Beauty and the Buzz

azaleas bloming2

Each day brings something new in the gardens this time of year! A splash of color through blossoming bushes and trees, along with more and more wee bright green leaves popping out along the branches of many trees! The rains have also subsided thus allowing us to spend more time out working in the yard.

wildflowers of the smokies5

The air is filled with the hum of bees and springtime birdsong! It’s simply delightful and after what seemed like a long, gray winter, I’m thrilled to be drinking it all in! The azaleas are really starting to bloom, filling the gardens with bold, splashes of intense color throughout! Pinks, violets, salmon, red and now, white are the colors so far that seem to cover every square inch of many bushes.

wildflowers of the smokies4

Other flowers are blooming too, many of them being our native wildflowers. Needless to say, it’s a treat to walk the winding path through our gardens each day.

wildflowers of the smokies6

Mornings and evenings are prettiest, as the color becomes saturated with the subdued lighting, and you can just imagine that you’re walking through a magical meadow far, far away, where tiny fairies live and come out and flit about the numerous flowers!

wildflowers of the smokies

There’s a particular stand of trillium that has been growing near our crabapple tree for years now, and each year they get bigger and more amazing! This year they are huge and I was excited to see that they’ve spread and now a wee patch of babies is now growing near this wonderful clump!

wildflowers of the smokies trillium

When we moved here almost 19 years ago now, there was nothing in our yard except for a couple trees and shrubs. The topsoil had all washed away leaving behind a hard slate-filled yard that hardly nothing would grow in. Being the tree huggers we are and lovers of forests, we started planting trees right away and letting volunteers grow. Plus Wes hauled literally hundreds of pounds of leaves and yard debris from a dear neighbor’s woods, which we mulched and scattered about our wee “woods” for many years. At one point, we also went with friends to dig up wildflowers from an area that was about to be developed, which we planted in our yard.

wildflowers of the smokies rue anemone

The years of work have paid off for us and now we have our own beautiful woods, with much of the forest floor covered in lush green moss, and numerous wildflowers thriving and scattered throughout!

wildflowers of the smokies3

Well, I do hope you enjoyed this virtual walk through our gardens and I look forward to sharing more with you from them, in the next few posts!

azaleas bloming

I’m super excited that my precious Carolina Wrens Peedeepeeps and Elvira have decided to nest in the big potted Spider Plant right outside our kitchen window! I’ve watched their progress from the first bits of moss while building this amazing sculpture with their beaks, and I’m so impressed! There are now 5 wee brown speckled eggs in there, and Elvira sits on it staring in the late evening and throughout the night. During the day the temps must be warm enough, as they stay away from the nest. I will keep you posted on their progress each week.

carolina wren nest and eggs

Peeps is not the only one nesting, as the cardinals, chickadees, and doves are nesting in the yard as well. My precious little Tufted Titmouse friend, Tinymouse is also nesting, as she comes almost daily and sits atop my head whilst trying to gather hair for her nest! Sometimes she just sits on my shoulder, and at others atop my knee, when I’m sitting out in the lounge chair reading. It almost appears as if she’s either checking out which book it is or waiting for me to read to her! Sometimes she comes and sits on me while we’re eating on the back porch too! Such delight she brings to me each spring! With extra time on our hands from not going anywhere, Wes is spending quite a bit of time in the garden and greenhouse, so hopefully, we’ll have more flowers and fresh edible things soon!

wes siegrist in greenhouse

~  In The Studio  ~

I finally managed to make myself stay inside long enough this past week to finish my painting of a Black-crowned Night Heron, which I started at The Big Night For Small Works during this past Southeastern Wildlife Exposition. The reference for this beautiful serene swamp setting came from our visit to Brookgreen Gardens for the opening of our Exquisite Miniatures Exhibition.

black-crowned night heron miniature painting
“Among Cypress Knees”

~  See our miniatures in these shows (currently online only) this week  ~

 (Other shows have closed with upcoming exhibitions pending. Check the website for updates.)

The Art of the Miniature XVIII
May 3 – June 14, 2020: Snow Goose Gallery, Bethlehem, PA

29th Annual International Miniature Art Show
May 2 – 30, 2020: Seaside Art Gallery, Nags Head, NC

Want to enjoy your special friend as a miniature painting?
                                             
. . . Then commission us to do just that! Email photos for consideration to us at

commission a dog painting

 

Sunshine and Flowers!

male Purple Finch
One of our resident  . . . and quite soaked I might add . . .  male Purple Finches

Wow . . . what a difference a day makes! The waterworks were finally turned off last Friday morning, and then the sun came out, accompanied by clear blue skies, lasting throughout the remainder of the day and all yesterday. I think the flowers and trees were as happy to see it as I was, as some of them have finally started to pop out little leaf buds, with some even unfurling! Having spent much of this past week inside our studio painting, while watching the rainfall outside, you can just imagine what a delight the past two days were for us! We enjoyed yesterday by hiking nearby White Oak Sinks trail, with two couples from the Virginia Native Plant Society. The remaining twenty-four members of their group will join them for several different hikes this week to enjoy the wildflowers that are starting to bloom in our area. Wes and I are scheduled to lead the group on a hike to White Oak Sinks this coming Friday, weather permitting, after they all enjoy a visit to our studio.

