LA Arboretum

I had the chance to visit the Los Angeles County Arboretum in late May. The place was over-run with Peacocks! Showing off and trumpeting loudly. The LA Arboretum is 127 acres and is located just off Route 66, just east of Pasadena.  All of the gardens were beautiful, it was breathtaking to see, even though it was a rainy day. 

National Arboretum in Washington

Over the Christmas holiday, we visited Washington D.C. and got to tour the National Arboretum. It was so beautiful, so many flowers! There were so many different types of flowers; including Hydrangeas, Orchids, Amaryllis, Bigleaf Hydrangeas, A Chocolate Tree (wow!), Bright Pink Poinsettias, Bird of Paradise, Aechmea ‘Blue Tango’, and in the center of it all was a large Christmas Tree! 

New Elevated Park in NYC

This past week, a new elevated park opened in New York City. It is called Liberty Park, and opened at the World Trade Center. It has a twenty five foot high vertical garden and also contains a sapling from a tree that grew outside of Anne Frank’s house in Amsterdam. The park is located above Liberty Street on the World Trade Center site, it is a smaller scale version of the iconic High Line with a beautiful view of the Freedom Tower. The park contains a three hundred and thirty six foot long vertical garden which is coined as a “living wall.” The wall is built with eight hundred and twenty six panels filled with 22,356 plants of six different varieties. The park is home to the American Response Statue which pays tribute to 9/11 responders.

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Thank you to NBC New York for the original information and photos. You can read more here.

 

Oldest White Oak in the Country

In the quiet town of Basking Ridge NJ, lives a town that is united by the love of one tree. White Oak to be specific. This tree has been part of U.S. history since the beginning, when George Washington decided to picnic in its shade. It also had the honor of having General Jean Baptist de Rochambeau and allied French troops march past it en route to the Battle of Yorktown VA. There is also thirty five Revolutionary War Veterans buried beneath its branches. This tree has been a part of history way before Basking Ridge was even a town!

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This tall and strong tree has withstood through six hundred years of storms and droughts. The cause of death for this landmark is unknown. According to the church that was built next to this
massive white oak, it is one hundred feet tall with a spread of one hundred and fifty six feet and a circumference of twenty feet! When the tree didn’t green for the spring last month, experts were consulted. They tested the soil, the roots and even checked for beetles and disease. An ecologist from Rutgers University inspected the tree in mid-June and declared it to be “in a spiral of decline.” The Basking Ridge Church have used cables to support the heavy limbs, and have also pruned it is a specific way so the limbs grow up rather then out. (This protects them from becoming too heavy.) Dave Culver of the Religious Society of Friends (Salem,) says that one limb weighs approximately six thousand pounds! He is also quoted saying “We found that old trees that survive do end up dropping limbs and become smaller so they can support themselves.” The town puts the fallen branches to good use however. When branches fell in 1999, limbs were offered to local artisans to create lovely creations from the wood.

With no timeline of when the white oak will officially die, residents are preparing themselves for the worst. Many talk about the tree’s death as if talking about a family member. “It’s knowing when to let go.” said Pastor Dennis Jones from Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church. Below is a segment CBS News NY ran about the tree.

Thank you to CBS News NY for the video. Thank you to Marie Scaefer, from Philly.com for the original information. You can read more here.

Ladew Topiary Gardens

This past week we had the chance to visit Ladew Topiary Gardens in Maryland. Harvey Ladew was an avid traveler, artist, and fox hunter. He purchased the 200+ acre farm from the Scarff family in 1929, due to its closeness to the Hartford Hunt Club. When the land was purchased, the buildings on site were in shambles and only contained a few lilac bushes. It was renovated in 1930, and was reopened to the public in 1971.  There are many topiaries, including a hunting scene featuring men on horseback and dogs chasing a fox, swans swimming on waves near an outdoor fountain, a camel, and numerous shapes and sculptures. There is an antique aquarium in the center of a garden and even a special card room in a small building. It is a magnificent place, and I would recommend seeing it in person.

Longwood Greenhouse

Here are some photos from the greenhouse at Longwood Gardens. It was just as spacious and beautiful as the garden grounds. The greenhouse is 4-acres and is a splendid space for peace and relaxation. One of the highlights from the room is the hydrangea balls hanging from the ceiling. You can see photos of the garden grounds here.

Longwood Gardens

We recently just visited Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania. This garden has a lot of history behind it, such as it’s founder Pierre S. DuPont’s reasoning for purchasing it. The original park was a small area and was to be torn down, DuPont stepped in and created an entire lush garden around it. It was a very beautiful place, and was also very photogenic. While we were there, they were renovating a piece of the garden– hence the dirt pit in some of the photos. The renovation was for the Fountain Garden. The aim is to protect and preserve the history of the gardens and it’s founder Pierre S. DuPont.   Here are some photos of the garden, it is a magnificent place. We also visited the greenhouse that was on the property (see more here.)

Cherry Trees in Bloom in D.C.

These photos were taken last weekend on April 10th by my friend Gail Griffin. She writes “I lucked out this year and hit the cherry blossoms at the exact hour of peak (the National Park Service really does time this!) It was just gorgeous… weather wasn’t great so no blue sky but beautiful flowers. Today all the little and pink and white petals are carpeting the ground. As I’m sure you know they don’t last long but they sure are gorgeous. People describe them as marshmallows on branches.”

 

Disney's Epcot Flower Show 2015

Disney’s Epcot Flower Show 2015 Part II

Here are some close up shots of the flowers in Epcot. All the displays were eye catching and were such a welcome sight after the long NY winter. I would highly recommend seeing this show if ever given the chance. I loved seeing all the intricate landscape designs made with the different colored flowers. Who would have thought that a picture of flowers made from flowers would look so immaculate! 

