Flower Friday – Japanese Toad Lily

Japanese Toad Lily - Photograph by Laura Lecce
Japanese Toad Lily – Photograph by Laura Lecce

This is a photo of a Japanese Toad Lily, which in my opinion, is quite an unattractive name given to a beautiful flower. This was the first time I have seen or heard of this flower. It is native to Japan, and flowers late in summer to early fall. One particular piece of information that stuck in my mind above all others, is that this flower is deer resistant. To an Australian who has never, and will never experience a deer visiting my garden, this intrigued me. I further found out that deer resistant means that it is not one of their favorite flowers to munch on. If I had the slightest possibility that a deer might visit me, I would be someone who would plant flowers purely to entice deer into my garden. Though I can also understand the frustration of people who want a flower filled garden, and are constantly losing flowers to hungry deer. If you are experiencing that frustration, then supposedly this flower is a good choice for your garden, as it may last longer than other flowers which deer think are yummy to eat.

Have a great weekend everyone, and for other flowers please click here.

The Magic of a Hoverfly

Hoverfly - Photograph by Laura Lecce
Hoverfly – Photograph by Laura Lecce

This weekend I met a magical hoverfly. Why magical? Because this is by far the most magical and festive photograph I have ever taken. As soon as I saw the result, I imagined this fly to be a character out of Alice in Wonderland. Those giant round eyes and delicate transparent wings are perfect compliments to the whimsical pattern of his yellow behind – hovering above a background of delicate pinks and greens, punctuated with bright yellow stars which complete this beautiful world. A snapshot of the most perfect moment in time and space.

Friday Flower – Pineapple

Pineapple - Photograph by Laura Lecce
Pineapple – Photograph by Laura Lecce

Yes it is true that the pineapple is a fruit, but did you know that to make a pineapple, this bromeliad must flower. Actually the flower spike it produces is up to 6 inches (15cms) tall, and will contain up to 200 spirally arranged flowers. The fruits (technically they are berries) develop from the ovaries of the individual flowers, which then join together to become the yummy pineapple that we eat. The fruits are arranged into two interlocking helices, one containing 8, and the other direction containing 13. These numbers are both Fibonacci numbers. I don’t want to bore you with too much mathematics, but the sequence goes as follows, 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55…and so on. Each number is the sum of the two preceding numbers. Fibonacci numbers often appear in nature (which is governed by mathematics) such as in the branching of trees, arrangement of leaves along a stem and in succulents, petals on a flower, pine cone bracts, the list is huge. So those of you that love nature, and never thought of yourselves as mathematicians, you are actually math admirers.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Totally Annoyed

Totally Annoyed - Photograph by Laura Lecce
Totally Annoyed – Photograph by Laura Lecce

Whilst on vacation in Costa Rica, one of our destinations was the Tabacon Grand Spa located in La Fortuna De San Carlos which is right in the center of a rainforest at the base of the Arenal Volcano. This resort is famous for naturally heated, black volcanic pools of crystal clear water. A heaven on earth for anyone that loves relaxing baths, and luscious tropical gardens. However, as I am not a person who finds sweating in warm water relaxing, I instead was delighted to see that many reptiles obviously loved the humidity and warmth that these thermal hot springs had to offer. The stunning juvenile lizard in this photo was experiencing quite a relaxing day at the spa, until I arrived with my camera. So instead of relaxed, he looks incredibly annoyed at me for ruining his day by taking some photos. Those glaring yellow eyes and pursed lips make me smile every time I look at him, what a cutie!

For those of you who are also reptile lovers, please click here to visit my other scaly posts.

