Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Golden Lotus Banana at Fairchild

Golden Lotus Banana
Musella lasiocarpa
(mew-SEL-uh) (las-ee-oh-KAR-puh)

This was taken at the Fairchild Tropical Botanical Gardens in Miami, Florida. It was quite odd looking but charming and captivating. It was growing out of a kind of nasty looking stump with a lot of ratty leaves. It is the kind of flower I think a dinosaur would love as it looks a bit prehistoric. It shares the genus Musella with one other species, M. splendida. The naming has some controversy surrounding it and at first glance I thought the tag said Musa. It is native to Southeast Asia and is thought to be extinct in the wild. Apparently, and I found this information poking around the net, it is a wonderful very cold hardy (USDA Zone 7, maybe lower) plant for the garden.

If you are ever in the Miami area and want to visit a garden go to Fairchild. It is one of my all-time favorites. It has almost fully recovered its old glory after a devastating blow from Hurricane Andrew. The collection of Palms is amazing, and that is just one part of the garden. It is set on 83 acres in a very nice area of Coral Gables. This February they are again having a Chihuly exhibit. I am going to go with an open mind and hope to visit at least twice on my upcoming trip. Stay tuned for a ‘live’ report from Fairchild. I read on Wikipedia that they have an African Baobab Tree. I have been 10 times and never seen it! If I find it I will definitely write about it.

(Synonym: Chinese Yellow Banana)

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Audubon House and Tropical Gardens

Audubon House and Tropical Gardens
Key West, Florida

Well since I am just sitting here ticking off the days until I leave for Florida I thought I would feature a garden from Key West. The Audubon House and Tropical Gardens is a favorite tourist attraction for me. I have visited several times over several years and I must say that each time it is a little more upgraded. You can see from the black and white view that the tree canopy took a hit from all the hurricanes (this was last winter) but I found the gardens below in excellent and robust condition. I am sure by now that most of the trees have come back. They were shooting out a ton of new growth last year. If you want the history of the house click on the link, it is very interesting. John James Audubon just stayed here; he didn’t own the house, during his trip to the Florida Keys and the Dry Tortugas in 1832. The house has a lot of historic information and pictures and is perfectly restored. The furniture collection is fabulous and really looks authentic. One reason I like the one-acre garden is that there aren’t too many other people. I went twice in the month I was in Key West and one visit found no one else in sight. There is a nice store with all types of Audubon things and some other tasteful items.

You can see the rest of my pictures of the Florida Keys by clicking here

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Cornerstone Gardens Sonoma, California

Cornerstone Gardens is a wonderful place to spend an afternoon. Located in Sonoma, California it is a collection of 20 gardens each designed by a different landscape designer. As with anything like this there were things that I loved and elements that I didn’t really care for. In general I like California gardening, it just needs a little more water. There is a nursery and Art Gallery attached to the gardens. It is kind of in the middle of nowhere but worth the trip. We found it as we were driving around wine tasting.

I must admit that just the idea of having so many designs in one place is a good one. Especially if you were shopping for design services. I believe that this is the first project like this in the United States.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Tiffany's View of Oyster Bay

View of Oyster Bay
Designed by Louis Cotton Tiffany
Tiffany Studios, New York City
Ca. 1905
Leaded Favrile Glass
The Charles Hosmer Morse Foundation Inc.

Oyster Bay is home to one of my favorite Botanical Gardens; Planting Fields Arboretum. I usually try and visit 2 or 3 times a year. Its nice in the spring because they are one or two weekends ahead of Connecticut so when the spring bug is really biting I can always go and see some flowers before they are blooming on this side of Long Island Sound. This is from the stained glass exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. There were some great floral pieces like this Wisteria, as well as some Tiffany landscapes in Stained Glass which I hadn’t seen before. In another area they had a lot of stained glass from the 13th Century that was amazing condition. All of the stained glass was lit well which really showed its colors.

I took these photos there also.

Josef y Nebot
Gilbert Stuart
Oil on Canvas
Rodgers Fund

They have quite an Egyptian Collection at the Met, including a small temple that has been reconstructed inside the Sackler Wing. They have some pictures of it in its original location in Egypt. I was trying to find the sign for this piece and accidentally bumped into him. Thankfully there was no disaster.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Metropolitan Museum of Art and Central Park

Yesterday I was in Manhattan and decided to take a walk in Central Park and mosey over to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I actually found a few flowers blooming. I took this picture of the daffodils and Witch Hazel on January 25th, amazing!. The Witch Hazel is not unusual as they bloom in February around here. It is a great shrub for large areas and in addition to its very early fragrant flowers the foliage is nice throughout the season and in autumn. I will have to cover Witch Hazel in another post, as I am a big proponent of this shrub. Seeing the daffodils was kind of freaky and I wonder how they will like the weather tomorrow as it is suppose to under 20 degrees F. That is the forecasted high temperature. Here in Connecticut it might not make it out of the single digits. My, my how things have changed. It is a completely different pattern then we experienced in December and the beginning of January.

