Sunday, February 28, 2010

Flowers from Today - Magic Bells Kalanchoe

Magic Bells Kalanchoe
Kalanchoe 'Magic Bells'
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Still working on the flower pictures I took in Hawaii here are a couple more. The Magic Bells Kalanchoe has been featured on his site before on Sunday, April 26, 2009, for Today’s Flowers ironically. It was a lot more fun trying to get the image when the Kalanchoe was growing outside in a rather large colony. The little bit of red on the buds really looks nice in a natural setting as opposed to the greenhouse where it was spotted before.

Bird of Paradise
Strelitzia reginae
(stre-LITZ-ee-uh) (ree-JIN-ay-ee)
Synonym: Crane Flower
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This second flower is known by almost everyone. It appeared a little different to me with the way he two blue petals were extended. I am not sure if that is the way all BoP are or it was a little different. It is always exciting for me to see this flower and this one was beautiful with the morning sunshine on it. I am not sure what it is about he Hawaiian sun but it’s light seems to make everything look a little more flattering and easier to take a picture of.

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This final photo is of one of the more unusual Orchids we saw in our trip to the Islands. It was probably the most green colored one I have ever seen. Last week was the first Sunday I had missed posting to this meme in a long time. I truly missed everyone’s flowers but was a little incapacitated. I am continuing to make progress towards full health with a new regime of medications and a good set of doctors who seem genuinely concerned with getting me back to normal. Please excuse my typing as for some reason I am difficulty typing exactly what is on my mind. It isn’t that weird that my finer motor skills are not up to par. I have been assured that everything should be good to go when the gardening season starts. There hasn’t been a season that I have been more ready for in my 30-year career as a professional gardener. Each flower that I am going to grow this year is going to be special.

For more flower pictures from around the world check out:
Today’s Flowers .

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Laupahoehoe Point Park

Laupahoehoe Point Park
Near Hilo, Hawaii
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This photograph is from the nice little park on Route 19 on the drive from Hilo to Honokaa. Since the big earthquake in Chile last night the entire Hawaiian Islands (all islands, all coasts) is under a Tsunami watch with people urged to move to higher ground immediately. It took all of my willpower not to call my sister and little nephew to warn them about it. Although I did break down later and call even though it was the middle of the night. They should be okay since they live ‘upcountry’ on Maui at, I’m guessing around 1200 feet above sea level.

Laupahoehoe (Translated means: Leaf of Lava) Point Park was the scene of devastation by the April 1, 1946 tsunami, which started with an earthquake in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. It is considered one of the most devastating waves to ever hit the Hawaiian Islands. Here is a quick link to some pictures of the damage and some more information. Link to: Dr. George’s Tsunami Page . The remembrance at the park was low-key and after a little research I realized how bad it had been. Nothing but nice, friendly waves and bright sunshine on our visit and if you driving up that way I would recommend a stop at the park, it is beautiful and historic. The trees pictured here are Ironwood ( Casuarina equisetifolia ). They are a handsome tree that looks a lot like our Pine Trees and they were growing all over the Islands.

Since this blog is supposed to be about flower pictures here is an Impatiens flower I found at the park. It was just growing wild. It had a nice color for a wild flower.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Pua Keni Keni

Pua Keni Keni
Fagraea berteroana
(fa-GRAY-a) (ber-ter-oh-AY-na)
Synonym: Fagraea berteriana, Perfume Flower Tree
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This was an intensely fragrant (reminiscent of Gardenias) little tree growing on the Big Island of Hawaii. Its flowers, which loosely translate in Hawaiian to ‘ten cent flower’, are often used in lei making. The ten-cent part is the price the flowers used to be sold for. They are a little unique in the fact that the flowers change color during the day. In the late morning (as shown here) they are off-white, in the afternoon they have changed to yellow and by the evening they change to an orange color. This change can occur over three days also. There are several scientific reasons for the change. The plant that I saw was all off-white colored flowers and it was about 10:30 am. It can flower any time during the year and is considered a desirable ornamental plant that is non-invasive in areas that its has been introduced to (like Hawaii). It gets small orange berries after flowering that contains the black seeds.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Pink Wood Sorrel

