HOYA doin?!

Hello, hello! I hadn’t realized how long I’d been away until I started getting e-mails from you sweet readers checking up on me. Apologies! I’ve been sick a lot and that, combined with the loss of a loved family member, has kept me away for several weeks. I’m happy to be back now and wanted to check in with you all:

Hoya doin?!  : )

A while ago, of my cousins gave me a start of her Hoya (Hoya fungii, I think) and it has finally bloomed. I love how thick and waxy the inner bloom appears and the outer part looks like fuzzy stars!

They bloom in a cluster from the hanging vine. This beautiful ball of blooms measures 3″ across.

I sure hope you have a LOVELY day! I’m also glad to be back to crafting and will be right back with the first card I’ve made in a while.

See you soon,

~D.Ann

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PTI 10th Anniversary Challenge: Transformation – Golden Framed Dewy Periwinkle Photo

The final challenge of Papertrey Ink’s 10th Anniversary celebration was called Transformation. The challenge was to create a new project based on a card you were not happy with. That was easy… That white, pink and green frame I just did really didn’t turn out as great as I’d imagined it. I thought the colors would pull out the colors in the picture, but was highly disappointed.

So, I decided to re-try this time with a solid gold background…

Wow! NOW the picture POPS!! MUCH better, don’t you think?!!

I love making cards out of pictures I’ve taken… I need to do that more often! They make great ‘any occasion’ cards to have on hand!!

Supplies used:

  • Papertrey Ink Quatrefoil cover plate die
  • Colorbok Shiny Gold Metallic Paper
  • Sookwang 6″ Scor-tape adhesive (this also worked MUCH better for piecing in the pieces)
  • Core’dinations Parisian Nights A2 white card

I’m playing along with the following challenges… click on any one of them for more information on how you can join the fun… you’ll want to hurry and join this one if you can – you might win your PTI wishlist of up to $300! Wouldn’t that be fabulous?!

Thanks again for visiting… don’t forget to stop back by on Friday for a cool surprise!

~D.Ann

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PTI 10th Anniversary Challenge: Photo Finish – Dewy Periwinkle Photo Card

If you’ve been following today’s posts, you know that I’m participating in several of Papertrey Ink’s 10th Anniversary Challenges. This one is called Photo Finish – and challenges us to incorporate a photo into a project. I took my recent dewy Periwinkle pic and framed it up on a card:

Supplies used:

  • Papertrey Ink Quatrefoil cover plate die
  • Core’dinations Parisian Nights A2 pink card and white & green cardstock
  • Aleene’s Super Tacky spray adhesive
  • Scrapbook Adhesives by 3L EZ Runner & EZ Dots

I’m playing along with the following challenges… click on any one of them for more information on how you can join the fun:

I don’t know if I’ll get another card posted tomorrow before the deadline or not. If not, I will see you again on Friday when I finally get to spill the beans on the special project I’ve been busting to tell you about!! : ) Hope to see you then, if not before!!

~D.Ann

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Flower pics and Sandhill Cranes

I’m finally back and I’m glad you’ve stopped back by, too!

I’m going to start this post with a visit to northern Florida last November. I didn’t get to post the videos of the Sandhill Cranes. They’re such nifty birds, although the locals might complain about them tearing up their yards as they look for food. It was fun to watch a couple sing and dance together. (It is said that the female makes two calls for every one the male makes… I’ll let you draw your own conclusions about that! Ha!)

(You can click on the white arrow in the middle of the pictures to go to the videos. Turn up the volume for this first one.)

I guess, after a while, they must get sore throats and just dance…

Zooming ahead 3 and a half months later, we see the results of their fooling around…

It’s so fun to see wildlife wandering the streets of quiet neighborhoods! If you stand still and don’t bother them, they might even get within a feet of you… but remember they are WILDlife!! I love that their red faces look like hearts when you look at them straight on…

Next are some of the many nifty plants at my aunt’s house. First up is the Turk’s Cap Cactus aka Melon Cactus. It gets loads of those nifty pink fruits (right now there’s only one on the left side).

