Tag Archives: Arnold Arboretum

Images from my close-up photography workshop

Native Flowering Dogwood ~ Cornus florida rubra

I am so excited to be teaching my photography workshop. I’ve created an over arching superstructure for the class, from covering camera and photography basics, relevant to close-up photography, onto very specific techniques for capturing wildlife, and even more specific tips for individual species of butterflies.

I’ve been pouring over thousands upon thousands of photos and with over one hundred photos for the slide presentation, each technique will be comprehensively illustrated.

Several of the students have emailed and I am looking forward to meeting everyone. I hope to see you there.  Nature in Focus.

Eastern Tailed-blues ~ Everes comyntas

The Eastern Tailed-blue is a relatively small species of butterfly with a total wingspan of approximately one inch. It was at first very surprising to find a little group, of about a dozen or so, wandering around this pink zinnia. Eastern Tailed-blues are very skittish and generally a challenge to photograph well. I quickly realized that they had all recently emerged from their pupal cases. Butterflies emerge from their chrysalides with wet crumpled wings and generally cannot fly until their wings are thoroughly dry. I took advantage of this fact and just snapped away while this unique opportunity presented itself.

My Close-up Photography Workshop at the Arnold Arboretum

 

Registration is still open however, my close-up photography workshop, Nature in Focus, is nearly full. The workshop will be will beheld at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard, at the Hunnewell Building, on Sunday September 3oth, at 9:00 am.  I especially love teaching at the Arnold Arboretum. The facilities are beautiful, the staff wonderfully helpful, and September is a particularly gorgeous month to visit the gardens of the Arboretum. I hope you can join me!

Nature in Focus: Taking Great Close-ups  Kim Smith, Photographer and Filmmaker1 Session: Sunday, September 30, 9:00am–NoonLocation: Hunnewell BuildingLearn tips for taking great close-up photographs from celebrated butterfly and garden photographer Kim Smith. Through slides and hands on demonstrations, Kim will guide you in capturing the beauty of the flora and fauna found in nature. Bring your camera and questions, and a tripod if you have one. You will gain more from the class if first you familiarize yourself with your camera’s manual. (Note: This is not a macro-photography class.) See examples of Kim’s great images.

Fee $40 member, $55 nonmemb

Register Now for My Photography Class

Registration is now open for my close-up photography workshop, Nature in Focus, which will be held at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard, at the Hunnewell Building, on Sunday September 3oth, at 9:00 am.  I especially love teaching at the Arnold Arboretum. The facilities are beautiful, the staff wonderfully helpful, and September is a particularly gorgeous month to visit the gardens of the Arboretum. I hope you can join me!

Nature in Focus: Taking Great Close-ups  Kim Smith, Photographer and Filmmaker1 Session: Sunday, September 30, 9:00am–NoonLocation: Hunnewell BuildingLearn tips for taking great close-up photographs from celebrated butterfly and garden photographer Kim Smith. Through slides and hands on demonstrations, Kim will guide you in capturing the beauty of the flora and fauna found in nature. Bring your camera and questions, and a tripod if you have one. You will gain more from the class if first you familiarize yourself with your camera’s manual. (Note: This is not a macro-photography class.) See examples of Kim’s great images.

Fee $40 member, $55 nonmemb

Male and Female Monarch Butterflies

NELDHA at the Arnold Arboretum

Dear Gardening Friends,

Last Tuesday I had the joy to attend the New England Landscape Design and History Association’s (NELDHA) October get-together, which is held annually at the beautiful Arnold Arboretum in Boston. The refreshments provided by Jon Hogan were simply delicious and the special guest lecturer Alan Banks gave an absorbing and informative presentation on “The Olmstead Legacy and its influence on today’s landscape design professionals.” Alan Banks is the supervisory park ranger at “Fairstead,” which is the Frederick Law Olmstead National Historic Site, located in Brookline, Massachusetts. Banks has extensively researched the Olmsted firm’s involvement in over 1,200 projects throughout Massachusetts, ranging from expansive parks to intimate private gardens. Among Olmsted’s greatest achievements is the Boston area’s six-mile Emerald Necklace (Including the Arnold Arboretum) that became a nationally acclaimed landscape masterpiece (Olmstead and his partner Vaux famously designed Central Park, NYC). Olmsted’s humanitarian philosophy and theories for land use are persuasive arguments for today’s landscape designers. To learn more about NELDHA and the manifold benefits of becoming a member, visit their new website New England Landscape Design and History Association’s.

I left Cape Ann several hours earlier than the scheduled event hoping to arrive at the Arnold in time to photograph, but as is typical, the traffic was dreadful and, regretfully, I was only able to take a few shots.

Warmest wishes and don’t forget to VOTE!
Kim

Native Shrubs and the Carpenter Bee

Pinkshell Azalea and Carpenter Bee

While planting for design clients and organizing plant lists for the class I am teaching at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University I thought you would like to know about some of the great shrubs we have been working with. A well-sited flowering and fruiting shrub will often provide at least several, if not four, seasons of beauty; are long-lived (as compared to woody perennials); and provide sustenance and shelter for songbirds, butterflies, and bees. The following are several native favorites well worth considering when planting for people and for pollinators.

