Saturday, March 31, 2007

Lenten Rose (Helleborus x nigercors 'Honeyhill Joy')

Lenten Rose
Helleborus x nigercors 'Honeyhill Joy'
Ranunculaceae (ra-nun-kew-LAY-see-ay)

I am not going to pretend to know a lot about Helleborus, I find them to be a little confusing. I am going to be doing some more reading on them as they are becoming more and more popular, although they have been in cultivation for a long time. Helleborus are a wonderful and colorful addition to the early spring garden. I love them on the edge of the woodland garden and also have some planted in my early spring garden area. One attribute is there are deer resistant which here in Connecticut and Westchester County, New York is a big thing. My collection of a few different types looked a little ratty this spring but after carefully uncovering them and snipping away the old and tattered foliage they are again making come back. In easy winter years they remain evergreen. ‘Honeyhill Joy’ was introduced in 2004 and I think I got it last year. It has been a nice plant. I am a little more partial to the darker types like the ‘Royal Heritage Strain’. I have noticed some different seedlings popping up here and there and am beginning to wonder if they have been hybridizing amongst themselves.

For more information try this link:

Friday, March 30, 2007

Hardy Cyclamen (Cyclamen coum)

Hardy Cyclamen
Cyclamen coum
(SIGH-kla-men) (KOO-um)

This plant is unusual early spring bloomer. I like it because it will grow in places a lot of other plants won’t tolerate. I have a fairly large patch growing under my Dwarf Sugar Maple. Nothing else has tried to make it in that area. There is a smaller patch that I have growing in the River Birch Grove. The flowers emerge at same time the silver streaked round foliage does and the color ranges from deep pink to white. For consistent color try and find a named cultivar. It sometimes take awhile for the tubers to get going. As I remember I planted some and then didn’t see them for a year or two and I thought they had malfunctioned. Later I was happy to see a couple popping up and then a few more. I think I have found the key to their cultivation is having well drained soil. This plant falls into the Primrose family, Primulaceae. I am trying to learn more about the plant families and will try and reference them here more this year. The Primrose family has 28 genera of herbaceous flowering plants including some very familiar garden plants.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Oriental Paper Bush (Edgeworthia chrysantha)

Oriental Paper Bush
Edgeworthia chrysantha
(edj-WOR-thee-uh) (pap-ih-RIFF-er-uh)

This shrub was growing in the Ladies Border at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx and I took this picture last year. You can always get a couple of good pictures of some unusual plants in the Ladies Border. The Bearded Iris collection is there also. It must be a sheltered location as most sources say that this shrub is hardy to USDA Zone 8 and I think the NYBG, in general, is Zone 7. There are a few other plants in the border that I generally wouldn’t consider hardy in NYC. I visited the Ladies Border when I went down to the garden to see the New York City Orchid Show a couple of weeks ago and the Paper Bush looked like it had tried to bloom in January and had been frosted back. Last spring it was blooming beautifully and is a very nice shade of yellow. This shrub belongs to the Thymelaeaceae family which I wasn’t familiar with but includes the Daphnes. The plant gets about 6 feet tall, blooms very early and has fragrant flowers. There is also an orangey red form known as ‘Red Dragon’. Plants should be sited in full sun or light shade and it makes a good edge of the woodland plant. It should be permanently sited, as it does not like being disturbed after planting. The bark is used to make high-grade paper that is used for banknotes and other uses.

Today was a little colder and very windy out in the garden but it didn’t dampen my spirits. I continued cleaning and observing the big garden that I take care of. I am noticing a bit more winter damage than I had initially saw.