Atop the brown woolly ‘cap’ the flowers burst forth swathed in white wool…

The Kaffir Lily (Clivia miniata) is a member of the Amaryllis family…

And with a great sense of humor, her ‘Shrek’s Ears’ (Crassula ovata ‘Gollum’) – a type of jade plant – are planted next to ‘Donkey’s Tail’ (aka burro’s tail – Sedum morganianum)! lol!

Jatropha (aka nettlespurge or physic nut) blooms…

It’s amazing how a heavy dew changes everything… even some ‘weeds’ in the yard…

My favorite is this dew drop laden Periwinkle…

For those of you who are getting another round of cold weather, hopefully this will tide you over until your spring flowers start blooming like crazy real soon.

Thanks for stopping by today to enjoy these lovely creations with me!

~D.Ann

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Naples Botanical Garden Flowers

Today I’m happy to be sending you all some lovely flowers to brighten your day! On our way back from Sanibel, we stopped at the Naples Botanical Garden. This lovely garden features plants from the tropics and subtropics between the latitudes of 26 degrees North and 26 degrees South that you can see highlighted on the map:

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The 170 acres include Florida, Asian, Brazilian and Caribbean Gardens, as well as an orchid garden, water garden, children’s garden and butterfly house. The paths are exceptionally ADA friendly and they have the most comfortable scooters I’ve ever tried available for a small rental fee. Ok, it’s time to grab a cuppa, sit back and let your imagination take flight with these floral pieces of eye candy…

Let’s start with some of my favorite flowers – orchids!

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If you’ve been here before you know I have a fondness for these flowers and how they often strike up the imagination’s pareidolia…

Pareidolia  the human ability to see shapes or make pictures out of randomness.

… like the big ‘noses’ of the Cattleya orchids:

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– that sometimes look like puppies!

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… or the amazing Oncidium orchids, also known as ‘dancing ladies’.:

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For my cat loving friends… do you see what I saw in these next two?

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Another of my favorite flowers is the water lily and there were tons of them.

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I was especially delighted to see the amazing Victoria Regia (Victoria amazona) water lilies in the Brazilian Garden. It reminded me of the ones I saw in the South America.These are the largest waterlilies on earth and can only be found in the wild in the Amazon rain forest. The leaves can grow to some 8′ across and are so buoyant they can support the weight of a small child or an evenly distributed load of nearly 100 lbs!

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The butterfly garden was aflutter with these winged ‘flowers’ and I was happy to see several monarch butterflies.

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Have you ever seen a monarch chrysalis? The little pearls of gold amaze me… Looks like they got a hold of some of my crafting supplies and added some bling!

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Speaking of crafting… we’re always looking for fun and lovely color combinations and there is plenty of inspiration in the Creator’s color palette:

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This one had a sign: Aechmea “Blue Tango”:

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I may have to bookmark this post to use for color inspiration on those days when the brain fog rolls in thick and heavy. lol

Ok, lets close with some interesting and unusual plants and flowers – like this fruit from the Toad Tree (Tabernaemontana elegans Apocynaceae) from Zimbabwe. If you do a Google Search on Toad Tree, you can see a picture of when the fruit bursts open and really looks like a wide mouthed toad!

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I hope you enjoyed the pics! If you did, I highly recommend including this beautiful garden on your next trip to the southwest coast of Florida!

Hopefully I’ll be back to crafting again real soon. Thank you for stopping by today. Ya’ll take care and stay warm!

– D. Ann

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A Quick Trip to Sanibel Island, Florida

Hello everyone! Last week we had a wonderful surprise… some friends who have a timeshare over at Sanibel Island, FL, had their plans change at the last minute and, rather than let it sit empty the rest of the week, offered to let us to stay there a couple of days. Sanibel is one of our favorite spots to relax! So, despite our current health issues, we headed over for a mini vacation. Since many of you are stuck in the cold and snow, I thought you might want to turn up the heat, fix yourselves a warm cuppa and enjoy a brief break in the warm sun for a change. Here we go….