Disney's Epcot Flower Show 2015

Disney’s Epcot Flower Show 2015

Every spring for the last 5 years, my sisters and I meet up with a trip to Walt Disney World. This year we were lucky to be going the same time as the Epcot Flower Showcase. Epcot was lush with beautiful flowers and topiary’s of the famous characters.  This year the showcase was being held from March 4th until May 17th. At Epcot they have concerts, games for children, informational meetings, even food and drink that is based on the showcase!  Here are some wide shots of the beautiful displays and some favorite characters of mine.

Bellingrath Gardens, AL

Opened in 1932, Bellingrath Gardens is located in Theodore, Alabama. When first opened, Mr. and Mrs. Bellingrath wanted to keep the gardens as a free activity– so there was no charge to get in. There was an overwhelming response to the gardens, so in 1934 the gardens were opened year round. Today the gardens are still ever so popular, acting as a host to weddings, birthdays and special events.

Disney Epcot Flower Show 2014

The Epcot Flower show never fails to impress me. All the vibrant colors and showcases– just magnificent. The showcase has many things surrounding the flowers, from viewing the topiaries built with hundreds of flowers, to having food and drink inspired by the flowers as well. It is something I will without a doubt go back to.

Florida Keys

When we visited the Florida Keys, it was like being in a tropical paradise. Kathy swam with dolphins on Islamorada, we stayed on San Marco and Key West. I loved the pelicans, and all the exotic plant life. All the tropical warm weather plants were large and fabulous. We also saw loads of butterflies, in many varieties at a garden in Key West.

Maine

Maine is a beautiful part of the country. The lakes and coastline were beautiful, it looked surreal, like a painting at some places. We stayed in Arcadia National Park, and ate lobster every night, and blueberries for breakfast and dessert every day. Arcadia National Park is so beautiful, all of the coastlines were beautiful, and the mountain peaks were amazing to stand on and look down. 

 

Fort Myers, FL

While in Fort Myers, Florida we visited many beaches and the land that surrounded our hotel. It was such a tranquil area to visit. All the animal and plant life was interesting and new to this Long Islander. I loved all the different tropical birds. I also loved the large white trees by our hotel, that looked like string hanging down from the branches. They were so cool. They looked like they were just melting. 

Duke Estate, NJ

The Doris Duke Estate was begun in 1903, with plans to build a new mansion were put into place by J.B. Duke. He also had plans to build other mansions in New York and North Carolina. After the foundation was laid in 1911, construction abruptly stopped. It is claimed to be from the staggering drop in tobacco sales (the business J.B. Duke was involved in.) Today, the remnants of this building project may be seen at the Old Foundation site, which overlooks the Great Meadow, a centerpiece of the habitat regeneration efforts at Duke Farms. The Orchid Range is one of the first buildings that was erected on the property. The Orchid Range is a large greenhouse that is home to many tropical plants and fruits that grow year round.

Central Park, NYC

We took a visit into Manhattan this month. It was so nice being able to walk around Central Park. We visited the Central Park Zoo while we were there as well. It is so amazing, that there is such a large space of just greenery right in the center of busting New York. This park is so beautiful, it is definitely one of those things that have to be on everybody’s bucket list. 

California

I visited my Dad in San Clemente CA, and went with my stepmom Annie to a Garden near their home. We saw lovely tropical plants there including a large variety of bamboo and other flowering plants like cactus. All the tropical and warm weather plants were giant and magnificent. I love that we were able to get a shot of a hummingbird on a feeder! He just sat there and let us take a photo! 

Boyce Thompson Arboretum, AZ

The Boyce Thompson Arboretum in Arizona, is an interesting place. It is not like the traditional arboretums we are familiar seeing here in New York, where there is a ton of greenery. This was a more dry, and arid place for plants to grow. Therefore making all the plants, things that could absorb and hold water for a very long time (like cactuses!) They have guided tours, nature trails, and really interesting plants!

Tempe AZ Garden

I took these photos when I was visiting my sister in her home in Arizona. I had such a lovely visit with her. I couldn’t resist taking photos of her garden! This is the garden she has at her house. There was a lot of greenery, amongst all the dry landscape of Arizona. There was small wooden insects placed around the garden, that gave the effect of insects sitting in the garden. 

Biltmore Estate, Ashville, NC

The Biltmore Estate in Ashville, North Carolina has a lot of beauty behind the walls of the estate. The gardens on the property are magnificent and definitely worth seeing. There was one plant that caught my attention during our visit. It was the Rose Grape (Medinilla Magnifica.) The bright pink color, and large green leaves had such a contrast against each other that was super pleasing to the eye. 

Bike Ride to the Phoenix Zoo

While in Arizona, I had the chance to take a bike ride to the Phoenix Zoo.  There were so many different animals. There was monkeys, flamingos, turtles, tigers, many different birds and various other mammals. All the animals there were so amazing. The monkeys were super cute, and were just running from tree to tree. The one animal in particular I liked the most was the tiger. 

Chiluly Exhibit at Phoenix Botanical Garden

We visited this Chiluly exhibit which filled the Phoenix Botanical Garden. All the glass sculptures were made to represent the plants growing. There was glass sculptures of rocks, cactuses, trees and flowers. We went during the day, and then came back at night to see the glass sculptures all lit up. Daytime photos of each glass sculpture are followed by night images of the same exhibit. It was really spectacular.