Synonyms: Edgeworthia papyrifera, Edgeworthia tomentosa

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Reticulated Iris

Reticulated Iris
Iris reticulata
(EYE-ris) (reh-tick-yoo-LAY-tuh)

I have been working the last couple of days and I must admit that has been therapy in itself. The weather finally has a spring tinge to it and I have been enjoying the sunshine, mild winds and just generally being outside. In between small waves of sadness I have been hit with colossal waves of something much bigger, nature. There is just nothing that can hold back the change in seasons. I don’t think I have ever been more ready for spring. My friend told me he sure was feeling another season older and I would have to agree with him. This could be on of slowest spring I can ever remember here in Connecticut. I have been eagerly scouting around for flowers and was able to find a few Crocuses, the Cornelian Cherry and these Iris. Not much else but I did see a lot of buds swelling. I cut some things to force today including some Forsythia, Cherry and Magnolia. The Daffodils are looking a little sad with the tops of their foliage burnt off. My February Gold daffs look real bad and a couple of flowers looked like they tried to come out in January and were quickly frozen to yellow mush. That is the first year that I think I can remember that happening. They are usually so reliable.

These Dwarf Iris are a tough and hardy bunch. I would recommend them for any garden. They always seem to come back well and the color is terrific for this time of the year. I would recommend planting them in large bunches. I have two colors, a nice blue and a purple. The hint of yellow is complimentary in both cases. They only grow to about 4 inches. The grass-like foliage continues to grow after flowering before disappearing in late spring. They are very slow to multiply but if they are happy become a little clump after awhile. I just read that the flowers are fragrant which I never knew. You will either have to pick them or get down on your hands and knees to smell them. I have some in some normal garden soil that gets average water and some that are in a rocky lean soil and both seem to do equally well. They benefit from not being overly wet in the summer.

This is my first flower picture of the season and probably not the best I have ever taken. I just wanted to tell you about this wonderful little Iris.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

“Once while St. Francis of Assisi was hoeing his garden, he was asked, ''What would you do it you were suddenly to learn that you were to die at sunset today?'' He replied, ''I would finish hoeing my garden.'' ”

Thanks everyone for the support and kind words I received via email. You have made a difficult time a little more bearable.


Monday, March 26, 2007

I am going to suspend my usual speaking of about gardening and plants to announce that today my dear sweet Mother gave up her nearly 10 year fight with a rare blood disease. Her life had become an endless battle of doctor visits, medical tests, prescription drugs and generally not feeling well. While I am overcome with grief I can’t help but think that she is in a better place and that her struggles are finally over. As an artist, she always encouraged my artistic endeavors from the art set, that we really couldn’t afford, she gave me when I was 4 years old to the vintage guitar she bought me when I was 16, right up to the end as she encouraged me to continue to explore my photography. She was the one that got me interested in gardening and plants by having me work in our greenhouses and display gardens from a very young age. It is said that God created Mothers because he could not be everywhere all the time and I can’t think of anyone I would have wanted to protect and shepherd through my younger years more than her. She was both a wonderful and brilliant Mother. As she was a strong believer in the afterlife and a very spiritual person (but not in a traditional way) I am sure her journey is just beginning. Godspeed to you Mom, and while I will miss you I am sure that you will impart happiness and shed wisdom on all the people you will meet, just as you did here. The last thing she told me was ‘I love you’.

Peonies were one of her favorite flowers so I am posting this Peony bud as a symbol of what is to come and hope in the future. I think she would have liked that.

Since she was very happy and proud about me learning Spanish:

“la madre va con Dios”

Sunday, March 25, 2007


And in the woods a fragrance rare
Of wild azaleas fills the air,
And richly tangled overhead
We see their blossoms sweet and red.

Dora Read Goodale
From “Spring Scatters Far and Wide”

All that I am, or can be, I owe to my angel mother

Abraham Lincoln

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Japanese Pieris (Pieris japonica)

Japanese Pieris
Pieris japonica
(pee-AIR-iss) (juh-PON-ih-kuh)

Synonyms: Lily of the Valley Bush, Andromeda

Friday, March 23, 2007

Pheasant's Eye Narcissus

Pheasant's Eye Narcissus
Narcissus poeticus var. recurvus

Quick post before I am off to check things out at work. If I don’t start work in earnest on Monday you may not hear from me again. Just kidding but again its time to get started. I have been looking at a lot of flower pictures on the various photo forums I am a member of and I am just jealous. This last week has been tough as I am totally sick of sitting around the house. This picture is of one of my favorite types of Daffodils. Here is a list of Daffodils classifications from the American Society of Daffodils website . There is a lot of information on Daffodils on that site.
“All Daffodils are classified into one of the thirteen divisions described below:

Division 1 - Trumpet
One flower to a stem, corona (trumpet or cup) as long or longer than the perianth segments (petals).