One would think being on the west coast of Florida means sunsets on the water, but we were on the south side of the island and actually had gorgeous SUNRISES.

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In the distance we can see Fort Myers Beach, Bonita Springs and, maybe a bit of Naples.

It’s fun to watch the skillful cast net fishermen. (If you want to watch, press the play button (the white arrow).):

To see the sunset, we have to go to some of the northern beaches, like here at Blind Pass Beach, which is just before crossing over to Captiva:

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If you watch carefully, you can often see dolphins playing in the gulf waters. Here’s a very short video. Press the ‘play’ button (the white arrow).

(Hint: look in the distance toward the left) To my cat loving friends: There are lots of cat’s paw shells on Sanibel and I usually find the most PAIRS (they’re bivalves) here at Blind Pass. Just sayin’. >^.^<

There’s plenty to do on the island. #1 for me is shelling. It’s addictive and no matter how many shells one has, there’s always one more pretty one that HAS to go home.

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Here are some of the shells you might find. And, yes, one of the rangers at the NWR said there ARE seahorses in the water.

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Of course you have to watch out for the live ones… it’s illegal to take them home!

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This guy looked like he was hoarding his own stash of shells, so I left him alone.

Tip: try finding a single tide day where low tide is just before dawn. The tide is stronger and brings in more shells and if you can get out just before dawn, you’ll be treated to nice shells AND a pretty sunrise.

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You can also do the regular things, like sit in the sun – or shade – and read…

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… or make sand castles or something out of the ordinary like an iguana…

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… or a seahorse.

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Another fun thing to do is drive through the JN Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge – I recommend doing this at low tide as all kinds of birds tend to come in then to feed. As of this writing, the fee is $5 per car and you can drive through as many times as you wish. (If you have the lifetime Senior Pass to the National Parks, you get in free.)

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Here’s a short video of the pelicans coming in… Press the ‘play’ button (the white arrow):

There are white pelicans, spoonbills, sandpipers, egrets, ibis and others. The ranger is talking about the anhinga (commonly known as snake birds) that are often see with their wings spread out. Be sure and look up often as you drive through the park and the island… there are numerous osprey nests and there is even a bald eagle in the area.

Near sunset in the park, you can see flocks and flocks of birds coming in to roost. Watch for the mullets who seem to be jumping for joy! lol!

At the visitors center, they have something fun for the artsy-craftsy folk (Well, I THINK it’s for US, tho there were a lot of KIDS there. hahaha). They have a table with raised etchings of various forms of wildlife and plants in the area and a pile of crayons and blank paper so you can make rubbings. I put several together on a page….

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I may have to try that with some of my embossing folders! : )

As you drive through the park, be sure to stop at the mangrove overlook. As you walk through you will see what look like brown ‘knots’ on the mangrove trees. Look closer!

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They’re crawling with crabs! You may also see what look like strings of pearls – those are actually spider egg sacks. The guide said each one may have some 50,000 inside. Yikes! I think they’re basilica orb weavers. When you get out to the water be sure to look down… you may spot some of those seahorses!

Traveler’s tip: be sure to spray yourself with insect repellent before getting out of your car in the park or going to the beach to protect yourself from no-see-ums… those tiny biting midges or sand fleas are so small and fast you won’t know they’re biting until it’s too late.

Ok, lets leave the creepy critters behind and take a look at some of the pretty and unusual plants on the island:

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This one’s called a Necklace Pod (Sophora tomentosa).

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Well, it’s about time for me to cast off. (See what I did there?!) Wink-wink!

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I hope you enjoyed your little trip to Sanibel Island! I’ll be back soon with some pictures from the Naples Botanical Garden to help you hold on until your spring flowers arrive!

Thanks for stopping by!

~D.Ann

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A Visit to Florida’s Flamingo Gardens

Since some of you are stuck inside with the winter storm, I thought I’d send you some colorful sunny warmth to brighten your day! There is even a puzzle and you might find a few good laughs along the way. So grab a hot cuppa and sit back and enjoy your visit….

