Monday, April 27, 2015

Spring Flowering Trees

Compared to summer's bold riot of colors, spring begins in a slow crescendo of color. Mostly pastels followed by a few brightly colored tulips or daffodils. But for me, the real spring show is the trees. Spring flowering trees are simply magnificent. They bloom before the leaves appear and since so many other "leafy" trees are just starting to break dormancy, their lovely blooms stand out all the more. A quick drive around my neighborhood had me spotting these beauties:

Yoshino Cherry Tree (Prunus x yedoensis)
A round shape with the palest, almost white flower petals.

Saucer Magnolia Tree (Magnolia x soulangeana)
Large petaled blossoms flushed with pink, white and hints of purple

Star Magnolia (Magnolia stellata)
One of the first flowering trees to bloom. It's blossoms consist of up to 15 individual white petals, giving the illusion of a star.

Flowering Plum Tree (Prunus cerasifera)
Small light pink flowers contrast nicely against the burgundy leaves of this upright, vase shaped tree.

Bradford Pear Tree (Pyrus calleryana 'Bradford') 
Clusters of small white, fragrant flowers appear just before the green leaves. 

Weeping Cherry Tree (Prunus subhirtella 'Pendula')
This gracefully wispy tree has light pink flowers hanging on dangling branches. 
When it sways in the wind, it's absolutely captivating. This one is on my property, and though it's quite old, it still stops me in my tracks each spring. 

So many gorgeous trees out there right now. I'm looking forward to seeing the dogwoods, eastern redbuds and kwanzan cherry trees bloom in the next few weeks too! 

Do you have a favorite? I'd love to hear it in the comments section below!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

What's Blooming in the Garden? April 2015

Spring has finally sprung in my Long Island garden and all my hard work planting 200 bulbs last fall is finally paying off! Some of the bulbs are in full bloom, others are still sending up shoots. Each day there is something new to see and it's all very exciting to watch unfold. In the photo above, a group of Tete-a-Tete daffodils are happily mingling with purple hyacinth. 

Clumps of crocus are all over the property - some deep purple, some white and some purple and white!

And the lovely chinodoxa (Glory of the Snow), smiling happily upwards.

This Lenten Rose is one of three plants I planted last year. The delicious pink hue of Helleborus 'Cotton Candy' brightens my day.

Looking forward to more and more blooms and new growth as the month wears on. Hope you are enjoying your gardens were you are!

Head on over to May Dreams Gardens blog for a look at what's blooming around the country today.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Orchid Chandeliers at NY Botanical Garden

Spring seems to be taking it's timing coming to New York this year. But inside the conservatory at the New York Botanical Garden, one quickly forgets the weather outside and its transfixed on the beauty and majesty inside. This year, the annual Orchid Show has been expanded to include beautiful displays throughout all the Rain Forest Galleries as well as the main exhibit section. In addition, the orchids aren't simply on display here and there, they are suspended from the ceiling and from the tops of trees and arches, truly living up to this year's theme name: Orchid Chandeliers.

By suspending these "chandeliers" one can admire the aerial beauty of these gorgeous and fascinating flowers.

Most of the cultivated orchids are epiphytes, which literally means "air plant" or "to grow on a plant." The roots of these plants do not grow on the ground, but rather in trees or on rocks. They are not parasites though, and therefore do not take anything from the host plant. They simply cohabitate, getting their moisture and nutrients from the air.

Other orchids (like Cymbidiums) are terrestrial, which means "growing in the ground." These orchids prefer to have their roots firmly in the ground, rather than on trees or bushes. There are over 200 species of terrestrial orchids and most grow wild in subtropical and tropical areas of America.

There is an estimated 30,000 naturally occurring orchid species and tens of thousands artificially created hybrids, yet each orchid flower shares similar characteristics, setting them 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). 

Some orchids mimic bees, wasps, butterflies and wasps. These adaptations help ensure that insect pollinators visit the flowers. I loved this one that looked like a spider. 

Walking into the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, these enormous clusters of orchids sit on top of the reflecting pool creating a mystical effect.

The true masterpiece of this show is the huge three-tiered, star-shaped chandelier that overflows with orchids. If you go, be sure to stand beneath it and look up. It's magical.

The 13th annual The Orchid Show at NYBG showcases so many different varieties of orchids and is a must-see this spring. The show continues through April 19 at New York Botanical Garden, 2900 Southern Blvd, Bronx, NY;