Saturday, November 23, 2013

Allerton & McBryde Botanical Gardens Kauai: Discovery Combination Tour-Paradise Found

Allerton Botanical Gardens Kauai
On a recent trip to the island of Kauai in the Hawaiian Islands I had the wonderful experience of exploring the beautiful Allerton and McBryde Botanical Gardens while on the Discovery Combination Tour. Located on the south shore of Kauai in the wa'i Valley between the McBryde Garden and Pacific Ocean, Allerton Gardens encompass approximately 80 acres.  Allerton was the home of Hawaii's Queen Emma in the mid-19th century and was then passed to the McBryde family.  In the late 1930's, the grounds became the estate of Robert Allerton and his son, John Gregg Allerton. On August 19, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson granted a charter to the National Tropical Botanical Garden for the preservation of endangered native species.  The site is now maintained as a non-profit organization dedicated to the study and preservation of endangered tropical plants and protection of the world's diverse ecosystems. Encompassed in a world of rain forests, native fruits and spices, hidden waterfalls and Jurassic trees, Allerton and McBryde Gardens will continue to provide a tropical paradise for visitors of all ages. 
Allerton Botanical Gardens:  Paradise in Kauai

Often used as a set for movies and television series such as Gilligan's Island, Fantasy Island, Jurassic Park, Pirates of the Caribbean and Avatar, this picturesque postcard scene is like a fantasy.
Tour Bus

We took the Discovery 'Behind the Scenes' Tour that ventures into other areas of the garden such as its intensive care unit for endangered species and a hidden waterfall. Our tour guide was wonderful.  His intensive knowledge and sense of humor made the visit a memorable experience which we will remember forever. Allerton Gardens are on the top of our list as one of Kauai's main attractions!
Mango Tree
In 2003, NTBG began an ambitious restoration of an area known as Lāwa‘i-kai including the beach and adjacent coastal forest in the Allerton Garden. The project’s first goal was to remove invasive alien plants which had crowded out most native strand plants and had threatened the Hawaiian green sea turtle's (honu) nesting areas.  The goal was to create a vegetative barrier to alleviate damage from tropical storms such as the tsunami and two hurricanes that had struck the area previously and to create a stable habitat for a wide array of highly endangered native plants, after removal of alien invaders.  The landscape was developed through the study of fossil and historical records to replicate the type of environment that would have existed a millennium ago.
Alula Brighamia insignis Endangered Plant
Many of the plants, including rare palms, trees, and shrubs native to the island, now thrive in Allerton Gardens. The Alula is one of the garden's conservation successes.  Having lost its natural pollinator the species was near extinction. NTBG botanists traveled to steep cliffs to collect pollen and hand cross-pollinate wild plants to generate fruits and seeds for germination.
Tropical Rain forest
This rain forest and its species resemble the environment a millennium ago during the days of the first Polynesian inhabitants.
 Banyon Tree Aerial Roots
As we walked through the gardens we experienced unusual tropical palms with thick aerial prop roots... 
Palm Seeds
attractive red seeds produced from native palms... 
Cycad Cones

and giant prehistoric looking seed cones produced from native cycads.
Ixora (Jungle Geranium)

The island is also the home of many tropical flowers including Tropical Geranium 'Ixora' (above) and Torch Ginger 'Etlingera elatior' (below) which were two of my favorites.   Ixora displays clusters of beautiful orange, scarlet, yellow or red blooms at the ends of branches with leathery green leaves ranging in size from three to six inches in length.  Each cluster may contain up to 60 individual star-shaped flowers.
Torch Ginger (Etlingera elatior).
This beautiful flower known as Torch Ginger can be seen throughout the island in shades of red and pink.  Although ginger is not native to Hawaii the plants in the ginger family (Zingiberaceae) grow very well on the islands.  The red flowers are more visible but if you look carefully into the brush you may also get a glimpse of the pinks.  A much rarer white torch ginger can be found growing in the McBryde Garden above the 'Spice of Life trail'.
McBryde Waterfall
The McBryde Waterfall located at the border between the Allerton and McBryde gardens is a must see.  This waterfall was featured in the movie 'Pirates of the Carribean' and rightfully so.  It is a hidden away treasure in the gardens and its beauty is breathtaking.  While touring the gardens, our guide took us through the rain forest to see this marvel of nature. 
Crossing Bridge
A wooden bridge crosses over to the beach where we had the rare opportunity to view the nesting site of the endangered green sea turtle (honu), which is being protected by the National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG).
Lagoon and Palms
Does this Look like a scene from Gilligan's Island?  The opening scene to the well known television series from the 1960's was filmed here.
Education on Plants
Here our tour guide discusses the various native plants and species preserved here in the gardens. 
 Pandanus tectorius (Hala Tree)
Above is the Hala tree, which is native to Hawaii. Several parts of the tree can be utilized, but in Hawaii the most common use of Hala are the leaves.The leaves of the Hala tree are woven into various objects such as mats, baskets, hats, canoe sails, and bags. The leaves were also once used to thatch houses and homes for animals.
Noni Morinda citrifolia (Indian Mulberry)

