Thursday, April 30, 2015

A Look Beyond: Blooms and Birds of Kauai, Hawaii

Hawaiian Birds and Blooms

Bird of Paradise
During the winter months I had sorted through some photos from a November trip to the island of Kauai and thought I would share some of the birds and blooms I encountered while there.  Kauai is truly a tropical paradise and the home to a huge variety of amazing wildlife and blooms.  Being an avid gardener and aspiring photographer, I ventured out on many walks with camera in hand during our trip in order to capture as many memories as possible through the eye of the lens.
Mountains and Palm Trees
Kauai is the oldest of the Hawaiian Islands geologically and is the fourth largest of the five main islands.  It is known as the "Garden Isle" and has an average rainfall of 50–100 inches annually.  Kauai is the home to many tropical rain forests and the constant rainfall allows the island mountains to be heavily vegetated. The majestic green mountains in the backdrop with tropical palms gracing the foreground make for a picturesque view.
Palms
As I zoomed in closer I found myself in awe with every click of the camera. 
Sandpiper Pectoral Sandpiper (Calidris melanotos)
I came across such a variety of birds on each stroll that I was amazed at what I was seeing.  I spend about twenty minutes or so slowly getting closer and closer to this adorable little sandpiper, which was living right at the resort.  During the same walk I also saw this egret. Neither bird likes to stand stationary and are both very fast moving, so I had to be patient and it took many attempts to get these photographs! 
Cattle Egret
Red-Crested Cardinal
These cardinals were just outside the resort eating berries from a tree down the road.  They resemble our northern cardinals only they have a red head and gray and white body.  Also known as the Brazilian Cardinal, these tropical birds were introduced to Hawaii in 1930 from South America. The juveniles have a brown crest and black bill.
Red-Crested Cardinals
Red Crested Cardinals are often seen traveling in pairs as these two here.  They feed on seeds, fruits, insects and plant material.
Red Ginger (Alpinia purpurata)
One of my favorite plants in Kauai is this Red Ginger. The combination of foliage and bloom makes this a magnificent plant and the flower is interesting to photograph. Red Ginger is a tropical perennial with a native range that spans from the Maluku islands in Indonesia to the southwest Pacific. It was introduced to Hawaii in 1928. 
 Hibiscus 'Montego Wind' (Tropical Hibiscus)
These Tropical Hibiscus can be seen everywhere on the island and come in an amazing array of striking colors.  There are seven known species of Hawaiian hibiscus which are regarded as native to Hawaii. The native Hawaiian yellow Hibiscus (Hibiscus brackenridgei) is the state flower of Hawaii.
Hibiscus brackenridgei (Tropical Hibiscus)
The varieties mostly seen for ornamental use on the island are of the Chinese variety (Hibiscus rosa-sinensisand its hybrids.
Hibiscus Pink versicolor (Tropical Hibiscus)
It is wonderful seeing these beautiful blooms growing all over Kauai.  They can only survive as summer outdoor plants or houseplants here in the northeast.
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)
Here is some more of the local wildlife. On one of my walks I spotted this little fellow who was a familiar sight, as we have sparrows in the northeast. I believe he is a House Sparrow.  In the resort areas the birds are so used to having people around that they didn't even budge.   As I got closer up with the lens I believe this little one was actually posing for me! 
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)
Monstera deliciosa (Swiss Cheese Plant)
All over the island this pre-historic-looking plant can be seen.  The leaf belongs to Monstera deliciosa, also known as Swiss Cheese Plant.  These large plants can be seen growing at both the resorts and along the sides of highways.  Monstera grows way above the rainforest canopy and can develop huge aerial roots up to 70 feet in length.
Plumeria
I loved seeing and photographing these beautiful Plumeria trees. Plumeria are tropical trees famous for their gorgeous flowers which are used to make Hawaiian leis.  They can be seen everywhere on the island and their aroma of sweet perfume is wonderful!
Plumeria
(Crinum augustum)  (Queen Emma Spider Lily)
These tropical lilies are amazing. Queen Emma Lily displays spiral-like flowers in either pink or white on plants that can grow to about five feet tall by wide.  The blooms are not only beautiful but are also fragrant.
Ixora (Jungle Geranium)
Here are some Ixora, also known as Jungle Geranium.  Ixora can be found in hues of pink, orange or yellow and displays showy spikes that burst open into flowers and resembling geranium once opened.
Cordyline terminalis “Red Sister” (Red Ti Plant)
In ancient Hawaiian culture the Ti leaf was believed to offer spiritual protection, and only royalty were allowed to wear them. Today the plant’s foliage is still a popular element in many Hawaiian religious rituals and is also widely grown for gardens.  Hawaiian Ti is also known as the "good luck" plant. Ti can be seen growing all over the island and was originally introduced to the islands when brought over in canoes by ancient Polynesians.
Zebra Dove
Doves can be seen throughout the island are are not at all camera shy, such as this one perching on a rock right along a walkway.
Kauai's Unofficial State Bird!

