Wednesday, February 28, 2007

American Moth Orchid (xOdontocidium Wildcat ‘Everlasting’)

American Moth Orchid
xOdontocidium Wildcat ‘Everlasting’

I went to the The Orchid Show at the Botanical Gardens in the Bronx. This is the second year in a row I have attended. Both shows were fantastic with copious amounts of flowers and colors. You have to walk all the way through the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory to reach the orchids. I took advantage of the Skywalk and lingered in the room with the Water Garden (it probably has a name). There are several huge specimens of Tropical Vines growing above the water and they always seem to have at least some flowers. I think there might have been a few less Orchids this year but they had more oddballs. All the flowers were well marked. A couple of the displays were really awesome with the mix of types and colors. The best flower in the show for me was The Comet Orchid that was in full bloom. I hadn’t seen one before and wanted to find out a little more about it. It is quite an interesting story that can be found here. It was set in the back of the display and I just couldn’t reach it with the 70mm. There were a lot of shutterbugs at the show with some professionals mixing in with the camera phone people and even a TV crew filming a spot for the evening news. I got some nice Orchid pictures but I am still wading through some of my Florida pictures. I will try and go through the Orchid pictures in the next couple days,

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Jupiter Inlet

Jupiter Inlet
Jupiter, Florida

Jupiter is a nice town and I loved the Lighthouse. Standing 105 feet tall the Lighthouse gives a sweeping panoramic view of the Jupiter Inlet and the Loxahatchee River. It was fun seeing Florida from this high up since everything is so flat. I didn’t spend too much time in the Museum but is was a nice building with a few interesting exhibits. Of note was the Banyan Tree (Ficus benghalensis) on the property. It is quite a bit smaller than the one in Lahaina's Courthouse Square (on Maui) but impressive just the same. I have been working on my pictures and updating my other site with some more Florida pictures.

The Lighthouse is located on a Coast Guard Base (just housing) and is still active. It can be seen 18 miles out to sea.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Shrub Rose ‘Belinda’s Dream’

Shrub Rose ‘Belinda’s Dream’

All in all Shrub Roses aren’t my favorite types. Though I must admit that roses like ‘Belinda’s Dream’ are helping change that opinion. I have been seeing more and more nice shrub roses. This rose was growing at Mount’s Botanical Garden Mount’s Botanical Garden in West Palm Beach. It is a nice garden and offered a well-marked substantial collection of interesting plants. I guess it took a hit from a couple hurricanes so the canopy has been reduced but they are certainly far into the recovery process; as I didn’t see any damage. It seems like it can take years and years to repair the damage from a storm around here. Tropical gardens seem to have a wonderful way of healing themselves. Mounts is Palm Beach County’s largest and oldest Botanical Garden.

‘Belinda’s Dream’ was a nice bushy rose with good color and fully double blooms. It is mildly fragrant and has a petal count of 45. This rose was bred by Professor Robert E. Basye, a Texas rose hybridizer that did much work towards breeding Black Spot resistant varieties. ‘Belinda’s Dream’ is a cross between ‘Jersey Beauty’ and ‘Tiffany’ and was introduced in 1992. There were a couple of patches planted along a brick walk and they were all doing well. The roses growing at the house I rented were also blooming heavily but I did notice they were on the Northern side of the house and got shade most of the afternoon.

Synonyms: ‘Belinda's Rose’

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Morikami Gardens

Morikami Gardens
Delray Beach, Florida

This is quite a garden. The large scale gives enough room for the various types of gardens and they are really separate. It was by far the largest Japanese Garden that I have been to. I like Japanese Gardens but they are generally too sparsely planted for me. Don't get me wrong they have a fine plant collection at Morikami , it has been carefully chosen and thoughtfully placed. I can appreciate all the work that goes into a garden like this. From the designing to the impeccable maintenance you could tell this was a well-loved garden. They had some interesting history on the town of Yamoto, Florida in the small museum. I took this picture with a warming filter it was taken in the early afternoon. Don't miss the Koi. They are among the largest and most active I have seen. You may have to wait a couple of minutes to get on the platform but you can gaze on the impressive Bonsai Collection while you wait.