The Noni was one of the most important medicinal plants of the native Hawaiians although most of the medicinal uses were from other parts of the tree other than the fruit itself. The bark and roots of the Morinda bark produce dyes that can be used in making batik and dying cloth and the oil from the seed can be used as an anti-inflammatory.
The Hibiscus is the official state flower of the Hawaiian Islands and means "delicate beauty". In Hawaiian culture it communicates power and respect and is a symbol of old royalty. Traditionally, the flower is worn behind one ear, behind the left ear signifying that a woman is in a relationship and is uninterested in attracting a man, whereas tucking the blossom behind the right ear announces that a woman is available.
 (Crinum pedunculatum) aka Spider Lily

Scattered throughout Allerton Garden are clusters of Crinum pedunculatum, also known as spider lily. The purple variety of this plant was named after Queen Emma, who had an affection for the color purple; hence the name Queen Emma Lily. This unusual flower stands out with its long, spiral-like leaves in shades of purple and white and was used in the movie set of  "Avatar".
The Moreton Bay Fig (Jurassic Park Tree)
If you have ever seen the movie "Jurassic Park"  then you have noticed the very large prehistoric looking trees in many a scene.  These are the actual Moreton Bay Fig trees that were used on site for most of the filming.
The Moreton Bay Fig  (Jurassic Park)
I was able to get a picture standing by one of these magnificent and majestic trees so that you could get a feeling of the size of its roots.  I felt like I was back in Jurassic time and oh what a thrill! 
Pothos Plant
If this giant Pothos plant looks familiar to you it is probably a common houseplant in your area.  Invasive here in Hawaii it grows as a vine on native trees and poses quite a nuisance.   When the tour guide tested me as to what is was I couldn't believe the size of the leaves...jungle style!
Rain forest with Aerial Roots, Philodendron and Palm
 These aerial roots are amazing as they cascade downward like ropes from the tree tops.  Many of the rain forest plants produce these root extensions to take in more moisture.
Plumeria Flower
Plumeria is not native or Polynesian-introduced but it is one of the most well known and favorite trees in Hawaii.  Beautiful fragrant blooms range in color from bright white (most fragrant) to yellow, pink and red. Several beautiful Plumeria trees grow throughout the Allerton garden.
Lotus Pond

At the end of the tour we viewed the lotus pond with magnificent blooms that could take your breath away.  I was able to get this close-up of the flower showing the details of its beauty...just another day in paradise.
Lotus Flower

This was certainly an experience of a lifetime and I would recommend visiting these magnificent gardens to anyone.  I hope to return to Allerton and McBryde Gardens again someday, so for now it's just Aloha and A hui hou...until we meet again.

For more information visit Allerton Botanical Gardens

Visitors Center - 4425 Lawai Road, Poipu 96756

As Always...Happy Gardening!

Author: Lee@A Guide To Northeastern Gardening, Copyright 2013. All rights reserved

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Frost Warning and Fall Photo Opportunity

The first frost warning for our area in the northeast is this evening so it was time
to go out into the garden and start preparing it for the approaching winter.  Fall is a bittersweet time of year for me since I long to be in the garden as much as
possible and as the temperatures decrease I know the time outside is limited.  On
 the other hand the colors of fall are spectacular and the gardens seem to come to
 life one last time before they go into dormancy.  Before starting my fall clean up today I figured I would get some last photos. There are still a few blooms hanging on before it gets too cold so come take a look!
Coral Bark Maple 'Sangu Kaku'

Crape Myrtle Seed Pods
Fall Hosta
Hydrangea 'Endless Summer'
Iris Seed Pods
Japanese Forest Grass Fall
Weeping Japanese Maple Fall Color
Autumn Leaves
Nandina 'Gulf Stream' Berries
Perennial Border Fall
Knock Out Rose Fall
Spirea 'Limemound' Fall Color
Dwarf Butterfly Bush Lo & Behold Blue Chip Fall
Spirea 'Gold Flame' Fall

As the temperatures drop in my Long Island garden and the landscape slowly goes to sleep I dream of spring and new ventures.    Autumn does have some merit with all the changing colors that are so beautiful at this time of year.  For now I will just have to enjoy the beauty of fall and start planning for next year when the garden comes to life once again.

