Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Orchids, orchids and more orchids!

Each year, the New York Botanical Garden in Bronx, NY holds an Orchid Show in it's conservatory. This year's theme was Key West Contemporary and is described on the website as a show "where the dramatic beauty of a flourishing tropical garden is amplified by vibrant architecture that recalls this particular island's charm and ambience."

I've been to the show before during the daylight hours, but this year my husband and I attended one of the "Orchid Evening" events whereby guests are treated to a complimentary cocktail while a DJ's music sets the tone for a fun event. 

I've always admired orchids for their delicate and intricate designs, and seeing all these different varieties, such as Vanda (rainbow orchids), Dendrobium (cane orchids) and Cymbidium (Asian corsage orchids) made me wonder... what makes an orchid an orchid?

Doing a search online, I came across Merkles Orchids and a very knowledgeable duo about orchids. I learned from their site that a few things set orchids apart from other flowers. Each orchid has the same "parts" - three sepals, three petals, a column and a lip. The lip (or labellum) is actually the third petal, but since it looks so different from the other two, it gets a different name. All orchids have a lip and it's function is to aid in the pollination process. Think of it as a fancy landing pad for an insect to land and do it's pollination business. The second characteristic is the column, which contains the reproductive organs ("male" anther with pollen and "female" stigma). 

Merkles's site has some great close up images of the orchids so you can really see these parts. You can read about them in more detail here. For a plant that has an estimated 30,000 different species, it's really fascinating to think that they are all connected in these same ways. 

The show is on display at New York Botanical Gardens until April 21. 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Spring Flower & Garden Show

Every year, Hicks Nurseries in Westbury, NY transforms their showroom to a gorgeous display of landscape plants and flowers right as old man winter is starting to release his grip. The annual Spring Flower and Garden show is the largest and most popular flower show on Long Island. For many local gardeners, this flower show is the official beginning of spring. 

Each year has a different theme and to be honest, I think some have been better than others. This year's theme is "Garden for Life: Discover Health and Wellness through the Joy of Gardening"  - how gardening can enhance your life, your neighborhood and the planet. I thought it was fantastic. 

There were four different garden displays: the Relaxation Garden, the Easy Garden, the Earth Friendly Garden and the Learning Garden.

The Relaxation Garden was like a tropical oasis in your own backyard:

Filled with Palms, Bromeliads, Croton, Gardenias, Orchids and other tropical plants, it was soothing just to look at it. An outdoor shower was on one end and a naturalistic seating area with a chiminea on the other. 

On the other side of the shower was a delightful and beautifully decorated fish pond, complete with water lillies, orchids and ferns:

I found myself imagining taking a rest on this love seat, breathing in the sweet scent of the nearby Heliotrope, and looking up at the magical colors of the stained class "ceiling" above:

The Easy Garden focused on planting the right plant in the right spot to make gardening easy for anyone. One half of the display showcased plants that enjoy and brighten up the shade:

Hostas, Coleus, Begonias, Ferns, Hellebores and Hydrangeas were among the many different colors and textures that enjoy a shady spot. 

The other half of the Easy Garden displayed plants that enjoy bright, sunny spots in your yard:

Knockout Roses, Salvia, Viburnum, Forsythia and Snapdragons were among some of the many plants displayed that enjoy a more sunny location.

The Earth Friendly Garden featured clever and innovative recycling ideas. Using sneakers as planters, an old dresser as a potting station and sunken tires as stepping stones, it enforced the idea that recycling and repurposing items into the garden can be fun and whimsical as well as economical.

My favorite was the artistic piece above the shed. At first I thought it was a clock, but then on closer inspection, I realized it was created using various colored gardening gloves with a bird house in the center. 

The Learning Garden was full of a wide variety of fruits and vegetables you can grow in your own backyard. The aim for this garden was to inspire families to get out into their gardens and plant their own food together. 

All in all, I thought it was a great show. I loved the theme and loved to see how different each of the gardens were. They provided a great many ideas, but even more so, it was a wonderful place to spend a few hours and daydream while the weather is still chilly outside.

Hicks Nurseries can be found at:
100 Jericho Turnpike, Westbury, NY 11590

The flower show is from March 7-23. Check it out!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Signs of Spring!

The birds have been chirping, the sun is brighter and now we have an extra hour of daylight in the evening. Even though I still have snow on the ground, I did manage to see a few other signs of spring in the neighborhood yesterday.

The first was a beautiful yellow-bloomed witch hazel tree (Hamamelis). It's one of the earliest to bloom in late winter/early spring. 

The flowers have these squiggly little petals and gives off a sweet, delicate scent. 

Here is a close up, from Wikipedia:

Another early bloomer is the lovely and delicate Snowdrops (Galanthus). These are just about to open:

The name Galanthus means "milk flower" in Greek. The petals, when open, face downward and when in a mass, looks like a light covering of snow. 

Where the snow has melted, I see a few shoots of crocus and daffodils. Soon my landscape will be a riot of color. Soon!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Greetings from a warm place

I was in Aruba last week where it was sunny and 85 degrees every day. Long Island is supposed to get more snow tomorrow and I find myself looking at my photos from Aruba, trying to feel the warm sun on my face. Here's a photo to help with that:

This lovely tree was right on the beach and had a beautiful cluster of flowers:

It's not a tree that grows in my climate so if you know it, please mention it in the comments section below. 

Warm thoughts!!