Monday, May 31, 2010

Some More Flowers from the Garden

Once again I meant to have a much more substantial post ready for today but somehow I simply did not get around to writing, so here are some more pictures of plants currently flowering in my family's Michigan garden:

Another variety of bearded iris, this one with white and white-edged, pale purple petals

 Iris 'Sultan's Palace'

Oenothera speciosa

Perennial cornflower (Centaurea montana)

Virginia spiderwort (Tradescantia virginiana)

Common thyme (Thymus vulgaris)

A herbaceous peony with white flowers lightly streaked in red (Paenia sp.)

A pink herbaceous peony (Paeonia sp.)

Ox-eye daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare)

A pink Penstemon cultivar of medium height

Hemerocallis 'Stella d'Oro'

Iris sibirica

Hopefully I will be able to finish some more elaborate posts in the coming days, including some new Plant Care Profiles.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Last Stop on the Road Trip: "Kykuit" in Pocantico Hills, New York

Kykuit, the Rockefeller Family's palatial estate in New York's Hudson River Valley had not originally been a part of our itinerary but then I saw a sign for it at the side of the highway just as we were about to cross the Tappan Zee Bridge over the Hudson at Tarrytown and remembered reading about the estate in various books. We kept driving at first but then soon decided to turn around and do a bit of unforeseen sightseeing. Originally built by John D. Rockefeller and further developed by his son John D. Rockefeller Jr. and his grandson Nelson Rockefeller, Kykuit is an example of the Beaux-Arts style of  architecture and landscape architecture. The house was originally built in 1902 and was used as a residence by members of the Rockefeller Family until the 1970s. Built on a hill high above the Hudson - the name Kykuit comes from an archaic Dutch term meaning "lookout" - the mansion enjoys beautiful views over the valley towards the towering cliffs on the other shore and even all the way to Manhattan. The gardens were designed by William Welles Bosworth, who had studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris and would later work on restoration projects at Versailles and Fontainebleau.

The entrance front of the house

The view from the main entrance of the house down the drive towards the Oceanus Fountain

Apart from original furniture and decorative features, the house contains an impressive collection of classical and modern art collected by various members of the Rockefeller Family. The grounds, too, are adorned with a wonderful collection of modern sculpture, which works surprisingly well within the frame work of the gardens' classical design.

 A formal walk of linden trees in a vaguely Italianate section of the gardens close to the house; a small Greek temple housing a Venus statue may be glimpsed at the end of the vista

 The central rill in the Italianate section of the garden

 A wrought iron gate

 The brook garden with rock formations, flowering perennials, and shrubbery

 A view of the terraced gardens descending below the house towards the river

 Part of the former swimming pool with its pebble mosaic floor

 A view over the gulf course to the Hudson River and beyond

 A shaded walk at the edge of the rose garden

 Unfortunately the roses had not began to bloom yet but when the rose garden is in flower it must be very beautiful

One of the many varieties of Rhododendron found throughout the grounds

Our tour was well-led and very informative and both the house and the gardens were very impressive. The gardens, in particular, were impeccably maintained, which is not necessarily a given with a lot of historic estates. If you want to know more about Kykuit, you can visit the website of Historic Hudson Valley.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

More Sights from the Road Trip Home: Some Flowers of Newport, Rhode Island

Our second stop on our road trip from Boston to Detroit was Newport, Rhode Island, famous for the exuberant mansions many of America's richest families built there during the glittering Gilded Age of the early 20th century. However, we did not tour any of the opulent manor houses that survive and are now open to the public, partially because the tickets are quite expensive and partially because we would not have been able to decide which house to visit. Instead, we took a long walk around the town and saw some lovely flowers along the way:

 A view of the town across a bay

A sulphur-yellow double deciduous azalea (Rhododendron sp.) underplanted with pale blue blue bells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta)

An amazing purple azalea (Rhododendron sp.) growing next to a field stone wall

The flowers of horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum)

A beautiful empress tree (Paulownia tomentosa)

A closer look at the flowers of Paulownia tomentosa, this time against a sea backdrop

Stay tuned for the last stop on our trip, the Rockefellers' Hudson River Valley estate Kykuit!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Plants in Bloom in the Garden

I was hoping that I would be done with a more substantial post by today but alas, I was not as productive as I should have been. However, I did do quite a bit of weeding and gardening and put in various new shrubs in the garden and I also got around to taking pictures of some of the things currently in bloom in my family's suburban Michigan yard. Irises are perhaps the showiest flowers in the garden right now but there are quite a few other jewels as well:

A tall, light salmon-colored bearded iris, probably Iris 'Beverly Sills'

A bright blue bearded iris - the flowers are actually a bit less purplish in real life

 Another bearded iris with yellow-beige and crimson petals

Iris 'Champagne Elegance' - This one will often flower a second time in late summer or early fall

Helianthemum 'Rhodanthe Carneum'

Helianthemum 'Annabel'

A magenta herbaceous peony (Paeonia sp.)

Rosa multiflora

Red valerian (Centranthus ruber) is just beginning to flower

A low-growing pink variety of Penstemon

Common mallow (Malva sylvestris)

A red garden pink, possibly Dianthus 'Eastern Star'

Common gladiolus or cornflag (Gladiolus italicus)

Pink painted daisy (Tanacetum coccineum)

 Allium moly

These pansies (Viola x wittrockiana) are still going strong but with the temperatures rising they will probably start giving up soon

I hope you liked the flowers. As always, there will more to come!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Sights from the Road Trip Home: The Gardens of the Adams National Historical Park in Quincy, Massachusetts

On the first stop of our road trip home after my parents picked me up from college we visited the historic birthplaces and home of Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams in Quincy, Massachusetts. Adjacent to the Old House, or Peacefield as John and Abigail Adams called it, lies a small but pretty formal flower garden  laid out in keeping with 18th-century styles.

 View towards the Old House

Oriental poppies (Papaver orientale)

A view across the formal flower garden

A cultivar of bearded iris (Iris germanica)

A small greenhouse set in the grounds next to a pond

A visit to the site includes the Old House and the two simple farm houses in a different part of Quincy where John Adams and John Quincy Adams were born; the entrance fee is moderate and the tours are very extensive and detailed, making the Adams National Historical Park well worth a visit for anyone with an interest in American history. For more information, you can visit the National Park Service's web page about the site here.