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

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #146: Focusing on the Details

A few weeks ago we spent a few days in middle Georgia where I enjoyed wandering around the fields of an old dairy farm. As I walked around I saw spring flowers and new growth all around me.

It was easy to spot this brightly colored thistle growing in the middle of a field.

New growth on pine tree

Many thanks to Patti for this Photo Challenge: Focusing on the Details. Please be sure to visit her original post at Lens-Artists Challenge #146: Focusing on the Details

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

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #144 – Taking Flight

This post is dedicated to the memory of my father and all of the other men of the U. S. Army Air Corps who flew American bombers in Europe and the Pacific during World War II.

When I first saw Tina’s challenge “Taking Flight” my first instinct was to feature the hummingbirds and Monarch butterflies that are flying around my yard right now. But then I thought about my Dad and how he dedicated his life to flying airplanes for the U.S. Air Force. I decided to focus on his story instead.

My Dad grew up on a small farm high up in the Appalachian mountains of West Virginia. After high school, he left the farm to find work. He had a job installing sprinkler systems which involved traveling to different locations in the U.S.

He was working in Alabama when he enlisted in the Army after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. He was told to go back to work and he would be notified of when and where he was to report. He was working on a job in Florida when he received his orders to report for Basic Training.

After completing the training the men were rated according to their ability. Dad was rated a Bomber Pilot. After flight training in various places around the country he received his wings in the Army Air Corps.

During World War II he was assigned to a base in Italy where he flew 50 missions flying the B-24 Liberator shown at the top of the page. Dad returned to the states without injury after he completed his 50 missions.

After the war, Dad made the United States Air Force his career. He flew various other airplanes throughout his career including B-52s in the 1950’s and 1960’s. He retired in the early 1970’s after about 30 years of service.

B52 – photo from one of Dad’s old slides

Flash forward to 2002. Dad and I had an opportunity to go to an exhibition which featured a restored B-24. My Dad was a big man and I was amazed at how small the inside of the plane actually was. I could only imagine how difficult it must have been for him to be in that plane for those long missions.

B24 Liberator Cockpit

I’m so grateful Dad and I had that day together. He loved seeing the plane and talking to people about his experiences.

One of few remaining B24 Liberators in 2002
One of few remaining B24 Liberators in 2002

Whenever people would thank Dad for his service he would always say “I was just doing my job.”

WILD BLUE YONDER

Off we go, into the wild blue yonder,

Climbing high, into the sun;

Here they come zooming to meet our thunder,

At ’em now, give ’em the gun!

Down we dive, spouting our flame from under,

Off with one helluva roar!

We live in fame or go down in flame. Hey!

Nothing’ll stop the U. S. Air Force!

The U. S. Air Force Song, Updated Official Lyrics 1 May 2020

Many thanks to Tina for this Photo Challenge: Taking Flight. Please be sure to visit her original post at Lens-Artists Challenge #144: Taking Flight

Photo credits: Black and white WWII B-24 Liberator and B-52 images taken by my Dad. All others by me.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #143 – Colorful April

Spring is emerging with colorful flowers all around my yard in coastal Georgia.

I was late planting seeds this year so only a few flowers are blooming in the butterfly garden. I have spotted a few Monarch butterflies but have not been able to capture a photo yet. The Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds have come back to the feeders but I haven’t been able to capture them, either.

Right now purple and orange are the only two colors in the butterfly garden. The milkweed in the garden will soon be blooming. I’m looking forward to adding a few new plants and watching the plants emerge from the seeds.

Most of the azaleas have dropped their petals but a few late bloomers are still showing off their brilliant pink color. Tiny white blossoms stand out on a huge rosemary bush.

We are adding some green to a flower bed in our front yard by adding three citrus trees. Our granddaughter and I had fun getting muddy when we planted a naval orange tree on Easter. The tree is small now but hopefully will grow quickly and produce fruit in a few years.

Many thanks to Amy for this weeks Lens-Artists Challenge #143: Colorful April

Thanks also to Marsha for her challenge Sunday Stills: Emerging