Division 2 - Large Cup
One flower to a stem, corona (cup) more than one third but less than equal to the length of the perianth segments (petals).

Division 3 - Short Cup
One flower to a stem, corona (cup) not more than one third the height of the perianth segments (petals).

Division 4 - Double
Daffodils have a clustered cup, petals or both. There can be one or more flowers per stem.

Division 5 - Triandrus
Usually more than one flower to a stem, head drooping, perianth segments often reflexed and of silky texture.

Division 6 - Cyclamineus
One flower to a stem, perianth significantly reflexed and corona straight and narrow. Some exceptions exist.

Division 7 - Jonquilla
Usually several flower heads to a stem, flowers usually fragrant, stem is round in cross-section and foliage is often rush like.

Division 8 - Tazetta
Usually three to twenty flowers to a stout stem, sweet scented and very short cupped. Perianth segments rounded and often somewhat crinkled.

Division 9 - Poeticus
Usually one flower to a stem. White petals sometimes stained with the corona color at the base, small flat cup edged with red. Fragrant.

Division 10 - Bulbocodium Hybrids
Small flowers resemble a "hoop petticoat" form.

Division 11 - Split Corona
Corona split - usually more than half its length.
a) Collar Daffodils
Split-corona daffodils with the corona segments opposite the perianth segments; the corona segments usually in two whorls of three
b) Papillon Daffodils
Split-corona daffodils with the corona segments alternate to the perianth segments; the corona segments usually in a single whorl of six

Division 12 - Other Cultivars
Daffodils not falling into any of the previous categories.

Division 13 - Species
All species and reputedly wild forms.”

Also from the ADS website:
“What is the difference between daffodils and narcissus?

None. The two words are synonyms. Narcissus is the Latin or botanical name for all daffodils, just as ilex is for hollies. Daffodil is the common name for all members of the genus Narcissus, and its use is recommended by the ADS at all times other than in scientific writing.”

And these two questions I was asking myself:
“What is the difference between daffodils and narcissus?

None. The two words are synonyms. Narcissus is the Latin or botanical name for all daffodils, just as ilex is for hollies. Daffodil is the common name for all members of the genus Narcissus, and its use is recommended by the ADS at all times other than in scientific writing.

How many kinds of daffodils are there?

Botanists differ, but there are at least 25 species, some with a great many different forms, and several natural hybrids. In addition to the species, the current printout of the Daffodil Data Bank lists over 13,000 hybrids which are divided among the twelve divisions of the official classification.”

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida ‘Cherokee Chief’)

Flowering Dogwood
Cornus florida ‘Cherokee Chief’

This is the most popular red Dogwood and I always recommend it. I have seen it go through so much and still be able to be a beautiful tree. Dogwood Tree culture is always an adventure; there are a lot of things that can go wrong. If your Dogwood trees grow straight and strong, which they quite often do, then it is one of the aristocrats of the garden. In some ways this tree symbolizes spring to me more than any other. The trick I have found over the years is to properly site the tree. It grows well in shade but doesn’t really flower very well. Here in Connecticut it can take full sun but does better if it gets a little afternoon shade. I really like them when they are growing on the edge of the woods. Some of the others in the ‘Cherokee’ series I have grown are the variegated ‘Cherokee Sunset’ and ‘Cherokee Daybreak’ and they are both great trees. Dogwood is the state tree of Virginia and Missouri. It is the state flower of North Carolina and Virginia.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

xBrassolaelia 'Morning Glory' Orchid

xBrassolaelia Morning Glory
(B. nodosa x L. purpurata)