Pink Wood Sorrel
Oxalis debilis var. corymbosa
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This pretty little pink Hawaiian Wildflower was blooming at Iao Valley State Park on Maui. It was growing in the crack in some paving stones and was delight to find blooming. The family Oxalidaceae is a large one (over 900 species) with about 800 species belonging to one of the eight genera in Oxalidaceae, Oxalis.

This flower was about 2 inches tall and required what I call a down and dirty shot of getting on my knees and steadying the camera on the ground. It was shot with my point and shoot camera (Nikon P6000) because that camera provides the best minimum focusing distance of 1.6" or 4cm of any camera/lens that I have. Luckily I didn’t have to embarrass the people with me and lay down completely on the ground to get this picture.

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The Iao Valley State Park is home to much Hawaiian heritage and of course the dramatic Iao Needle (Kuka`emoku), which is only vaguely represented in this picture. Having been to the island of Maui four times now I was determined to see the Needle this last time. I was glad we made the trip. As both the park and surrounding area had great scenery and a good trail system that was easily accessed. The views were pretty amazing and the p&s camera didn’t quite capture them the best but you can get a small idea of what it looked like. The needle itself rises 2,250-feet from the surrounding Pu'u Kukui Crater, which you can see the edge of on the right side of the needle. We were lucky the Needle was out in full view because clouds often obscure it. It was nice and sunny and even a bit hot when we visited. I would recommend the trip up the valley for a short diversion if you have time while visiting Maui.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Senor Frog’s Restaurant Waikiki

Senor Frog’s Restaurant
Waikiki, Hi
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We didn’t get to eat here but it looked fun and the menu looked like something we would like. This place is inside the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center, which is an interesting and beautiful mall.
Snor Frog’s Website

Aston Waikiki Circle Hotel
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A distinctive looking hotel directly across from Waikiki Beach.
Waikiki Circle Hotel

Monday, February 22, 2010

Gardenia Buds

Gardenia Bud
Gardenia taitensis
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If you have never been introduced to or seen a Gardenia plant in flower than you have truly missed something special. This plant grows as an evergreen shrub to a small tree (up to 15m tall) and has exacting cultural requirements but can be an easy houseplant to grow. They have glossy deep green foliage that is a nice compliment to the creamy white flowers.
Some of the cultural requirements for successfully growing gardenia outside include but is not limited to:

Bright light (But a little shade in the hottest areas)
Acid Moist Soil (good drainage)
High humidity
Good air circulation
Heavy fertilization
Frost free location with Cool nighttime temperatures, around 60 F is ideal

They sound like a pain but that is really not the case. You have to watch out for various molds (especially black mold), fungus and insect infestations too.

Our Gardenia is blooming in he house right now and it is permeating the air with the heavenly fragrance of the flowers. We didn’t do anything special to the hose plant just gave it a bight window for the winter and regular water it spends summers outside.

This next flower was blooming on Maui and I hadn’t seen anything quite like this daisy before. It was growing at about 1600 feet of elevation and kind of reminded me of a Gerber Daisy but I am not sure.

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Thanks for all the comments and emails of support. This is again being posted from the Hospital. I am feeling a 100% better but still have to be subjected to a battery of tests and will probably be here another two days. It sucks, I miss my dog!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Ground Orchids

Ground Orchid, Boat Orchid, Philippine Orchid (Spathoglottis plicata)
Spathoglottis plicata
(spath-oh-GLOT-tiss) (ply-KAY-tuh)

I am posting this from he local hospital after I checked in on Thursday after having a mild stroke at home. I fell off the bed and Karen heard me struggling to get up and called 911, which probably saved my life (I knew I married her for some reason). So I have been prodded poked tested had a flashlight shined in my pupils 100 times. The left side almost total paralysis has gone away after I got a dose of TPA super clot buster, full motion was restored in about 15 minutes after the injection. The three CT Scans I have gotten since arriving her have been positive revealling only a small area of Brian swelling and bleeding but the doctors have been encouraging and I will need a little PT for a bit of facial droop an a bit of slurred speech. General prognosis is I am going to be okay.

