Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #160 – Your Inspiration

Our host Patti has challenged us to show what our inspiration looks like. I find my inspiration in the natural world.

In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.

John Muir

Starting the day by watching the sun rise adds inspiration to any day.

The richness I achieve comes from Nature, the source of my inspiration.

Claude Monet
Black Eyed Susans
Sunflower on a sunny July Day
Gulf Fritillary on Mexican Sunflower

The natural beauty found in America’s National Parks never ceases to inspire me.

Grand Canyon North Rim Roosevelt Point
Giant Redwood in Redwoods National Park
Hot Spring, Yellowstone National Park
Half Dome in Yosemite National Park, California

If you truly love nature you will find beauty everywhere.

Vincent Van Gogh
Spoonbill and Snowy Egret
White tail deer
Great Egret

The weekly challenges from the gifted lens-artists hosts Tina, Ann-Christine, Patti and Amy always inspire me to be a better photographer. I’m also inspired by all of the talented WordPress bloggers who respond to the challenge with their wonderful photographs.

Many thanks to Patti for this challenge. Be sure to visit her original post at Lens-Artists challenge #160: Your Inspiration.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #147: Gardens

Mother’s Day was very special this year. We spent the weekend with our daughter and her family in Virginia after not seeing them for a year and a half.

On Mother’s Day I spent the morning enjoying the beautiful gardens our daughter has created around their house. While she was busy planting plants I wandered around snapping pictures. There aren’t many flowers yet but when they bloom the colors will be spectacular.

Their back yard has a steep hill that used to be all grass. Over a period of several years she has transferred much of their back yard into a beautiful, peaceful space with a chair for relaxing and watching the birds, butterflies, and an occasional bunny that come to the garden.

In the front of the house are more flower beds. Underneath the Dogwood tree is a chair for lounging and nearby is a birdbath for the birds.

It was wonderful to spend Mother’s Day with my daughter and her family. After she finished her garden chores we went for a walk around a nearby pond. Our son-in-law prepared a delicious dinner and my daughter made a carrot cake for desert. It doesn’t get much better than that!

Many thanks to Amy for challenging us to show the beauty of gardens this week. Please be sure to visit her original post at Lens-Artists Challenge #147: Gardens

Hungry Monarch Caterpillars

Our Lens-Artists challenge from guest host Priscilla at Scillagrace is to “present a “Getting To Know You” post showing your relationship with a subject you’ve photographed. The subject could be a Person, a Place, a Culture, an Object…anything that has captured your attention, won your affection and taught you a thing or two.”

I’ve always enjoyed watching butterflies as they fly from one flower to another so I planted a butterfly garden several years ago. The more I watched them the more I wanted to learn about them. Monarchs frequently fly through the area to feed and lay their eggs on milkweed plants.

Monarch butterflies will feed on many different nectar plants. I have found Mexican Sunflowers to be a favorite for them and many other varieties of butterflies. By summer the garden will be covered with zinnias, Mexican Sunflowers, coneflowers, and other nectar plants.

Right now my garden is in it’s early stages with very few blooms. I’m afraid the few Monarch butterflies that have come by my garden have been disappointed in the slim pickings. The only nectar plant blooming right now is a single Mexican sunflower with multiple blooms. I’ve been watching the butterflies drink their fill.

Monarch butterfly on Mexican Sunflower

Every year I enjoy getting to know the caterpillars before they move on to become butterflies. I’ve learned their job is to eat so they have the strength to transform into a chrysalis.

The only plant that Monarch caterpillars feed on is milkweed (Asclepias). This year the female Monarchs laid their eggs on just about every available milkweed leaf they could find. The eggs hatched into tiny caterpillars and for the second year in a row they have devoured every leaf on every milkweed plant.

I observed the first group of caterpillars for several days and observed how quickly they grew before crawling off to make their chrysalis.

The caterpillars like to spin their chrysalis in a safe place and I very rarely can find them. Hopefully all the these caterpillars will emerge as beautiful Monarchs.

Many thanks to Priscilla at Scillagrace.com for this Photo Challenge. Please be sure to visit her original post at Lens-Artists Challenge #145: Getting to Know You