Posting all these Orchids is getting boring. This Orchid was striking and it had a nice fragrance. I am really ready to move onto shooting some Daffodils, Crocus, Magnolia and Dogwood flowers. The Orchid Show was definitely worth attending a second time. It wasn’t as crowded as the last time I went and that is always better for pictures. They are doing a nice job keeping the flowers fresh and replacing the spent ones. I noticed several flowers that I hadn’t seen in my first trip and I didn’t know weather I had missed them or they were new. The outside grounds at the garden didn’t have much going on. I saw a little patch of Adonis blooming and the Magnolia buds were starting to crack. I am really interested to see what happens when every thing starts blooming around. There is a gardening forum that I am a member of that had a countdown to spring clock. It is finally here. I remember looking at the clock as it numbers rolled by (it was fun because it was a digital clock) when there was 48 days left. I just got a call from the bulb company saying that a lot of my order couldn’t be shipped so I have to hit the catalogs again. I don’t allow backorders or substitutions so they couldn’t just ship me what they had.

Here is a another kind of different Orchid: xZygopabstcia ‘Blue Bird’. There was no reference to that name but I did find Zygopetalum 'Blue Bird' and it is the same flower. It was very attractive with a nice scent. I found out the name of the Orchid I posted yesterday it is: Cymbidium ‘Summer Love x Yellow Moon’.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Lemon Bottlebrush Tree (Callistemon rigidus)

Lemon Bottlebrush Tree
Callistemon rigidus
(kal-lis-STEE-mon) (RIG-ih-dus)

Well I did go to the Orchid Show again today. I saw some flowers that I had missed the last time and overall it was very enjoyable. More on that tomorrow as I got a few good pictures. I was happy to see, in the show, one of my favorite trees that I can’t grow around here, since it is not hardy in these parts. When I saw the opportunity to photograph this tree in Florida it was real windy and they didn’t come out. One of the best things about this tree is its smaller size. Don’t get me wrong I love big trees but I am liking the smaller ones more and more. The foliage is nice and the color and fluffiness of the flower is great. Now that I am sitting here writing this I don’t think I have ever taken a detailed look at the bark, papery, if I remember right. Oh well I will have to report back on that. There are several species of Callistemon available. For the most part I have only seen this one, Callistemon rigidus and the outstanding but slightly less-hardy Weeping Bottlebrush Callistemon viminalis. This tree was growing in a huge pot and was about 6 feet tall (10’ with the pot). The color is not modified from the camera and it seems a lot redder than I have seen so it might be a cultivar.
Here is a link to some more information:

Australian National Botanic Gardens

Here is one Orchid from today. I didn’t get the name.

Monday, March 19, 2007

More Orchids from NYC

Vuylstekeara Patico 'Pacific Knights'

I thought I had lost all my photos from my trip to the Orchid Show at the New York Botanical Garden this year. Turns out the pictures were right there where I had put them. I might go to the show again as it doesn’t look like I will be working till the end of the week and only then if I am lucky. I just renewed my membership and got my parking passes and I am dying to take a few plant pictures so it is adding up for me.

Epidendrum Moon Valley ‘Sunkist’

Both of these Orchids had wonderful color. 'Pacific Knights' is a nice large flower on plants that were blooming profusely. The smaller Orchid’s flower head almost looked like a Primrose. When you got closer you could see the details in the petals and the delicate color shadings. I looked both of these specific Orchids up and found very few references.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Coco-De-Mer (Lodoicea maldivica)

Lodoicea maldivica
(lo-DOY-see-uh) (mal-DY-vih-kuh)

Today’s tree is part of what makes the botanical world so special. I wished I had photographed it a bit better. I hadn’t seen it before and I could tell it was a very unusual tree. This one was planted at Flamingo Gardens in Davie, Florida. I came upon it after being frustrated I couldn’t get a shot of the big patch of Red Torch Ginger (Etlingera elatior) that was blooming. Now that is quite a flower and I found it fascinating. I didn’t get the shot of the Ginger and usually that doesn’t bother me. When I’m in a garden shooting pictures I have much better results if I just kind of have a leisurely look at the plants and flowers. If you see something nice try and record it and move on. I get better pictures that way and get to enjoy the garden to its fullest.