These Orchids were growing in Foster’s botanical Garden in Honolulu. They had formed quite a large colony and were beautiful. I think I got the identification right but I m not 100% sure.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Vireya Rhododendrons

Vireya Rhododendron
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These plants are often referred to as tropical rhododendrons or the Malesian Rhododendron neither of which is the best term to use. I simply call them Vireya. There was quite a few specimens at the Pana`ewa Rainforest Zoo and Gardens near Hilo. Having the plants grouped together and in bloom was a special treat. The Zoo and Gardens are small but had some interesting things and I was glad I stopped in. Since it was free the price was certainly right.

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There are about 330 different species of Vireya Rhododendrons and hundreds of cultivars. They never have blue pigment in the flowers and nor are the flowers spotted. These plants cannot tolerate frost and often grow in the cooler upper elevation ( 3,000-7,500 feet) mountain areas of the Philippines, Borneo, New Guinea and Indonesia and the surrounding island groups. A few species are considered native to India, Australia, Taiwan and the Solomon Islands. They grow as epiphytes (a plant that grows on another plant but is not parasitic) in the wild but can also be terrestrial in habit. The flowers of the white one were particularly fragrant.

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

White Shell Plumeria

Plumeria rubra 'White Shell'
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After shoveling the 10 inches of snow yesterday and cleaning off the cars I decided to go through some more Hawaii pictures. One place that we enjoyed was the Plumeria Grove at Koko Crater. It was a fairly quick visit but a lot of the pictures came out. That usually means that the light was good (late afternoon), the sky was blue, not too windy and of course that the flowers were beautiful. Everything kind of came together that afternoon making it a pleasure to walk the garden and snap some photos. Previously there were a few photos posted here from this garden and since there was a bounty of photos there will probably one or two more posts.

Koko Crater and the smaller Koko Head are located on the Windward side of Oahu. It is the hottest part of the island and from the looks of things one of the driest. The Botanical Garden is the arid more brown type than the lush green kind. The scenery is dramatic and is a nice drive.

That first shot was inspired by Kala and her imaginative use of Bokeh (that is the out of focus background patterns a lens makes). She has inspired me to try and capture some nicer backgrounds.

Plumeria rubra 'Kaneohe Sunburst'
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Since most of the leaves were not out on the trees this shot seemed like a good idea. Shot in Monochrome with the Nikon D700 and 105mm macro lens.
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This beach is also along the south east coast and looked wonderful. This picture was taken with a FujiFilm J38. It was the widest lens I had at the time. We just pulled off the road onto the wide shoulder and took a few pictures. I think the park is called Makapu'u Beach Park and the islands are Manana Island (Rabbit Island) and Kaohikaipu Island (Turtle Island).

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Monday, February 15, 2010

Orange Hibiscus and African Tulip Tree

Orange Tropical Hibiscus
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis
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Yesterday we had the “Queen of Flowering Trees” here and today the flower is known as the “Queen of the Tropics”. Hibiscus was growing on every island we visited but there seemed to be more types, colors and varieties on the Big Island. This one was really beautiful, both big and bold and refined at the same time. It was hard to ignore its color.

Tropical Hibiscus has naturalized through out the tropics and has been the target of breeding programs by horticulturalists for many years. They also seem to hybridize amongst themselves adding to the plethora of new cultivars. Sometimes I wish these breeding programs wouldn’t go overboard with the most garish colors and crinkly petals and each year there seems to be more and more outlandish ones. If that is what people like and get enjoyment from more power to them and perhaps I will like them more as time goes on.

