Here are some photos from Ardastra Gardens, Zoo and Conservation Center in Nassau, Bahamas. I visited on December 5th, 2016. Most of the zoo exhibits were closed for restoration, due to hurricane Matthew which passed through 2 months prior.
Here are some photos from a Kayak tour through Lucayan National Park in Nassau, Bahamas.
Over the Christmas holiday, we visited Washington D.C. and got to see these cool twig sculptures of buildings! They included the capitol, the smithsonian museum and many others!
Giants Causeway in Ireland is one of the natural wonders in the Northern Ireland. It was created by volcanic activity, and when basalt intruded the volcanic plateau. The basalt pillars that came up from the ground are all hexagon shaped and the highest reaches 39 feet. There are identical pillar sites across the sea, from the same lava field. There is a legend that surrounds the basalt plateau. The mythology is that it was put up so two giants could cross the ocean to fight. The legend also says that the basalt was meant to be a bridge but one giant was scared so he broke the middle.
When Bob and I visited Ireland, it was an unforgettable trip. Everything was super lush and beautiful in early September. We started our tour south of Dublin, then turned north to Northern Ireland and the Devil’s causeway, then over to Kylemore Abbey, and south to Galway and then onto Bantry Bay. We crossed along the south before flying back out of Dublin 9 days later. The people were warm and kind, the food was delicious (especially the cheese!) and the gardens and scenery was wonderful. Wish I could go back…
When the house on the Powerscourt property was rebuilt in the decade after 1731, the grounds were also rebuilt and remodeled. The desire was to create a wider landscape, and boy was that accomplished! There are hundreds of trees and flowers. There are many gardens within the property, including an Italian garden, a Japanese garden, A Tower Valley and even a Pet Cemetery! We came here straight from the airport when we landed in Dublin. There’s a cute cafe on the grounds for lunch.
In 1861 Queen Victoria was to visit the Muckross House, so in preparation for the joyous event extensive gardening began in the 1850’s. Later, the family continued this gardening tradition. As a focal point within Killarney National Park, Muckross House is the ideal base from which to explore this landscape. Everything was so pristine, I love how lush all the grounds were.
Mount Usher Gardens were created by four generations of the Walpole family over a period of 112 years from 1868. The garden comprises of 22 acres with the Vartry River running through it and contain many champion trees of Ireland and the UK, as well as some 4,500 different varieties of trees, shrubs and plants. Edward Walpole, the garden’s founder, passed the property to his three sons.
Mount Stewart is an 18th-century house and garden in County Down, Northern Ireland. The house and its contents reflect the history of the Vane-Tempest-Stewart family, who played a leading role in British and Irish social and political life. After the house’s interior, the Marchioness redesigned the gardens in the most lavish way possible. One bed shows the Red Hand of Ulster rendered in red flowers. It’s a rather morbid story about someone associated with this manor, who cut off his hand and tossed it over a ship’s bow to be the first one to touch this land. These gardens were, like most of the gardens in Ireland and Northern Ireland were beautifully designed and expertly maintained.
Loughkey Forest in Ireland is a tranquil piece of land and estate. It has many broadleaf and conifer trees growing along the paths, as well as many wildflowers and mammals. The forest looked almost magical, as if something out of a story book. I love that all over Ireland, you can find full castles and even castles that have been left behind. Its all so beautiful.
Located on an isthmus between the lakes of Lough Rynn and Lough Erril, the Lough Rynn Estate was the home to many wealthy families in Ireland. Opening in 2006 as a hotel, the estate got much more attention for the renovation that had occurred. It’s now used as a wedding venue, and the gardens are well known in this area. We were told we “must go” by a woman we met on a forest stroll, who announced briskly “Off you go” and sent us on our way. We ran into some wayward cows on the road to Lough Rynn.
The terraced oceanfront walled garden was breathtaking on this property. It was raining, and a long walk through an open field, but it was so amazing!! The house was built between 1830 and 1835, and Lisadell House is a historic house Ireland. Lisadell was the first country house in Ireland to have an independent gas supply piped into the property. This house is interesting and we toured the kitchens and some other rooms. This house is still occupied by a family and is only open a few days a year. We were lucky to be able to see it. It sure wasn’t easy to find!! The walled garden was amazing. Incredible variety of plants, a stone garden, the caretakers quarters and spectacular views of the water.
Founded by Lady Mary Percy in 1598, this monastery has a long history stretching back almost three hundred and forty years. The purpose of Kylemore Abbey was to provide an education and religious community for Irish women during times of persecution in Ireland. This place was spectacular, with massive terraced garden rooms, one after the next, all lovingly maintained.
