Friday, December 31, 2010

Holiday Train Show at NYBG

The annual Holiday Train show at the New York Botanical Garden is something I look forward to every year.  After a stunning walk through the conservatory (which I will post about separately), through the tropical rainforests and desert lands, I walked into the main exhibit room and into a whole other world. Before me were 140 New York City landmark buildings and structures, each constructed entirely of natural materials: nuts, tree bark, fruits, pine cones and leaves.

Model of the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory
Every now and then I would see one of the G-scale model trains going along part of the half mile track in and around one of these buildings or over one of it's bridges.

It's truly amazing that each of these buildings are built entirely of natural materials. The detail on the architecture is incredible, especially knowing it's created from dried plant parts. This is the famous statue on top of Grand Central Terminal train station in New York City:

And this is the Guggenheim Museum:

Here are some of the other structures, each one beautifully surrounded by orchids, cyclamen, kalanchoe, ferns, mosses and other plants:
Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

Lyndhurst Castle


Rockefeller Center, Empire State Building, Chrysler Building and more

And the new addition this year is the Trans World Airline (TWA) Flight Center at John F. Kennedy Airport. Complete with planes, runway and terminal building:


If you live in the area, you still have time to see the show. It runs through January 9th at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx. For more information, you can check it out on their website. Also look for a link on that page which provides a "behind the scenes" glance at how they put it all together. It's fascinating and beautiful!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Boxing Day Blizzard

We got quite a wallop of snow on Sunday! At first, the forcasters were saying only eastern Long Island would get a few inches of snow. But as Christmas Day drew to an end, the news was reporting that all of New York City and Long Island should expect for a blizzard with lots of snow and wind. So all day Sunday, we listened to the howling winds blowing 40+mph and watched the beautiful snow fall, and fall, and fall until we got nearly 2 feet of snow. The storm even blew snow onto the wreath on my front door (and it's covered by a porch!):

But the birds were not deterred. They held onto the feeders through the snow and wind, trying to get something to eat. I was just happy that I remembered to fill them the day before the storm.

And even though the weather outside was frightful, it sure was beautiful to watch the snow coming down. And my kids enjoyed a day in their pjs to play with their new toys!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas at My House

Christmas is just a three days away. My children are beyond excited for the big day. The house is all decorated and although our live tree is getting rather dry and dropping needles, it still smells divine.
The tree is decorated with ornaments that hold many memories. I've collected many from places I've traveled, but my favorites are these whimsical angels I got at a little store in Heidelberg, Germany.

Each one is so unique and they all seem to have different personalities - the only commonality is a white feather. I just love them.

On my door, I have a pine cone wreath I made a few years ago. I wired each pine cone individually to the metal frame and then added embellishments. It's not the typical evergreen wreath you see everywhere, but I like it.

 This year I added a few birds, berries, greens and poinsettia flowers:

And finally, to the left of the door is another arrangement I created using white birch branches, berries and evergreen branches:

So there you have it! All set for Christmas. I feel like we have been decorating and planning for this day for weeks now and it's finally here. Merry Christmas everyone!

Friday, December 17, 2010

December's Hard Frost

Well, it's finally happened. The night temperatures over the past few days have been hovering between 15-20F and was just too much for my purple Ornamental Kale and orange Violas.

I must say, however, I was rather impressed with how long they lasted. They continued to look great all through November and even early December. But just around the time when I began to think the colors were wrong for Christmas, they simply wilted over and bowed down to the cold.

Since they were spent for the season, I decided to replace them with evergreen cuttings. I filled a similar flower box on my back patio too. And it just happened to snow on them the next day, making for a very pretty sight!

I can see this box from my kitchen window and sliding glass door. It adds a nice bit of greenery to my view in the bleakness of winter.

I filled another container with some of the longer and varied pieces of evergreens and placed it in the corner. I think it looks quite lovely here.

The soil has now frozen around these cuttings, so I hope they hold up for a while!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Topiaries in the Landscape

I drove by a house in my neighborhood the other day that had these shaped topiaries on their lawn. I had never noticed them before but I thought they looked so cool! I can remember as a kid going to Disney World and being fascinated with the shrubs shaped like Mickey Mouse and other characters. Probably takes a lot to keep it in the proper form and make sure the cuttings don't brown out. Still, I thought these looked so fun!

Check out some more inspiring Topiary Gardens, as compiled on the blog "Surroundings."

Monday, December 6, 2010

A Mossy Terrarium

Terrariums have lately become a favorite winter activity of mine. I started a few years ago, planting a few plants inside a fish bowl. My son, who was 2 at the time, helped me by placing some toy dinosaurs in it. It looked adorable. Since then, 3 of the 4 plants have died.  I assume the conditions for those particular plants just weren't right for them. And then of course, my son wanted his toys back! So now, I'm re-working all my terrariums.

Last week I ordered "terrarium moss" from a website called Moss Acres. Included in the shipment were three types of mosses that apparently grow well in a terrarium: Cushion Moss, Rock Cap Moss and Sheet Moss.

In the fish bowl terrarium, which is not a closed terrarium, I already have an African violet growing and its got new growth, so I'm thinking its happy in there. I also have miniature fern that stands upright, to give the arrangement some dimension, and a small cutting of Wandering Jew (Tradescantia zebrina).

In here, I placed some of the sheet moss. I didn't want to cover all the soil with it, but I placed a good chunk of it off to one side. Here's how it looks:

The other terrarium is closed, meaning I keep the lid on it nearly all the time. Every few days, I will remove the lid to let in some fresh air, but mostly its closed. My sister had given me a decorative golf ball glued to a tee. I thought it might look best nestled among some grass or various mosses. So I arranged all three types of mosses at the base of this container and put the golf ball right in the middle.

Since I had a lot of moss left over, I decided to create an all-over moss terrarium. It's an open container, wider than the fishbowl but with a smaller mouth/opening. Again, I used all three mosses and made a patchwork of sorts. Here it is:

They are looking good so far! The moss was shipped in a box and each piece is completely dried out in a dormant state. All that's required is to put them onto moist soil and water well. Indoors, moss enjoy lots of indirect light (a contrast to their love of the shade when outdoors). Until they get established, I'm trying to raise the humidity by covering the opening of the terrariums, a few hours every day.

I'm hoping the moss will enjoy their new homes and flourish! I find moss fascinating (as you'll remember from my "Beauty of Moss" post a few months ago) and now I can enjoy it indoors during the cold winter months.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010 Centerpiece update

As an update from my last post on Thanksgiving Centerpieces, I thought I'd show a photo of what I ended up doing this year. At first, I thought of carving a pumpkin and using that as the vase/container. I was going to fill it with flowers, berries and foliage. But my time seemed to disappear like ice on hot day. And so in the end, I decided to go the simple, seasonal route:

I cut some branches filled with colorful leaves from a Bradford Pear tree. The leaves were so pretty and glossy, they almost looked fake. In fact, a few of my guests didn't believe me when I told them they were real!

So even though it wasn't an elaborate centerpiece, I was still happy with my creation. The colors of the leaves alone were stunning. Sometimes, simple can be elegant. 

I think for Christmas this year, I'm going to ask Santa for more hours in my day... :)