauty!
lady banks rose
This rose grows to be quite large!

Laurie adding to the spirit of the day:

lady banks rose
Laurie with Lady Banks Rose

In addition, this little damsel fly seemed to want to be photographed:

damsel fly
Damsel Fly Too Beautiful Not to Try to Photograph

Finally, would a visit to Corrales be complete without The Man, Spunk?

Spunk
“You know it’s time-and-a-half on weekends, or I’m just going to lie here and study you.” Spunk is always adorable!

Miniature Rose Incognito

miniature rose incognito

Miniature Rose Incognito

Miniature rose Incognito has long been one of my favorites. In usual years, it produces some perfectly formed blooms. The colors are always amazing. The Albuquerque area had a very mild, dry winter. While that does not bode well for the summer and potential for fires, the spring bloom of roses has been the best I have ever seen here. I’ve been here for over 30 years. This little bloom and bud gave a delightful splash of color. Finally, the bloom had perfect form.

miniature rose incognito
Miniature Rose “Incognito”

Spring Color

Spring Color

Spring color is everywhere in Albuquerque. Everything looks so fresh. The roses are a couple of weeks ahead of schedule. Because the weather is not hot yet, the roses haven’t become crispy critters, as they sometimes do. Everything around town seems colorful and clean. Of course, nothing beats a sunrise here! A riot of floral color makes things that much better!

spring color
Miniature Rose ‘Cinnamon Delight’
spring color
Riot of Color with Spring Flowers
spring color
Brilliant Southwestern Sunrise

Days of Wind and Roses

roses "Ruby Baby

Days of Wind and Roses

Days of wind and roses certainly characterize Albuquerque in Spring. That seems to have been especially true for the wind this year. The wind has blown ferociously! Yesterday morning I was surprised to see not that a few roses were blooming, but that the blooms appeared fresh.

This little beauty is the miniature rose, “Ruby Baby,” a sport of the classic miniature, “Hot Tamale.” My “Hot Tamale” died some years ago, but “Ruby Baby” has hung on surprisingly well.

roses "Ruby Baby
Miniature Rose “Ruby Baby”

Wishing everyone a “grounded” weekend.

Spring Has Sprung

spring pansies

Spring Has Sprung: Easter and April Fool’s Day in Albuquerque, 2018

Spring has sprung in Albuquerque! Although the sky was overcast most of the day, the temperature was pleasant and no wind was blowing.

The dwarf peach ‘Bonanza’ had begun to bloom when we got a hard freeze. I was afraid no peaches would form this year. And, for a variety of reasons, I had not photographed the tree at the height of its bloom. But, one bloom was left today. An extra bonus was that I could see one or two peaches were just beginning to develop!

spring peach bloom
Bloom of Dwarf Peach ‘Bonanza’
spring developing peach
Tiny Developing Peach

Although the flowering Bradford pear trees around town have bloomed out, the pear trees in my yard have just begun to bloom. Some of you may remember that I have a pollinator pear that produces fruit the birds love. The smaller tree produces pears that people love.

spring pear blooms
Pear Blossoms

Pansies and crocus (the crocus from a couple of weeks ago) round out today’s spring offerings.

spring crocus
Crocus
spring pansies
Pansies
spring pansies
Pansies

Finally, I hope you have had a wonderful day wherever you are!

First Crocus !

crocus

First Crocus of 2018!

First crocus of spring means true Spring is not far away. A harbinger of Spring…

crocus
First Crocus of 2018

Leaf buds are already swelling on the roses. Peach buds are swelling. Weeds are already popping up. 🙂 Longer daylight is also clearly here. The crocus is small and will be short lived. But its bright color announces it presence without question and portends a colorful season ahead.

