Sunday, July 24, 2011

If You Were Grossed Out By My Last Post . . . Here's a Pretty Butterfly!

I realize everyone may not share my fascination with the Cicada Killers, but it was a very "buggy" day to document in the garden! So here's a picture of a prettier insect, a butterfly amidst the Coreopsis:
I'll try to leave the bugs alone for awhile (at least until I can get a fabulous photo of a tomato hornworm infected by braconid wasp larvae . . . I'm just warning you;  it's coming:-)

Did I Mention Bugs? Yeah, We Got Those (Cicada Killers)

Today I was quite proud of myself - I captured in photo-form the elusive Cicada Killer wasp in action! These wasps are amazing; get-in-your-face tough, but (luckily) they are all bark and no bite (or sting). Very territorial, they'll dive-bomb you if you get anywhere their nests. Did I mention they're huge? Almost two inches in length. This is the third year they've taken up residence; I've come to look forward to their arrival in mid-summer. Another reminder that nature has it's own pest-control systems in the organic garden (click on the photos to see a larger version):
Here's a Cicada Killer Wasp's Nest in the Ground . . .
This is a Cicada . . .
. . . And This is a Cicada Killer Wasp Bringing Dinner Home (an Unlucky Cicada) !  

Friday, July 22, 2011

Heat Wave

We're in the grips of a heat wave in the Northeast; it's unbearably hot. I've noticed a couple of plants are struggling with the heat; my chrysanthemums are looking a little crispy these days . . .
But the carpet roses appear quite unaffected; as a matter of fact, they have started blooming again for the first time since late spring:

I planted three of these rose bushes late last summer; they were "rescues" from the sale pile at a local nursery.  Carpet roses are supposed to be heat-tolerant; these are definitely living up to their reputation! I have very few rose bushes in my garden; maybe because they have a reputation of being high-maintenance garden divas, I've avoided them. I pretty much have a rule that I'll baby a plant the first year; after that, they're on their own (I know, heartless).  Tree peonies are excluded from this rule, however. I unabashedly spoil them :-)

 But this new generation of knock-outs and carpet roses seems to be winning me over . . .

Monday, July 18, 2011

Winterpills @ DreamAway Lodge - Becket MA 7/17/11

We spent a mystical evening this past Sunday listening to our favorite band Winterpills ( under the stars at a fabulous place called the DreamAway Lodge. Tucked away in the deep woods of Becket MA, it comes highly recommended for both a great meal and a top-notch place to see music, with a history to match; it's worth the trip for sure if you're in the Northeast: (

And do not pass up a chance to see Winterpills play, should they come to a venue in your area. Check them out on iTunes. "Tuxedo of Ashes" is their latest collection of hauntingly beautiful songs. It's important not to forget that there is  amazing artistic talent out there needing your support, including people in your local communities that are making incredible art and music if we just take the time to search them out.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

OK, So Dogs Are a Part of This Blog Too . . .

I know I said there would no doubt be cats, but there will be also dogs (and quite possibly other animals) featured on my blog from time to time. I am lucky and honored to be chosen to create the T-shirt artwork each year for the Stratford Fall Festival to Benefit Animals held annually in October (details here:

Here's a little glimpse into that process:
 Each year, the winner of the photo contest is chosen to be represented on the festival T-shirt the following year. Here's the 2010 photo contest winner, Trixie. I usually do a quick pencil sketch first, then do the full-blown ink drawing.

Here are the past year's winners as represented on the T-shirts:
It's really a great event benefiting our local animal shelter and local rescue group S.T.A.R.S. and all the good work they do. In addition to the T-shirt art, at the festival I will once again be offering portrait sketches of the attendee's pets and my husband Bill will be drawing awesome caricatures (his specialty: of both people and/or pets! If you love animals and are in the area, save the date. The festival is growing in leaps and bounds each year; plus we have Batso in attendance again! Say no more . . .

Friday, July 8, 2011

Tiger Lily

The Tiger Lily is a very common blooming plant in the Northeast this time of year; sometimes we forget how beautiful they really are. So take the time to appreciate them up close. This is a photo of a double tiger lily from my garden.

I'll be posting some artwork shortly on this blog to complete the triumvirate of plants, cats and artwork . . . so stay tuned!