Sunday, May 1, 2016

Tulips at Longwood 2016

Tulip Time at Longwood Gardens, in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, is a spectacular affair.
Hundreds of thousands of tulip bulbs are planted by volunteers in the Fall.  Many of them
are brand new varieties provided by various nurseries.  One of my favorite parts of the gardens
is the "Idea Garden," which contains 350 plots 6x6 ft. with 300 flowers of one variety and one
color, so that visitors can get an idea of what they might like in their own garden next year.
Benches allow you to sit and soak in the color and atmosphere.

I like big, showy flowers.  These were large and highly dramatic.  "Akebono" is a double
late tulip in intense yellow with red streaks.  It is only about 12 inches high.

Close-up of "Akebono" flowers.

Whites come in many varieties from pure snow white to cream.  These are rather small
flowers, perhaps 10 inches high, named "Tres Chic."  They are among the lily-tulips,
so called because of their outward spreading petals.

A bed of white "Tres Chic" tulips. 

The flower beds spread out in all directions.  Here you can see the carillon tower on a hill
in the distance.  It plays beautiful music every quarter hour.  On the left are some
flowering crabapple and flowering cherry trees.

Yellow tulips come in many forms.  These were one of my favorites this year, "Hocus Pocus."
They are tall, 26 inches high or so.  They are of a bright but light yellow shot through with
streaks of red and orange.  The blossoms themselves are quite large, 6 inches high.

Beautiful colors of "Hocus Pocus."  Each flower is different.

A bed of "Hocus Pocus."

A very different yellow tulip is "Fair and True," a peony-tulip, so called because
 it consists of so many petals that it looks more like a peony than a tulip and it is very large.

A cluster of large "Fair and True" peony-tulips.

A great panorama of rich tulip colors.

"Orange Princess" is another double late peony-flowering tulip.  It is so full, with
so many flower petals, that it looks more like a peony than a tulip.

 "Orange Princess" peony-flowering tulip.

The gardener said this was a new variety for this year, "Blue Heron," a fringed
lavender tulip.  Frilled tulips came in every color, but usually on the small side.

"Blue Heron" fringed tulips.
I don't remember the names of all flowers the first time I see them, but Longwood, like all
good botanic gardens, maintains a webpage listing every flower in bloom on their premises,
so I can always go back and check the references.

These are three of the loveliest of the tulips: "Blushing Beauty" (pale yellow), "Carola"
(rich warm pink), and "Garant" (egg-yolk yellow).  The trellis along the right side will hold
a hundred varieties of climbing Clematis later in the year.

Big, bold, brash!  This is one of the "parrot tulips," characterized by large ruffled flowers.
This spectacular beauty is "Bright Parrot."

A bed of "Bright Parrot" parrot tulips.

Same colors, but very different feeling is "Mona Lisa," which is also on the small side
and is one of the lily-tulips - notice the spreading petals of the flowers.

A bed of "Mona Lisa" lily-tulips.

Up on the hill in back you can see the front of the Conservatory.  Here the light pink flowers
are "Marilyn" and behind them is another of my favorites this year, "Lighting Sun."

"Lighting Sun" single late tulips.  They are medium in height, about 16 inches high.
They have cousins called "Lighting Fire" and "Lighting Glow."  All appear to be glowing
with redhot embers inside.  Looked at against the sun, which is what I am doing here,
they glow.  And as I watched them over four days, they changed colors, gradually fading, 
like a fire burning out.  The first day they have very dark red and very bright yellow,
and then each succeeding day they became a little more subdued.

But here is a bed of "Lighting Sun" at their hottest.  I like them.

Wow!  This tulip is nearly 12 inches across; I had never seen such a thing.  This is
"Weber's Parrot," another of the very large, splashy parrot tulips.

 A bed full of "Weber's Parrots."

This is the entrance to the "Idea Garden.," through a grove of trees down the hill from the
Conservatory.  In the background is the "Trial Gardens," where they grow new fruits and
vegetables and have many different flowering fruit trees.  There is also a children's are
and some fountains for playing in as well as watching.

"Pink Impressions" is a beautiful, big pink tulip with dark green foliage.

A bed of "Pink Impressions" tulips.

