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Posts Tagged ‘Cindy Dyer’

Do you worry about how you look when you are taking a photograph? Most of the time I am by myself in remote locations, so I don’t feel at all self-conscious when I kneel and lean or even sprawl onto the ground in order to get a better angle for a shot. Recently, though, I was at Meadowlark Botanical Garden, a relatively crowded public space, with some friends and one of them, my photography mentor Cindy Dyer, photographed me in action.

You probably cannot help but notice my brightly colored sneakers. Since I retired, I have developed a fondness for Chuck Taylor Converse All Star sneakers and have pairs that are aqua, orange, and blue, in addition to the hightop coral ones in the photos. Did you notice that I was using a monopod for additional stability for the macro shot that I was taking? I was also leaning my elbow onto my knee to steady my shot.

What was I shooting? I was photographing a tiny spider on the side of a snowflake flower that is barely visible in the foreground of the photos. I reprised the photo of the spider that I originally included in a posting entitled Spider on snowflake to give you a sense of the distance that I was from the subject. One of the real benefits of the 180mm macro lens is that it lets me get close-up shots without having to be be on top of the subject, as would be necessary with my 60mm macro lens or even my 100mm macro lens.

In case you are curious, I tend to wear more subdued footgear when I am out in the wild. Many of my subjects are probably colorblind, so they would not be mindful of my bright shoes—I am more worried about covering them with mud and dirt, which I seem unable to avoid when I am trekking about in nature.

mike powell

Mike Powell

spider and snowflake

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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It is prime time for the bearded irises in the garden of my dear friend and fellow photographer Cindy Dyer. There are several dozen irises in bloom now in multiple colors, including these beauties, and it looks like even more flowers will be blooming soon.

Beauty is everywhere.

bearded irises

Bearded Iris

Bearded Iris

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As we were photographing some Spring Snowflake flowers (Leucojum vernum) on Saturday at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, my dear friend and photography mentor Cindy Dyer noticed what looked like a spider’s leg on the side of one of the flowers and asked me to go around to the other side of the flower to investigate.

Sharp-eyed Cindy was right—I spotted this tiny spider clinging to the side of the snowflake and was delighted that I was able to capture this image of it.

Leucojum vernum

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As we move deeper into spring, more and more flowers are popping up in the garden of my neighbor, fellow photographer Cindy Dyer. It is a fun adventure to walk over to the garden every few days to see what new bits of beauty have sprung forth out of the earth.

One of my favorites that I look forward to seeing each spring is the Lady Jane tulip (Tulipa clusiana var. ‘Lady Jane’), featured in the first photo below. It is a small tulip with pointed petals and a delicate pink and white coloration.

The red tulips are a bit more traditional in terms of their shape and coloration. I love to explore them from all angles and their bright, cheery color is a joy to behold.

Some more tulip buds are beginning to mature and it looks like there may be yellow tulips next. Spring is such a beautiful season.

Lady Jane tulip

tulip

tulip

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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In the springtime we often watch and wait in the garden, anticipating the beauty that is to come. Sometimes, as was the case with these tulip buds, we have a sneak preview of the coming colors, but often the blooms take us by surprise. I love those kinds of surprises.

As many of you know, I do not have my own garden. However, fellow photographer Cindy Dyer is one of my neighbors and she has an amazing garden, full of fun flowers to photograph.

tulip

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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One of the early signs of spring is the emergency of the tiny stalks of Grape Hyacinths (g. Muscari). As their name suggest, these spiky little flowers look a bit like bunches of grapes. Most of the time grape hyacinths are bluish in color, but they come in other colors too and sometimes, as you can see in the second photo, there may be multiple colors on the same flower stalk.

I captured these images in the garden of my dear friend and neighbor Cindy Dyer. Cindy is used to seeing me skulking about in her garden and I usually am able to keep her informed about what is blooming in her own garden.

Using my short macro lens, I was able to capture some of the interesting patterns of these grape hyacinths. In the first image you can see how the little “grapes” grow in a spiral pattern. The second image shows how the “grapes” open up at their ends as they mature. I really like the way that both images feature the raised three-petalled impression on so many of the grapes—the shape looks almost like it was embossed.

