Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Capitol Version Of The Holiday Train Show In United States Botanical Garden

         Act II of the Holiday Train Show, which started in New York (see previous post here) coincidentally continued at the United States Botanical Garden. Following our visit to the New York Botanical Garden, my husband and I took the Amtrak from Manhattan to the nation's capitol, Washington, D.C. We came here for a family visit and our first stop after arriving at the beautiful D.C. train station was the conservatory (with family), which was only minutes away.

The same artist of the NYBG train show--Paul Busse and company Applied Imagination--continues the theme here with a capitol version of scaled replicas of D.C. landmarks.

In this show, the trains are not circulating the scaled D.C. buildings;
but they are featured in a display of an enchanted forest

for fairies and such creatures who live in tiny places.

Meanwhile, the first room of this much smaller conservatory (compared to New York Botanical Garden) is decked out in a colorful holiday display designed with red and white poinsettias,

and whimsical topiary of birds, reindeer, bears

and turtles. We heard the conservatory also looks enchanting in the evening 
when it is lit with lots of tiny lights.

We wandered past the U.S. Supreme Court,

the Smithsonian

and the Lincoln Memorial.

And in between, we admired fascinating plants of the season such as this Eucharist Lily (Eucharis grandiflora), sweet smelling and a native of Colombia;

eye candy, such as the lollipop plant;

fruit, like these pineapples--they are low growing and a member of the bromeliad family.

And there must be chocolate at the holidays.  These cacao pods grow on the trunk of the Theobroma cacao tree. The seeds inside are used for cocoa powder and chocolate. Yum.

When evening arrived we managed to view some of the actual landmarks,
 like the Washington Monument

and the Lincoln Memorial, both of which are impressive and befitting of the men they memorialize. On a side note, our holiday traditions usually involve going to the movies; if you are going to the movies this holiday season, we highly recommend Steven Spielberg's movie Lincoln.  It is a fascinating story about his pursuit to abolish slavery. And with that movie still fresh in my head, this memorial loomed that much larger in my mind.  Indeed, Mr. Lincoln was a special American and, a special president.

I hope you enjoy all of your favorite traditions this holiday.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the United States Botanical Garden!

This is GardenEnvy.

Copyright 2012 by Jeannine. All rights reserved.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Gardens And Toy Trains Electrify The Holidays At New York's Botanical Garden

                       My first trip to the gorgeous New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx and it is a cold day on December 6.

We head to the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, which is definitely warmer inside.  The structure is breathtaking in and of itself, and stunning in this garden.

Striking architecture of glass and steel, 

and a visual feast of tropical plants,

Sabal Palmetto 
interesting trees, exotic blooms like anthurium 

and orchids with bursts of brilliant color

that illicit oohs and aahs as visitors walk through.

And, on this day, charming model trains bound to warm the heart and soul. Like kids, my husband and I oohed and aahed at the Holiday Train Show currently on display at the conservatory through January 13, 2013. Toy trains and Christmas--it's a classic combo that always seems to appeal to everyone.

Who doesn't love model trains, especially with famous cityscapes and scaled buildings made only of natural items such as bark, twigs and seeds. Some buildings in the display are lesser known

while others are famous icons of the Big Apple that is New York City.

The first images seen as you enter the conservatory, appropriately enough, are the Statute of Liberty and the 

Ellis Island Immigration Center.
Following that, the display is a virtual tour of about 140 New York landmarks.

Locomotives of all sorts run through it--even Thomas The Tank makes an appearance--

motoring past skyscrapers, historical homes and choo-chooing

across the George Washington and Brooklyn bridges, complete with tiny lights.

Landscapes are decorated with plants, colorful foliage and blooms such as ivy, spathiphyllum, kalanchoe, bromeliads, cyclamens and moss. There are ferns, Norfolk pines and palms of all sorts.

Trains chug past St. Patrick's Cathedral, the Empire State, Radio City Hall and Rockefeller Center.

There's a replica of the Haupt Conservatory and a working waterfall.  

And let's not forget Yankee Stadium, home of serious American baseball. This replica even features a brief audio broadcast of a game for special effects. Adorable.

It is a popular exhibit, so don't forget your timed and dated ticket to get on board.

The next stop is Washington, D.C.

In the meantime, Merry Christmas from the New York Botanical Garden!

This is GardenEnvy.
Copyright 2012 by Jeannine. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Bonsai In Seattle: Small Trees, Big Impact

Bonsai, to me, is a mysterious art form.  Yes, art more so than gardening.
Perhaps because of its Chinese and Japanese origin. Disciplined.  Precise.  Obsessed with miniature plant form.

Mature trees, like this juniper, are constrained in shallow pots and miniature form.  They are twisted, shaped with wire and pruned over years to achieve an artistic version of a tree or plant not usually seen in nature.

I had never seen a garden devoted to bonsai until earlier this year.  I was visiting the Rhododendron Species Foundation garden last May in Federal Way, Washington, just south of Seattle.

 I was on the road for the dazzling rhodies--Washington's state flower--on a
drizzly Spring day and the bonsai garden happened to be at the same location. I didn't realize I was getting a two-for-one trip and I wasn't expecting to visit the bonsai, much less to enjoy it as much as I did.

This Red Laceleaf Japanese Maple near the front entrance lured me into what truly is an intriguing and beautiful collection of about 60 bonsai. The rhododendron species are awesome in the Pacific Northwest, 

but aesthetically speaking, I enjoyed this bonsai garden more than the rhodies in this location. The garden (and bonsai)  invokes elegance; a sense of  museum quality plants formally presented against a blank white canvas, and separated from a gorgeous, woodsy surrounding by neatly trimmed green walls of foliage.

And it strikes me that these miniatures are nicely juxtaposed with their normal sized brethren.

                 The Chinese Juniper grafted on Sierra Juniper is beautiful with its mushroom-like form and twisted white trunk. The artist is Kenneth Sugimoto and the trunk: more than a thousand years old. Bonsai require specialized care and tools--and a lot of patience. Not that it took a thousand years to become a bonsai, but Rome, as they say, wasn't built in a day. Neither is the bonsai.

This azalea plant originated about 1960 and has been a bonsai since 1979. A blooming miniature? What's not to love?  It is drop dead gorgeous in a dark blue pot.

A Japanese White Pine (Pinus parviflora) is expertly pruned in typical asymmetrical bonsai form that pleases the eye with graduated, tabletop shaped foliage.

One of the oldest bonsai on display (and one of the largest) is this Trident Maple (Acer buergeranum) that originated in 1820 and became bonsai in 1880.

Most impressive.

The tiny foliage on this Korean Yew, relatively only a baby bonsai since 1986, is attractive but completely upstaged by its dramatic trunk.

A Golden Atlas Cedar that cascades downward is one of my favorites.

And the pièce de résistance is the Chinese Wisteria vine in bloom.  It was created in 1975 when the artist air layered it from a mature wisteria vine in his yard.  I am a sucker for a wisteria in bloom, even in miniature.

Moral of this little story? Come for the rhodies, but definitely stay for the bonsai.

This is GardenEnvy.

Copyright 2012 by Jeannine.  All Rights Reserved.