Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Stitching, Winterizing, and Walking

Do you know how hard it is to chose the text color for each post?  Am I the only one who obsesses about that? Probably.

Anyway, I've stitched up most of the border of "Boo Sampler".  It's pretty smashing I think. 

The last couple of days have been lovely, lovely, lovely - our little bit of Indian Summer finally.  I began "winterizing" some of the plants on the back patio yesterday.  I finally stopped thinking about it, and started doing it!  My plan is to get the back patio under control, then move on to the front porch. 

I did manage to stroll about the property for an hour or so...

I was most pleased to see one of these guys - a Banded Woolly Bear Caterpillar (Pyrrharctia isabella).  Local folklore maintains that "woolly bears" have the ability to predict the weather, similar to that of the Groundhog. The forthcoming severity of a winter may be indicated by the amount of black on the Isabella tiger moth's caterpillar - the most familiar woolly bear in North America.  It is thought that more brown than black means a fair winter, but more black than brown means a harsh winter.  Hm-mm...there's more black than brown on this guy!
Give my sister a lawnmower with a full tank of gas, and she goes out and blazes trails like Sacagawea on the way to the Pacific Ocean!  Her latest trail unearthed a new tree - an English Hawthorn.  I should be able to see it out the window as I sit and type, but all I see are the Sweetgums and Douglas Fir trees.  We will keep an eye on it - in the Spring it should be covered with white blossoms.   

The Filberts have produced their nuts, the Steller's Jays have eaten them all!  Now the Filberts are busy producing catkins.  Male catkins are pale yellow and 5–12 cm long, while female catkins are very small and largely concealed in the buds with only the bright red 1–3 mm long styles visible. The single sex catkins are wind pollinated. The flowers are produced very early in spring, before the leaves.  The nuts are ripe some eight months later.

This is a close-up of the Filbert male catkins.

This Dogwood is showing some stress as its leaves curl before turning color.  But what I liked about it was how it so clearly showed off the green fruit at the tip of each branch.

This is a close up of the Dogwood's green fruit.  The fruit of some of the hybridized Dogwoods turns a wonderful pink-red as it ripens.  I'll keep watching to see if these do as well. 

With cooler and wetter weather at the beginning of this month, we now have mushrooms erupting out of the ground.

It's been great weather for mosses too.  If you look closely there are two kinds of moss in this photo. A lighter green feathery moss on top, and a darker green-yellow moss on the bottom.  The darker green might be Ribbed Bog Moss (Aulacomnium palustre).   

The Oak Galls are abundant too.  If dry they become brittle and make a most satisfying "POP" sound when smashed with one's foot.  Thus, as children, we called them Pop Balls.  

But they are actually habitat for a small wasp.  I opened the one on the bottom left so you could see inside. 
The larvae of most gall wasps develop in plant galls they induce themselves.  The plant galls develop directly after the female insect lays the eggs. The inducement for the gall formation is largely unknown; there has been speculation as to chemical, mechanical and viral triggers. The hatching larvae nourish themselves with the nutritive tissue of the galls, in which they are otherwise well-protected from external environmental effects. The host plants and the size and shape of the galls are specific to the majority of gall wasps - about 70% of the known species live in various types of oak tree.

And that's it for today's walk!


Penny said...

Your Boo Sampler is looking good. I enjoy all of the catkins, mushrooms, mosses ~ a lot of interesting things in nature. Hoping that maybe the Woolly Bear is wrong about the harsh winter. :)

Mouse said...

ooo sampler is looking good ... love the pop balls ... and hope the winter isn't as harsh as the little caterpillar predicts ....the weather here is a bit topsy turvey as my next door neighbour has had a crocus bloom and flower !!! but today is sunny but brrrrrrrr ... love mouse xxxx

Ann at Beadlework. said...

I enjoyed my "walk" with you today. I particularly liked the caterpillar and I love it's name.

Anonymous said...

I can't tell you enough how much I love your nature walks. I am so fasinated with the galls.
Needless to say, the caperpillars are amazing. I have never seen in nature a caterpillar in it's cocoon. I did have an opportunity many years ago while living in Atlanta, GA to go to Calloway gardens butterfly menagary. I have a great picture of me with a butterfly setting on my finger. One of my all time favs.