Since I had enjoyed my visit to The Yale Center for British Art and the Art Gallery at Yale University I decided to pop into the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It is located on 5th Avenue near East 81st Street. I ended up spending a couple of hours and still didn’t get to see everything. Keeping with a botanical theme I decided to post this still life of flowers. I had forgotten about one of my all-time favorite art exhibits (I found it really fascinating as a kid) the Arms & Amour section. I actually got lost for a little awhile inside and just kept going into more and more galleries. I will have to go back for some more exploring.

Still Life: Flowers and Fruit
Severin Roesen
Oil on Canvas
Metropolitan Museum of Art

I got a few more pictures that I will be posting over the next couple of days.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Japanese Maple New Growth

Japanese Maple New Growth

Last Spring I decide to do a little series on emerging new growth on a collection of Japanese Maples at work. The pictures came out okay with this being the best one. Japanese Maples go through a lot of changes during the season. If you can catch the foliage just coming out that is often one of it’s most beautiful times. This particular tree (sorry, I forget what cultivar) turns green a little later. I often use green Japanese Maples in shady areas and as long as it gets some light they do well there.

I see someone wanted to see some more art photos. I will post a couple of more. Next weekend I am going to MOMA in Manhattan and see if I can get a few more snaps.

Apparition of Face and Fruit-Dish on a Beach
Salvador Dali
Oil on Canvas (Detail)
Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art
The Ella Gallup Summer and Mary Catlin Summer Collection Fund

George Stubbs
Oil on Canvas (Detail)
Paul Mellon Collection
Yale Center for British Art

14th Century Oil Painting (Detail)
Yale University Art Gallery

Saturday, January 20, 2007

‘Fishnet Stockings’ Coleus

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting‘Fishnet Stockings’ Coleus
Solenostemon scutellarioides
(sol-en-oh-STEM-on) (skew-tell-ar-ee-OY-deez)

When I looked up this Coleus on the Internet I remembered how many new cultivars there are. I had one whiskey bucket planted with about 6 different types and they grew to about 4 feet tall. I have a picture of it somewhere I just couldn’t lay my hands on it. I read that there are many Coleuses that grow in the sun. I always plant them in the shade but last year I had some in areas where they got a little sun and some bright light and I did notice an increase in vigor and color. So next year I will try a few plants in more sun. It is taking me awhile to warm up to this idea. ‘Fishnet Stockings’ is an odd color combination but it works. It doesn’t look too garish and the green is a really nice different shade of green. This Coleus gets tall and very bushy. I would rate the growth habit as excellent.

It really is winter outside my door, today. The wind is absolutely howling and it was snowing before. The sun has come out but the temperature hasn’t gone up any. I can take it, no problem, as I already feel like a got a free month in December.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
This is the main room of the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut. I didn’t like this place as much as the Yale galleries but is nice and had an interesting collection.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Yale Center for British Art

Yale Center for British Art
Yale University
New Haven, Connecticut

Since it looks like a little bit of winter has arrived in this neck of the woods I decided I head down to Yale University in New Haven and visit the Yale Center for British Art. I know New Haven somewhat and it was easy to get there and find metered parking about a block away. The outside of the building is not impressive to me. However the inside was totally different story. The paintings they had were amazing. It is the largest and most complete collection of British Art outside of the United Kingdom. It is well presented and I pretty much had the place to myself. A lot of the paintings were portraits and some were really old (like the 1400’s). It certainly was an interesting slice of historical British life. Many of the paintings seemed close to life size and I found the amount of large canvases to be simply astounding. I brought both of my cameras and they even encouraged me to take pictures, no flash, though. Since it was dimly lit they came out a little under exposed. I was primarily trying to work on composition and I purposely didn’t want to take a lot of photos. I was fairly happy with some of the results: it is something to build on, anyways. If I had a tripod I would have done much better. I never bring one on the first time to a place like this. It just changes the whole dynamic of everything. I didn’t look at the Sculpture Collection but apparently that is big collection, also.