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Yesterday there were three tropical trees featured here. This next tree was also blooming everywhere on the Big Island of Hawaii. It was growing in people’s yards, in the woods and along the roads. Sometimes you wouldn’t even know there was one around unless you saw the flower litter on the ground. We also saw a yellow flowered version of it in some gardens. They seemed reserved for cultivation as it wasn’t spotted in the wild.

African Tulip Tree
Spathodea campanulata
Synonyms: Fountain Tree, Firebell
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This tree is considered a pest in Hawaii because the wind dispersed seed spreads through abandoned agricultural land and forested areas. The seed readily germinates and the trees form thickets. It can also be a bit of a garden pest with the amount of flowers, twigs and seed pods it drops. It looked beautiful to me and in one gulch on Route 19 between Hilo and Honokaa the African Tulip had formed a massive colony whose sight I will remember for a long time.

It was difficult to get a picture of the flowers since they were borne so high in the air. Having a 70-200mm lens would have been good but all I had was the 105mm. This was shot looking almost straight up. There were a couple of times I would have loved to have a bucket truck to view the fowers.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Three Tropical Trees

Three Tropical Trees

Pride of Burma
Amherstia nobilis
(am-HER-stee-uh) (NO-bil-iss)
Synonym: Queen of the Flowering Trees
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For this weeks edition of Today’s Flowers here is probably the most rare plant that I knowingly saw in Hawaii. This tree is considered rare and is endangered in its native area of Burma. It grows to 40 feet tall but this specimen was about 20 feet. The amount of flowers, plants and exotic foliage we saw in Hawaii this time was amazing and seeing this tree on the last day was icing on the cake.

This structure was near the Amherstia and was not remarkable by itself even though it had some nice lines. What was remarkable was the fact that when I started to take this picture I noticed a slight vibration and a few seconds later the whole thing started to creak. At first I thought it may be the wind but it was dead calm out. When I got a peculiar feeling in my knees I realized it was a small earthquake. Since this was very near the volcano it was slightly unnerving but after a couple of minutes I was back to bushwhacking the garden looking for more rare tropicals. That was the second earthquake we felt while on the Big Island.

Yellow Poui
Tabebuia serratifolia
Synonym: Yellow Lapacho
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This next tree was growing on Maui. It was taken at the Enchanting Floral Gardens in Kula. I had visited the gardens in 2001 and didn’t remember what a vast collection of interesting plants they had so it was kind of like exploring it for the first time. Since it was only a few minutes from my sister’s house I was the only person in the gardens. There was only one other visitor the whole time I was there and that made the visit a little extra special. Of all the gardens we saw in Hawaii this one most reminded of something you would see at someone’s house.

Yellow Poui is native to South America where it can attain huge proportions (up to 160 feet tall and 8 feet wide at the base). It is a commercially viable species for timber farming and the bark has medicinal properties. It was glorious to see against the sunny Maui sky although getting that first shot required standing on my tippy toes to bend the flower down to where its picture could be taken.

Double Buttercup Tree
Cochlospermum vitifolium
Synonyms: Forest Peach, Mountain Cotton, Cotton-tree, Bombax vitifolium
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This is the smallest growing tree presented here only obtaining a height of 20-25 feet. The flowers were gorgeous, simultaneously reminding me of a floribunda rose and a Begonia. The flowers were held quite a bit off the ground and that is why I was shooting up at them. The buds were beautiful too. A little further research revealed that the foliage is star shaped and often appears after the flowers (there wasn’t a leaf out on this one). Its native range is Mexico to Northern South America but has been used as an ornamental plant all over the tropics.

For more flower pictures from around the world check out:
Today’s Flowers .