Feeling Winter

Feeling Winter

Feeling winter? The weather in Albuquerque is still that beautiful autumn weather those of us who live here love so much. But, a change – hopefully brief – is coming. You know, the cold wind and significant drop in temperature. We know we are very lucky here. Even in the midst of true Winter, we will have sunny and often warm days. But I tend to turn inward in winter. I can feel winter coming.

feeling winter
New Mexico Autumn (Click to Enlarge)

Others’ Thoughts on Feeling Winter

“October extinguished itself in a rush of howling winds and driving rain and November arrived, cold as frozen iron, with hard frosts every morning and icy drafts that bit at exposed hands and faces.”
~ J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

“But if I was still alive, I’d have a damned fine day despite the rain, despite the depression, think of something you like doing and do it!…As for me, if I was still alive, I’d have a great cup of coffee, a nice breakfast, then I’d take a drive, walk around, smoke a cigar, eye the pretty ladies…hmmm, nice lunch, yes sir! Read a good book and listen to music, maybe hang out with friends, watch some baseball on TV, love good conversation…and maybe end the night with a little romance. You know what I mean? Live, live everyday, every night, then when you get over here on the ghosty side, you’ll say like me, hey, I did pretty damned good. I hardly moped around at all. I enjoyed my precious human life to the full! Yes sir, I sucked the marrow outta them ribs! ~ Jim Stallings, If I Was Still Alive

For me, I have stockpiled what seem like endless photographs I can edit, maybe composite, play with through the cold and dark days of winter. And before Winter truly sets in, I have more photography to get done.

Finally, make the most of your day!

Hover Fly Update

Hover Fly

Hover Fly Update

Hover Fly update with commentary of Baldo Villegas, who is now retired but former State Entomologist for California. I had written him last week, but was not sure I had the correct email. Yesterday afternoon I received his response. As all of his responses, this one is full of information and also interesting and easy to understand. Baldo helps everyone! Thank you, Baldo!

The insect in the picture is a Syrphid fly, not a wasp but a mimic. These flies belong to the large family of flies called Syrphidae and are known by the common names Hover Flies or Flower Flies. Most have warning coloration resembling that of wasps or bees. In fact there is one species that is commonly called a drone fly as it looks just like a male honey bee. Most syrphid flies are predators of soft bodied insects such as aphids. A few are pests of bulbs and such and others have interesting lifecycles and are rather interesting.

Syrphid flies will visit flowers for nectar and pollen in order to help in egg production. The nectar is for the energy that they consume hovering around aphid infested plants.

Baldo’s tagline in his email is “Love Bugs, Roses and Cats …. even if the cats don’t give a hoot.” 🙂

This gives me a chance to repost the photo:

Hover Fly
Hover Fly on Mexican Sunflower. Note the specialized “suctorial proboscis.”

Pollen Wasp: No, Just a Hoverfly

Hover Fly

Pollen Wasp: No, Just a Hoverfly

Pollen wasp is something I had not known about until a few days ago. Yet, pollinators are something we talk about frequently, because of their vital importance to crops and virtually all plants on earth. I, and neighbors, try to include flowers that will attract pollinators. While we tend to think about the beauty of the the flowers, we talk less about the beauty of our pollinating friends. Yet, up close and personal, they can be beautiful and interesting.

pollen wasp hoverfly
(Pollen Wasp): Hoverfly on Mexican Sunflower. Note the specialized “suctorial proboscis.”

Regular readers and friends know that I have grown a variety of sunflowers for years. Years ago in Arizona I grew Tithonia rotundiflora (“Mexican sunflower”). It is in the same Family, Asteraceae, as our typical sunflowers. However, the genus is Tithonia rather than Helianthus. When I saw seeds in the grocery store, I thought maybe it would be fun here. So, I decided to try it. It is a fabulous plant for Albuquerque!

pollinators
Tithonia rotundiflora, “Mexican sunflower”

The other day I was out photographing the flowers. I saw a wasp on the tithonia. While I considered it a yellow jacket, its behavior seemed odd for a wasp. It almost seemed to be making love to the flower. So I kept photographing it, hoping I could understand what was going on. When I looked at the images on the computer, I saw what appeared to be a very odd mouth part. As it turns out, it is a very specialized mouth part, a “suctorial proboscis.” (These wasps – this isn’t one) are solitary vegetarians, sucking nectar and pollen from flower tubules.) As it turns out, what I took to be a wasp is, in reality, a hoverfly with also very specialized suctorial proboscis. Example here: hoverfly

The joy of photography: seeing and learning new and different things, without even trying! Last week I did not know what a pollen wasp was. Now I know what it is, and this is not one. It is a hoverfly. Now I know they also have these very specialized suctorial probosci. This week I am glad this one chose to visit my garden and allowed me to photograph it! And thanks to Anita Storino for the updated information.