November 08, 2018

What Gives You 'Oxygen'?

Common Buckeye

As airline passengers, we're instructed--should there ever be an emergency--to put on our own oxygen masks first before helping others. It's a physical reality that if we can't breathe, we can't help.

The same advice is used in the self-care field to illustrate how we must ensure our own emotional, spiritual, and physical health to be able to help others. All of us face difficult challenges and times in life--times when the burdens, stresses, and sadness are so great that we feel pushed to the limits.

This year has been one of those times for me--the personal and other challenges have been really tough...too complicated and difficult to share here. But we all face these times. Of course, I know I'm not alone--family, friends, and faith provide "oxygen" to help me through. I know others go through these times, too.

Another thing that provides oxygen for me, personally, is chasing butterflies. A few hours of hiking with a camera, snapping photos of butterflies, and later reporting them to citizen science sites can serve as balm to my challenged soul.

This post includes a few of the butterfly photos (and a couple of moths!) I collected during the past spring, summer, and fall. Reviewing them reminds me of the difficult thoughts on my mind as I was taking them. It also makes me happy...because I know how cathartic it was to see each butterfly, and to live in the moment of its unique beauty.

I don't include all the photos here--there were hundreds. Some were reported to citizen science organizations* even though the photo quality was poor. Others, particularly the Monarchs and the Viceroys, were so plentiful this season that I only included a few. Not all the butterflies, nor the photos, are perfect...but that's the point. They were real, they were flying free, and they provided great comfort. I include them here, generally, in order from spring through fall, but not necessarily in exact order. (Click on any image to enlarge it or to navigate through the Flickr album.)

monarch 9

tiger swallowtail 2
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

monarch 2

giant swallowtail
Giant Swallowtail

wood nymph 1
Common Wood-Nymph

red admiral 2
Red Admiral

tawny emperor
Tawny Emperor


eastern tailed blue
Eastern Tailed-Blue

wood nymph 2
Common Wood-Nymph

monarchs on zinnias

chickweed geometer
Chickweed Geometer (moth)

Monarch that I raised and released

clouded sulphur 2
Clouded Sulphur

pecks 2
Peck's Skipper

red sp purple 2
Red-Spotted Purple

tiger swallowtail
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

eastern comma
Eastern Comma

buckeye 2
Common Buckeye

monarch 7

red sp purple 1
Red-Spotted Purple

pearl crescent
Pearl Crescent

summer spring azure
'Summer' Spring Azure

monarch 5

red admiral 3
Red Admiral

corn earworm moth
Corn Earworm (moth)

monarch 4

viceroy 2

red admiral 4
Red Admiral

monarch 6

summer spring azure 2
'Summer' Spring Azure


red admiral
Red Admiral

monarch 8

silver-spotted skipper
Silver-Spotted Skipper

viceroys 2

monarch 1

clouded sulphur
Clouded Sulphur

monarch & sunflowers

skipper flying
Silver-Spotted Skipper

How about you? What gives you "oxygen"?

*Here are just a few of the North American citizen science organizations that welcome reports of butterfly sightings:,,

October 28, 2018

Pleasant Views for Botanical Healing


Sooner or later, it happens: Repeated frosts and freezes take the life out of plants, and the growing season ends. Some plants go to seed, like Blue Mistflower (Conoclinium coelestinum), while others remain nearly evergreen, like variegated English Ivy* (Hedera helix). But they all slow down when the weather is cold and the days are short.

I happened to have some strands of both remaining from some floral arrangements, and gazing on them caught me in a reflective mood. I tend to have a bit of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) this time of year, which is normal and manageable if it doesn't get too severe. During my adult life, it never has; I just tend to "nest" more--staying inside, reading good books, eating comfort food, crocheting, and finding fun indoor activities to get me through the shorter days.

Anyway, beyond the fact that these two plants are pretty point is that the fluffy seedheads of the Conoclinium cheer me up. Just looking at them brightens my mood. I think it's a combination of factors: they're attractive seedheads, I enjoy the colors, they are signs of hope for the next growing season, and most of all...they're so soft, cuddly, fluffy, and perfect. Like a warm blanket or a cuddly stuffed animal.




See what I mean? How about you? Are there particular plants, seeds, or flowers that cheer you, calm you, or help improve your mood...just by looking at them?

[PlantPostings is celebrating eight years of blogging this month. Cheers!]

(*Note: I also love English Ivy, but only in pots, since it can become invasive where it's not native, even in cold climates.)

October 15, 2018

Colorful October Vases

arrangement 1

I've been on flower duty at church for the past few weeks, and the garden has been good to me. These photos were snapped quickly with my iPhone (I didn't have any set-up time) but I was pleased with the drama of the garden's plenty.


cosmos, mistflower

Zinnias, Blue Mistflower, and Cosmos provided the colorful blooms, and various greens and Fountain Grass from the church garden rounded out this display from earlier in the month.

arrangement 2

We had light frost this past weekend (still no hard freeze at my house!), so this week I cut all the remaining garden flowers and recombined them with others that were still fresh...added some Hosta leaves, English Ivy, and Northern Sea Oats. The flower committee is lucky to have a refrigerator for storing cuttings and bouquets. It saves us money and a little time for the following week. I may have a few 'Zowie!' Zinnias left for next week. They certainly have been prolific this year--all grown from seed.

I'm linking this post to Cathy's "In a Vase on Monday" meme over at Rambling in the Garden. Cheers!

October 03, 2018

Wednesday Vignette: Still Bright and Blooming

dahlias and tithonia

My vignette for today is a "planned" happy accident. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am new to growing Dahlias (and new to success with Tithonias!). In my continuing quest to make use of tiny spots of sunshine in my "Oak opening/Oak forest" garden, I placed this particular Tithonia (I grew many this year) between two bright, south-facing windows on the back of the house. I planted the 'Explosion' Dahlia tubers in a pot just in front of the Tithonia. I really didn't expect the colors of 'Explosion' to be so bright (it was hard to tell from the package). I'm sure they'll fade, but at this point they're perfect warm companions for the Tithonia.

As always, I'm finding the buds and nearly open blooms as beautiful and interesting (maybe more so) than the fully open flowers; the latter fade so fast. No frost yet, and none in the 10-day forecast. Yay.

Wednesday Vignettes are hosted by Anna at Flutter and Hum.