Grape Hyacinth

Grape Hyacinth

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As I was scanning my neighbor’s garden for new growth yesterday, a small bit of bright orange caught my eye. I moved closer to see what it was and was shocked to find a tiny ladybug crawling around one of the plants.

The ladybug was pretty active, moving up and down the leaf, so it was challenging to get a shot of it. Eventually, though, my patience paid off and I was able to capture this image. Later in the year photos like this will become more commonplace, but during the month of March I am overjoyed whenever I have a chance to photograph an insect.

I did not get a good look at the face of this insect, so I cannot tell if it is an Asian Lady Beetle (Harmonia axyridis) or one of the native ladybugs, which are less common in most areas. Whatever the case, there is something whimsical about ladybugs that makes me smile, so I was happy to spot this one.

ladybug

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I spotted this tiny red tulip yesterday morning in the garden of my dear friend and photography mentor Cindy Dyer, my first tulip sighting of the year. One of Cindy’s passions is gardening and she deliberately plants a lot of flowers that she believes will be photogenic.

Last fall she planted bulbs for some large, frilly, multi-colored tulips that she hopes will bloom later this year. (See my posting from last spring entitled Fire-breathing dragon to see an example of one of those crazy-looking parrot tulips.) I will be looking for those exotic flowers, but I have to say that am often drawn more to the simple, spare elegance of a single bloom, like today’s tulip.

When I first started to get serious about my photography almost ten years ago, I imitated the type of photographs that Cindy was taking, with a lot of emphasis on macro shots of flowers. Cindy taught me a lot about photography during those early days, lessons that have stuck with me as I have ventured into other areas of photography.

One of those lessons was about the value of a well-composed, graphic image, like today’s simple shot. Anyone, in theory, could have taken this shot, but they would have had to be willing to get on their hands and knees in the dirt to do so, another one of Cindy’s lessons. (If you want to see more of Cindy’s tips, check out her article How to Grow Your Garden Photography Skills that was featured several years ago on the NikonUSA.com website.)

tulip

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Last week I assisted fellow photographer Cindy Dyer in taking some headshots for a client and served as a test subject for the lighting setup. Cindy used a portable X-Drop background stand, several LED lights with soft boxes, a Westcott Eyelighter reflector, and a tall V-flat to achieve optimal results. Believe it or not, this is a relatively simple lighting setup.

Cindy and I share studio space with a video production company, so there is plenty of room for lighting setups like this one. I have very little experience with studio photography, so I learn a lot each time I assist Cindy. My job usually is to help set everything up, make adjustments to the lights as she is shooting, and engage with the subjects to keep them relaxed and comfortable. I marvel at the ease with which she poses the subjects to get wonderful results, a total contrast with the wildlife subjects that I normally photograph. I think it is good to stretch ourselves from time to time into new areas of exploration.

Cindy took these shots of the setup with her iPhone, but used a Nikon D850 for the actual headshots. If you want to see some examples of Cindy’s work, check out her portrait website at http://cindydyerportraits.com/portraits/.

Today is a big day for Cindy as the United States Postal Service releases another stamp with one of her photographs, a Global Forever stamp that features an African Daisy. This round, Global stamp can be used to mail a 1-ounce letter to any country to which First-Class Mail International service is available.

This new stamp is the eleventh image that Cindy has had published as a Forever® stamp. Previously, she had images for: Ferns 2014, Water Lilies 2015 and Kenilworth Park (as part of the National Park Service 100th Anniversary 16-stamp panel) in 2016. Check out Cindy’s blog posting for additional information on the African Daisy stamp, including a photo of the stamp itself. Congratulations, Cindy.

studio setup

studio setup

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I am helping this weekend to take care of three cats that belong to my friend Cindy Dyer and her husband. I mention Cindy fairly often on this blog because she is a constant sources of encouragement and inspiration in my photography and has mentored me over the years—she is a freelance photographer and graphic designer. She is also an amazing gardener and most of the times when I feature flower photos, I have taken the shots in her garden.