Anyway, this is a seldom-cultivated tree that has several unusual features and even this young specimen exacted attention. It produces the largest seeds and has the longest leaves of any plant. Since there are so many special things about this tree I have provided a couple of links for information. It truly is a wonderful example of nature’s anomalies.

Wikipedia Article


That last one is a very interesting site that I plan on exploring a little more.

Check out all these synonyms: Double Coconut, Sea Coconut, Coco Fesse, Seychelles Nut, Sea Bean

This fan was huge!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Formosan Ginger (Alpinia formosana)

Formosan Ginger
Alpinia formosana
(al-PIN-ee-uh) (for-MOH-sa-nuh)

This plant is also called Pinstripe Ginger. I hope I got the name right as the naming of the Ginger Family (Zingiberaceae) seems a little bit up in the air. I took a picture of the flower, which smells like ginger, but it didn’t come out. I have never had good luck photographing Ginger flowers and even though I tried again when I was in Florida last month I still didn’t get the shot. The flower is white with pink tips and is quite attractive. The foliage is beautiful. It reminded me of a ‘Bengal Tiger’ although in some ways the Ginger seemed a little more refined. Since I have only grown Ginger in a pot, and that endeavor was only modestly successful I can’t comment on the cultivation. It seemed to be in a lot of Florida gardens, which makes me think that it is an easy plant to grow.

At least the sun is out, now, after the big dig out this morning. We got about 11 inches of snow and a couple inches of ice on top of that. Oh well, let’s move on from here and hope this Spring gets on track.

I took both of these with the Nikon D80. I know that the second picture maybe a little too abstract for some.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Red Jade Weeping Crabapple

Red Jade Weeping Crabapple
Malus x scheideckeri 'Red Jade'

This is another one from the missing pictures I discovered yesterday. I guess it is like finding a couple rolls of film that you never got developed, without any loss of quality. Again this is a shot from early May 2005.

Every time I post a picture I do research on the plant and try and find out something I didn’t know before. I have been growing ‘Red Jade’ for years and I never knew that the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens introduced it in 1953 (discovered in 1935). At #1497 it has the lowest plant patent number I have ever seen. It is a weeping Crabapple that can get to 20 feet by 20 feet. I have two specimens growing that are about 20 years old and only 8 feet wide by 8 feet tall. You can keep them fairly small if you keep after them. I do prune them at least twice a year and it is easy to make them the desirable mushroom or waterfall type of shape. Most years they don’t have fungus problems but some years they do seem to get it late in the season. The blooms are awesome starting out with the white and pink buds opening to all white flowers. The bright green foliage is handsome, also. It is definitely a plant that people comment on and kind of has a novelty factor. It can stand on it’s own as an elegant structural element. The fruit is red but I don’t remember seeing that much of it.

I won’t say much about the weather other than it's snowing as hard as it ever does around here. Since I live on the top of a long steep hill I can judge the road conditions by how fast the traffic is going by my house. Here is how I do it:
If the cars are going
0-10 mph: Forget it. Probably won’t make down the hill.
10-40 mph: Conditions are terrible, better not to go.
40-50+:Slippery but makable.

Nobody is driving by today.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Creeping Phlox
Phlox subulata
(floks) (sub-yoo-LAH-tuh)

Apparently I was jumping the gun by getting out in the garden around here this week. The weather forecast has deteriorated considerably. A couple inches of rain followed by 6 to 10 inches of snow. That is a little depressing when you add in the next week at just above freezing. Oh well, I just have to wait it out. This storm could blow up to something real big if the coastal low develops and moves along the right track. I haven’t watched the weather in a couple of hours and hope not to.