There is the Botanical Garden at the AOS headquarters right along the same driveway as Morikami. It is also worth the stop.

I also attended the Garlic Fest in downtown Delray Beach. We had fun walking around the nice shops and the green market. The Garlic Fest was interesting. Who would have ever thought of some of the things they could make out of garlic.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Royal Park Bridge at Night

Royal Park Bridge at Night
Palm Beach, Florida

I am back in dreary, dull, desolate, dismal, drab, disconsolate Connecticut ;-) Just kidding, I am happy to be home but I guess in some ways it is true. We drove from Florence, South Carolina to Connecticut yesterday. It was quite a ride as I finally stopped at South of the Border and managed to transverse Washington, DC and Baltimore at the height of the Friday rush hour.

I did some night shooting the last night I was in Florida. I wished I had gone out earlier in the trip as Palm Beach was stunningly lit up at night. I wanted to check out the new lens and it did pretty well. Night photography is always a little frustrating for me because I usually forget to set up one aspect of the camera or another. I keep trying and hope to get a little better at it. This time I took my dog and she was much more interested in all the smells than the beautiful view of the Intercoastal Waterway or setting up the tripod. I think the Sigma 17-70mm did pretty well considering it was with windy conditions. This is the Royal Park Bridge, which connects Palm Beach with Mainland Florida. It has an interesting history that I found here. The area around the bridge’s eastern side has a nice park and marina. S.R. 709 turns into Royal Palm Way on the Palm Beach side. I wish I could have gotten a picture of that. It didn’t look safe to do it at night but the trees were beautiful.

I have a lot of flower photos to process and will posting them over the next couple of days. The night photos were the first ones I have downloaded. So in between unloading the car, writing a long letter to an old friend and getting back into the swing of things here I hope to update this site tomorrow. I would like to write more about my impressions of Palm Beach including the 40-carat diamond I saw.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Flamingo Gardens

Flamingo Gardens
Davie, Florida

I visited Flamingo Gardens in Davie yesterday. I have been there several times over the last twenty years and they have been doing a lot of work. There are several reasons why I love this garden. Overall, the tropical feeling is wonderful and there is a bit of Citrus Grove feeling on the back trail. The plant collection is top-notch, with several state champions included in the large trees. The Tropical Tree collection is the most impressive to me. It has been a little roughed up by the hurricanes but it is still a place to see some very large specimens. They also have some nice shrubs and a succulent collection. There are quite a few birds and other animals to see, including a Gator, of course.. The Flamingoes were eating right out of my hand. Karen let me use her D80 and it is a nice camera. I can’t believe how responsive it is. I will be posting some results of the 40 pictures I took with it. I used the D70s on the Flamingoes with the new Sigma 17-70mm. My only little knocks against the garden is that at $17 it is a little expensive. Try to find coupons or use AAA for discounts. The other was the plant collection could use a little better signage. Those are very small complaints and I think the staff does a wonderful job keeping up the place.

I am going to cut this short as I am forgot to bring my extra keyboard for my laptop. I hate trying to type with the onboard keyboard. This laptop (it is a G4 Titanium) needs to be replaced, as soon as I upgraded to Photoshop CS2 that really became apparent. The weather is cold and rainy but it looks like the sun is trying to peek out. It is supposed to get real windy.

Not really sure what flower this is. I just liked the lighting.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia diversifolia)

Mexican Sunflower
(Tithonia diversifolia)

This is a Mexican Sunflower I was not familiar with. It was not to be ignored as it grew to about 25 feet tall and was covered with hundreds of blooms. The foliage was nicely patterned and a good color.