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Red Bottlebrush Tree

Bottlebrush Tree
Callistemon rigidus
(kal-lis-STEE-mon) (RIG-ih-dus)
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There was huge hedge of this plant planted in our yard on the Big Island. That allowed for multiple test shots using the flash on the Coolpix P6000. The first couple of exposures were way too bright and it seemed like a good comprise to set the exposure compensation and the flash compensation to -0.7.

Red Bottlebush is a old favorite of mine and always nice to see. The birds were going nuts in the hedge, which was about 16 feet tall, 12 feet wide and 60 feet long. If you went over to the trees you would soon realize there 20 or 30 birds flitting around the top and sides.

This adaptable Australian native is hardy to USDA Zone 8 and grows into a graceful little tree. We were growing a couple here in Connecticut but they conked out after spending several years in the greenhouse.

Going through the pictures I took in Hawaii there seemed to be a good amount of keepers from the P6000. I didn’t take very much equipment on the trip preferring to keep it simple. The little Nikon did well in almost every situation that it was asked. Since the D700 had either the 60mm or 105mm on it (the only two lenses I had with me) it was nice to be able to get some wider shots with the little camera.

The lens is an ED (extra low dispersion) 28-112mm equivalent. It also has Vibration Reduction (VR), which is Nikon’s anti-shake technology. It does petty well on the wide end as far distortion is concerned. There is a digital zoom option but that is turned off on mine.

Sometimes I just shoot the camera in automatic for snapshots but it does have full manual control. In fact it has many of the features of a Nikon DSLRs. One thing that is nice is on the program wheel there is a savable User1 and 2 settings where you can set up the camera they way you like and return to it. I have learned to shoot with this camera pretty much with one hand. That includes changing the settings. One other thing that is amazing about this camera is the close focusing distance. It can take a decent picture only .8 inches (2 cm) from the subject.

All of the pictures today were shot with the Coolpix camera.

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This old car was spotted on the Big Island. Would you buy some real estate from these people?

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A vista from the well named Tropical Plantation. I really loved the garden at this place.

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This is the famous Duke Kahanamoku Statue in Waikiki Beach. He is considered the father of modern surfing. Here is a link to more information on Duke:

Friday, February 12, 2010

Black and White Jasmine

Black and White Jasmine
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I a pretty sure this was Angelwing Jasmine (Jasminum nitidum) but it didn’t seem to have the twining vine habit of that plant. This is a photograph that I wish had paid more attention to the plant for identification purposes. The fragrance was enchanting and is still lingering in my mind. This picture was shot in monochrome with the D700 and the 105mm Vr lens. Looking back it probably could have been slightly more exposed but at least the whites didn’t blow out.

It will be a little while until we are back on east coast time. This next picture is pretty much what my day consisted of yesterday, watching the planes pull in and out of LAX. This was shot with the Coolpix P6000. It is nice to have kind of a small incognito camera because I am not sure about the photography rules at airports these days. This plane is an American Airlines 767-200 and it was bound for JFK. According to Wikipedia the 767-200ER is:

The extended-range variant of the original Boeing 767, the 767-200ER, was first delivered to El Al in 1984. This model became the first 767 to complete a nonstop transatlantic journey, and broke the flying distance record for a twinjet airliner on April 17, 1988, with an Air Mauritius 767-200ER flying 8,727 nautical miles (16,162 km) between Halifax, Nova Scotia and Port Louis, Mauritius. The 767-200ER became popular overseas with smaller operators seeking wide-body airliners but not needing the 747's capacity.”

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Ours was the next flight an hour later but was cancelled.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Honolulu Cactus

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Honolulu Cactus

Finally made it home after a somewhat arduous journey of 48 plus hours. The blizzard that hit New York really messed up my travel plans. Yesterday I had boarding passes for 5 different flights and finally got one from Los Angles to St. Louis and to La Guardia today. It sure wore me out but exploring Hawaii for a couple of weeks was well worth it.