Today’s picture is actually from a two groups of pictures I have never even looked at. This was shot on May 5, 2005. I just found them on an old hard drive. Phlox subulata is a nice carpet of color pretty early in the season. My experience with it has been if it is happy with the conditions it is a great joy to cultivate. If it isn’t happy then I don’t try to force it to grow because it is generally uncooperative. It does best tucked into rocky outcrops in lean soil. Good drainage is a necessity. Some garden books say that it can grow in part-shade but I have always grown it in full sun. It generally doesn’t need a lot of work just a little trimming to keep it neat. Occasionally, when it starts to look a little ratty, it needs to be pruned back harder. It comes in a lot of color variations, now, from pastels to electric type colors. It is extremely hardy and it is best to remove any weeds growing in it right away as the removal becomes more difficult if the weeds or grass becomes established. The Phlox’s shallow root system can be easily overwhelmed. I have a little patch that I planted on top of a piece of ledge with only a few inches of soil and it has grown nicely along the cracks in the stone. I appreciate that as nothing else I planted in this area has grown.

Synonyms: Thrift, Moss pink, Moss Phlox

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Red Torch Banana (Musa coccinea)

Red Torch Banana
Musa coccinea
(MEW-suh) (kok-SIN-ee-uh)

This plant was growing at Fairchild Tropical Gardens. I really want to write a long post on my trip to Fairchild. I just haven’t had the time. This picture maybe a little too abstract for some; I was just amazed I could capture the color. This Banana grows 8-10 feet tall and is used for cut flowers and landscaping. It can grow well in a container for us northern gardeners. I have actually grown bananas indoors here in Connecticut (different species). Banana foliage is something I enjoy in the garden as it adds a tropical feeling and its leaves are structural.

This was shot with the D80 and I can’t wait to do some flower photography with it this spring. That’s if spring ever comes, as it suppose to snow here again on Saturday. I went to work yesterday and I am a bit of a hurting unit. It will take awhile to get back into shape. I didn’t get my hands dirty like I wanted to it was more like I got my hands oily and greasy starting up the power equipment.

Synonyms: scarlet banana, red flowering Thai banana, guineo de fuego,

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)

Black-crowned Night Heron
Nycticorax nycticorax

This is a Black-crowned Night Heron picture that I took at the Wakodahatchee Wetlands in Delray (thanks again for the shooting tips, Stewart). Part of the attraction of going to Florida is seeing all the birds and wildlife. It is always fun to try and shoot some bird pictures only the subjects are usually not cooperative and require a long and fast lens. You can see how close I was to this fellow as I used the D80 and a 60mm lens! Here is a link to more information on this bird .

Just a short post as I am going to work today (Hooray!!!) I can’t wait to get my hands dirty. I am not sure exactly what needs to done in the garden right now but I will find something. I looked at some pictures I took last year on March 15th and we were way ahead compared to this year. I am just hoping for a normal, average Spring. It is going to be a couple of weeks before I start getting any flower or garden pictures here in Connecticut.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Trumpet Daffodil 'King Alfred'

Trumpet Daffodil 'King Alfred'

I have dipped into the archive for this one. By archive I mean that giant morass of pictures that is also known as my hard drive. It was taken in April of 2005 with my Nikon Coolpix 5400. I really have a warm spot in my heart over that camera. I still have it and after years of abuse it still works perfectly. The only thing is at 5 megapixels the file size is a little small. One time I left this camera at work overnight and the sprinklers went off for about 20 minutes on it. I carefully dried it out with some low heat and compressed air and it was fine. I even got the pictures that were on the card. I wouldn’t recommend getting your camera that wet. I probably lucked out. This picture won a photo-of-the day contest.

