Denise Goldberg's blog

Saturday, August 31, 2019

flowers and creatures

It's always interesting to walk among flowers and see what else is visible. I love the Cherokee Sunset variety of Rudbeckia hirta; apparently a tiny caterpillar likes it too.

Cherokee Sunset Rudbeckia hirta

Friday, August 30, 2019

a tomato hornworm & a wasp

I was volunteering in the gardens of the Stevens-Coolidge Place Wednesday morning when one of the staff members pulled several of us to a section of the garden housing a self-planted tomato plant. Usually we pull up or move plants that don't belong but somehow this tomato stayed, growing wild among the dahlias.

Matt grabbed us to share an interesting caterpillar. A tomato hornworm was perched on the plant, covered with tiny white oblong obtrusions. It turns out that these are cocoons of parasitic wasps.

This was my first introduction to a tomato hornworm.

"Tomato hornworms (Manduca quinquemaculata) are a serious problem for tomato growers. These caterpillars have a large appetite and can quickly defoliate a tomato plant. If you find hornworms in your tomatoes, simply pick them off and drop them in soapy water. However, if you find a hornworm with white oblong obtrusions, leave it!

The white obtrusions are actually the cocoons of a parasitic wasp. A female wasp has laid her eggs under the skin of that hornworm. As the eggs hatch the larvae actually feed on the hornworm insides. The larvae eat their way out of the caterpillar and spin the cocoons you see. Eventually adult wasps will emerge from the cocoons and the weakened hornworm will die."

tomato hornworm & parasitic wasp

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

inland waters

While I love walking on the beach at the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, the inland side of the refuge also makes me happy. When I headed to the coast yesterday the sky was clear of clouds; later some clouds appeared to decorate the landscape.

looking inland, Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

morning, Parker River

More of the beach at the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge has reopened. The section where the least terns continue to nest is still closed, but I was able to walk south from parking lot 3. That's one of my favorite walking spots in the refuge.

I arrived two hours after high tide to find an active (and loud!) ocean. It was a day of watching the water as I walked; I'm lucky my feet stayed dry!

The sight and the sound of the ocean provides a sense of calm.

on the beach, Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Sunday, August 25, 2019


Sunflowers wear different colors; this one shows petals of red.


Saturday, August 24, 2019


As I walked by old mill buildings in Lawrence, MA, this door caught my eye. It must no longer be used as a means of egress.

The green of encroaching ivy pops against the red of the door.

window covered in ivy, Lawrence, MA

Friday, August 23, 2019


Some flowers continue to bloom and others are fading. This morning I saw two echinacea in the same garden plot, one wearing strong signs of decay, the other continuing to wear bright colors.



Thursday, August 22, 2019

dahlia, opening

I continue to be amazed at the variety of dahlias that decorate the garden.

This beauty in pink is partially open; it will be good to visit the garden again in a day or two to check its progress.


Wednesday, August 21, 2019


While I tend to focus on flowers, the local garden also showcases vegetables.

I like the patterns in both the shapes and the veining of the leaves.

leafy vegetable

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

sunflower morning

A sunflower greets the day in early morning light.


Monday, August 19, 2019


The bright red stalk of Swiss chard highlights the green of its leaves.

swiss chard

Sunday, August 18, 2019


A walk by the ocean leaves me with a sense of peace.

looking to the ocean, Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Saturday, August 17, 2019

a poppy, emerging

A poppy in pink emerges, soon to spread its petals.


Friday, August 16, 2019

sharing space

I headed to the garden early this morning, walking onto the grounds at 6:30.

As soon as I walked in I saw a rabbit eating grass. I immediately stopped, stooping close to the ground. He watched me, staying still, matching my lack of movement. Once he saw I wasn't attempting to get closer he went back to eating.


Maybe someday I will convince a rabbit to pose for me when my camera is wearing something other than my macro lens. While a macro is perfect for flowers, it doesn't have the ability to pull things closer to me.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

in the woods

As I was walking in the woods at Harold Parker State Forest this afternoon I looked down to see a splash of color. A mushroom wearing a bright reddish-orange color was standing in a patch of green moss.


Monday, August 12, 2019


A single purple flower stands tall in a bed of orange calendula. It may be misplaced in the garden but I think it's beautiful.


Sunday, August 11, 2019

a caterpillar

Yesterday I visited the gardens of Stevens-Coolidge Place to share them with a friend. She pointed out a caterpillar sitting on a milkweed plant.

I returned early this morning with my camera for a quiet visit in a garden empty of people.

I wonder if today's caterpillar is the same as yesterdays. He was happily sitting on the plant, eating a leaf.



Saturday, August 10, 2019

on a leaf

A butterfly perches on a leaf, motionless.


Friday, August 09, 2019


A zinnia wearing bright pink caught my eye as I wandered in the garden this morning.


Wednesday, August 07, 2019

morning sunshine

On a morning walk, a sunflower greets the day.


Tuesday, August 06, 2019

back to the beach

The entire beach at the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge closes on April 1st every year for the piping plover nesting season, reopening when the birds are finished with the long stretch of sandy beach. A short section reopened just over a week ago, from parking lot 6 south into Sandy Point State Reservation. Since at the time of the reopening the greenhead flies were still in full force, I decided to wait for my first visit.

On Sunday, I heard from three people at Parker River that the dreaded flies were gone. With yesterday's morning low tide set for 9:39 AM a morning walk on the beach sounded like a good idea. I shared the space with people and sea birds.

It felt good to be walking on my favorite beach again. I'm happy that the piping plovers have a safe nesting place but I'm also happy when the beach reopens.

on the beach, Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Monday, August 05, 2019

photos! flitter, flutter, butterfly

If you're interested in seeing the butterflies that surrounded me during my visit at Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory last Friday, check my gallery flitter, flutter, butterfly! 2019.


Sunday, August 04, 2019

two sides

Friday's visit to the Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory was delightful! As soon as I walked in, a butterfly landed on me, choosing to walk with me for a bit. I walked, watching butterflies flying and butterflies at rest. I walked and I stood still, watching flying and resting butterflies.

There are some butterflies that I usually see sitting with wings closed, or flying above me so I always see the underside of their wings. On this visit, two of the species allowed me to catch a glimpse of the other side of their wings. The difference was amazing.

The Cairns birdwing (Ornithoptera euphorion) has wonderfully decorated wings.

Cairns birdwing butterfly

With his wings closed, I couldn't see the iridescent colors on the other side of the wings. While I couldn't convince him to pose with wings opened, a photo of this butterfly in motion exposes the wonderfully different top side of his wings.

Cairns birdwing butterfly

Another butterfly with contrasting sides is the dead leaf butterfly (Kallima inachus). Wings closed, it resembles a dead leaf. Wings opened, a splash of color is revealed.

dead leaf butterfly (Kallima inachus)

dead leaf butterfly (Kallima inachus)

Butterflies are amazing!

Friday, August 02, 2019

canalside in Turners Falls

This morning butterflies were calling to me, pulling me to the western part of the state. I spent time in the butterfly conservatory, then decided to stop to explore the Canalside Rail Trail in Turners Falls on my way home.

I walked on both sides of the Turners Falls Dam, passing old buildings along the canal on the downstream side of the dam, and walking along the smooth water upstream. Warning signs about water levels rising quickly made me think as I walked along the water below the dam.

canalside in Turners Falls

warning sign

above the dam

If you're curious, click to read about the Turners Falls Hydroelectric Project.

Thursday, August 01, 2019


These bright yellow flowers stand tall in the garden, hovering above my head.