I made it down to West Palm Beach and have been doing a bit of garden hopping. Internet cafes are not very popular around here and I finally found a place where I could update my blog. I actually miss updating this site. As much as a pain it can be, sometimes I have really begun to enjoy my time I spend here. I guess it is a bit of an escape for me.

The weather hasn’t been typical Florida, not the postcard type anyway. There is actually a freeze warning for interior Palm Beach County tonight. It still is better than the reports from home; I didn’t mind missing that messy storm that hit Connecticut the other day. So this isn’t t-shirt weather, but it isn’t jacket weather either.

I visited the Mounts Botanical Garden, which is a nice collection with some good design elements. The price was right for this garden; free. I also, on the advice of a regular reader, visited The Japanese Garden in Delray Beach. It is a wonderful place to spend an afternoon. It has all the aspects that I know about Japanese Gardening and then some. The restaurant is also a good place to grab some authentic Japanese cuisine, probably one of the nicer garden cafes that I have been too. This garden has the added benefit of being directly next door to the headquarters of the American Orchid Society. I saw some plants in there that I hadn’t seen before including some wonderful exotic orchids. It was really, really windy during my visit, but I managed to get a few pictures. For plants, I would have to rate this place a 10.

I have been enjoying my new lens. It seems to be a good all-purpose type. I really like the macro function and the ability to get a wide-angle shot without having to change. This was the first exposure I took with the Sigma. There are 3 rose bushes at the house I rented. I think this one maybe ‘Peace’.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Florida Bound

I have left all my packing to the last minute. Tomorrow is the big day as we leave for Florida. I hope I can update this space while we are gone. I am soooooo looking forward to seeing some flowers. It hasn't gotten above freezing all this week and I need a little warmth. The dogs are going with us which is always fun. The Husky has been to Florida three or four times before and this will be the rookie’s second trip. I guess I can't call her a rookie she is now 3 years old. A Border Collie is fun to travel with as their quirks provide for some good laughs. She is also good on the security front as she takes her job of protecting us very seriously. I am sure they can’t wait to start chasing the little lizards. They probably wouldn’t know what to do if they caught one, as the lizards are much too fast for the dogs. Having a Siberian Husky and a Border Collie is quite a combination. You never know what is going to happen.

Since Karen broke the kit lens that I lent her for her new D80 I went to Manhattan and got a couple of new lenses. Now it is not the time of year for me to be investing a lot in glass but I needed a wide angle for D70s. After much research I got the Sigma 17-70mm macro. It is a little faster than the Nikon lens it is replacing (2.8 compared to 3.5 for the Nikon). It seemed to provide the most bang for the buck. For Karen I got the Nikon 18-135mm. It is one of the kit lens for her camera and it also wasn’t to expensive. I went to 17th Street Photo in the Chelsea district. It was on the third floor and it looks more like an internet/mail order type of place. They were real friendly and although the salesman was real busy he answered all of my questions. Gave me a good deal on an SD card and a 72mm Circular Polarizer. On street parking was easy (imagine that) and it didn’t take too long to get out of there. I hope to post some results from the new lenses. I am going to take a couple of pictures with the D80 in Florida as I really haven’t had time to set up the menus and put it through some paces.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


Myosotis species

This was probably the smallest flower I photographed of all last year. I thought the blue and pink together was interesting. This flower is from the big batch of seed I bought several tears ago. I used it in some of the woodsy edges of the garden and they loved it. They are biennial and the original patch has died down a little but I have noticed it popping up in a lot of places and the show is kind of moving around the garden. It has seeded itself in some problem areas and that is always nice. I can’t remember all the different types and cultivars I planted but it is fun having a good mix of heights, foliage and flower colors. According to Wikipedia’s Forget-Me-Not page:

”Color variation is not unusual within species, and white or pink forms are quite likely to be seen. They are popular in gardens, and cultivated forms often show a mixture of colors”.

