Red Lily Beetle Invades Alberta

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Red Lily Beetle

I normally do not use pesticides at my place. I’m fairly tolerant of anything Mother Nature invites into my back yard. So, in 2011, when some pretty, bright red, unspotted beetles showed up on my lilies, I welcomed them. There was no question that their intent was to eat the lily leaves, but I had lots of lilies, so I was content to let them graze. I was confident Mother Nature would send in some troops to keep the beetles in check. That was the first year.

The second year, the beetle numbers had multiplied. Their offspring were disgusting, gooey things. By the time my lilies started to bloom, there was not much left of them to bloom. I searched the internet, and discovered unsettling information about this red lily beetle. It is very hardy, isn’t bothered much by chemical warfare, and has no natural enemies in my part of the world.

Many gardeners have apparently torn out their lily beds, rather than try to control the beetle. I decided to embark on a process of elimination, armed with a bucket of soapy water, a pair of forceps, and a stiff sheet of white paper. I started as soon as my lilies poked their heads out of the ground. Every morning I would inspect the leaves carefully. When I found a beetle, I would capture it and throw it in the bucket of soapy water. I’d read that the beetle is a very strong flier, but can’t swim. I have confirmed the swimming part of this information. Not a single one of the beetles survived.

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Orange Lily

You are probably wondering what I used the forceps and the paper for. The forceps were very handy for plucking the beetle out of hard to reach places. The paper was to foil one of the beetles other skills – invisibility. When the beetle senses danger, it drops off  the plant onto the ground. It lands on its back, where it lies quite still. The underside of its body is dirt color… so I would position the sheet of paper under the plant so that the beetle would drop on the paper instead of the dirt. The beetle was no longer invisible!

02-red-lily-beetle2During the height of the beetle season, before they started to lay eggs, I increased my lily inspection to two or three times a day. Eventually I ran out of bugs to catch, and I did not see a single one of the disgusting larvae. I was cautiously optimistic that there were no more red lily beetles in my yard – for that year, anyway. I had every reason to expect a glorious display of lily blooms that year. And I would have if the hail hadn’t got them…

The Lily Beetles returned. In the spring of 2015 I gave up the fight. I started to remove all my lilies except one – the White Trumpet Lily.

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White Trumpet Lily

Removing some types of lilies is as difficult a task as removing the Lily Beetle. The orange lilies produce lots of little bulblets that are easy to overlook when the parent bulbs are removed. In other words, the lilies keep coming back, no matter how often I remove them. I’ve given up trying. If the lilies and the lily beetle can reach some sort of détente, who am I to interfere?

Detente – isn’t that what a farmer has with his turkey – until Thanksgiving?
– Ronald Reagan –

Chaos in the Garden

This is one of my flower beds. It has been over 20 years in the making. In that time, a small tree grew – casting more and more deep shade. The plants that liked sun weren’t so happy about this. Some died – I thought. So I planted others, only to have the dead sometimes reappear (yes, tulips, I’m talking about you and your splashes of red in a bed that once was yellow, blue and purple!)

This year I gave up on order and accepted plant Chaos. Even chaos will take time, though. There are bare spots where some things, like my bleeding hearts, all died this past winter. As George W. Bush said:

Topaz Studio filter “Ghost Town”

What George Bush actually said was “…And, you know, it’ll take time to restore chaos and order – order out of chaos. But we will.” Some media outlets shortened the quote to “It will take time to restore chaos” which triggered the usual crowd to make fun of him – but I think the shortened quote perfectly describes my new gardening mantra.

Topaz Studio filter “HDR”

Chaos was the law of nature; Order was the dream of man.
– Henry Adams –

Topaz Studio filter “Rock”

Chaos is roving through the system and able to undo, at any point, the best laid plans.
– Terence McKenna –

Topaz Studio filter “3D Sketch”

Chaos is not the lack of order, it is merely the absence of order, that the observer is used to.
– Mamur Mustapha –

Topaz Studio filter “Abstract”

All of these photos were altered with Topaz Studio filters.

What say you – which photo is most chaotic?

This, That and the Other – Red Poppies

How does the colour red make you feel?
Do you wear red clothes?
Do you decorate with red?
Do you drive a red car?
Do birds poop more on red cars than other colour cars?
Do you have red hair? (Apparently only about 2% of people are redheaded).
How many red flowers are in your garden? (I don’t have that many at the Red House. Tulips and poppies, mostly. At the Bland Beige House, I have Valentine’s bushes, bottlebrushes and fairy dusters.)

Topaz Studio filters
Topaz Studio Impasto Filter
Topaz Studio filter
Topaz Studio Pen Ink Filter
Red Poppies original photo

Springtime Blooms – Arizona and Alberta

My Place in the World is in the Garden, with my camera, then at my computer – turning photographs into digital art.