Cindy works from home, so her three cats are used to having someone around during most of the day. Over the years I have taken care of the cats multiple times and they are relatively comfortable with my presence in the hours. That being said, each of the three cats has his own personality and shows me varying degrees of attention and affection.

I took these shots of Lobo, Pixel, and Queso yesterday afternoon when I stopped in to check on them. All three cats seemed to be evaluating me and I like the way that I was able some of their personality in these informal little portraits.

Lobo

Pixel

Queso

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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My dear friend and neighbor Cindy Dyer has some crazy-looking colorful flowers in her garden, like this one, which I think is some kind of double Tiger Lily. The not-yet-opened petals in the center of the flower at this stage of development remind me of the tentacles of an octopus. I love the way the fence in the background turned out, with all of the colorful bokeh balls in parallel columns.

tiger lily

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I have already shared some more serious portraits that my talented photographer friend Cindy Dyer took of me during a photo shoot last month. She is amazing. After we had finished the more formal shots, we decided to try some action shots to show off my special Pride edition high-top Converse All-Star sneakers (plus a turquoise low-top pair that I own). As you can see, I was having a lot of fun being a little silly. Be sure to click through to Cindy’s original posting to see all three fun photos.

Cindy Dyer's Blog

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

When Michael P. and I were doing our fun portrait session last month in our shared studio, we decided to “loosen up” and get some silly shots. We were trying to decide how to show up the shoes (especially the soles) and not just by him sitting down. So the ever-energetic Michael came up with jumping and I must say I tired him out after about 20 shots! I told him to pretend he was a Rockette dancer and he should be very proud that he can kick his leg up THAT high at 66 years old (and in a suit, no less)! We knew the background wouldn’t hold his tall frame (especially when jumping that high), so we decided to share these anyway—consider them behind-the-scenes studio shots! Also, I’m not known for action shots, so there will be a technical learning curve if…

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I was feeling a little “artsy” on Saturday morning when I composed this close-up image of one of day lilies now growing in the garden of my dear friend and neighbor Cindy Dyer. Over the last nine years of so Cindy has served as my photographic mentor and muse.  I remember how liberated I felt when she first told me it was ok to photograph parts of a flower and not just the whole thing—it opened my eyes to all kinds of new creative possibilities that went way beyond merely documenting “reality.”

Beauty is everywhere!

day lily

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It was pretty early this morning when I walked over to the garden of my dear friend and neighbor Cindy Dyer, but a bee was already busy on one of her lavender plants. A shot like this is easy to get with my 180mm macro lens, which lets me stand back farther from my subject. However, I happened to have a much shorter 60mm macro lens on my camera, which meant that I had to be almost on top of the bee. The bee was focused on the flower and did not seem to be bothered by my presence.

bee

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I guess that I could be accused of shameless self-promotion by reposting more photos of myself, but I am so happy with the way that they turned out. Cindy Dyer is such a talented photographer who so perfectly captured my personality in these photos.

Our initial goal for our little photoshoot was to shoot some colorful images to help me celebrate LGBTQ+ Pride Month, an annual month-long celebration in June. As stated in a recent presidential proclamation, “Pride is both a jubilant communal celebration of visibility and a personal celebration of self-worth and dignity.”

The goal of this month quite simply is to highlight the efforts of so many people to live freely and authentically. It is my firm conviction that diversity is one of the elements that makes our human communities stronger and more vibrant.

Cindy Dyer's Blog

In the studio with Michael #ConversePride
Michael P says: I am celebrating Pride Month 2021 with sole. T-shirt from the Converse 2021 Pride Collection, hightop Converse All-star Sneakers 2020 Pride Edition, and white Levi’s 501 jeans.
Michael is an accomplished nature/wildlife photographer as well as a gifted storyteller. Check out his blog here: https://michaelqpowell.com/

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It’s amazing the things that show up in my photos that I did not notice when taking the shot, like this little beetle in the center of a striking lily that I photographed recently in the garden of my dear friend and neighbor Cindy Dyer. Cindy likes to call them “bonus bugs.” According to our rules, any bugs that you see when capturing a shot don’t “count” towards a bonus.