As Always...Happy Gardening!

Author: Lee@A Guide To Northeastern Gardening, Copyright 2013. All rights reserved

Friday, November 1, 2013

A Revisit to Old Westbury Gardens, Long Island, NY

Old Westbury House Old Westbury Gardens
I am now going through some photographs I took previously while revisiting Old Westbury Gardens during the month of September. Old Westbury Gardens are located on the North Shore of Long Island along Long Island's famous Gold Coast. The 23 room Westbury House Charles II-style mansion is the former country residence of the well known financier and sportsman John Shaffer Phipps, son of Henry Philipps of Carnegie Steel Company, his wife Margarita Grace Phipps and their four children. The meticulously maintained mansion and gardens are breathtaking and they are one of my favorite places to visit.
Old Westbury Mansion Estate Grounds-Bench

While exiting the mansion one of the first encounters is this beautiful stone bench located on the raised brick patio overlooking the expansive lawn.  Looking beyond the lawn various paths lead to the numerous gardens on the estate. 
Arbor Leading to Rose Garden

The view of this twisted arbor with climbing roses and wisteria vine looks beautiful even in fall with some of the roses still blooming as it leads to an English-style rose garden.
Old Westbury Mansion South Lawn.

Standing back the mansion stands stately with manicured yew topiary and ivy.
Butterfly Moth Close Up on Bloom
Even though it is fall at Old Westbury Gardens the blooms are abundant.  I was able to get this close up of a Butterfly Moth enjoying the nectar of this beautiful flower.
Dahlia Old Westbury Gardens
The massive bloom of this Dahlia took my breath away. It must of been at least six to seven inches in diameter and certainly one of the most magnificent blooms I have ever seen so I had to capture it! 
Dahlia Old Westbury Gardens
 The beauty of nature never ceases to amaze me with the perfection of this flower.  A repetition of perfectly alternating petals makes this bloom a product of nature's artwork.
Thatched Cottage Old Westbury Gardens
One of my favorite places to visit on the grounds of Old Westbury Gardens is this beautiful thatched cottage and garden. The quaint English-style cottage and garden was a gift to the only Philipps daughter Peggie for her tenth birthday in 1910.
Thatched Cottage Garden Old Westbury Gardens
An abundance of colorful blooms from numerous perennials and annuals can be seen at every visit.
Temple of Love Old Westbury Gardens
The "Temple of Love" is a romantic 18th century designed stone gazebo with a lace-like wrought iron roof which creates the perfect spot for a photographic moment. Bordering the pond a glimpse of the back lawn and mansion can be seen as a reflection in the quiet water.
Walled Garden Old Westbury Gardens
One of the additional highlights to Old Westbury Gardens is the magnificent Walled Garden with an expansive pergola and lotus pond. The gardens consist of an assortment of evergreens, flowering shrubs, perennials, ornamental grasses, bulbs and annuals that offer a beautiful display in all seasons.
Lotus Pond at Walled Garden Old Westbury Gardens
The lotus pond is the home to Koi fish and Lotus blooms.
Lotus Bloom Close Up at Walled Garden Old Westbury Gardens

Looking Back at the Walled Garden Old Westbury
I wait in anticipation until my next visit to this beautiful part of Long Island heritage. Old Westbury Gardens, Inc. was formed in 1959 in order to preserve the mansion and gardens. Open to the public, Old Westbury is partially funded by an endowment while the operating funds for running all educational and cultural programs is derived mainly from admission fees, the annual appeal, membership, corporate and foundation grants, gifts and donations, as well as special events. I feel fortunate to have these magnificent gardens and mansion so near to home and am in awe every time I encounter them.
For more information visit Old Westbury Gardens.
As Always...Happy Gardening!
Author: Lee@A Guide To Northeastern Gardening, Copyright 2013. All rights reserved