This morning I dallied on the front porch with the camera. I didn't have any freelance work. I did have plans to work on my thesis. But since the topic is, at its broadest, on the evolving religious understanding of God in nature, I decided that watching the bluebirds build their third nest of the season was in some way connected. I have a gift for rationalization ...
The mother bluebird has been bringing fresh pine straw to the old nest for the past two days. Bluebirds appear to reuse the old nest, freshening it on top. Bluebirds are good housekeepers - when the last brood was in the box, several times I saw the parents carry out pellets of bird droppings.
It's been a little over two weeks since the bluebirds fledged. I've seen them following their parents from tree limb to tree limb. One kept investigating its mother's work.
The juveniles often seem to be looking for handouts. This little scene made my day.
Around 10 a.m. I decided I must get some work done on the thesis. I had to go to the Duke Divinity School Library. The nearest parking lot that I could find was at Sarah P. Duke Gardens, so of course, I had to walk through the gardens on the way to the library. I'd been wanting to visit again ever since reading this post at Carolyn's Shade Gardens.
The first planting that caught my eye on the walk into the gardens was this striking combination of pineapple lilies with chartreuse foliage and cheery yellow flowers.
The native plants section just happened to be on they way to the library. I have never seen a bottlebrush buckeye in bloom before. This is a young plant - further up the path was a huge specimen that must have been 12 feet tall and wide.
Amid the greens of the summer shade garden, cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis) was jaw-droppingly beautiful.
The hummingbird liked it, too.
I came to a pond with charming stepping stones.
I have never seen so many dragonflies.
Summer woodland gardens in North Carolina tend to be subdued. The real show of wildflowers is in spring. Yet Duke has some unusual specimens in bloom, such as a hybrid native azalea.
Ever since I was a child, I have always liked secluded seating places outdoors.
I like the use of Christmas ferns along this path.
Another shady grotto. I think if I were a Duke student, I would spend all my time studying in Duke Gardens.
Then I came upon my favorite tree of all, the big-leaf magnolia. The leaves are ENORMOUS and look tropical. They are from 12 to 32 inches long. I'd guess this specimen's leaves are about two feet long.
Unlike the Southern magnolia, the big leaf is deciduous.
If I were a child, I would have stopped and played under this magnolia. If it rained, I wouldn't get wet.
Every year in July I decide I want a plum leaf azalea. Here one glows red next to another big leaf magnolia.
I did finally get to the library, and after some minor problems, such as finding the journal I was interested in was written in German, I emerged into the midday sunshine. I walked back through the more formal part of Duke Gardens.
The sun was glaring in the perennial beds and the vibrant colors were stunning. I never would have thought of combining orange daylilies with purple phlox, but it was gorgeous. The photo doesn't do it justice.
If we move to a property that gets more sun, this is what I want my cottage garden to look like.
Curving formal paths lined mainly with annuals transect this part of the garden.
Rudbeckia, purple phlox, yellow daylilies and red roses make a strong statement in the noonday sun.
I did eventually have to turn the camera off. But it was a fun morning of "research."