Olneya tesota – Ironwood tree – Impasto filter
Carnegiea gigantea – Saguaro Cactus – Cartoon filter
Opuntia – Prickly Pear Cactus – Pointilism filter
Trichocereus candicans – Argentine Giant – ‘Fine Wine’ filter
Puschkinia libanotica – Striped Squill – Color Grunge filter
Scilla siberica – Siberian Squill – Radiance filter
Forsythia Northern Gold – Texture Impression filter

All photo filters were applied in the program Topaz Studio.

This post was for the old WordPress Photo Challenge Place in the World.

Red Roses in a White Vase

This simple bouquet of two roses and some baby’s breath will last forever (or until it gets so dusty the roses don’t look red any longer) because I dried the roses by hanging them upside down in a cool spot for several months.

After I took the photo, I tried a few filters in the Topaz Studio program which is a free download.

Roses are angiosperms,
Violets are, too.
Sugar is C12H22O11
We know this from peer review.
– Author Unknown –

Impasto filter

Roses are red,
Violets are blue.
Some poems rhyme,
Some don’t.
– Author Unknown –

Pointillism filter

Roses are red and violets are purple
Sugar is sweet and so is maple surple.
– Roger Miller –

Textured impressionist filter

Roses are red.
Violets are blue.
Please flush the toilet
after you’re through.
– Author Unknown –

‘Fine Wine’ filter

Roses are red.
Violets are blue.
Please don’t kiss me,
‘cuz I have the flu.
– Author Unknown –

Original photo

Springtime Blooms – Arizona and Alberta

My Place in the World is in the Garden with my camera!

The best part about living part time in Arizona is that I get to experience spring twice! In April, when Alberta might still be experiencing snow storms, our Arizona home is at the height of spring blooming!

pink flowers Arizona
Olneya tesota – Ironwood tree

We have a large old Ironwood tree on our property. It is estimated that these trees can live for hundreds and hundreds of years. It sheds its leaves annually just before it blooms. The flowers are pea like (because it is a member of that family) and the entire tree becomes a dusky pink colour during full bloom.

white flowers Arizona
Carnegiea gigantea – Saguaro Cactus

The Ironwood often serves as a backdrop to the giant Saguaro cactus. The Saguaro can live for 150 to 200 years and it can grow 40 to 60 ft tall (12 to 18 meters). It is very slow growing and can be decades old before it sprouts arms or blooms.

yellow flowers Arizona
Opuntia – Prickly Pear Cactus

The Prickly Pear cactus is the ‘rat’ of the neighbourhood for the simple reason that the resident rodents live in holes under the prickly shelter of this plant. We have a large specimen that isn’t actually on our property, but it thinks it should be. We have to carefully ‘prune’ it off our property every few years.

white flowers Arizona
Trichocereus candicans – Argentine Giant

My favourite cactus is the Argentine Giant. It is a common enough looking cactus with multiple stems up to 24 inches (60 cm) tall. The wow factor is when it blooms. The white flowers can be 6 to 8 inches across (15 to 20 cm). The flowers come out at night, and only last about 24 hours.

A week after my Argentine Giant bloomed, I was back in Alberta where an extremely long and cold winter had finally ended. The last of the snow had just melted, and the earth quickly exploded with greenery.

blue white flower Alberta
Puschkinia libanotica – Striped Squill

The first flower to bloom was the Striped Squill, a starry pale blue and white flower that is only about 4 inches (10 cm) tall.

blue flower Alberta
Scilla siberica – Siberian Squill

Another squill, the Siberian Squill, mingles with the Striped ones. Neither Squill seem anxious to expand their territory much, but they might simply be unable to compete with the other residents in that location – the prolific Grape hyacinths (Muscari).

yellow flower Alberta
Forsythia Northern Gold

The only other flower blooming right now is a bush – the Forsythia Northern Gold. I’m expecting great things from this fast growing bush. In addition to spectacular early blooms, it should help a lot with the task of masking the silvery wall of The Car Guy’s new quonset metal garage.

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is Place in the World.

What blooms in your part of the world each spring?

Digital Marble – The Hay Field Flowers

Original photo

I decided to try an HDR technique to add more “dynamic range” (the ratio of light to dark) to the photo. I used a program called Topaz Studio and applied one of their filters to add the increased depth I was looking for. (Have you test driven Topaz Studio yet?)

Then I tried another filter – the field rendered as a drawing!

Back in GIMP (my standard editing program) I cropped the photo into a square, and applied the Darla Amazing Circle filter.

White Butterflies Hiding in the Hay Field

There is a hay field across the road from us. I love taking photos when it is full of big round bales, especially when the hawks sit on them. This spring, the farmer planted new things in the field. I haven’t figured out what all the plants are yet, but the field is absolutely beautiful! For the past few days, it has attracted masses of white butterflies. I tried to get some photos of them…

but the butterflies moved too fast! I was very satisfied, though, that I had captured the layers of blue green, bright green, shades of pink/purple, and splashes of yellow.

If you do the best work you can, the reward is ultimately your self-satisfaction – the sense that you have done the best you can. And then there’s that piece of how others respond.
– Jerry Pinkney –

Does the positive response of others make you feel even more satisfied with your efforts?

This week’s WordPress.com Photo Challenge is Satisfaction.