Junebug

June was the month of flowers. I’ve never made more flower photos around home than in June. I think it was seeing the sheer abundance of flowers this year at Carrizo Plain – identifying these flowers has made me more curious about the flowers around home, and it has been so much fun to go out and see what I’d find.

Wildflowers!

One of the most amazing finds was the rare Cuyamaca Lake Downingia that only grows in a couple of spots in San Diego County – and nowhere else! The Scarlet Larkspur is another flower that I was entirely unaware of until now. The Woolly Bluecurls up in the Laguna Mountains were another surprise, so was the Del Mar Mesa sand aster, the Yellow Monkey Flower, the Mountain Collomia… :-)

The more I look at nature, the more I find that “everything is brown and dry” in Southern California in Summer just isn’t true (some even say “dead” when “dormant” is a far better word). It’s the first of July and on my morning walk today I still saw small Yellow Bush Penstemon in bloom, Chamise with its tiny white flowers, Buckwheat of course (which is probably the single most important staple for insects during the summer), Wirelettuce, Monkey flowers, and so much more.

Hazardias are just beginning to bloom, at Lake Hodges the tiny Matchweed is out, I saw Vinegarweed, and just yesterday I made photos of Climbing Milkweed for the first time. I also saw some Weed’s Mariposa Lilies, and Tarweed blooms in large yellow patches right now. All that two months after we had the last rain, and after ten days of soaring temperatures where multiple temperature records were broken throughout California (the heat wave wore off in the middle of the week). Finding local wildflowers and photographing them has made me aware of just how much is still growing and blooming here in the middle of the year. It’s beautiful.

Photo of the Month

Unsurprisingly, it was difficult to pick a photo of the month for June 2016 – singling out a wildflower from the many photos that I made didn’t feel right. At the same time though, I didn’t feel a “special connection” to any of my landscape photos from June (which were very few to begin with) and I really want my photo of the month be meaningful to me, on a personal level.

Now in May I chose a photo of “just some rocks” ;-) over my favorite flower photo of that month – which was an Indian Milkweed. Then a friend pointed me towards a different type of Milkweed that she had just found. It’s called Climbing Milkweed (Funastrum cynanchoides var. hartwegii), and I made many, many photos of it, just yesterday. Compared to Indian Milkweed, which – for a wildflower – is pretty big, almost “massive”, the Climbing Milkweed is smaller and very delicate. How its beautiful flower clusters grow out of the thin, vein-like twigs is almost hard to comprehend.

Climbing Milkweed (Funastrum cynanchoides var. hartwegii), San Elijo Lagoon, Solana Beach, California, June 2017.
Climbing Milkweed (Funastrum cynanchoides var. hartwegii), San Elijo Lagoon, Solana Beach, California, June 2017.

It was so rewarding to “work” this beautiful plant with the camera. As the name implies, it uses other plants to climb. That looks less appealing when you see it with your own eyes at first – small flower clusters in a chaotic tangle of twigs and branches of other plants, some dead, some alive. Until you get closer, of course.

With the macro lens and a shallow depth of field, it’s possible to isolate the flowers nicely and work with the shapes and lines around it. And I think that works well in the photo that I made my pick and favorite: a single flower is fully opened, with a second one just beginning to open behind it, another flower cluster forming behind it, connected by out of focus lines and framed at the top with the curve of the plant’s leaf. The Climbing Milkweed truly deserves to be my photo of the month (sorry, Indian Milkweed – I still love you, too!).

Archive Additions

Normally I summarize additions to the photo archives on my website in the gallery below alone. To keep the gallery from getting too big, I’ve collected more wildflower photos into a separate “May/June 2017 wildflower collection” blog post. I’ll probably make changes to this post and update it with more photos as I make my way through the sheer amount of flower photos that I made, as time permits. The photos of the Del Mar Mesa sand aster for example will get their own dedicated blog post – I have more photos of it to build a little showcase. Same for other flowers.

So here are the “other” photos that I’ve added to the site this month – yes, there’s some flowers in there too, but those are either on bushes and shrubs (ie. not herbaceous plants), or they’re not really macro/close-up photos… :-)

And that’s all for June. See you around!

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