Monday, September 19, 2016

Learning more about the maypop

I have recently learned more about the maypop. 
My first introduction to it was as a kid.  Mom showed us one that was growing near the edge of the garden where she usually kept a row of gladiolus.  She let us take the hen-egg-sized fruits and poke toothpick legs in them to make a little fat green pig.  (As frugal as we were even with small things like toothpicks made that seem like an indulgence.) 
I think Daddy was the one who told us he used to eat the fruits.  I think we might have tried to eat one of the green fruits.  I think we must have tried the pithy white part that is part of the skin, but we did not find it palatable at all.  Maybe Daddy told us we were supposed to wait until they turned yellowish, but I don't recall ever trying them again.
Recently I learned that the part you eat is the part around the seed (after the fruit has turned yellowish and started to wrinkle) like the part you eat in a pomegranate.  Recently on one of my walks, I saw a ripe fruit.  A week later, it was still there but starting to rot just a little.  I thought I might save some of the seeds.  I mashed the fruit with my walking stick.  I was surprised at the sweet fruity scent that was still there.  At that point the inside had a yucky consistency, too nasty to put in my pocket, so I crammed a little of the mess in the crack of the top of my walking stick.  I brought it home and put it on a newspaper to dry out.  I may try to plant the seeds next spring.
One thing I realized from looking at my pictures is what the bud looked like.  Really, the flower has such a remarkable form.

Here is a bloom and a green flower bud to the left of the bloom.
In this picture, you can see a bloom in the lower right corner that is starting to open up; you can still see the green calyx.
Here is the picture that clued me in as to what I was looking at; I could still see the green points that are such prominent features of the bud.
Hopefully one day I will get to taste a ripe one.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

...and Monday afternoon walk

The weather was nice again Monday afternoon, and dh and I took a stroll around the botanical gardens.  I had already spent quite a bit of time walking behind a mower that morning, so I didn't feel like anything more vigorous than a stroll.  We did chance to meet Mr. Allen De Hart, himself.  He and Mrs. Benton were treating fire ant hills.
Each season there brings new flowers into bloom.  By the lake, I saw a silver-spotted skipper on some ironweed.
The turtles are to be seen most any season.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Sunday evening walk

Sunday evening I took a walk at the De Hart Botanical Gardens.  It's one of my favorite spots.  On my way there, a large deer loped across the road.  It was far enough ahead of me not to be scary.  (I was glad for the motorcyclist who came up behind me that the deer had already crossed.)  I took some pictures of the sights I enjoyed that evening.

a katydid on a yellow flower
a butterfly pea
the skydivers

a passionflower (or maypop as we call them)

the hot air balloon

reflected in the lake

To top off all the lovely sights, on my way home I saw a rainbow.  There had been no rain at all that day.  In fact it was a wonderful September day with low humidity.  That made spotting the rainbow seem even more unusual.
It was a lovely evening.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Lichen-covered lacewing larva

A few weeks ago, I saw what I thought was a piece of debris stuck to my bedroom door.  I thought perhaps it was a piece of lichen-covered bark.  I figured it had come in on the camp chair that my son borrowed for a bluegrass festival.  (He had returned to chair to its storage place behind the door a day or two before.)  What I didn't quite know was how the bit of bark was sticking to a vertical surface, but I figured some sap or other unwanted tackiness was involved.  I took a closer look, though, and noticed that whatever was attached to the door was holding itself sort of like the meal moths that hang around.  But it did look like a lichen!  Hmmm.  Later, I thought I would scoop it up on a piece of paper and dump it outside.  I half expected it to fly when I touched it, but it didn't.
I've concluded that what I had was most probably a green lacewing larva.  They cover themselves with lichens to camouflage themselves.  Later they use the lichens as a case in which to pupate.
Here is the one that was on my bedroom door.  (This is a close-up; the critter was less than an inch long.)
Sometimes I don't even have to go outside to view the critters of the natural world.