Monday, August 31, 2009

Seagulls in the Setting Sun

Seagulls on a tile roof. Carlsbad, California. It's been really hot, many days up in the 100's (F). Hot and dry in California means fires and Los Angeles is in the midst of a serious fire that is still burning out of control. Fires mean particulates in the air and haze. However, as with any cloud there is a silver lining. Particulates and haze lead to absolutely spectacular sunsets with gorgeous oranges and reds streaking the horizon.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Lavender Water Lillies

Lavender water lillies, San Diego, CA. Water lillies are amazing flowers, aren't they? They bloom each morning and then shut each night. They are pollinated by little beetles that fly in during the day and then get trapped over night (or so I've heard anyhow...).

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Surf's Up

Surfer surfing to cool off. It's been hot. Over 100F in some places. My air conditioning is back on. Whew. Thank goodness for that!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Cool Furry Beetles

Unknown Furry Beetles. Found these cool beetles scooting around the sand at the Tijuana Estuary Sanctuary a while back. From a distance, it looked like one fast beetle but looking through the telephoto, it turned out to be two beetles! No idea what they are but really quite beautiful up close.

For the photo-curious, the circumstances surrounding this picture were a little amusing. These little beetles would move really fast and then stop and then fast and then stop. From a distance, they looked liked a sand crab or some other more typical beach denizen. Upon getting closer, it looked like "a bug" of some sort but "it" just wouldn't stay still, especially when you got close and "it" was pretty small. Meanwhile, I'm lugging around this 500 mm lens down the beach... The focal distance is perhaps 5 ft? Imagine shooting a pea with an elephant gun. So, if they weren't hard enough to see as it was, I'm trying to snap this picture of these tiny little bugs from 5 ft away! Albeit, some of this is because I refused to lug more than one heavy SLR and one heavy lens down the beach and the macro was far far away at home.

However, the pictures turned out pretty decent considering the big lens, no tripod and tiny "bug". Ironically, I didn't figure out that it was "two" bugs, little less two beetles having the joy ride of their lives, until I got home and popped it open on the computer.

I dare say that the camera and the computer in combination have opened up my world to new details that previously I would have never seen or paid attention to. There's a whole hidden world out there, partly hidden by our general lack of desire to stop and pay attention in our busy little worlds but also hidden by, in the case of nature photography, the foibles of movement, size, light and the human eye. Freezing them in time reveals all kinds of really cool new with these beetles.

Weird, thought provoking question for the day. Why do you suppose these beetles are really furry? I'm guessing that it has to do with their living on sand. The fur would prevent them from sinking in the sand kind of like snowshoes. That being said, they're probably light enough that perhaps they wouldn't sink in sand even without the hairs!??? Your guess is, of course, as good as mine.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Be Nice to Strangers

White Plumeria, Frangipani. These little trees have the most awesome fragrant flowers. In Hawaii, they just grow and grow. You poke a branch into the ground and before you know it, you have flowers. In San Diego, you have to find a warm, sunny spot but they will grow outdoors here. I've had a lot of trouble getting the white ones to bloom; at least, until I chatted with a co-customer at a local nursery. Actually, I was talking to his wife in line at the checkout and lamented that my plumeria just wouldn't bloom. "Well," she said, "you must talk to my husband!" To make a long story short, he said the secret was to put lots of bloom fertilizer on them. I went back in and bought a jug of slow release bloom fertilizer and, well, you can see the results. So, it pays to be nice to strangers (at least strangers in garden shops!).

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Water Lillies are in Season

Pink Water Lilly, Nymphaea hybrid. The pink water lilly in the oak barrel in the front yard is showing off it's annual flower. Actually, each year it puts out somewhere between 1-3 flowers. I used to have a few different varieties but, over time, this lovely pink one pretty much won out. The rest, I suspect, went to water lilly heaven. They all came from those little boxes of water lilly tubers they sell at Home Depot every fall for pond plants. I tossed each in a plastic pot with some dirt; put some gravel on top; and into the (plastic lined) oak barrel they went. So far so good. Maybe someday, it'll get a real pond...

Monday, August 24, 2009

Variegated Yucca

Variegated Yucca. This would be called an albo-marginata form with the cream colored edges on each leaf. They make a great centerpiece among the other succulents in the garden.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Yellow Ginger

The Yellow Ginger is blooming in the back yard. While this is not the variety of Ginger that people eat (that variety being somewhat non-descript), it makes up with a wonderful show of brightly colored, spicily fragrant flowers.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Chemical Spill at IB?