Across the street was the Yale University Art Gallery. Again a very good collection well presented. I didn’t like the modern stuff but they had wonderful African, Asian and European collections. I briefly looked around (about an hour) and was again gravitated to the older pieces of art, (good selections from the 1300-1400 and 1500’s). Thank you for viewing my attempts at some art photography. The only way to get better is to go out there shooting. For me I have to try and break the rut (it is a wonderful rut, though) of just shooting botanical images. That is kind of safe ground for me and I have more information, experience and skills. I am going to upload a few additional images to the Misc. Pictures page at Digital Flower You can use the link in my profile and go to the Misc. Pictures album if you are interested.

John Gubbins-Newton and his Sister, Mary Newton
Oil in Canvas ca. 1830
Paul Mellon Collection
Yale University

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

‘Cherry Parfait’ Grandiflora Rose

‘Cherry Parfait’ Grandiflora Rose
2003 All-American Rose Selection Winner

This finishes up my little section on AARS roses. I finally posted a rose that isn’t a Hybrid Tea. ‘Cherry Parfait’ has a mild fragrance and a petal count of about 40. It was bred in France by Meilland Roses and introduced to the US in 2003 by Conrad-Pyle. I haven’t cultivated it myself but there would always be room in my garden for a specimen. I would grow it for the different color shadings alone. My project of trying to photograph all of the All-American Rose Selections has shown me just how sophisticated and cosmopolitan roses have become.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Hybrid Tea Rose ‘Secret’

Hybrid Tea Rose ‘Secret’
1994 All-American Rose Selection

Parentage: Pristine ® (Hybrid Tea, Warriner 1978) × Friendship (Hybrid Tea, Lindquist, 1978)
Petal Count: 30-35

Strong, Spicy Fragrance

This rose is a beauty. Its delicate shading and good fragrance make it a rose for any garden. I sure have been showcasing a lot of Hybrid Tea Roses here, lately. This wasn’t by design but they are my favorite type. Floribundas and Grandifloras have come a long way and I find myself much less snooty as far as they go. For the last week I have been featuring AARS award winners and this one is from the class of 1993. Just how are the winners picked? From the AARS website:
AARS evaluates roses on:
1. Vigor
2. Fragrance
3. Disease resistance
4. Foliage
5. Flower production
6. Growth habit
7. Bud and flower form
8. Opening and finishing color
9. Stem
10. Overall value

The roses receive the care that they would normally get in a home garden; which is important. Plenty of roses are nice but when you start growing them the problems they have can become quickly apparent. ‘Secret’ has done well in my garden and has become a favorite.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Hybrid Tea Rose ‘Olympiad’

Hybrid Tea Rose ‘Olympiad’

This picture is from one of the gardens I take care of. It is always fun to post one of my flowers. You can see that ‘Olympiad’ is a large growing rose that has nice flowers and foliage. That is a ‘Peace’ rose and Canna generalis ‘Orange Punch’ growing in the background. I am not sure why I choose this angle but there was probably a reason. I used my Nikon Coolpix 5400. This rose is always dependable for me giving waves of classic color and shaped flowers. It was All-American Rose Selection for 1982. It was bred in New Zealand by Sam McGready; from a cross between ‘Pharaoh’ and ‘Red Planet’.

This is a rose collage I made a while ago.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Hybrid Tea Rose ‘Color Magic’

Hybrid Tea Rose ‘Color Magic’
1978 All-America Rose Selection

Another one of my favorite roses. The color, or should I say colors, are just amazing. What a perfect name breeder John Sheldon gave this rose. In his own words he describes it:

This passage is courtesy of :

“Breeder John Sheldon provided the following information about this rose: Some roses fade in the sun, some roses darken in the sun, some roses actually change color in the sun. Roses such as 'Elina', 'Double Delight', 'Headliner', 'Color Magic' and 'Paradise' all show these traits. In my breeding program, I have worked on making them more dramatic and bringing in new genes. And it was an area of hybridizing that others were ignoring. At one point these traits were seen as faults. 'Double Delight' was almost discarded because it was thought to be just another WHITE rose. Only later were its phototropic characteristics seen when it turned red in the sun.”

I had to look up phototropic. It means the orientation of a plant or other organism in response to light, either toward the source of light (positive phototropism) or away from it (negative phototropism). Compare with heliotropism, phototaxis.