Kauai is known for its wild roosters that can be seen everywhere on the island including parking lots, backyards, roads and gardens.  They were brought there years ago by early settlers and have no natural predators, so the population continues to flourish.  The real state bird of Hawaii is the the "nene", or Hawaiian goose (Branta sandwicensis) but the chicken population seems to be much more visible. Known as "moa", or wild jungle fowl, these birds are protected under state law. Like all the birds of Hawaii, the moa is protected as an important part of nature.  I was able to photograph this colorful fellow as he was casually walking along on the road aside me. 

As our walk ends it is time to get back to reality once again. I hope you enjoyed Kauai's birds and blooms.  Aloha.

As Always...Happy Gardening!


Author: Lee@A Guide To Northeastern Gardening, ©Copyright 2015. All rights reserved

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day and Foliage Follow-Up April 2015 Garden: Early Spring Blooms!

April Garden 2015
March went out like a lion with snow on the 29th, resulting in a layer of white blanketing the first buds and foliage for the start of April.  It was the snowiest March on record for Long Island with 19.7 inches of snowfall and the transition from winter to spring has been slow moving. As temperatures gradually climb from being mainly in the 40's to some 50 degree days here and there, the past winter feels more and more distant. Spring is a wonderful time of the year as I wait anxiously for the first signs of life to emerge in the garden.  It is time for another Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day and Foliage Follow-Up to take notice of what is blooming.  Come along for a walk in my garden!
Hellebore 'Shooting Star'

I have always admired Hellebores in other's winter garden posts so when I saw these on opening day at the local nursery I did not hesitate to purchase them and plant them on the north side of the house. These beauties are shade loving plants that bloom from late winter into early spring (January through March) here on Long Island.  I am very excited about this purchase and look forward to how the foliage will look throughout the summer and will then anticipate their late winter blooms next year.  It will be interesting to follow these in the garden.

Crocus

The first established blooms to arrive this year were my white crocus.  They popped up almost overnight in a sunny spot in the garden and are showing their pure white blooms.  They are such a refreshing sight after the long cold winter.
White Crocus and Purple Hyacinth Backdrop

Being very anxious to get out into the garden I planted these new purple hyacinths in order to supply a backdrop of color to the already blooming crocus.  There are more pink and purple hyacinth buds popping up in the garden and they should bloom within the next week or so.

Purple Hyacinth

Here is how far along the already established bulbs are as this time of year.
Hyacinths Spring 2015

Coming up is the foliage from one of my newest additions, Allium 'Globemaster'. I planted the bulbs last fall and cannot wait to see the giant purple blooms that will 4-5 inches in diameter!  I also planted Allium 'Mont Blanc' in the perennial garden as a backdrop.  Having seen these magnificent flowers in many a botanical garden, I had to add some to my own space.
Allium 'Globemaster' (Giant Allium)

As you can see there are many new additions this spring. Having been retired from my 32 year teaching career for the past two years and with the particularly long winter we just endured, I have taken notice that my perennial border just outside the back door needed some more late winter/early spring blooms.  Just before my design season started up I went on a gardening frenzy adding hyacinths and daffodils along with the added crocus and allium bulbs from last fall, which can be seen throughout the property.

Miniature Daffodils
These miniature daffodils were perfect and now I can enjoy their blooms every spring.
Sedum 'Brilliant'

For some foliage, the perfectly shaped rosettes of sedum are just showing their presence as they emerge from a winter's sleep.  The succulent-like compact form of this plant is a welcomed asset to the garden all season long and is complemented by large pink blooms in late summer.
Weeping Pussy Willow

The graceful Weeping Pussy Willow has been showing more and more catkins with each passing day that can be viewed right outside my kitchen window.  There have been frequent mockingbird visits, so it looks like they will be nesting in it for another year.
Weeping Pussy Willow Catkins April

Here are the catkins close up...so soft!
Yellow Crocus

In the front garden the yellow crocus planted just last fall are about to open...
First Robin 2015

and the first robins have arrived which signals the arrival of spring in my Long Island Garden. 
Spring Love!

Thank you to Carol at May Dreams Gardens who makes it possible for us to have blooms on the 15th of every month with her meme Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day and Pam at Digging for hosting Foliage Follow-Up.  I am also linking with some other wonderful hosts and hostesses at Creative Country Mom's Tuesday Garden PartyToday's FlowersFloral FridaysMosaic Monday at Lavender Cottage, I Heart MacroMacro Monday 2, and Nature Notes at Rambling Woods.  I hope you enjoyed the visit to my garden.  If you leave a note I will know you dropped by, and will be sure to visit you as well.

Happy spring!

 And As Always...Happy Gardening!

Author: Lee@A Guide to Northeastern Gardening, © Copyright 2015. All rights reserved


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