Glenveagh Castle is located in the middle of Glenveagh National Park in Ireland. Built between 1870 and 1873 by Captain John George Adair, it was left to the Irish Nation in 1981. It was used by Hollywood movie stars as a vacation home– such as Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable and Charlie Chaplin. We toured the greenhouses and grounds on a rainy day and were entertained by traditional musicians.
Garinish Island is located in Southwestern Ireland. The entire island is an Italianate garden built by a man for his beloved. It is known for the exotic plants that grow there in an unlikely climate. The gardens that are nestled in the woodlands there, combined with the effects of the Gulf Stream and unique makeup of the harbor nearby creates a micro-climate that allows exotic plants to flourish. There are structures in the garden all over the island, including towers, temples, and a tea house.
The Dunmore House was my favorite “Secret Garden” in the world. Our innkeeper sent us “across the street” to the most spectacular walled gardens. We walked through them in awe. All the plants were by deep green leaves and shrubbery. The colors of everything just seemed so exaggerated it was unlike anything we’ve ever seen. The gardener told us he wasn’t sure of the name of a plant, as he had only been “working these gardens for 60 years”. His uncle before him had worked the gardens previously. The distant manor house must have been spectacular, but this place was unforgettable.
The Botanical Garden in Dublin, was a beautiful place to be. Originally created in 1790 by the Parliament for agriculture, it was taken over for primarily botanical purposes in the 1830’s. The new visitor center was opened in 2000, and has become a public space of beauty. There are hundreds of flowers and plants within. The greenhouse was really fantastic. The dahlias were in full bloom, and there were interesting sculpture pieces throughout.
We visited the Bantry House while in southwest Ireland. The estate has been around since the 1700’s and has been a part of Irish history. During the Irish Civil War it was used as a hospital for 5 years and also during the second world war, the second squadron of the Irish army occupied the house and stables. In 1987 the estate was also turned into a bed and breakfast. It was amazing to view these spectacular grounds and the house as well. I LOVED the anemones around the grounds.
The Bamboo Park in Glengariff Ireland was created in 1999. It has many varieties of plants, not just bamboo. Other notable plants included a lot of hydrangeas, ferns and palms. Although a lot of the palms were badly hurt by a tough winter the previous year. This garden was a very tranquil place. Look how beautiful and bright the Hydrangeas were! The color was magnificent!
When we visited Ireland, we went to the town of Adare. Adare is a small village that still has it’s old buildings and cottages that have lasted for hundreds of years. We got the chance to walk around, and the village itself is super beautiful. Look at the amazing church, that looked like a castle! We also walked around some gardens, all the flowers and shrubs were so pretty and were in perfect peak bloom.
Here are photos of when we visited Holland and went to Keukenhoff to see the tulips. It was breathtaking with all the beautiful colors and the meticulous gardening. The sheer numbers of tulips was overwhelming (in a good way!) It is definitely a sight to see! I think one of my favorite parts of all the floral displays, was the rivers of mini grape hyacinths flowing amongst all the tulips. The royal purple was so beautiful.
Being on foot and looking at Holland is beautiful, but get into a car or plane and the view elevates. Being able to get a bird’s eye view of the fields and landscape gives a feeling that can’t be described. It was magical to be in the trains rushing past the tulip fields. I still can’t get over the copies amounts of tulips and all the different colors that were being grown.
We also visited a castle in Holland. The medieval architecture of the estate was amazing. The castle looked straight out of a storybook! There was even a drawbridge with a moat. It felt like being moved back in time. The atmosphere was stoic and fabulous. All the surrounding grounds were carefully taken care of, and there was even animals roaming around in the fields.
While in Amsterdam, we visited the botanical garden. They had an amazing variety of plant life. Many of it was encased in glass to keep it safe from the outside world. We loved the display cases and the massive tropical plants. The last photo was my favorite plant inside the botanical garden. It was this beautiful tree, that just looked like it was dripping purple flowers.
When we visited Amsterdam, it was an unforgettable experience. All the buildings were artfully built, and the city just screamed beauty. We passed a street vendor who was selling tulips. All the different choices were mind boggling. Really, all the flowers being sold (not just tulips) had many, many different color choices. We also walked past a small garden that had giant lizard statues running along it- how creative!
Aalsmeer is the largest flower auction held in Holland. The town that the auction is held in, is referred to as the Flower Capital of the World. All the flowers that were being auctioned off were magnificent and so vibrant with color. The vastness of this place and the amazing volume of flowers in motion were unbelievable.
We took a cruise to Bermuda for our 10th wedding anniversary. The island is such a vibrant and tropical place with plant life unlike any other. It was such a memorable experience going to the botanical gardens located on the island. All of the tropical flora was beautiful, I wish we could grow tropical plants like these year round on Long Island!