We went out and saw some of the gardens today. Everything seemed to make through the winter okay. A couple of the Broadleaf Evergreens, mostly Pieris and Hollies, had a bit of a rough time. All in all it doesn’t look like winter took much of a toll but it was a preliminary look around.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

White Forsythia (Abeliophyllum distichum)

White Forsythia
Abeliophyllum distichum
(al-bee-lee-oh-FY-lum) (DIS-tik-um)

This picture is from last spring. This isn’t a true Forsythia but is often times referred to as White Forsythia. I think I have found one the secrets to growing this plant. It likes unimproved soil and not too much care. This plant is growing right next to a four-foot high stonewall that was backfilled with stones and gravel when it was built. Besides an after blooming trim it really doesn’t require any care. I have been half-heartedly training it to cascade over the wall and it seems to be following the program. Its very early flowering (before the traditional Forsythia) and fragrant flowers are a wonderful addition to the garden. The rest of the year it is fairly mundane but for a couple of weeks in late-March and early-April it is a standout. I wouldn’t recommend it for small gardens or causal gardeners but I think it has a place to fit in the larger garden. You can force the branches for the house. There is a pink version I haven’t tried but looks interesting.

Spring is in the air here today and it looks like it is going to warm up next week. I will believe it when I see it. Yesterday I went to NYC meet up with an Internet Photography forum I am a member of. It was a lot of fun but also a lot of walking. It was great finally putting some faces on the people I have been corresponding with. There was a touch of spring in Manhattan.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Boojum Tree (Fouquieria columnaris)

Boojum Tree
Fouquieria columnaris

No, I didn’t travel to the Desert Southwest to photograph this tree. There is a healthy specimen growing in the Bronx, New York at the New York Botanical Garden. Indoors, of course. Here is a link to the Wikipedia article on this tree. There are a couple of pictures of the full tree in all it’s upright glory.

There was another record low temperature here last night and it could be again tonight. The sun is at a nice angle now and we may get above freezing today. We haven’t just set the record lows we have smashed them. They are predicting 60’s for next week but I will believe that when I see it.

Synonym: Idria columnaris

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Cattleya Sierra Blanca 'Mount Whitney'

Cattleya Sierra Blanca 'Mount Whitney'

I am trying to get in the habit of posting here everyday. It looks like the weather is going to be good enough to return to work next week. I sure hope so as I am starting to get a little bored (a lot, actually). Since we had record cold temperatures here this week I will post another Florida flower. This Orchid was photographed at the AOS Visitors Center and Botanical Garden in Delray Beach, Florida. They had a wonderful array of flowers in the Orchid Houses and the gardens were interesting and well furnished with a lot of plants. They had two specimens of Mast Tree (Polyalthia longifolia var. Pendula), which was something I had only seen in plant books. They aren’t for everyone with their narrow pendulous shape but I liked them. The Visitor Center and staff were very nice also. They had a Botanical Photography exhibit that was exceptional. I don’t remember the name of the artist but his work was amazing. The AOS Garden is right next door to the Morikami Gardens and both places are easily toured in one day. This white Orchid was one of several that had huge flowers.

Additional cultivar information: (C. Athena Chagaris x C. Norton Benis)

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Flame of the Forest (Butea monosperma)

Flame of the Forest
Butea monosperma
(bew-tee-uh) (mon-oh-SPER-muh)

This was blooming at Flamingo Gardens. It was a small tree that was pretty much covered with these orange flowers. This native to Southeast Asia and India has several synonyms including Bastard Teak, Parrott Tree and Dhak. It has several industrial and medicinal uses as well as being a handsome ornamental. This particular tree had been trained to about ten feet although it can grow to 50 feet in the wild. The trunk was twisted and knarly. I didn’t get to see the foliage as the leaves fall off before the tree begins to flower. The buds were interesting with an almost black velvety appearance.

