Thursday, April 3, 2014

Waiting and watching...

I know I am not the only gardener (in zone 6), to be neurotically checking on her garden's progress.  Hellebores (Lenten Rose) are usually blooming their hearts out by the end of March.  This year, there is nary a bloom on any of the clumps....what is going on?!

So featured photos below are from a recent trip to Longwood Gardens (PA) during their AMAZING orchid show.  Any friends from NJ attended?  An afternoon in this conservatory more than satisfied my hunger for vivid colors and blooms galore. Aahh...
Have you ever seen such HUMONGOUS oriental lilies!  And the afternoon light couldn't have been more perfect!  Here is the elusive Himalayan Blue Poppy
Mixed in with pink tulips really made them pop!
 
Imagine the heady fragrance from these Stargazers
The many faces of Lady Slipper orchids.  Cute, aren't they?
You can't miss it on this one!  So unique it was under lock and key in its very own greenhouse.
 This garden made my mouth water.  Seriously, it did!
(As always, click on the photo to enlaaarge)
I do grow an orchid here and there, but, I am NOT a collector.  Are you?
These orchids look like pansies!
Seeing these gorgeous blooms in person tied me over a bit...at least til the forsythias and magnolias put on their show.   Thanks for visiting and hope you enjoyed the eye candy, friends!

Monday, March 17, 2014

B is for...

Beautiful Butterflies!  And, boy oh boy, were they ever!
What a special morning I spent here at Niagara's Butterfly Conservatory.
In it's 17th year of operation, this tropical paradise is home to approximately 45 different species, totaling 2,000 butterflies in a given week.
Did you know that, on average, butterflies live only 2-3 weeks?!  Of course, there are some species that live only a few days, while others (migrating monarchs) survive 6-8 months.  I didn't know that!
For feeding, butterflies use their proboscis, the straw-like tube, to suck up nectar.
When not in use, the proboscis curls up like a coil.

The two fore and two hind wings are supported by veins.  The velvety surface of the wings are actually thousands of scales, connected to create their beautiful color and pattern. 
Above and below photos are of the same specie, the Blue Morpho.
Their markings can either blend in for survival...or promote warning with bright colors.
Over half of the population in the Sanctuary are imported from Central America and Indo-Asia.
In order to prevent pests and diseases, no host plants, on which the female can lay eggs, are grown here.  To maintain the right balance, new butterflies are 'raised' in a controlled environment on premise.
Some of my favorites of the day were this green and tan beauty, the Malachite.
And this black/white Rice Paper butterfly.
The Zebra Longwing below (in the foreground) landed often on the rim of my camera...
but were always too quick!

The enclosure houses over 100 different plant materials.  Many are exotic but there's a few you might recognize...like these crotons and anthurium.
This tiny guy (2-3" wingspan) is known by 5 names:  The Red Postman, the Small Postman, Red Passion Flower Butterfly, the Crimson-patched Longwing and Sara Longwing....whew!
Trays with rotted fruit provide their main source of nourishment.
And flower nectar, of course.
Though all butterflies have 6 legs, we mostly only see 4. Like in the above photo of the green Malachite.  The front two are very short and sometimes non-functional.  Another fun fact is they can taste with their feet!

This stunning Cairus Birdwing was one of the largest!
A controlled climate of 80 degrees F., with matching humidity, caused many foggy pics!  I will definitely plan another visit next time I'm crossing the border.  I hope you enjoyed this tour of the Sanctuary and I hope you'll have a chance to visit in person, too!
Other than it being St. Patrick's Day, March 17 signifies an important date for me, as a gardener.  It's time to start my Sweet Peas from seed!  Growing season still feels so far off  (cold temps this week) but, it's imminent...thank goodness!  Have a great day!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Rushing waters...

For a quick rush, click here:

video


"Water is powerful
It can wash away earth
Put out fire

And even destroy iron"
I recently heard that quote from a movie....(anyone?)
and it really stuck with me.
I took most of these on the U.S. side, overlooking the American Falls.  If you've never experienced Niagara Falls, it should be on your MUST DO List.  Standing here, you not only hear but feel the powerful surge of energy that is hard to describe!
The Horseshoe Falls (largest of the three)  reside on the Canadian side, spanning across a 2,500 ft. wide brink.  See it there in the distance.  And tucked in between the American Falls and the Horseshoe, is the smallest, the Bridal Veil Falls.
It was a c-c-old and windy morning, but it was spectacular!
Sunny and bright one minute, dark and foreboding the next.
Of course after a 10-minute deluge (mad dash to the car!), what else would appear...
Hope you'll get a chance to visit the Falls up close and personal...it will be worth the trip!
Keep an eye out for a pink left hand glove...it literally flew out of my pocket(!) and, don't forget your passport.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

A Nautical Mystery...

If you happen to travel along the QEW, between Niagara Falls and Toronto,
you will no doubt come across this strange and unusual landmark...
an empty shell of ship.
  In past years, I've always wanted to stop and photograph her but never had a chance!
This past November, I did.
So, here's a little history...
 This 140 ft. wooden vessel was built in 1914 to resemble the French Explorer, Jacques Cartier's flagship, La Grande Hermine (The Big Weasel).  She was christened Le Progress, and began life as a ferry boat on the St. Lawrence River, where Cartier sailed in 1535 and later claimed Canada for France.
According to folklore, Le Progress also moonlighted as a cargo ship, floating restaurant,
and even posed as a 'haunted pirate ship' for local fundraising.

I spent a good hour here as clouds were thick and shifting ever so quick
so lighting was a challenge.
Good thing I was traveling alone...no one would've had the patience to wait with me!
As I walked the shore looking for different angles, a pair of swans glided out from the brush!
They didn't seem bothered at all by my presence...how nice!
 They stayed nearby for a while 'til I kindly asked them to waddle out and pose by the ship...
and they obliged...haha!
Ok, back to the story...
In 1991, while functioning as a floating restaurant, adornments (masts) were added to more closely replicate La Grande Hermine. Unfortunately, the restaurant could not sustain and when funds depleted, it was towed here, to Jordan Harbour, to await further relocation to a spot near Niagara Falls, in hopes of turning it into a gambling venue, but the owner passed away before permission was granted. 
 Here she moored for years.  Abandoned.  Rotting.
And, sadly became a victim of arson in January, 2003.
Birds and wild plants make their home here but all we see is a rusting metal shell.
Owners of the harbour have been trying to get rid of it, but local government won't foot the bill. 

A roadside eyesore?  Not worth a second glance?  Maybe to the locals, but I knew I had to do a
little digging, find out how and why she came to sleep here.

So next time you drive along the western shore of Lake Ontario, keep your eyes peeled...
though she's hard to miss!  Pull over, take some pictures, and remember this bittersweet story.
You may even be greeted by these swans!
Thanks for visiting.  Next, I'll share pics from Niagara Falls!