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Posts Tagged ‘Horticulture’

Plants always have a way of bringing me inspiration, especially during the transition from the end of winter to the beginning of spring.  The first day of spring is this Friday, which brings me great joy!  I breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that the days are getting longer and the warm weather is soon to arrive. 

I look forward to the daffodils and tulips that will soon bloom.  Today in the garden at work, these amazing yellowish hellebores were planted with purple pansies and tulips.  Hellebores are absolutely one of my favorite flowers.  They are unique, especially because they bloom at the end of winter, early spring.  Their flowers can really vary, the colors, the mottled spots on the petals, the way they hang from the stem.  Some hang down with the face of the flower not noticed unless you pick it up. Others bloom upright and stare you in the face.  They hold a special place in my heart as they signify the transition from winter to spring, a time of renewal, a time of change. 

Hellebores are amazing in the ground, in a partially shaded environment with moist, organic soil.  They are also amazing in containers.  Buy them in a nursery in late winter, early spring and plant them in containers on your patio as a stand alone plant and you will get the most dramatic effect. 

There are hundreds of hellebore hybrids, colors ranging from plums to whites to yellows to purples.  There are hellebores with spots on them and even with ruffled petals, as you can see from the picture below.  Mixed together, hellebores create a beautiful display.  They are certainly a special flower and have even inspired me to paint. 

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photo cited:  http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/cc/Hellebore_flowers.jpg

I ordered some Hellebores for my new garden and am excited to plant them next week.  They are a must-have in every garden.  I urge you to buy some for your garden. They will surely bring inspiration to you as well.  Maybe they will inspire you to start a garden or maybe they will inspire you to paint.  Or maybe they will inspire you to take a moment to appreciate their beauty, the beauty of nature, the beauty in a flower.  The simple things in life always seem to inspire me.  Simple things teach me beautiful life lessons.  And plants continue to inspire me, as they always have….and they always will………

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Staring into my dendrobium orchid, I immediately feel at ease.  Flowers always have a way of doing that to me.  What can I say?  I love them.  They can make me calm in the midst of a storm.  I can be in the middle of a hurricane and I take one look at that flower, and peace just comes my way.  Which is just one of the reasons why I have a sick passion for orchids. 

I am constantly buying orchids.  I am constantly buying plants.  Am I a plant fanatic?  Yes!!!  I freaking LOVE them!!  There is something amazing about orchids.  I have always been obsessed with them.  I dream of having an orchid nursery one day, a huge greenhouse full of orchids. I dream of the smell of the greenhouse, that earthy soil smell, the humid air, the flowers dancing from the breeze of the fans.  That greenhouse smell is one of a kind.  I will have this one day.  I know I will.  It is my destiny. 

One of the most beautiful things in this world are orchids.  There are so many species, so many cultivars.  Their diversity is certainly one to appreciate.  There are chocolate orchids, terrestrial orchids, epiphytic orchids (grow on tree branches and bark of trees-very cool stuff indeed), native orchids, dendrobiums, paphiopedilums, cattleyas-the most amazingly fragrant of all orchids, miltonias, phalaenopsis, and the list could really go on and on. 

I have an amazing appreciation for every orchid out there, especially the ones that are difficult to get to re-bloom.  Some require certain temperatures and exact environmental conditions.  Some of these orchids are tropical or native orchids.  These types can only re-bloom in greenhouses under certain conditions.  But there are species which you can get to re-bloom in your own home. 

This leads me to the second reason I have this sick passion for orchids.  Getting them to re-bloom can be one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences EVER.   Phalaenopsis are probably one of the easiest to re-bloom indoors.  Usually, it can take up to a year to get a new flower spike after the orchid has already flowered.  Most people never have the patience to wait and end up throwing them away, which actually makes me sad.  Please people, if you are going to throw away an orchid, please, call me.  I will save it!!!  I have actually thought of starting a business that recycles orchids that people throw away.  That would be a viable business idea.  Perhaps I will embark on that adventure in the future.  So many plants to save, so little time!! 

My passion for orchids runs deep.  Orchids have always intrigued me, wrapped around my mind, embraced my spirit.  They have taught me patience.  My passion for orchids exists now.  My dream of having a greenhouse filled with orchids will come to fruition.  I see it in my future.  I dream of it today, as I stare at my orchid.  I dream of it as I smell its’ sweet fragrance.  I dream of it as I close my eyes and awaken to my passion, the passion which lies inside my heart, my head….