"Clearwater" white tulips.  They were tall and nearly transparent.

A bed of "Clearwater" white tulips.

View across tulip beds of "Idea Garden" to Carillon and wooded hillside.

"Garant" yellow tulips.  Notice their variegated leaves, which are unusual.

A cluster of "Garant" yellow tulips with variegated leaves.

"Carola" pink tulips.  They have a lovely form with petals which seem to unwind
around the stem.  The pink color is strong but pure.

A bed of "Carola" pink tulips.

I'm sitting on my favorite bench as I take this picture.  The red in front is a bed of "ABBA"
and the orange to the left is "Orange Princess."

"Holland Chic" was a favorite with every photographer.  The sunlight coming through the
blossoms was incredibly subtle and beautiful.  These are also lily-tulips and not very
tall; but their color is so special, everyone stopped for a picture.

"Holland Chic" lily-tulips.

"Perestroyka" ia a beautiful soft orange tulip, with slight streaks of pink and yellow.

Bed of "Perestroyka" tulips.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Orchid Show

The Orchid Show in Fort Lauderdale opened this morning, and I went to see it.  In the center
of the large auditorium hall were 24 large displays of thousands of orchids in exotic
arrangements.    Then around the outside walls were display booths for hundreds of
orchid growers from Florida and many other places, including Hawaii, to sell thousands of
gorgeous flowers.  Prizes were awarded for "best" in a number of categories.  Great fun!
Here are some of my favorites.

There are thousands of varieties of orchids, and horticulturalists are constantly developing
new "cultivars."  So you will see flowers in every size from very tiny to very large, 
and in every color and color combination imaginable.

Some orchids have no odor, but many have beautiful and distinctive aromas.
Some of the orchid nurseries specialized in aromatic orchids and invited you to
smell their many beautiful flowers.

Poeple come to orchid shows prepared - with special carts to carry away the new specimens
they purchase.  They know their varieties and are often looking for a particular flower
shape or color.  Each nursery specializes and they seem to be very cooperative in
sending you to another dealer who has your special kind of flower.

This is one of the 24 displays.  Orchids are the only flowers included.  Each year
there is a theme, and this year it is "An Orchid Masquerade."

Some of the orchids look like space ships or aliens.

A large cluster of cranberry orchids was a prize winner.

Orchids are the largest group of flowering plants in the world and are found on every
continent except Antarctica.  There are currently 29,800 recognized varieties.


A delicate pink frilled variety.


A large display with many varieties of white orchids.

A delicate white and yellow variety.

I first met this bearded variety at Longwood Gardens; it comes only in green.

This was a prize winner for clusters of yellow.

Many orchids do not grow in soil but hang from trees, and their roots are able to absorb
moisture from the air.  Booths were filled with gorgeous plants just hanging from hooks.
There were also booth selling pots and other equipment.

This was one of the grand prize winners.  All dealers tell you that orchids are very easy
to grow; they bloom several times epr year; and they hold their blooms for months at a time.

A display emphasizing yellow orchids.


A large prize winning display jam-packed with hundreds of orchids.


A new cherry and lemon variety.

One of the booths offering orchids for sale.  Most plants sold for $15 - $45 dollars,
although there were a few very special and unusual varieties which sold for more.

a display emphasizing blue and lavender orchids.

A star-burst variety.


All of these photos were taken with my little automatic Nikon Coolpix camera,
hand-held and using only natural light, no flash.  They show what you can achieve
with little digital cameras these days.

When shooting indoors like this, I try to shoot against a solid dark color background;
it makes the photo clearer and more dramatic.

Those are roots of orchids hanging behind; they are the ones which can absorb moisture
from the air - no soil needed.

A beautiful cherry-and-lemon orchid.

If you watch the SOTU speech on Monday night, you are aware of the dramatic dress
Mrs. Obama wore - in this color = "marigold."

Raspberries-and-cream is another popular color combination.

Spotted orchids came in many colors.


This was a new cultivar in marigold, which only one dealer had since they had developed it.
It is slightly edged in red.

Some of the displays used dramatic lighting on their flowers.




The show continues tomorrow and Sunday.  If you are anywhere in South Florida,
I recommend it highly.