I guess someday I will figure out how to post a link here. Blogger’s Safari support kind of s^cks. This picture was taken at McKinley Park Rose Garden in Sacramento, California. It is a beautiful park and the rose garden is loaded with flowers and annuals. I must admit I felt wealthy as I strolled among the roses surrounded by Fan Palms and one of my favorite trees, the Phoenix Palm. I was in heaven as from there we drove over to the California State Capitol and the gardens there. Even though I got a parking ticket it was well worth seeing the Rose Garden and the other odd trees and plants they had planted. I had told the person we were visiting that I wanted to take some rose pictures and boy they didn’t disappoint.

Picture from last year of the Chelsea Flea Market in Manhattan

The other day when I went to Manhattan I visited the Chelsea Flea Market. It is always a fun place and while I was there someone told me about the indoor market up the street. I ended up buying an old notebook stuffed with pictures. It recounts Myrtle Taylor King and Dorothy King’s “Trip made to the Western Part of the U.S. in the summer of 1934.” It also recounts a trip made to the Chicago Worlds Fair. Ignoring Karen’s rolling eyes I bought Myrtle’s memories for $20 (about half of what the original price). I am going to be transcribing it, as soon as I can figure out the order the pages are supposed to be in.

It starts with (exactly as written):

“On Tuesday, July 3rd I took the train from the Pennsylvania Station for St. Louis, MO. The whole train was an air conditioned one. This was marvelous for the temperature was 97; the humidity was very great and it was thoroughly uncomfortable. The train left around 6 o’clock. We arrived in St. Louis the next day around noon. There it was 103. On the Missouri Pacific, by which way I went to Pueblo only the Dining Car and club lounge was air conditioned. As a result you avoided the Pullmans as much as possible and lived in the other two cars. The accompanying pictures show the Lounge Car, the chairs are very comfortable; there is a radio, writing desk and table and some magazines. Drinks of all kinds; both alcoholic and non-alcoholic were served here, as well as light refreshments."

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

'Garden Party' Hybrid Tea Rose

1960 AARS winner ‘Garden Party’ is a hybrid tea rose. It was bred by Howard C. Swim from Charlotte Armstrong x Peace. This rose has impressive parents and can count among its 75 offspring the venerable ‘Double Delight’ rose. ‘Garden Party’ has delicate pink and yellow shading but it is really more like a white rose to me. The flowers are large with a petal count of 28. It is still available commercially and I have been wracking my brain as to where I saw it growing. I don’t remember but it was somewhere locally, I think.

I have been using the Help me find Roses web site for much of my information. It is an amazing site that has just about everything about roses including 1000’s of pictures. Someone over there was kind of to put a link to my website,, on their links page and I have been getting a lot of visitors from it. I noticed I still need 5 years of pictures to fill out my 1960’s collection of AARS selections. It is funny I have more 1940’s winners than I do 1960’s. Tomorrow, a 1970’s winner.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

‘Fred Howard’ Hybrid Tea Rose

‘Fred Howard’ Hybrid Tea Rose
1952 AARS Winner‘

‘Fred Howard’ is a nice looking Hybrid Tea rose that won a AARS award in 1952. It’s parentage is ‘Pearl Harbor x Seedling‘’. It has a mild fragrance and may still be available commercially. This picture was again (like yesterday’s) was shot at the Heritage Rose Garden in San Jose. It is a wonderful garden that is worth seeking out. I was there in the off-season but still found it to be enjoyable and fascinating. Some of the 1950’s All-American Rose Selections that I have seen still in cultivation (remember this is just personal experience) are; Queen Elizabeth, Tiffany, and of course Chrysler Imperial. For some reason no winners were selected in 1951.

I went to NYC the other day for among other things a look at the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. My friend had recently told about how he is now shooting panoramic photos in the portrait (or upright) method. This had never occurred to me before and I gave it a try. Here are the results and obviously I need to get a little better at it.

Monday, January 08, 2007

‘Diamond Jubilee’ Hybrid Tea Rose

For the next week I have decided to feature some All-American Rose Selection winners. I have been trying to photograph all of the winners but it has turned out to be not such an easy project. Over the next couple of days one rose from each decade will be featured. Today’s rose ‘Diamond Jubilee’ was photographed at the Heritage Rose Garden in San Jose, California. It is a fragrant Hybrid Tea that was selected in 1947 and seems to be available from a few ‘old’ rose growers. Among other winner that year were High Noon, Nocturne, Pinkie, San Fernando, and Taffeta.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Rudbeckia hirta 'Prairie Sun'

Rudbeckia hirta 'Prairie Sun'