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Creation comes from within the mind.  My garden is the beginning of something good, something real, something amazing.   It will be created by me, with all of my little horticultral brain cells running rampant in my mind.  Brainstorming sessions have begun.  My sketching pencils have touched the paper.  Creative mind be free, no limits, no fears….

Clematis and pink climbing rose will grow up the railing of the deck.  I definitely need some peonies for they are one of my most cherished flower.  They remind me of my mother when she was young, beautiful and healthy.  You see, for me, flowers carry memories, they carry time.  They mean something to me.  Perhaps this is how I connected with the world of plants at a very young age.  I used to pick black-eyed susans with my grandmother when I was a child.  I remember admiring those linear yellow petals with the brown eye.  I remember being intrigued by the small grains of pollen.  I remember the bees, the sunshine and the wind in my hair as I touched the flower.  To this very day, 20 years later, I am still intrigued. 

The future rock garden in front of my deck will be mottled with boulders, sedums, creeping thyme, pulsatilla, and small rock garden plants.  There is something special about a rock garden, that coarse texture of the rock against the smoothness of the vegetation. The Yin and the Yang. 

And of course, I need an herb garden.  Rosemary, thyme, oregano, and basil.  The four herbs I cannot live without.  There is nothing like the freshness of an herb, especially when using for cooking.  Sprinkle some rosemary on a roasted chicken  and it is so yummy.  Make some pesto sauce with basil. I do this every year.  I always seem to have SO MUCH basil at the end of the season.  So, I always make a nice pesto sauce.  Yum.  Yum. 

Garden ideas.  They come to me in the morning when I awake.  They come to me during my daydreaming sessions in the late afternoon.  They come to me at night.  My mind is always thinking and creating.  My mind is always connecting the creative dots.  My horticultural brain cells are always moving. If you are a passionate gardener/designer, you will know exactly how I feel.

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fiddleheads

Photo cited:  http://downrightcurious.com/photos/images/20080517220334_g9_1088.jpg

 

When the fiddlehead of a fern emerges from the ground, it is a sight to be savored.  The beauty of the first growth of a fern, the spiral form, the abstract representation of what is to follow.  It is art in my eyes.  It makes me want to break out my sketching pencils and draw.  The golden mean proportion screams in your face as the fiddleheads grow into earthy green fronds. 

Fiddleheads are edible, however, you must make sure that you are eating the correct fern species as some may be a bit toxic and leave you nauseous and dizzy.  The safest fiddleheads to eat are actually from the Ostrich Fern (Matteucia struthiopteris).  This fern is the safest to eat but people say to eat it in small quantites.  The fiddlehead must be harvested when very young, about 10″ above the ground. The taste resembles asparagus.  It is best to cook them and not eat them raw.   I love them sauteed with some olive oil and garlic. 

Check out this website on some other ways to harvest and prepare fiddleheads.  http://www.umext.maine.edu/onlinepubs/htmpubs/4198.htm

The  native habitat of Ostrich fern (Matteucia struthiopteris) is in a woodland environment with moist soil and dappled sun.  Its’ vase shaped habit and feathery fronds resemble ostrich feathers, hence the name.  It can also be seen growing in dense clusters along streams, ponds and rivers. In its native habitat with optimal conditions, ostrich fern can grow to be 6′ tall. Usually in cultivation, it will grow to 2-3′.  Plant this fern in a woodland garden where it can naturalize. 

The texture of a fern in the garden, the form, the color, can bring a sense of beauty to the garden.  There is something unique about the texture of ferns, especially when they grow in masses.  I picture them growing under a grove of trees, blanketing the ground, earthy tones of green. 

 

matteuccia_struthiopteris1

Photo cited:  http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/5a/Matteuccia_struthiopteris.jpg

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My new cottage-ahhhh, a blank canvas for a new garden. How refreshing it is to start anew.  Especially when it comes to gardening.  My love of gardening goes way back to when I was a child.  I can remember picking black-eyed susans with my grandmother in the meadow near our home.  I remember the happiness I felt when I picked those flowers.  They were such beauty for my little green eyes, my little mind, my little soul.  My little gardening soul was born within me. And it still lives deep inside of me. 

I look at my small cottage in the deep of winter with creative thoughts in my mind.  I took some pictures this morning to show you that it really is a blank slate.  Nothing planted at all.  I cannot wait to see the progression of my new garden.  It actually is quite unattractive right now, especially in the dead of winter on a grey, cold morning.  Wait and see how I can turn this unattractive, barren soil into a beautiful garden.

