Monday, May 30, 2011

Orchids by the Highway Side

I have been largely absent from the blogosphere for the last week or so because I was busy with graduation and moving out of my college dormitory. Having graduated from college I guess my blogger pseudonym is no longer entirely appropriate, but since I will return to the same university as  a Ph.D. student in the fall I figure that I can get away with keeping the name. For now I am at my parents' house in Michigan and since there is plenty of gardening to be done I should have plenty of material to write about in the coming days and weeks. For today, however, I just wanted to post about a lovely surprise we encountered at a highway rest stop in central Pennsylvania during the road trip home. At the edge of the woodland bordering the parking lot were several beautiful stands of pink lady slipper (Cypripedium acaule), a very pretty native orchid which I had never seen in the wild before and only once in a botanic garden.

A particularly nice specimen of pink lady slipper (Cypripedium acaule)

Pink lady slippers scattered about the woodland edge

Close-up of one of the rather complex flowers

Apparently Cypripedium acaule is extremely difficult to cultivate under garden conditions because it needs very acidic soil and is also very sensitive to disturbances. All the better then to have had the luck to see this unusual flower in the wild.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Interesting Garden-Related Exhibition

I recently came across a review in The New York Times for a new exhibition at the New York Botanical Garden (not to be confused with the Brooklyn Botanic Garden which I wrote about here) which focuses on the Alhambra and its gardens and which might be fun for those who happen to be in the area sometime this summer, since it is supposed to run through August 21:

Exhibition Review: Temptations Found in Gardens of Islamic Delight

Apart from the topic itself, the concept of an exhibition that combines actual planted displays with more traditional "museum" exhibits illuminating historical and cultural background seems like a great idea that should be implemented more often.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Spring in My Family's Garden

Though I only graduate this coming week, I went home to Michigan on a short visit last weekend and got to spend some time working in the garden there. Since my parents moved into their current house only two years ago the garden is still more or less in its infancy but some parts are really beginning to come together. The front border on the south side of the house is the first area of the yard that I planted, predominantly with plants rescued from our previous Michigan garden. It now looks very promising, if I dare say so myself... :)

A view along the border due east

A section of the border with lamb's ear (Stachys byzantina), forget-me-not (Myosotis sylvatica), money plant or annual honesty (Lunaria annua), mallows (Malva sylvestris), bearded iris (Iris x germanica), and bee balm (Monarda fistulosa)

Cream-colored tulips that fade to pink

Ajuga reptans

 The small needle palm (Rhapidophyllum hystrix) which survived the winter all but unscathed under a rose cone and a pile of dry leaves

Hopefully with time and further work other sections of the garden will develop as well as this one...


The tulips are almost gone now but among the very last I photographed last week were a few that were particularly stunning.

So far my family's new garden in Michigan is rather sparse when it comes to spring bulbs but hopefully I will soon be able to build up a collection as beautiful as this one there.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Spring Blossoms

These are just a few of my favorite flowering trees around campus. They are past their prime now but were absolutely beautiful last week when these pictures were taken.

Flowering dogwood (Cornus florida)

Redbud (Cercis canadensis)

Purple and white redbuds (Cercis canadensis)

I like redbuds in particular; they produce lovely and unusual flowers and develop a great overall shape with age, as well as lush foliage in the summer.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

German Article on Urban Farming in Detroit

I just came across an article on the website of the German newspaper Die Zeit that discusses that discusses urban farming and community gardening efforts in Detroit and the potential to improve life in the city that they have:

Gärten in Detroit: Hier wächst die Hoffnung

Apart from the fact that the growth of the urban agriculture movement in Detroit in recent years is truly impressive, it was nice to see an article -  and a European one, no less - that dares to have some hope for the city. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Pictures From a Spring Walk

A few days ago I took a long walk around town, enjoying the beautiful weather and abundance of spring flowers. I also brought along my camera to capture some of the ephemeral floral glory for this here blog, hence this post... :)

Koreanspice viburnum (Viburnum carlesii) - the fragrance is heavenly!

Pink weeping cherry (Prunus subhirtella 'Pendula')

A pretty front yard with an overgrown retaining wall and a profusion of spring flowers

Espaliered apple trees (Malus domestica) and pink tulips

Another flowering cherry (Prunus sp.), this one with a really pretty two-tone effect since the flowers appear to be white with yellow centers initially and then fade to light pink with dark pink centers

A beautiful bed of daffodils (Narcissus sp.) at the base of an impressive hedge

This garden looked amazing - the picture barely shows it but there were literally thousands of tulips, narcissi and other spring bulbs in every imaginable shape and color.

A very striking white cultivar of flowering quince (Chaenomeles speciosa)

Yet another beautiful flowering cherry (Prunus sp.)

Creeping phlox (Phlox subulata)

A yellow-tinged magnolia (Magnolia sp.)

Now magnolias are all but done blooming and the lilacs are beginning to blossom. Hopefully I will be able to take pictures of the progression of flowers still to come over the next days, assuming I get through my final papers...

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Flowers for the Formal

Yesterday was my dormitory's annual spring formal, known around these parts as the "Fête". Like last year, I had the luck of being part of the group in charge of the floral decorations, of which there are many since we like to pride ourselves on having the classiest formal at the college. The color scheme we chose this year was predominantly red and orange and I think it turned out quite well. Perhaps the best part, however, was spending an entire afternoon essentially playing with buckets and buckets of beautiful flowers...

The small arrangements for the tables

Some of the mid-sized bouquets

So many flowers...

I really liked the different shapes and textures and subtle variations in color

Our largest arrangements in the stone urns on the terrace

If you want to see last year's Fête flowers, you can find them here.