I do not have enough information to identify the insect. At first I thought it might be a cucumber beetle, but the pattern does not quite match the ones I have seen before. Cindy suggested that it might possibly be a carpet beetle. I also checked out a lot of different types of scarab beetles, but eventually decided that I was ok with not knowing the identity of the bonus bug.

I have included the second photo as a bonus. My original purpose in photographing the lily was to capture its beauty and unusual coloration and the second shot accomplished that goal. I carefully focused on the stamens (and particularly the anthers) and allowed the rest of the flower to fall out of focus. If I had not looked at the first photos, I might not have noticed the fuzzy shape of the bonus bug in the second image, but it is definitely there.

lily

lily

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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If you read the title of this posting before you saw the photo, you might have assumed that I was the one behind the camera in the studio. In this case, however, I was the one in front of the camera.

Cindy and I share a studio space with a video production company. When we moved to a new and much larger space last year, one of our goals was to expand her portrait shooting business. The pandemic restrictions, though, have severely limited the number of opportunities for her to shoot portraits.

Cindy is a really talented photographer and over the past year we have talked about doing a colorful photoshoot to help me celebrate Pride month. This past Sunday we finally did that shoot and Cindy also took advantage of the opportunity to do some more formal shots of me, like this one, and even some crazy action shots. (Stay tuned—you might see some of them in the future.)

I do not consider myself to be particularly photogenic and am not really comfortable in front of the camera. Cindy gently guided me through a series of poses that occasionally felt awkward, but ended up looking really good.

I love the way that this shot turned out. As I commented in Facebook when Cindy posted a similar shot, I definitely need to write a book now, because I already have a photo for the book jacket.

Thanks, Cindy. Be sure to check out Cindy’s blog and her portfolio to see some amazing images.

Cindy Dyer's Blog

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

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How do you draw attention to the main subject in your photograph? One effective way is to choose a camera setting that will give you a shallow depth of field, so that only the subject is in sharp focus and the rest of the image is blurred. Another way is to ensure that the colors and texture of the background contrast with those of the subject.

I used both of these techniques yesterday morning when I spotted this metallic green sweat bee (g. Agapostemon) on one of the Shasta daisies growing in the garden of my neighbor and photography mentor Cindy Dyer. I love these little bees with their large speckled eyes and shiny green bodies and got as close to this one as I dared with my Canon 60mm macro lens.

I opened the aperture of the lens all the way to f/2.8 to let in lots of light and to achieve the narrowest possible depth of field. That is why the center of the daisy falls so quickly out of focus. As I was composing the shot, the flower reminded me of an egg that had been fried “sunny-side up” and I chose an angle that emphasized that look. (In case you are curious about the other camera settings, the ISO was 800 and the shutter speed was 1/800 sec.)

There is nothing super special about this image, but it is a fun little photo taken close to home that reminds me that beauty is everywhere. A series of creative choices in camera settings and composition by the photographer can often help to draw a viewer’s attention to that beauty. (I encourage you to click on the image to get a better view of the beautiful details of the little green bee.)

green sweat bee

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I love the spectacular colors of the Asiatic lilies that are now blooming in the garden of my dear friend and neighbor Cindy Dyer. These brilliant colors, which look almost neon in their intensity, were especially welcome yesterday, when it was gray and rainy the entire day.

Asiatic lily

Asiatic lily

Asiatic lily

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Many of the irises have withered in the garden of my dear friend and neighbor Cindy Dyer, but her lilies are now starting to open, like this beauty that I photographed early on Sunday morning. It is hot and humid today, so I did not feel much like venturing outside with my camera. Instead I decided to share this burst of bright color.

Have a wonderful Monday.

lily

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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More bearded irises? Yes, I decided to do another posting on the colorful bearded irises in the garden of my neighbor and photography mentor Cindy Dyer. We are probably near the peak period right now and there is a wide variety of irises  in bloom. There is only a stem or two of some of the irises that I photographed, each with several blooms, but there is also one patch, shown in the final photo, where there are at least several dozen irises of the same type concentrated in one area.