I took both of these pictures with Karen’s D80 and the 60mm Nikkor-Micro. It did pretty well as I remember thinking at the time the flowers were almost naturally over saturated. The color was just stunning. The D80 is nice as it shoots a huge file, which is still bigger than a D70 file even if you crop it.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Red Pansy

This picture was taken last year. The way the weather is today it won’t be Pansy time anytime soon. I am going over some the garden orders and catalogs. I don’t usually backorder plants so I am trying to find a few plants that were out of stock. I have been getting just about everything I want, so far. The temperature is forecasted to below freezing through the next few days. Sigh, I am itching to get back to work and the gardens. I am sure there is plenty to do.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Shooting Star (Clerodendrum quadriloculare)

Shooting Star
Clerodendrum quadriloculare
(kler-oh-DEN-drum) (kwah-drih-lok-yoo-LAIR-ee)

This plant seems to get huge and when it is blooming its covered with blossoms. This was taken at Mounts Botanical Garden in West Palm Beach. I have posted before on the garden. I read an article in the Palm Beach Post on this plant while I was down in Florida. It described Clerodendrum as among the fastest growing shrubs in the world. Each time I saw a Starburst Bush it was in full bloom with huge waves of flowers giving only a glimpse of the purpley/green foliage. I grow two species here in Connecticut but they are a lot different. The flowers are different but the suckering habit and rapid growth sound about right. I have even trained a couple up as small trees. They have been around for years so they seem pretty hardy. One came in as a seedling in a tree ball and I think it is Glory Bower (Clerodendrum trichotomum var. fargesii). It is growing in a Styrax tree ball but starting to spread out. The other species I am not sure about but it looks like Clerodendrum trichotomum or Harlequin Glory Bower. Its colorful calyxs brighten the late summer/fall season. I had to go through the patch of this last year. It had just become too overwhelming. It was easy to restore it to a viable level and I have enjoyed having in the garden. There are several other beautiful species in the genus.

It looks like I will be living on this Florida stuff for awhile. It sounds like it is back to winter around here next week.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Asian Corsage Orchid

Asian Corsage Orchid
Cymbidium Enzan Current ‘Aquarius’

The Orchid Show was featured on Martha Stewart’s TV show yesterday. The curator was on explaining the different types of flowers and showing some of the highlights. It was interesting, and just so you know I don’t usually watch the show but happened to see the Orchids and was glad I tuned in. I couldn’t find out much about this orchid. There were quite a few Cymbidium Orchids and they seemed to be the backbone of the show. I am posting this one since the color was so different. The green flowers were set off nicely against the other red and white flowers of this type. One other thing I forgot to mention about the show was the amount and beauty of the miniature Orchids. Their sprays of hundreds of flowers were really spectacular.

This plant was a wonderful addition to the Orchid Show. It is False Vriesea or Tillandsia dyeriana and is a native to the mangrove forests of northwestern Ecuador. It is supposedly a rare plant in the wild. I found the color and shape to be great. They had a lot of Air Plants growing up the trees in the show. This kind of helped fill in the spaces between the Orchids and lend a nice tropical feel to the displays.

Friday, March 02, 2007

More Chihuly Glass at Fairchild

More Chihuly Glass at Fairchild

Here are a few more pictures from the Chihuly exhibit.
This was the piece in front of the Jean duPont Shehan Visitor Center. The building has a beautiful limestone exterior (this is what they call ‘coral’ rock).

I had lunch on a bench in the shade of this Money Tree (Pachira aquatica). How cool was that. I didn’t see any flowers or fruit on this one. This tree is also known as the Guiana chestnut and is in the bombax or baobab Family (Bombacaceae).

This piece is in the Conservatory and will be on permanent display at Fairchild. They told me it was made up of different pieces from all the displays.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Chihuly at the Fairchild Tropical Gardens 2007

Chihuly at the Fairchild Tropical Gardens 2007

This is my third Chihuly show in the last year. I also saw a lot of his pieces in one of the hotels in Las Vegas (forget which one). I like this show the best because it was low-key and seemed to fit into the landscape better. One thing I don’t like about the exhibits is the large crowds they bring. I have been to Fairchild before and practically been the only person there. I think the Glass fits in much better at Fairchild then it did at the NYBG. The colors, shapes and patterns are good match for Miami. Overall I enjoyed my visit to the Chihuly exhibit and had a great day at the garden. I am going to have another post on some of the great flowers and plants I saw at Fairchild soon.