So I guess this is not as unusual as I thought. I would recommend having a patch of Forget-Me-Nots in the garden; they are a classic. It does take a bit to get a patch growing and you will have better results if you tend to them a couple of times a year. Collecting and spreading the seed is easy. If any big weeds are growing amongst them I pull those but that is not many. They seem fairly adaptable for most conditions.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

White Clematis

While cleaning up my hard drive I found this picture I had shot on May 29th. I have shot the center of a lot Clematis but was glad to see I had stepped out of the box a little and shot it from behind. Clematis seems to be one of those plants if it is happy then it grows like a weed and if its not then there is too much you can do. When it is on it is one of the Queens of the Garden. Almost everyone admires it and rightfully so as I think it of as one of the civilized vines. I generally go along with the hot top (leaves) and cool bottom (soil) crowd but even that doesn’t even work all the time. I have taken to applying a systemic fungicide to them twice a year. It stopped that awful wilt that you get with some types. That is only thing that I have seen stop it. Learning to prune your type is important also since some bloom on new wood and others on the old wood. This white Clematis has a red/purple center but I am glad I got the green that is on the back.

I bought some Clematis a couple years ago with the sole purpose of growing them on other plants. This was fairly successful especially with my Dwarf Weeping Copper Beech. The Clematis grew perfectly through the top of the Beech and when it bloomed profusely my Purple Flowering Beech was a big hit. I also planted white Clematis with Dwarf Laceleaf Japanese Maple and that combination has worked very well. Some of the other plants I used as support were ‘Tina’ Dwarf Crabapple and ‘Winter Red’ Winterberry Holly.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Double Daylily 'Moses Fire’

Double Daylily 'Moses Fire’

I forgot I had taken this picture this summer. I happened to see this at my local retail garden center. They really do a nice job on finding unusual cultivars of things. They always have some nice Daylilies. This one is was really unusual and had the most petals I have seen on a Daylily flower. While looking this up I came across this Daylily Auction Site . It looks like you could live out your daylily fantasies for a long time over there. I did see a lot of double flowered varieties on that site so this isn’t that unusual. That is one of things I enjoy about gardening, you can always find something new and wondrous. It still hasn’t lost its appeal to me.

I don’t grow as many Daylilies as I wish. Mostly because of the fact that the deer love them. I did plant some nice cultivars last spring and I am eager to see what they look this year after having a full year to get established. With the proliferation of the re-bloomers my other little knock against them is gone. That the flower cycle didn’t last long enough. One thing I have found them to very good for is stabilization of hillsides. They can grow on the side of a cliff, practically. Once they are established there is no more soil erosion. When I visited the Botanical Gardens in New Brunswick, Canada last August they had a really nice Daylily collection. I was surprised to see them growing along the stream and in a wet area. I will have to try that.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

White Marigold (Tagetes erecta)

White Marigold
Tagetes erecta
(TAG-e-teez) (ee-RECK-tuh)

Having enjoyed the cultivation of this African Marigold I thought I would share it. Far more than a novelty item the White Marigold is a stand out in any garden. I do admit to enjoying the novelty factor a little bit. They are fun to grow. I haven’t tried growing them from seed but I usually always try and get a couple of flats. ‘Sweet Cream’ flowers are actually off-white and the plant grows to a stubby 8 inches. That is much smaller than the other White Marigold I have grown called ‘French Vanilla’. That is also a nice Marigold to grow and I found this story about ‘French Vanilla’ on Burpee dot com;
“As part of its longtime search for a true white marigold, Burpee launched a national contest in 1954. The $10,000 prize for the seed of a truly white marigold was finally awarded to an Iowa gardener in 1975.”

I would recommend either of these cultivars of Marigolds. I like Marigolds in general and that is partially because it is easy to get a big show without too much work. One time I planted Striped Marigold with the whites and even though that was an odd combination it worked. One more thing, White Marigolds don’t smell like regular Marigolds, they don’t smell at all. While I don’t find the fragrance of Marigolds objectionable I guess a lot of people do.

This is a Striped Marigold