The beach along the Tijuana Estuary Preserve smelled like petrochemicals last week. There were no obvious globs of oil in the sand. However, there was a strong smell, similar to what you smell when you fill gas at the pump. There was also a dead pelican and a dead seal corpse rotting in the sand. Animals die; however, you could not help but wonder if these had a little help from man.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Deer and a Beer!

Aerial Tequila Advertisement. Cazadores translates to Hunters. So we get Tequila, Hunters Deer and Beer. The can says, "Tequila Cazadores Reposado." Tequila hunters rested.

A little plane was flying back and forth over Imperial Beach with this banner. It still amazes me those little planes don't come crashing down, given the size of those banners. As for Cazadores, I think the deer is kind of cute but they should fire their marketing person.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Godwit in the Setting Sun

Marbled Godwit, Limosa fedoa in the setting sun; Tijuana Estuary Preserve. These guys breed in the grasslands of the Northern U.S. and Canada where they survive mostly on bugs. However, they spend their Winters along the California coast and on down into Northern South America. This one apparently decided to stay in Southern California over the summer and can be seen hunting for food in the sand.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Diving Pelicans

California Brown Pelican diving for fish. I've been trying to get a clear shot of one of these awesome diving pelicans for some time now. Taking a snapshot of a plummeting bird at extreme range with a telephoto lens is not the easiest thing in the world! This is one of the clearer shots thus far. You can see that they tuck those huge wings, normally used for gliding, way back to reduce drag. They tuck in the tail and cock their head in an odd angle that reminds me of the song, "the Egyptian." All in fun.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

And What Perchance Was That Dog Winking At?

Just in case you were wondering what that dog was winking at... This is one of the two joggers that looped around the owner and his dog like he was a pylon on a field. Odd thing that.

As for that nasty old computer of mine... I reformatted the disk and made it through two of the three boot/install discs before it blue screened again and ceased to recognize the boot disks at all! Very annoying. If you're wondering, I'm typing on a different computer.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Computer problems

The dreaded Windows Vista BSOD has struck (blue screen of death). I've disconnected all the USB devices to no avail (which I expected). The system is so unstable I will probably need to reload the system again. I may try rollback one last time. We'll see...

Argh (some hours later), a pox on microsoft. I've wiped the boot sector, am erasing the hard drive and doing a full install from backup disk. Talk about wasted time... Maybe a picture tomorrow if we're lucky. I'm going to bed.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Do Dogs Wink?

Winking Dog, Imperial Beach. Do dogs wink? Well, this one sure did. He was watching two joggers who used him and his owner as an end marker to turn around and head back the other way. He actually seemed pretty friend and perhaps wanted to play. I'm guessing he's a Boxer.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

A Morning Full of New Blossoms

Saturday is water day. I was out checking out the flowers and trying to water all the nooks and crannies of the greenhouse so nothing shrivels up and dies from lack of water. I had to chuckle a little. The plant that was sold to me as Stanhopea insignis turned out to be lietzei (not often seen for sale) and the plant sold to me as guttulata turned out to be insignis. All frangrant of course. It's pretty crazy. Luckily, they're all species so you can ID them. It's actually kind of fun to do the detective work to figure out what you have. A lot of staring at flower structure. More pictures next time.

Stanhopea Parade

Stanhopea impressa. Yet another really cool, super fragrant Stanhopea in bloom in the greenhouse. It smells super awesome in there right now. If you like fragrance, Stanhopea are for you!

P.S.: does this one remind you of a crab with pinchers outstretched and eyeballs in front or am I just posting too late at night?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Stanhopea lietzei

Stanhopea lietzei. Once again, the Stanhopeas coming in from down south are mislabeled. This one was supposed to be insignis. After staring at a bunch of pictures, horns and lips, it turned out to be lietzei. More than a fair trade I suppose since it is quite a beauty and not commonly seen.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Shell Ginger

Shell Ginger, Alpinia zerumbet. Some Shell Ginger blooming at the zoo. I love the glossy little flowers and the bright yellow lips with deep red striations. It's really quite unique. They are native to Southeast Asia but are found in gardens worldwide including outdoors here in Southern California where they grow to over 8 ft. tall.

