Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Balcony Garden Update

The balcony garden is starting to look like a real garden and it may even begin to produce edibles next month.  It was such a cold, wet Spring that everything got a late start; pair that up with an eastern exposure that limits direct sunlight to the mornings, and things have been slow to develop.  Despite that, the green onions, Takanotsume peppers, lettuce, thyme,  marigolds, Forget-me-nots and radishes have all sprouted, as have some volunteer sunflowers.  The stapeliads are enjoying being outside and are showing new growth and one may even bloom.  I recently found a vintage wrought iron plant stand with vestiges of blue paint at a local resale shop and it looks great filled with stapeliads.  I've run out of floor space and now am looking for baskets I can hang along the railing and fill with flowers and strawberries.  The one Euphorbia obesa seed that sprouted is doing well, but looks nothing like the mature plants, so if I didn't know what it was, I don't think I could guess correctly.

The vintage plant stand

My 1st Better Bush tomato

Japanese eggplant blossom


Green bunching onion sprouts

Korean Hot Pepper blossom, but no fruit yet.

The orange seedlings are looking good

Radish sprouts

First strawberries

Takanotsume peppers getting their 1st true leaves

More radishes

Sage sprouts

Grass onions, aka Walking onion

Russian Tarragon

Thyme seedlings; the seeds are from Monticello.

Euphorbia obesa seedling

Echidnopsis cereiformis flower buds

On the fourteenth, I heard a commotion outside and thought someone was having a party.  Went on the balcony to check it out and there were fireworks going off in celebration of Flag Day.  After the fireworks ended, the full moon came peeking out from a cloud bank, presenting a great photo op I couldn't resist.

I love the interplay of light and darkness

Sunday, June 15, 2014

June Forest Preserve Visits; Waterfall Glen, Springbrook Prairie and Fullersburg Woods

Over the last two weekends, I visited three Forest Preserves; a revisit to Springbrook Prairie and two I hadn't been to before, Waterfall Glen and Fullersburg Woods.  Last weekend I went to Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve, which surrounds Argonne National Laboratory and includes the former grounds of the Lincoln Park Nursery which provided plants for the Lincoln Park Zoo.  The namesake waterfall was created as a project of the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression.  Waterfall Glen includes a mix of arboreal forest and rolling plains offering a great diversity in flora and fauna.  The path that winds around the perimeter of the Preserve is just a little over 9 miles long and surprisingly only took me about 4.5 hours to complete, even with the constant stops to take photos or trying to locate a bird that was calling.  I spent at least 10 minutes trying to locate an owl that was hooting, without success.

Part of the the old perimeter wall of Lincoln Park Nursery

The falls that give Waterfall Glen its' name

Pastinaca sativa, Wild Parsnip

Penstemon digitalis, Foxglove Penstemon

Polygonatum commutatum, Solomons Seal

Rosa setigera, Climbing Wild Rose

Silene pratensis, Evening Campion

Tradescantia ohiensis, Ohio Spiderwort

Trifolium hybridum, Alsike Clover

Ipomoea lacunosa, Small White Morning Glory

Krigia virginica, Dwarf Dandelion

Baptisia alba macrophylla, White Wild Indigo

Hieracium gronovii, Gronovius' Hawkweed

Silphium terebinthinaceum, Prairie Dock

While flowers were abundant, birds and other fauna were not, at least not ones I hadn't already seen and photographed.

Procambarus gracilis, Prairie Crayfish

Unknown spider

Vireo gilvus, Warbling Vireo

Lestes forcipatus, Sweetflag Spreadwing

Limenitis arthemis astyanx, Red-spotted Purple

Megisto cymela, Little Wood-Satyr

Yesterday I found myself back at Springbrook Prairie in search of the Eastern Meadowlark, which I was told could be found there.  Not only did I find one, but I was amazed at the way things had changed in just three short weeks and at the array of new wildflowers that I captured with my lens.

Catalpa speciosa, Northern Catalpa

Young wild grapes

Allium canadense, Wild Garlic

Apocynum cannabinum, Common Dogbane

Asclepias syriaca, Common Milkweed

Carduus nutans, Nodding Thistle

Cirsium arvense, Canada Thistle

Field of White Wild Indigo

Ipomoea purpurea, Common Morning Glory

Linaria vulgaris, Butter-and-Eggs

Melilotus officinalis, Yellow Sweet Clover

Cistothorus palustris, Marsh Wren

Colaptes auratus, Northern Flicker

Hylocichla mustelina, Wood Thrush, much better picture than the last one I got at Blackwell.

Turdus migratorius, American Robin, female

Passerculus sandwichensis, Savannah Sparrow

Sturnella magna, Eastern Meadowlark

Cyprinus carpio, Common Carp

Odocoileus virginianus, White-tailed Deer

Epargyreus clarus, Silver-spotted Skipper

Beetle on a flower

Ischnura verticalis, Eastern Forktail, male

Since it only took about four hours to circumnavigate Springbrook, I decided to add another of the DuPage County Forest Preserves to my itinerary, Fullersburg Woods.  The preserve sits along the banks of Salt Creek and includes Graue Mill, built in 1852, the Ben Fuller House, built around 1840, and a number of structures built in the 1930's by Company V-1668 of the Civilian Conservation Corps, including bridges, buildings and ramadas.  The trail is only about 2 miles long, starting on the west bank and crossing over to the east bank.  While it was a pleasant hike. I probably won't revisit any time soon, as there wasn't much new in the way of flora or fauna.

Graue Mill

Falls that diverted water to the mill.  I didn't notice the Green Heron until I uploaded the photo.

Duchesnea indica, Mock Strawberry

Lithobates catesbeianus, American Bullfrog tadpole

Plathemis lydia, Common Whitetail, male

Didymops transversa, Stream Cruiser, female

Morus alba, White Mulberry

Tomorrow, I'll post and update on the progress on the balcony garden and other happenings here at Mr. B's East.