Thursday, March 22, 2012


As I sat on the ground taking macro images of some newly emerging daffodils, the phrase "Daffy-down-Dilly" came to mind. There was something in childhood there and I found the rhyme and the author. Thanks to the internet!

"The catchy name 'Daffy-down-dilly' originates from the novel Little Daffydowndilly which was written by the acclaimed American author Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804 - 1864). Nathaniel Hawthorne was born in Salem, Massachusetts. "


Has come to town

With a yellow petticoat

And a pretty green gown


Here are some photos of the full flowers and some macro shots of the flowers in my Ithaca garden.  I purchased a new tripod to help with these and am enjoying the ability to capture macro shots in focus.

This is what the back yard looks like in March, with the pond covered with floating lotus pods

Monday, March 19, 2012

Cornell's Corpse Plant

I visited the "Corpse Plant" today, along with hundreds of other visitors.  It is estimated that about 1000 have come to view this unique flower.  Copied below is information from the Cornell Horticulture site.

While I was there, they were artificially pollinating the flowers inside the large modified leaf (red).  There are both male and female flowers at the base, but the artificial pollination is to secure potential pollination and perhaps add some genetic variation.  It DID smell, but it was exciting to see.

“Amorphophallus titanum is native to the rainforests of Suma- tra, Indonesia, where it is can be found on slopes and hillsides along the edges of the forest. Not only is it uncommon in nature, but it flowers only rarely. In cultivation, it generally takes 7-10 years to bloom, and may die or flower only rarely thereafter.
For example, one specimen at Kew Botanic Garden in England flowered in 1889 and did not flower again until 1926!
What looks like an individual flower is actually a group of flow- ers called an inflorescence. The bell-shaped structure is a modi- fied leaf (spathe) that is green on the outside, but deep red-purple on the inside. The column-like structure (spadix) is mostly sterile tissue that is used to diffuse the scent throughout the forest to attract pollinators. The actual flowers are very small and located at the base of this column, hidden by the modified leaf. There
are about 450 female flowers in a ring at the base, and 500-1,000 male flowers above them.
What’s that smell?
When the flowers are ready for pollination, the spadix emits a nauseating scent meant to attract carrion flies, which are attract- ed to rotting meat. The female flowers open first, and are only receptive for one day. Then the male flowers open to provide pollen for one day. If pollination is successful, bright red fruits are formed. In the wild, these are eaten by giant Hornbill birds, which help to disperse the seeds.
After two days, the inflorescence begins to collapse. The plant then sends up a single gigantic leaf about 16 ft. tall, which will produce sugars and starches to be stored in the tuber. It goes dormant for 3-7 months, after which the plant will send up another leaf. Eventually another inflorescence emerges, growing upwards at a rate of some 4 inches per day.”
People waiting in line to see the flower

Pollinating the flowers which are inside this large red modified leaf

Inside the leaf with artificial pollination

The tiny flowers are at the bottom

This is the plant

Here are some photos I was able to capture while angling through the crowd.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Cornell Dragon Day!

"Every year around St. Patrick’s Day, in a tradition whose origins go back more than 100 years, an enormous dragon created by the first-year architecture students parades across the campus. Accompanied by AAP students in outrageous costumes and heckled by rival engineering students, the dragon lumbers to the Arts Quad to be consumed by a bonfire. This rite of spring is one of Cornell’s best-known traditions."

I went over today to see the event and took several photos. Great fun!  While teaching for 32 years, I was not able to view this tradition, but today was fine weather and I walked from Thurston Ave. over to the Architecture school.  The crowd was modest because many students have already gone away for spring break.  But the students involved were celebratory and had a good time.

It was impressive to see the students move the dragon up the road and across campus.  You can see from some photos that much of the work was brute force of holding up the dragon that was made of steel.

In the photos, you can also see part of the new architecture building that spans the road and almost touches the Foundry.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Florida Birds

I am sorting through photos taken in February traveling around Florida and want to share some of them with you.  It is a photographer's delight to snap those beautiful birds.

After flying into Ft. Lauderdale, we drove to Naples with stops to view the birds.  At Shark Valley in the everglades, we took a two hour tour through the grasses with an excellent tour guide.  There is definitely a drought there not, which has a huge impact on the plant and animal populations.  In fact, he said that the birds might be scarce later in the month due to the water shortage.

There were, of course, many gators along the way, with stories of their mating behaviors.  The mothers were being very protective of their young and we wisely stayed a healthy distance from all gators.

On the way into the National Reserve, I noticed an Anhinga upside down on the ground waving its feet. So very sad.  I mentioned it to the ranger and he said she had been thus for two days and there was nothing he could do.  I questioned the possibility of turning her over for comfort if nothing else.  By the time we left the area two hours later, the bird had been turned over and was resting on the ground.  I took a very close up picture of her and her blue eyes seared through my mind.  Very poignant experience.  She may not have lasted long, but at least had the dignity of being upright.

We then drove to the Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge Marsh Trail were we had been last year at this time.  It was about the same time of day, but in February rather than December.  The populations of birds were less than last year, but I did get to photograph some Roseate Spoonbills in the distance.

While visiting friends in Titusville, we took a quick drive through a nature reserve and did find some blue herons. They are a captivating bird and always fun to watch and photograph.

Then, we visited Ft. Pierce and I enjoyed the antics of the pelicans and sea gulls.  Here are some samples from the trip.

Great Egret




Male Anhinga

Female Anhinga


Female Anhinga
Great blue heron


Wounded anhinga

Roseate Spoonbills




Brown Pelican


Proud pelican



Yawning pelican

Roseate spoonbills