If you are wondering, yes, this is related to the Ginger, Zingiber officinale, you eat as a spice and, perhaps, for medicinale purposes such as to get rid of colds. The culinary ginger plant is much smaller, however, reaching perhaps a foot to 18" tall and has flowers that are rather drab.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Orchid News

Phalaenopsis Shu Long Beauty. It is always nice to see what is new and exciting in the Wayward Gardens. While I can't promise a new orchid every single day...there's usually something fun in bloom. Today, we have a real beauty with sparkly yellow-art shade flowers with raspberry splashing and veining. Quite a find, considering it came from the grocery store. At those grocery store prices, I just couldn't pass it up so it's now decorating the Wayward Living room!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Turtle Lovers

Red Slider Turtle perched on Amazonian Water Lilly. Fun picture. This little red slider turtle found the coolest leaf on the water to purch on. Those big raised edges on the Amazonian Water Lilly keep the water off the leaf and enable the turtle to get up nice and dry, almost as well as if he had found a rock!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Fish for a Change

Two Percula Clownfish guarding their Carpet Anemone. Nothing quite so cheery and bright as saltwater fish, is there? We've got Nemo so where is Dory anyhow?

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Monarch Butterfly, Danaus plexippus, Children's Garden, Quail Botanical Gardens. Monarch Butterflies are in the milkweed butterfly group (Danainae). They are strong fliers, capable of going great distances. Males have a small black spot in the middle of the back wing from which pheromones are emitted.

While, I remember feeling great wonder about monarch butterflies as a kid, even raising cocoons in a jar; I couldn't help but feel a little sad that this beautiful butterfly was in custody for our sakes.

Saturday, August 08, 2009


Bixa orellana var. alba, Lipstick plant - albino variety, Waimea Falls Park, Hawaii. This plant is called the lipstick plant because of its normally deep raspberry red seed cases. In this case, however, we have an albino with light tan-cream colored seed cases. Either way, it is still quite striking. Dye from the red seeds is used as coloring for margarine and lipstick!

Friday, August 07, 2009


Hugo's, Chicago, Illinois. Just a random picture as we walked down the streets of Chicago on a nippy evening heading towards dinner. I recall thinking that the frog was really cool.

Thursday, August 06, 2009


Cattleya harrisoniana var aquinii (peloric). Three lipped version of Cattleya harrisoniana. The peloric nature of it results in decently wide petals and a nice little yellow splash in the middle of each "petal."

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Smells Like Root Beer

Stanhopea panamensis. This plant came to me as Stanhopea costaricensis which it appears to not be. It has a very strong and distinct smell of root beer and has 6 huge, gorgeous flowers. They are from panama at around 3,000 ft.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Prickly Situation

Prickly Pear (Opuntia species) in the setting sun, Quail Botanical Gardens. If something needs this many thorns to keep from getting eaten, can you image what's eating it? Something has got one heck of a tough digestive system. I'm guessing goats and tortises but your guess is as good as mine. Wow, those are some thorns.

On the other hand, they sell de-thorned, pre-diced prickly pear in the stores here. It has a nice, tangy taste and a consistency kind of between zucchini and okra. Pretty tasty actually. They call it nopales. If I were a goat, and if I could get past the spines, prickly pear would be a wonderful meal!

Meanwhile, I'm fixing the sprinker system. Something seems to be leaking under the cement patio. Not fun. I'm moving the whole system to the other side of the house. So far not much to show but a copper ball valve shutoff and a singed finger. I'll spare you the details. Yech. No fun at all.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Wind Sculpture

Wind Sculpture, Quail Botanical Gardens (children's garden), Encinitas, California. Its kind of soothing watching this windsculpture rotate lazily in the wind. It's part of the new Children's garden at Quail Botanical Gardens. They also have butterflies, topiaries and all sorts of other things for kids to explore.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Weird Bug

Weird Bug. Once again I find myself at a loss for an ID. I have no idea what this is. Some kind of really cool, funky beetle but WHAT? It was crawling on one of my staghorn ferns and is about 3/4" long. No antenna visible. I'm wondering if it spends it's life burrowed in something and, hence, has no need for antenna. Any guesses are welcome.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Bygone Days of Opulence

Carved Marble Bench/Chair, Huntington Botanical Gardens. I found this beautiful, carved marble bench under a large spreading tree right next to my parked car along the roadside at the Huntington Botanical Gardens. I really loved the way the sun played upon its intricately carved surface, creating deep shadows along the white, age-stained marble.

The Gardens were owned by the Huntington family who made a large fortune in the railroad business. The gardens remind me of the incredible wealth and opulence of the very rich in that era gone by. Perhaps the very rich still have immense gardens containing stunning statuary and most of us simply are not in a position to know. Perhaps.