The trip home took a lot out of me and I am still real tired but wanted to share another plant that I saw in Hawaii. This Cactus was growing in Kapiolani Park on the quiet end of Waikiki. We saw quite a bit of Cactus on the islands especially in the hot dry areas. The climate of the Hawaiian Islands is totally amazing. Here is a reference page to the climate of Hawaii from the Western Regional Climate Center. The link gives a good overview of the weather there and in rainfall section it has a few interesting facts:

“If the islands of the State of Hawaii did not exist, the average annual rainfall upon the water where the islands actually lie would be about 25 inches. Instead, the actual average is about 70 inches. Thus the islands extract from the air that passes across them about 45 inches of rainfall that otherwise would not fall. That the mountains are dominantly responsible for this added water bonus is evident from annual rainfall maps, which show the tremendous amounts of rainfall deposited in mountainous areas in the average year. In many mountainous areas of the State these depths exceed 240 inches, or 20 feet. At Mt. Waialeale, on Kauai, the annual average reaches the extraordinary total of 486 inches – over 40 feet. This is the highest recorded annual average in the world.”

“An average of 70 inches of rainfall over Hawaii is equivalent to not quite 8,000 billion gallons of water per year. This is more than 10 times the annual water use of something over 700 billion gallons. According to the 1965 figures, irrigation accounted for 74 percent of this total use; industrial uses (chiefly for cooling) accounted for 19 percent, while the remaining seven percent was used for domestic and miscellaneous purposes.”

“There are very few areas elsewhere in the World and none elsewhere in the United States where rainfall gradients are as steep as they are in Hawaii. In a great many places in Hawaii the annual rainfall gradient exceeds 25 inches per mile; that is the rainfall increases 25 inches for each mile transversed along a straight line. In a very extreme instance, the gradient is 118 inches per mile along the 2-1/2 mile line from Hanalei Tunnel to My Waialeale on Kauai.”

And good for the cultivation of Cactus:

“The driest areas are on the upper slopes of the high mountains, on leeward coasts, or in leeward locations in the interior of the islands as in central Maui. In the driest of these areas the average annual rainfall is less than 10 inches; and one area, around Kawaihae Bay near the northern end of the west coast of Hawaii, the rainfall is less than seven inches.”

Needless to say I like the wetter areas, as the lush tropical jungle always impresses me with a huge selection of different species and abundant growth. Going from one type of climate to another to another all in a relatively short time period is a nice experience and fun to see what is going to be growing next.

This is a partial shot of the Cactus Planting the first two macros are from.
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It is going to take a few weeks to sort out the pictures from this adventure. Some of that time will be used figuring out what plants are which. I am looking forward to the research.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Candle Bush

Candle Bush
Senna alata
(SEN-nuh) (a-LAY-tuh)
Synonym: Empress Candle Plant, Candletree, Candelabra Bush, Ringworm Tree, Cassia alata
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From the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens

The view from the lanai

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Hawaiian Tropical Orchids

Hawaiian Tropical Orchids
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All four of these Orchids were photographed at the Hawaiian Tropical Botanical Garden near Hilo, Hawaii on the Big Island. There was a pretty amazing collection of flowers at the garden and the Orchids were just the icing on the cake. All together I got nice pictures of about 20 cultivars and species. They were all unnamed from what I could see but that didn’t detract from the beauty.

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The garden was amazing and one of the best I have visited. Set in a lush valley the garden wound itself down from the road to the sea. The setting reminded me of a tropical jungle and there were some beautiful vistas of the ocean at the end. It was spectacular on every level.

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For more flower pictures from around the world check out:
Today’s Flowers .

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Saturday, February 06, 2010

Elephant Ear

Elephant Ear
Alocasia cuprea
(a-loh-KAY-see-uh) (KUP-ray-uh)
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Pink Quill
Tillandsia cyanea
(til-LAND-see-uh) (sy-AN-ee-uh)
Synonyms: Quill-leaf, Air Plant
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