The accompanying photograph is of pinkshell azalea (Rhododendron vaseyi) and the much-maligned Eastern Carpenter bee (Xylocopa virginica), taken in mid-May at the Arnold Arboretum where a stunning massed bank of R. vaseyi is planted alongside the Meadow Road. Carpenter bees are an important pollinator for many open-faced spring flowers such as the blossoms of fruiting trees—crabapple, apple, pear, peach, plum, and wild cherry—as well as holly and brambles. The damage done to wood is usually minimal and cosmetic. X. virginica has an especially bad reputation with blueberry growers because they have strong mouthparts (capable of boring into wood), which will easily tear flowers with a deep corolla—blueberries and azaleas, for example.

Xylocopa virginica

Class: Insecta

Order: Hymenoptera

Suborder: Apocrita

Superfamily: Apoidea

Family: Apidae

Subfamily: Xylocopinae

Genus: Xylocopa

Species: virginica

Carpenter bees are regularly mistaken for bumblebees. Their shiny black abdomen most easily distinguishes them, although in the photograph, this carpenter bee was covered in shimmering golden pollen, which could lend a similar appearance to that of a bumblebee. While photographing at the Arnold I observed dozens of carpenter bees and at least half a dozen other species of native pollinators nectaring at the blossoms of the pinkshell azaleas.

Pinkshell is a deciduous azalea discovered in 1878 by George Vasey, the botanist in charge of the United States National Herbarium. Named after Vasey by Harvard botanist Asa Gray, pinkshell is found growing naturally in only six counties in the mountains of western North Carolina. R. vaseyi was introduced into cultivation by the Arnold Arboretum in 1880 and is now widely grown. Although able to attain fifteen feet in height, the pinkshell azaleas at the Arboretum are pruned to approximately chest height. The blossoms of pinkshell are typically seashell pink, but can vary from white to reddish-purple. The upper lobes are usually spotted red, but pink, green, and brown spotted blossoms are also common variants. When grown in a sunny location, the leaves turn a striking reddish hue in fall. R. vaseyi is very easy to grow and is highly adaptable to a wide variety of conditions from mountain ravines, swamps, bogs, stream banks, and high elevation coniferous and oak forests. At the turn of the previous century, it was once found in the wild in Massachusetts, apparently having naturalized at an abandoned nursery near Halifax, and was growing in a swamp as well as in sandy soil. Native species azaleas (Rhododendron spp.) are a nectar source for the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly and Ruby-throated Hummingbird and larval host plants for the Azalea Sphinx Moth (Darapsa choerilus).

Ilex glabra, or inkberry, is a fine-textured evergreen shrub, often confused with the less cold-hardy Japanese holly (Ilex crenata). Inkberry is found growing naturally along the East and Gulf coasts, from Nova Scotia to Florida and west to Texas. The species form matures at approximately eight feet high and equally as wide, with an upright oval growth habit. The commonly available cultivars, with names such as ‘Compacta’ and ‘Densa,’ are generally more compact, less leggy, and less suckering than the species form. The compact cultivars and species are ideal for creating year-round screening to disguise a neighboring eyesore. With periodic shearing, the plants can be maintained to the desired density.

The Atlantic (or Holly) Azure butterfly caterpillar (Celestrina ‘idella’) feeds on the male flowers of Ilex, including inkberry and American Holly (I. opaca). The diminutive cream-colored flowers appear in June on male and female plants. When a male pollinator plant is growing nearby, by September green berries ripen to ink-black berries on the female plants, providing sustenance for many songbirds including the Mourning Dove, Northern Bobwhite, and Hermit Thrush. There is much misinformation regarding which cultivars bear fruit; adding to this confusion is the fact that plants are often mis-labeled. When selecting plants for a client, I make a point of looking for remaining fruit on the individual specimens to ensure that we are indeed purchasing a fruit-bearing plant. Inkberry grows in part shade to full sun and prefers moist acidic soil, but is highly adaptable to soil conditions. To avoid winterburn, in general, broadleaf evergreen shrubs should not be sited in a south-or west-facing exposure, although inkberry performs better than most in such adverse conditions.

As usual, I am running out of space and time. A quick note about the early spring blooming pollinator magnets, Fothergilla, both F. major and F. gardenii. The fothergillas are native to the Allegany Mountain region, primarily around Georgia, but also occur in North and South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas, and Florida. Fothergilla major ‘Mount Airy’ is a deciduous rounded shrub, growing from 6 to 8 feet with scented, white bottle-brush flowers. Although the species name gardenii may lead you to believe it to be more fragrant than

F. major, it is not, rather F. gardenii is slightly less fragrant. The flowers are also a bit smaller and less showy. Fothergilla gardenii fits the bill when a similar, but smaller than, shrub to ‘Mt. Airy’ is required. As we were planting F. gardenii at Willowdale Estate several weeks ago, immediately a Spring Azure butterfly joined the scene and began nectaring at the blossoms. The summer foliage of ‘Mt. Airy’ is a lovely soft shade of blue-green, turning brilliant red and yellow during autumn—making it, too, a lovely multi-season plant.

End Notes: You may find the following link helpful in identifying beneficial pollinators: Visual Aid to Pollinator and Beneficial Insect Identification

Your Garden as Habitat

Pam Thompson of the  Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University has invited me back to teach my class Your Garden as Habitat, on Tuesday evenings, beginning May 11th. More information is provided on their website at Your Garden as Habitat. I hope you can take my class–I love teaching it and have crammed as much information as is possible in this four week program, and still, there is always more ground to cover…the time goes by so quickly!

Female Hairstreak native New Jersey Tea Female hairstreak ovipositing an egg on native New Jersey tea plant florets