One of the challenges of photographing these irises is that the background tends to get very cluttered. I have tried to blur the background by choosing my angle of view and camera settings, and the results are ok.

Cindy has come up with a more elegant solution—she photographs them in situ against a black velvet-like background, which requires the assistance of another person to hold the background in place. Usually her husband Michael is drafted, but yesterday in the late afternoon I was an emergency fill-in when the late day light spontaneously prompted her to photograph the irises that were blooming outside of her yard around an electrical junction box. The final photo is one that Cindy took with her iPhone of me in “action.”

What kind of results do you get with this process? Check out Cindy’s blog postings Bearded iris blooming in my garden and Bearded iris (taken last year) to see some samples of the stunning studio-like portraits of these flowers that Cindy has taken.

bearded iris

bearded iris

bearded iris

bearded iris

bearded iris

bearded iris

photo assistant

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Raindrops on flowers are among my favorite things. Yes, I am a huge fan of The Sound of Music and as soon as I see drops of rain on the petals of a flower—it doesn’t have to be roses—Julie Andrews starts singing in my mind the memorable song “My Favorite Things” that begins with the words, “Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens…”

I captured these iris images yesterday morning in the garden of my dear friend and neighbor Cindy Dyer during a break in the rain. Right now there are probably at least thirty irises of various colors in the process of blooming in her wonderful garden, an endless source of delight for me when I feel a need to take some photos or just desire to lift my spirits.

“I simply remember my favorite things and then I don’t feel so bad.”

bearded iris

bearded iris

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Although I don’t have my own garden, I am blessed to have a neighbor and friend, Cindy Dyer, who loves to plant photogenic flowers, like these beautiful bearded irises that are now in bloom. Cindy is a self-employed photographer and graphic designer who I consider to be my photography mentor and muse. She and her husband Michael make up the rest of my “pod” that has helped to sustain me through this past pandemic year.

What else does Cindy do? Here is a little extract from the “Stuff About Me” page of her blog.

“Oil and acrylic painting, photography (portraits, glamour shots, nature, macro, floral/botanical, travel), cement leaf casting, crocheting hats like crazy come winter time (what else can a gardener do when it’s cold out?), needle felting, sewing, murals, faux painting, Polaroid transfers (if it’s something crafty, I’ve probably at least tried it once), biblioholic (any topic, you name it—we probably have at least one book on the subject…don’t even begin to guess how many gardening books I’ve amassed!), animal lover—currently three cats…”

You can get a look at some of Cindy’s photography and writing on her blog at cindydyer.wordpress.com. If you want a real treat, though, you should check out the slide show of her portfolio at cindydyer.zenfolio.com, where your eyes will be delighted as you see an amazing series of stunning images.

bearded iris

bearded iris

bearded iris

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Are you the kind of person who sees shapes in the clouds? If so, then perhaps you too may see the shape of a fire-breathing dragon in this amazing parrot tulip that I photographed yesterday in the garden of my dear friend Cindy Dyer.  As more of Cindy’s parrot tulips pop open I am becoming convinced that these are the craziest flowers that I have encountered, with all kinds of wild shapes and colors.

I am equally convinced that we all need a little whimsy, fantasy, and child-like fascination in our daily lives. As adults we tend to take ourselves too seriously too often. Wouldn’t it be cool to see the world afresh as a child does, full of excitement and imagination?

Keep your eyes open today—you too might unexpectedly encounter a fire-breathing dragon or equally fanciful creature.

parrot tulip

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Here’s another beautiful tulip that I spotted yesterday morning in the garden of my good friend and neighbor Cindy Dyer, an elegant variety known as the Lady Jane (Tulipa clusiana var. ‘Lady Jane’) . The pink speckles in the background are fallen petals from her crabapple tree.

As I returned back to my townhouse, I could not help but notice that my front yard was carpeted in pretty pink petals from my crabapple tree, thanks to the gentle wind and light rain in the early morning. I felt like I should be lighting candles and pouring champagne—clearly all of those lovely petals meant that I was loved. Yes, I am an unapologetic romantic.