You can’t really call this a Black-eyed Susan since it has a green eye. There seems to be some debate about its hardiness. I planted a couple last year and they were very floriferous but I will have to wait to see if they come back next year. Gets up to 36 inches tall.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Hybrid Tea Rose ‘Cary Grant’

Hybrid Tea Rose ‘Cary Grant’

This is one of the first digital flower pictures that I shot. It is from early 2004 and probably has a file number in the low 100’s (now up to the 1000’s). I got the Nikon Coolpix 4300 for Christmas in 2003 and as an afterthought threw it in my bag before leaving for Florida. I have always liked the camera except 4 megapixels is kind of small, especially in this day and age. While I have noticed some plants starting to bud and a few in flower I going to have to go into the archives to get some flower photos to post here.

This rose was growing at Butterfly World in Pompano Beach, Florida. I have been there a couple of times over several years and each time I have been they have really upgraded the place. They only had about 4 rose bushes but they were fantastic. The canes on the roses were some of the largest I have seen on these types of roses. The bush was completely covered with these lovely blossoms.

‘Cary Grant’ is a hybrid tea rose introduced in 1987. Supposedly was Mr. Grant’s favorite color and his wife had them bred by Meilland Roses for his birthday. It has a petal count of 35-40 and is considered disease-resistant. It is also very fragrant.

I wanted to add that I bought a ‘Cary Grant’ rose last year from Wayside Gardens. I planted it in the corner of the rose garden and forgot about it. Three quarters of the way through the season I realized that a couple of Clematis vines had almost completely smothered it. After I removed the vines this rose shot out a lot of new growth and several flowers before the end of the season. I am going to have to keep an eye on that from now on.

Synonym: 'Meimainger'

I also wanted to post my first ever “paparazzi” photo. I happened to be walking by City Hall in Manhattan when the doors burst open and a frenzy of photographers, TV crews, and others came out. I didn’t even know who it was but decided to take a couple of pictures anyway. It was easy to get caught up in the excitement and the poor guy looked a little set upon. I only had my 28-200mm lens and was pretty far away but managed to get this picture.

I later found out the man in the pink shirt was Harlem resident Wesley Autrey (aka the ‘Subway Hero’) and he was at City Hall to receive the Bronze Medallion. This is New York City's highest award for exceptional citizenship and outstanding achievement.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Tree Aloe (Aloe arborescens)

Tree Aloe
Aloe arborescens

The Aloes were blooming at the New York Botanical Garden the other day when I visited the Holiday Train Show. This one in particular had a huge number of blooms. I shot this picture with my Sigma 28-200mm Macro lens. Karen has my D70s kit lens (18-70mm) on her D80. The Aloe is an interesting plant with its medicinal properties well documented. Scientists aren’t sure why it works and it is the focus of much ongoing research. Aloe arborescens grows to 6 to 8 feet and is one of about 400 Aloe species. The flowers are wonderful and their reddish orange color is an attraction for Hummingbirds.

On the way home from the garden I got off the Saw Mill River Parkway because of an accident and all the resulting traffic. I ended up driving up Route 9 through Sleepy Hollow. Having just seen the movie the night before I decided to stop and have a look around. I will have to go back during the summer as it is a quaint town with a lot of history. I stopped at the Philipsburg Manor, which is a group of buildings and a recreation of early life in the Hudson Valley. I noticed it is one of several ‘Historic Hudson Valley’ attractions in the area. Although daylight was fading I was able to get a couple of pictures.

I am glad the Holidays are over! I am looking forward to 2007 in the garden. I hope to grow and photograph a lot of flowers and plants. The past year was a good one for me as I was able to learn so much more about plants in general, much of it thanks to this blog. I haven’t been posting much because of the lack of botanical images. I have plenty of stuff in the archives but generally this space was reserved for new pictures and that has been a wonderful thing about doing this, I am out shooting all the time. If this weather continues the way it has been I should be able to get some plant shots outdoors soon. I was in the Tribeca neighborhood in Manhattan on Saturday and among the things I saw was a Cherry tree in full bloom! There were numerous things starting to bloom at the NYBG. It is a little freaky but I am interested to see where these plants end up in spring.

This plant seems to have numerous Synonyms (here are a few of the them: Candelabra aloe, Candelabra plant, Octopus plant, Torch plant, Woody aloe, Aloe perfoliata var. arborescens, Aloe milleri

Here are a few from Sleepy Hollow, NY

Ugh! washed out my colors again! The grass was a very bright shade of green.