This weekend I will begin measuring my little cottage and its surrounding bare soil where I will plant.  I will also begin some conceptual sketches of the garden.  What do I want  this garden to be?  I definitely want flowers and I definitely want some herbs and vegetables.  I would also like to start a living wall.  Please see my post on living walls to get an idea of what they are.  This garden will be beautiful, it will be created from my mind, my thoughts, my ideas.  What a sense of fullfillment I will have when it actually comes to fruition.  This is the most amazing part of gardening.  I mean, gardening never actually really ends. It is a continuous journey.  But one that changes, matures and evolves. 

This blank canvas that I have is the beginning of my garden, the beginning of my journey.  Stay with me as I go on this journey.  And please, if you have suggestions or comments, please give them.  It is always nice to hear from fellow gardeners.

 

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Side of cottage and shed-really needs some help!!!

 

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Front of the cottage-also really needs some help!!!

 

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Winter view to the Huntington harbor from my deck.

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One of the most beautiful orchids on earth is the ghost orchid.  It is also known as Dendrophylax lindenii for all of you horticulturalists out there.  It is such an amazing plant that a book was written about it, called The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean.  The book was so great that a movie called Adaptation was made.  What a great story for such an amazing orchid. 

The ghost orchid is native to Florida and is endangered in the wild.  It is an epiphyte and grows on trees in the Florida Everglades.  The white flower of the ghost orchid appears to be floating in air when it blooms, as its’ roots blend so much with the tree, you can not really notice them.  The ghost orchid is especially difficult to spot because it only blooms for such a short time and can grow high in the branches of the trees it anchors to.  It is also deep in the swamps of the Everglades. 

I have yet to see a ghost orchid, nor traveled to the Florida Everglades.  After reading the book and watching the movie, I realize how people can become so attached to plants, especially orchids.  I have always had this affinity for orchids, this special appreciation for their ephemeral beauty.  They are truly something special.  Especially because many of the native orchids are impossible to propagate.  Many native orchids including the native orchid of Long Island, can never be propagated by a human hand.  There are specific environmental factors in nature that just cannot be manipulated by hand.  This is why they are so amazing.  And this is why a lot of them are endanged.   People will try to take them out of the wild and propagate them.  Most of the people will end up disappointed. 

Perhaps this is nature screaming for us to stop.  Humans feel like they can manipulate our native environment and in the end, they really end up screwing it up.  It is sad to think that some of these species can actually disappear. 

One day I will see the ghost orchid and think of how delicate and special it is.  I will think of the story that followed down in the Florida Everglades.  It is music, once again, to my horticultural eyes.  I can imagine the ghost orchid in my mind, dancing above, hanging from tree branches, white as a ghost.  I close my eyes and it appears and it calms me.  Nature always has a way of doing that…

 

 

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image cited:  www.weblogs.newsday.com

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So, have you ever heard of a living wall?  The name alone is beauty to my horticultural ears.  The actual living walls are horticultural art for my eyes.  So cool…so cool.  There is something amazing about these living walls.  What a concept!  The combination of artful design with plants that also brings amazing benefits to our lives.  A piece of art for sure.  Finally, an approach to design that starts to break some barriers.  Though we can look back upon the Hanging Gardens of Babylon as the start of  living walls, the future of living walls is here and now in an urban environment.

Check out the living wall on East 86th street in Manhattan at a yoga center called Pure Yoga. It is a 1,000 sq.ft. green wall with a computerized irrigation system.  The units are modular and are installed by pieces. 

pure_yoga_08-20-08_sm_preview

 

When I heard about the first living wall in Manhattan last July, I immediately hopped on a train to check it out.  I was honestly awestruck when I approached the wall.  It is absolutely beautiful.  The textures of the different plants stand out and the different shades of vegetation seem woven like a tapestry.  Piece of art for sure.  I took one look at this wall and knew in an instant that I wanted to build them. So began my dream…

The name of the company that manufactures these living walls is called Green Living Technologies.  Check out the website:  http://www.agreenroof.com.  Cool stuff, for sure!!!

Here are some books that have great info on living walls…..

  • Planting Green Roofs and Living Walls by Nigel Dunnett and Noel Kingsbury
  • The Vertical Garden:  From Nature to City by Patrick Blanc

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