Lady Jane tulip

petals

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Tulips come in many varieties and my good friend and neighbor Cindy Dyer, who is also my photography mentor, likes to find photogenic ones to plant. For several weeks I have been keeping an eye on her garden, waiting and wondering what type and color tulips would emerge from the green growth that was slowing pushing upward.

This week some of those tulips finally burst open and I was delighted to see that they are Parrot tulips. Parrot tulips are whimsically-shaped, with uncontrolled ruffled edges that somehow make me think they have a bad case of “bed head.”

I captured these images on Friday, a gloomy day punctuated with periodic rain showers. The colors of the tulips are more subdued and do not “pop” as much as they do in the sunlight, but I like the moody feel of the images. The raindrops add a nice touch too—I love to photograph the drops of rain that bead up so beautifully on so many plants and flowers.

 

parrot tulip

parrot tulip

parrot tulips

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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When it comes to mating, many male insects are really aggressive—they will do everything they can to prevent their rivals from hooking us with a desirable female. I think that is what was going on in this image I captured on Sunday of three bees outside of a bee house in the garden of my friend and neighbor Cindy Dyer. It looks to me that the top bee in this ménage à trois was trying to dislodge a rival and somehow gain access to the female. Yes, as the old song simply states, “birds do it, bees do it.”

Perhaps you have a better explanation of what was transpiring, like they were simply playing piggyback and wanted to see how strong the bottom bee was. What do you think? I encourage you to click on the image to see the details better.

I often tell you that I was not as close as it seems, because I generally shoot with a telephoto lens or a long macro lens. In this case, though, I was shooting with a 60mm macro lens and was only a few inches away from the “action” and had to dodge bees that were entering and exiting the tubes of the bee house.

bees

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I love simple beauty, like that of a single tulip flower that opens in the sunlight to reveal its colorful center, and closes at night as if to protect its precious treasure. This red tulip was the first full-sized tulip to bloom in the garden of my friend and photography mentor Cindy Dyer. I spotted it early on Easter morning when it was closed up, as shown in the second image. I was pleasantly surprised that afternoon to see that the tulip was open and I captured the first image.

I love this time of the year, when so much color is beginning to appear. Take the time this season to smell the roses—tulips do not seem to be particularly fragrant.

tulip

tulip

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I photographed this beautiful hellebore flower, sometimes referred to as a Lenten rose, early this Easter morning in the garden of my dear friend and neighbor Cindy Dyer. Have a wonderful Sunday and don’t forget to stop and to look for the beauty that is everywhere around you.

hellebore

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

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Some of the tulips in the garden of my good friend Cindy Dyer are almost ready to bloom. Already we have a hint of the beauty that is to come—a preview of coming attractions. Many of the flowering trees in my neighborhood recently popped open, seemingly overnight, but others plants, like this tulip, force us to wait patiently for their fully beauty to be revealed.

Delayed gratification is supposed to be good for the soul, but sometimes I feel like a small child cooped up in a car on a long journey, incessantly repeating the same question—”Are we there yet?”

tulip

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

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I never realized that grape hyacinths (g. Muscari) come in so many different colors and varieties. Here are some that I spotted yesterday morning in the garden of my good friend and neighbor Cindy Dyer. The coloration of the flower in the first photo is what I traditionally associate with grape hyacinths—it is not too much of a stretch to imagine that it looks like a little cluster of grapes. The ones in the second image are much paler and have a bluish rather than purplish tint.

Some of you may recall that I recently featured a grape hyacinth that was different in shape as well as color. If you have not seen that posting, check it out at Unusual grape hyacinths. We have had a lot of rain and warmer weather recently and I can’t to wait to see what pops up in Cindy’s garden next. I usually alert Cindy of newly-opened flowers well before she notices them, a system that Cindy has nicknamed “Powell’s Flower Forecasts.”

Happy Palm Sunday for those who are celebrating that Christian holy day today.

Grape Hyacinth

Grape Hyacinth

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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