We had a delightful time visiting Flamingo Gardens yesterday. The gardens were established 90 years ago (2017).

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They are also on the Reciprocal Admissions Program with the American Horticultural Society.

Hint: If you plan on visiting two or more botanical gardens in the US in a year, it is worth checking to see if they are one of the 300 in the Reciprocal Admissions Program, as  AHS membership gets you in free.

Of course the parks’ namesakes are a huge attraction…

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Here’s a video of my favorite part of the flamingo section… getting to feed them!  (Just click on the ‘play’ arrow in the middle.)

What a delightful experience to get to hand feed these beautiful birds! They’re very careful not to bite the hand that feeds them.

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Another favorite section for cat lovers like me is getting to see the Endangered Florida Panther. The National Wildlife Society estimates there are less than 100 left in the wild.

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I wish my camera would do better on long distance photos. I am glad to see she has a nice large area to roam with plenty of green (unlike one of the nearby zoos). A distant cousin playing nearby was happy to let me pet her and get my ‘fur therapy’ in for the day.

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Also for cat lovers are these cool T-shirts in the gift shop… Other than the three cats and the background pair of eyes, can you find the hidden cat images? The manufacturer says there are 10 cougars on this shirt. You can click on the picture to be taken to their answer page.

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Another prominent feature of the gardens are the many peacocks roaming free.

Here’s an artsy shot of those gorgeous colors for you…

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Here’s one of those gorgeous guys resting among the banana trees.

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Speaking of banana trees… Their blooms are gorgeous!

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Each one of those flowers inside the main pod can eventually become a banana. as each petal unfolds, it releases a new bunch.

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BANANA!!

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(If you want to do an instaminions pic, just click the photo)

There is also an amazing aviary where you can walk around with the injured and recuperating birds taken under Flamingo Gardens’ wing. (See what I did there?!) It’s so neat to get up close and personal with some of of my favorite waterfowl, like the spoonbill:

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And pelicans:

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One of these birds is not like the others. Can you guess which one? lol!

One could walk around the aviary for a long time looking for just the right shot of a beautiful bird…

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And THEN you come across this sign:

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Bwah-hahahaha! (Now go back and look at the previous picture… on the branch below the bird he’s trying to picture. Yep…. it happens!!! Hahahaha!)

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Ok, so this barred owl is not impressed. There is a whole section in the park with a variety of birds of prey. There are also several displays of exotic birds, too..

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And, of course, there are plenty of plants and flowers. I only wish there were more name tags… I don’t know what this plant was.

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But the flowers at its base were pretty nifty:

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The shrimp plant is aptly named… (If you don’t know why, say, “Okay, Google, find “shrimp in the ocean.”)…

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Sometimes a little bit of sunlight can make all the difference in what you see:

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Visiting parks can be great for meeting people. I came across a really fun guy at the park:

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(Note: This blog claims no responsibility for bad puns!!)

Some plants just make for cool photographs…

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Beautiful ground orchids:

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Cattleya orchid:

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Well, I hope you had a fun visit to Flamingo Gardens! I sure did!! Hopefully, we’ll get to go again while the temperatures are more moderate. I won’t tell you it was pretty chilly at first in the low 60’s, but it warmed up quickly and was a lovely day… That’d just be cruel. : )

Stay warm, my friends, and have a lovely day!

~D.Ann

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A Visit to McKee Botanical Gardens, Vero Beach, Florida

It’s been a while since I’ve taken you on a garden tour. A couple of weeks ago we had a lovely stroll through the McKee Botanical Gardens in Vero Beach, Florida and I thought those of you stuck with gray skies and snow might enjoy some flowers to lift your spirits.

