Friday, February 18, 2011

Camellias at Planting Fields Arboretum

Planting Fields Arboretum is a State Park located on Long Island, NY. It was once a former Gold Coast estate and is now a public arboretum and historic site. It has 409 acres of greenhouses, rolling lawns, formal gardens, woodland paths and plant collections.

At any time of the year it is a fantastic place to visit. But in February, the real show is the Camellias.

Planting Fields is the home to the Camellia Greenhouse, designed by Lowell & Sargent/Olmsted Bros. in 1917-1922. Today it houses over 300 plants, some of them from the original collection brought over from England in the early 1900's.

Looking around at all the different varieties, I couldn't help but be amazed at this incredible plant and gorgeous flowers.

If you live in the area, Planting Fields is holding a Camellia Weekend festival in a few weeks. Check out their website for more details:

Even if you miss the festival, I still recommend you go to the greenhouse to see the Camellias. They certainly brighten up a winter day!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Early Signs of Spring

I looked out the window this morning and actually saw...the lawn! Yes, after about 2 months of snow cover, I can now see patches of grass. Mind you, it's still matted down and brown, but it's there!

With temperatures flirting with 50 degrees, I was on a hunt to spot some signs of spring. Lo and behold, I found some. Yeah!

 Two little daffodil sprouts

More daffodils and tulips

May 15 is considered the last-frost date here. So we still have a while to go, but at least the early spring bulbs are starting to emerge. It made me so happy to see these and now I simply can't wait for ALL the snow to disappear!

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Unique Valentine Flower

Roses are the quintessential Valentine's Day flower. They are beautiful, romantic and smell heavenly. Second to them, I tend to favor a bouquet of deep red tulips. But a truly unique Valentine's Day flower is Anthurium.

This beautiful heart-shaped flower with the spadix projecting sharply from the center is one of the most popular tropical flowers used by florists. It can last for as much as 28 days in a vase!

The "flower" is actually a waxy leaf called a spathe and the spiky structure coming out of it is the spadix. The spadix is covered in hundreds of the real Anthruium flowers.

Maybe it doesn't hold the same romantic feelings a red rose does, but I am still fascinated by this waxy, deep red, heart-shaped flower. Who can deny it's uniqueness?

No matter what your preference for a Valentine's Day flower, I hope you all have a wonderful day!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Amaryllis in Bloom

I just returned from a glorious week in Cancun, Mexico. It was a wonderful family vacation and a timely respite from the cold and snow of Long Island, NY. Just before I left, however, I noticed my Amaryllis plants - the ones I have been anxiously waiting to bloom - were just about to burst open. Ugh, what rotten timing!

Here is what I saw two days before my departure:

 The beautiful bud, just teasing me now...

I decide to try to force it a little by placing it under some kitchen lights that give off a lot of heat. By the afternoon, I see it is working slowly:

The next day, the flower begins to open:

And the morning of my departure, I finally got to see at least one of the flowers. I didn't know if it would be dead by the time I came back or if I would miss the entire show:

But I didn't! When I got home from my trip - a full week later - I was welcomed with three beautiful blooms on one of the plants:

And the other Amaryllis is just starting to open too!:

This one is an all white variety with a thin red line around the edges of the flower petals. So very pretty and delicate looking:

Thank you, Amaryllis, for welcoming me home with such splendor!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Birds Braving the Winter

It's still really cold here and another storm is on it's way. I haven't seen too many birds this winter - it might be that it's just too cold. However, there are some that have been braving the cold.

The male and female cardinal come to visit nearly every day. Sometimes they eat, other times, they just sit perched on the bird feeder. I can hear their distinct chirps before I see them.

This little fellow is so cute. He hangs out on the tree nearly upside down until he figures it's safe enough to fly over to the bird feeder. I think it's a Nuthatch?

The red-bellied Woodpecker is also a frequent visitor, scaring away any other birds who might be feeding.

 Mrs. Cardinal takes her spot on the feeder.

And of course, the squirrel watches the feeders from above, waiting for one of them to mysteriously fall from the tree and dump the seed all over the lawn...which will never happen!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Snow falls on Cedars (and other trees)

Here on Long Island, we have received a lot of snow recently. Our last storm was particularly wet and so it really hung onto the branches like warm, white chocolate fudge over a mound of ice cream. Here are a few photos from that storm:

I still think the snow is so pretty to watch as it comes down from the sky and especially beautiful when it hugs the trees the next day. But, that being said, I wouldn't mind if spring came just a little early here...