Despite the fantastic weather we had last weekend, last week turned back chilly and cloudy again and since I last posted, it has been pretty dreary ... lots of clouds, temperatures back into 30s and 40s for highs and below freezing at night ... not a surprise, really, but still, it was discouraging after such a brilliant spring début a mere week ago! Fortunately, the sun returned Sunday and even after all the chilly nights, the snow crocus are still winding up steadily for their big show. Though we now have several different varieties in bloom out back and in the front gardens, I decided to feature Crocus sieberi 'Tricolor' in this post, just to give a better up-close look and sense of just how nicely these little troopers multiply over time. The clump in this first shot is one of several that have sprung up in the back garden (previously featured in long shot), and when they were originally planted I probably only put 1-2 bulbs in per hole, but in the past 4 years they have started to spread into small colonies, of which there are now probably about four scattered around the area. I'm not quite sure how crocus manage to move around, but they have definitely gone beyond the original area where they were planted, much to our delight.
Here's a smaller clump of 'Tricolor' that has appeared a bit removed from the one in the previous shot, however this one has a visitor! To be honest, I'd rather it have been a bee, but even flies count as insect subjects in our photography ... I'm not quite sure what attracts flies to crocus, but Fernymoss did remark that it does seem that they often can be seen visiting many of the same flowers as the bees do, and if you look really closely at this photo (click through for larger versions on all of these shots), you can see that his legs and antennae have a lot of pollen clinging to them. So even if they're not one of my favorite insects, they apparently do fulfill a few useful functions around the garden aside from providing food for the various spiders and other predators....
I guess one of the reasons I really like photographing crocus is for the many rich hues of colors you can get depending on how much sun you have to work with at a given time ... on a bright sunny day, the degrees of intensity you can get just by varying the angle of the shot can really be surprising at times. I'm always really pleased when I can get positively "sun drenched" shots that illuminate the blooms in all of their varied hues and 'Tricolor' certainly provides an excellent subject for just such shots. We have another purple variety called 'Ruby Giant' that I'm eagerly awaiting because of the intensity of its purple, paired with its pristine white center and brilliant yellow stamens ... you'll see it here when it finally starts blooming!
Here's yet another new colony out back among the Monarda (see the purplish leaves on the ground surrounding these blooms) ... I really liked how the sun caught the brilliant yellow of the stamens and the high contrast they create along with the gradations of purple in the petals ... truly, this is why I wish crocus had a longer bloom time than they do as spring ephemerals, but that's perhaps one of the reasons gardeners prize crocus so highly ... they provide such an incredibly rich variety of colors and 'wow' to the early spring garden that we might not appreciate them as much if they were to be in bloom for several months. Indeed, this is a case where absence truly does make the heart grow fonder, because once they are gone for the year, we know that it will be a long long wait before we see them again....
Ok, at the risk of burning out my audience on this particular crocus, I'm including this shot for its inadvertent catch of an insect caught in mid-flight ... s/he should be pretty easy to spot if you enlarge the photo, and if you look carefully you can even see the shadow of a leg on the flower petal below. I just love when we get fortuitous intruders in certain shots, because it seems that most times when we focus on the insects themselves they never seem to want to cooperate and pose nicely for the camera, so catching one on the wing is an event indeed!
There were other crocus blooming today that I'll be featuring soon in additional posts, so there's more to look forward to this week from Casa IVG, and though the forecast for this week is little different from last week's (chilly and cloudy) I'll be on the lookout for more splashes of color popping up around the gardens. Today's photos are courtesy of Fernymoss (my arthritis has been keeping me from getting "down and dirty" with the flowers of late, thanks to the damp and cold) so any accolades should be directed his way!
We passed the 2 months mark on March 18, and Princess Hanna has definitely decided this is her home! She's even been hanging out a bit in her crate (of her own volition, I might add) off and on, so we're pleased to see her doing that because the day will come soon that we will have to leave her alone sometimes, but we still take her everywhere with us as long as we aren't gone from the car for too long and the weather isn't too nasty. She went back to the vet's on Friday for her last bordetella vaccine and to contribute her fecal sample (oh joy!), which I found out on Saturday came back positive for Giardia (a pretty common intestinal parasite in dogs), so Sunday we went back to get her one week course of medication to rid her of those nasties. The weird thing is, she is completely asymptomatic for the infection (as are many dogs I found out doing research) but is a carrier, so Dr. B recommended a course of Panacur just to make sure she gets rid of the little buggers. After that's done and she re-tests negative, I'm hoping she'll manage to stay out of the vet's office till fall when she gets her rabies vaccine renewed ... I'm sure she'll be relieved too, because she's not very fond of having her temperature taken (though she cooperates just fine) and always has a very surprised look on her face when Dr. B inserts the thermometer! Easy for me to say, eh?
After her vet visit, we did something we haven't done in a while, which is to peruse the sale tables in Blockbuster for movies we've missed and since they were having one of their big sales, we picked up several titles we've been wanting to add to the collection. So, Friday night we settled in, made popcorn, and proceeded to watch a double feature of Iron Man followed by Woody Allen's latest, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, both of which we really enjoyed despite their incredibly different "genres." Though I won't attempt to give full blown reviews of either, I will say that Robert Downey, Jr. was perfect in the role and I have a hard time imagining how anyone else could have brought the depth to that kind of role that he was able to achieve. I'm really glad to see he's got his act back together and is doing brilliant work again (I also thought he was very good in Zodiac). Now if I can just work up my nerve to see Tropic Thunder ... I've been told he was quite good in that one as well but I have to admit I have Ben Stiller issues, and I generally avoid his films.
I also picked up Burn After Reading, In Bruges and W, which I have been informed I will be watching by myself because Fernymoss can't bear the idea of seeing a whole film about $hrub. There's just enough of a trainwreck loving ambulance chasing rubber-necker in me that I just have to see it. I'll let you know what I think when I get around to it ... But the real find that I spotted and was considering buying before Fernymoss snapped it up was Marjane Satrapi's 2007 (Academy Award nominated) animated feature about growing up during the Iranian Islamic Revolution, Persepolis, which I do intend to review fully soon. It's too bad that it lost out to a snooty culinary rat that year, because it's a truly remarkable film, animated or not! So, sometime soon when I've had a chance to more fully digest it (and perhaps view it again to soak more of it up), I'll be posting a review. Needless to say, I highly recommend this film, and if you're lucky as we were, you might just be able to pick it up on a sale table for $3.99! It is worth every penny and then some!