art studio
Painting during one of the cold dreary days

The hardest part about yesterday was finding a parking spot, as the Park was full with visitors out and about enjoying the greatly appreciated sunshine. We all finally managed to find a spot to park, and so began our journey. The air was still crisp as we started out, but warmed up quite nicely once we began walking up hill. At first, there were a very limited amount of wildflowers blooming due to the recent cold weather, but they seemed to be more and more as the day went on. Nonetheless, the moss was in full splendor once again from the recent rains, making the world appear green in many areas. As we approached the meadow area leading to the falls, the Sharp-Lobed Hepatica was quite stunning, with the hundreds of small white and light pink blossoms turning the surrounding hillsides white! Everywhere we looked were various sized clumps comprised of the white blossoms. Some were a most beautiful shade of pink, while others had a lavender cast to them. In recent years, Wes and I have always hiked that area later on in the season, thus missing this particular showy display of nature.

Sharp-Lobed Hepatica
A lovely clump of Sharp-Lobed Hepatica
Sharp-Lobed Hepatica
The Hepatica in a pretty pink hue
Sharp-Lobed Hepatica
A close up of their amazing little features

We wound our way through the narrow path leading through the meadow area and found ourselves arriving at the falls. It was tumbling down at full speed and made for a great visual and sound feature, as we all sat there eating our lunch. While sitting there, we were thrilled to see a couple of bats flying out and around the cave entrance into which the water from the falls slips into and seems to disappear. One of the extra benefits of hiking is the nice people that you meet whilst out in nature. Yesterday was no exception, as I met and enjoyed a delightful conversation with two very nice gentlemen from nearby Maryville. After a relaxing lunch break, we loaded up with our packs, and started the trek back. We were amazed upon walking back through the meadow, as it appeared that numerous flowers had opened and leaves had unfurled just in that short period of time. It was like the forest was coming to life right before our eyes! At the other side of the meadow we reached the entrance to another cave known as Blowhole Cave, which is covered with a metal grate for its protection. Once again we were thrilled to get to watch a couple of bats perform acrobatic flight patterns right above our heads.

rainbow falls
The beautiful falls at White Oak Sinks
May-Apple photo
A Mayapple that has just come up and has yet to open
squawroot photo
A nice little clump of Squawroot just starting to grow
walking fern photo
A Walking Fern hangs tightly to the side of this moss-covered rock

We enjoyed a nice hike back down to the trailhead, and leaving Schoolhouse Gap, we drove the short distance to Chestnut Tops Trail. We only walked a short distance up this trail, as it was starting to get late in the day, but were delighted to find that several Trillium, among other wildflowers, were blooming and thriving on this sunny and warm side of the mountain. We topped it off with the splendid sighting of a Blue Heron nesting atop one of the trees near the river.  Leaving there with the day’s pleasant experiences still fresh in our minds, we all enjoyed a wonderful time and delicious dinner at our local Miss Lily’s Café here in Townsend. So hopefully our weather will cooperate with us next Friday, and we’ll get to enjoy yet another wonderful day of hiking with this delightful group, and get to see what blooming surprises will be waiting for us!

white oak sinks photo
The group excitedly spot a Dutchman’s Britches blooming
dutchman's britches photo
A close up of this cute little upside down, pant-shaped blossom, which shows you how it got its name
Sweet White Trillium
A stunning Sweet White Trillium blossom
chestnut tops trail photo
A blooming Hepatica hangs on tightly to this rocky cliff

Currently On Our Easels: Wes finished two miniatures paintings this past week. One features adorable little Clownfish, and the other a Hermit crab, both of which we photographed while visiting the Oklahoma Aquarium, during our recent trip to Tulsa for the NatureWorks Art show. I’m painting on a still life comprised of chocolate, which I have greatly enjoyed working on, although it makes me even hungrier for chocolate! We’re both working on paintings of Bison for the upcoming Invitational Miniature Show at Trailside Galleries in Jackson Hole, WY.

clown fish painting
“Clowning Around” by Wes measures 2 ½ x 3 ½ inches
hermit  crab painting
“Hermit Crab” by Wes measures 2 ½ x 3 ½ inches

~ Come See Our Paintings This Week ~

museumofthegulfcoast

~EXQUISITE MINIATURES Tour

Opens April 7 and runs until June 2

Museum Of The Gulf Coast, Port Arthur, TX

~The Sea of Cortez  Produced by David J. Wagner, at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson, AZ

Until June 2nd

To view all our upcoming exhibits: http://www.artofwildlife.com/exhibitschedule.html

 Have a loved one or a beloved pet you would like captured in miniature? Contact and commission us!

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Until next time ~ Rachelle