Friday Flower – Lavender with a hint of cabbage

Lavender with Butterfly - Photograph by Laura Lecce
Lavender with Butterfly – Photograph by Laura Lecce

A peaceful Friday photograph of lavender with a white cabbage butterfly. I use the word peaceful because lavender oil possesses anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effects, and thus, has long been used as a calming agent and to promote sleep. However, Friday is my busiest work day, and I have no time to rest. Instead, I will tell you that this white cabbage butterfly is an agricultural pest in North America and Australia because the caterpillars love to eat crops. We should still have some sympathy for them though, because certain species of wasp will lay their eggs inside the caterpillar and the wasp larvae then eat it from the inside out, ultimately killing the caterpillar. What a horrible way to die! Happy weekend everyone, I hope I didn’t give you nightmares.

Baby Blues in Mexico

Baby Blues - Photograph by Laura Lecce
Baby Blues – Photograph by Laura Lecce

This photo not only marks one of the highlights I experienced on a recent trip to Mexico, but a highlight of my life. The beach we stayed on was incredibly beautiful with endless white sand and calm turquoise water. Just outside our room was an enclosed area with numerous little signs posts in the ground, much like a cemetery (see photo below). Curiously I went to investigate, and to my delight I realized these signs marked mounds of recently laid turtle eggs. Each sign had NIDO written on it (meaning nest in Spanish) with the number of eggs buried (usually 100 or more), and the date they were laid. I was instantly appreciative of the care the resorts have put into this endeavor, when it would certainly have been easier to ignore that they have encroached on a turtle nesting beach. Each night the resort security was seen patrolling the beach, and staff would then relocate any newly laid eggs to these protected areas to stop them getting destroyed by beach goers. As I was reading each of the signs, I realized that literally thousands of baby sea turtles were incubating in the sand in front of me. I quickly Googled how long it takes for baby turtles to hatch and at what time of day, learning that it takes about 8-10 weeks and they hatch at night. As they were mostly laid in August, I knew my chances were slim, but a few had July dates, so I was still hopeful of a newborn turtle sighting.

Turtle Hatchery - Photograph by Laura Lecce
Turtle Hatchery – Photograph by Laura Lecce.

Each night after dark I checked for baby turtles, and was disappointed that they all remained buried. Then, one day at noon when I looked out the window, I glimpsed a tiny movement in the turtle enclosure and ran out to find two little blue babies scurrying around in the sand! Worried that the midday sun would quickly cook them, I sent my husband to notify the resort staff while I guarded my babies. The resort staff came running with their “turtle tub” and let us pick them up to put them in (see photo below). They also tracked the little prints in the sand to identify which nest they were born from and started digging to uncover any more which had hatched, but not yet escaped the sand and found 5 more. I asked if they would take them to the water to release them, and they explained to me that if they did, the birds would quickly eat them, so they keep them safe until nightfall. That night as we were walking along the beach, each of the resorts came to the water with their babies in a tub. One of them contained hundreds of teeny, tiny turtles born that day. We were each handed two turtles to place gently on the sand and watch as they scurried into the ocean waves. I will admit that I cried as I did this, completely overwhelmed at the experience, and of knowing that I helped these little cuties safely reach the water. Simultaneously, my heart was also breaking with the realization that many will not make it far, and instead become prey to the monsters lurking in the dark waters. I was also in absolute awe of mother nature, knowing that one day the few girls that make it to maturity, possess in their tiny brains the GPS coordinates of this same beach, which they will revisit (in 20-50 years) to lay their very own eggs.

Being Born is Hard Work - Photograph by Laura Lecce
Being Born is Hard Work – Photograph by Laura Lecce

To visit my other turtle post, click here.

Flower Friday – Not just another water lily!

San Fran Water Lily - Photograph by Laura Lecce
San Fran Water Lily – Photograph by Laura Lecce

This photo of a water lily has long been one of my absolute favorites. It was photographed in a stunning glass house called the Conservatory of Flowers at the San Francisco Botanical Gardens. What particularly draws my interest is the soft geometry of nature, resting against a rigid backdrop of man-made geometrical rectangles in the reflection of the glasshouse windows. A lovely start to spring for all my fellow Aussies, have a great weekend everyone! (and completely in denial that summer is ending here in the USA).

For my other water lily posts click here.