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It’s a beautiful park with Monet-esque scenery. There are lots of canals with oodles of water lilies, including the lotus flowers and Victoria Regis Waterlilies. Here are just a few:

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They often have art exhibits scattered throughout the grounds. Right now, they’re exhibiting Nature Connects, Art with Lego Bricks by sculpture artist Sean Kenney. Here are a couple of my favs:

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This one took 60,549 Lego bricks to build. Fun Fact: A Monarch butterfly can travel some 265 miles per day!

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This one took 31,565 Lego pieces to build and measures 64″x32″x77″.

Of course, there are tons of other plants and flowers at the garden. One of my favorites is the Rainbow Eucalyptus tree…

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Here are some more beautiful flowers at the garden:

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I always find it amazing when you look closely at flowers and often find little flowers withing the flower! I hope you enjoyed your tour!!

Traveler’s tip: If you like visiting botanical gardens and know you will visit more than two a year, you might want to check out becoming a member of the American Horticultural Society as your membership not only benefits them, but they have a reciprocal program that gets you into many gardens across the US free of charge. A win-win… just sayin’. : )

Sending you all plenty of sunshine and warm wishes for a lovely day!

~D.Ann

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Meet Charlie, the Maine Coon Cat

I thought I’d switch up to something different today… Let’s meet my friend’s Maine Coon cat, Charlie! I spent a couple of days visiting Charlie recently, and this adorable young kitty just kept posing for pictures like a runway diva, so I thought I’d share some with you.

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Maine Coon cats are known for being social and outgoing – Charlie loves to be where his peeps are!

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He also loves to hang out on his kitty tree for quick catnaps.

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No matter how quietly you sneak up on him, he always seems to sense you’re close and open his eyes with a mischievous ‘I’m ready to play now, are you?!’ look.

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Well, almost always. : )

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Charlie loves to play with his stuffed animals and will drag them across the house in his mouth. (He chose not to show that off when I visited tho.)

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One of the identifying characteristics of Maine Coon Cats are the Lynx-like tufts of hair on the tips of their ears. Males weigh, on the average, 13-18 pounds – around twice the size of the average 8 pound cat. Verismo Leonetti Reserve Red holds the 2006 Guinness World Record for length. He was measures at 48 inches from the tip of his nose to the end of his tail and weighed in at a healthy (for his frame) 35 pounds. From 20010 to 2013, a cat named Stewie beat this record length, measuring 48.5 inches!

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They don’t reach their full size until they’re about three, so Charlie has a couple of years to grow yet. Love that long, fluffy feather-duster tail!

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Well, it’s been fun visiting with Charlie, but it looks like he’s ready for another catnap and so am I!

Raise you hand/paw if you think Charlie’s a pretty nifty guy!

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(Some day I’ll learn how to change the resolution without losing the quality of the pic. Sorry.)

Thanks for getting a little fur therapy with us today! >^.^<

-D.Ann

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Summer Flowers in Indiana

Hello again! I’ve finally made it back. Unfortunately, I’m experiencing some technical difficulties with the Cades Cove videos, so I’ve decided to skip ahead and share a few summer flowers from Indiana with you. Enjoy your relaxing garden tour!

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Seems like everybody was enjoying the cone flowers!

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Later on you’ll see her with her wings open.

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Veronica

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Hosta

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Nifty heart-shaped cluster of spirea, don’t you think?!

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Hollyhock

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Dahlia

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I know I’ve said it before, but I still think it’s amazing that some varieties of daylilies are edible! They look fabulous in salads!!

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Vanessa Atlanta (Red admiral) finally opened her wings!

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Calla Lily

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Bee musings: ‘Does this flower make my tush look big?!’ lol!

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Remember the allium from the spring flowers post?

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Even the dried seeds are pretty!

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This bed of lilies is amazing! I took dozens of pictures of them and each one is different from the next in some way. They are all just gorgeous! Here are just a few of them up close:

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I hope you can see how the leaves sparkle in this closeup… the original glitter factory!

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‘Not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed as one of these’!  – Mt. 6:29

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I hope you’ve enjoyed your walk with me through this beautiful garden!

Have a lovely day!

-D.Ann

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