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A Summer Treasure Hunt

By Timmy Jo Given (timmijoJune 17, 2014
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Summer is here, and with it comes the joys of stepping outdoors at any moment of the day with digital camera in hand (of course)! The treasures to be found in summer are abundant; in fact, they practically land at oneís feet. Even so, itís fun to go on a hunt to find something unique out in the yard to capture in time during this glorious season.

Gardening picture

Blossoms are flourishing now! They are so beautiful that it's hard to resist taking a dozen shots of each one. But I must be practical; I can't hold onto this moment forever, although I wish I could. And when all is said and done, two or three quality photos are saved for showcasing the beauty of each flower and treasure that I find.

The zinnias planted from seed are in full bloom, gracing the corner of my hand-turned, laid-back flower bed. Morning sun splashing pink and red zinniasThey are fun for a treasure seeker; have you ever noticed that each zinnia has little yellow stars in its center?  Close-up of a single vivid pink Zinnia I call that a treasure.

In addition, there are portulacas in my yard this summer.   Another name for them is "moss rose", but in this case, they should be called "moss tulips". Red and yellow portulaca flowers, not quite opened up for the day

This summer, I impulsively picked up four Phantom petunias at a produce stand. They were just begging to be bought and too unique to leave behind. Three were potted together, and the fourth was set in the ground. A cluster of Phantom Petunias, Purple stripes on YellowThe cool part is that you never know if a new bloom will have mostly dark or light stripes until it opens.

 Close up shot of velvety, dark Petunia Phantom with minimal yellow stripingI find this fascinating. 

Summer is a great time to set indoor plants outside for a season. So naturally I wanted to put my Commelinas together, nestling a pot of Purple Heart plant among Blue Dew plants outdoors. Blue bloom next to a pale violet bloom on related specimensWhen they bloomed at the same time, it was another treasure to capture and save.

Although decorative flowers are the usual stars of the show, vegetables are no less impressive. It's wonderful to catch the first bush bean blossoms of the summer in what photographers refer to as "sweet light".

Row of Bush Beans beginning to bloom in the afternoon light

Okay. All this is not really unique, and my goal is to capture something unique. Digging a little deeper, and with a little undercover work (and with being in the right place at the right time), I came upon a grasshopper that just shed its exoskeleton. Wow!A shed exoskeleton in a bush with grasshopper just beneath

Grasshoppers try to hide from you by shimmying around the stalk on which they are clinging, first to one side, then to the other. This is amusing. They can't hide, really. But they try.

A young green grasshopper peeking out from a blade of grass

At the start of the season, I caught the little guy in the opening photo hiding in an orange daylily. Now that summer is in full swing, my little hopping friends are bigger and bolder and always make great subjects for a snapshot. They are compliant for a second, then they hop away. No problem. There are plenty more where that one came from.

We all love to watch for a beautiful swallowtail or monarch to alight atop a flower for a special photograph, but skipper butterflies are just as fetching. Up close, the light brown one is adorable as he sips nectar with his "straw". Close up of a Brown Skipper Butterfly on pale pink zinniaClose up of a White-Spotted Skipper Butterfly on a vivid pink zinnia

Skipper butterflies also come in the white-spotted variety.  All types are special and fun to watch.

And how about this little bee with the chubby yellow thighs?

If I sit among the Rudbeckias, I am never far from one of these cute little fellas. 

A bee with fat yellow hind legs on a Black-Eyed Susan flower Group of Black-Eyed Susans next to concrete steps 

The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, the pièce de résistance: Where is it today? Wherefore art thou? Keep looking. If I stay out here long enough, I will surely find a masterpiece, that one special shot.  Hey! I found something! Today's treasure is a Nursery Web spider (Pisaurina brevipes).Sunlit brown wooden doorway with brown spider stretched verically Tomorrow, there will be another special treasure to photograph; I'm sure of it.  After all, it's summer!

And so it goes, all summer long. Each morning I am drawn outdoors by the call of the precious and unique, afraid of missing it but enraptured in the wonder of it all.

Linked articles:

Two problems, one solution: Houseplants fill your outside containers for summer by Sally G. Miller, 5/20/2011

Basic Garden Photography Tips and a Photo Contest by Melody Rose, 6/11/2011

(This article was originally published on August 2, 2011. Your comments are welcome, but please be aware that authors of previously published articles may not be able to respond to your questions.)


  About Timmy Jo Given  
Timmy Jo GivenAs a gardener and photographer, Timmy Jo enjoys documenting nature's wonders, especially those found right in her own back yard. When not elbow-deep in soil, Timmy Jo carries around a Pentax digital camera with vintage film lenses attached. Follow her on Google.

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» Read articles about: Zinnias, Moss Rose, Petunias, Tradescantia, Beans, Insects, Butterflies, Rudbeckia

» Read more articles written by Timmy Jo Given

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Discussion about this article:
SubjectTopic StarterRepliesViewsLast Post
Must find those petunias! jmc1987 0 3 Jun 17, 2014 9:04 AM
I like your pictures francine38 1 11 Aug 12, 2011 9:20 PM
Love your photographs brutusmother 1 6 Aug 12, 2011 9:17 PM
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