Thursday, March 30, 2017

Color Our World Round-Up March: The Many Roles of Green in the Garden!

Banner Credit: Terri Steffes from Our Good Life
Welcome! It's time for another Color Our World Round-Up post. Each month the knowledgeable bloggers from Project Beautiful get creative by writing articles with focus on a particular color. Posts cover a multitude of topics including gardening, home remedies, decor and culinary delights. March is the month of "green", which is very fitting with the arrival of St. Patrick's Day and spring! The authors are sharing their thoughts on all the possibilities and uses of green in the garden, and not just for spring, but all year round. Simply click on the links to read each article in full.

First up for our March Round-Up is Lynee Cherot from Sensible Gardening with her delightful post on the Unexpected Green Flower. "As much as I love the riot of color in a garden, I’ve lately become intrigued and attracted to the sophistication of the uncommon green flower. The color green is prominent in nature, usually in foliage, but quite unusual as a flower color. The green of plants is produced by chlorophyll, which converts light into energy the plant can use for growth. Colorful blooms serve as attractors for pollinators which will spread the plants pollen for reproduction. Green flowers have no need for bright colors as they reproduce themselves through asexual reproduction or rely on the wind to spread themselves around." See all the various types of green blooms with their descriptions here...

Next is Susan Brandt from Blooming Secrets, who brings thoughts of green all year round with The Year in Color: Wearing of the Green. "Green seems like a most appropriate color for the month of March. In many areas of the country the grass starts growing and by the end of the month, the first official “mowing of the lawn” occurs. The Daffodils that we planted last fall begin to make an appearance and the first green shoots on many trees and shrubs become the first leaves of spring. Finally, the “wearing of the green” on St. Patrick’s Day lets us know that spring is literally right around the corner and that the “long winter’s nap” for our garden is coming to an end. Green truly takes “center stage” in the spring; the lawn and leaves dominate the early landscape, but there are other signs that green isn’t just limited to grass, shrubs and trees." Read more about the use of green in the garden here...

Garden and food blogger Terri Steffes from the Good Life shares her knowledge of how to plant a Salad Bowl Garden with her post Time to Plant the Salad Bowl! "One of my favorite spring activities is to plant the Salad Bowl.  The Salad Bowl is a huge planter that I sow several kinds of lettuce, spinach, kale and swiss chard.  It is time to plant it and I am looking forward to eating fresh greens in a few weeks! Tip #1  To speed up the process, I plant a few plants as well as seeds.  That way my crop is spread out and I get a longer run of greens.  Last year's crop was wonderful, as you can see in the picture below. Tip # 2  Use good seeds!  This year we are planting using heirloom seeds that we purchased from the Missouri Botanical Gardens.  They have a wonderful seed selection and I am eager to see if we can tell the difference between the seeds we get at the Dollar Store and the seeds were purchased from MoBot. Tip #3 We will plant 2 or so weeks before the last frost.  The soil does best when it is above 60 degrees. Sometimes we've guessed wrong about the last frost and still have had a good crop of greens. When someone tells me that they want to start gardening, this is what I tell them to start with! The seeds germinate quickly (usually within 5-10 days) and you can eat the ones that you thin out in a salad!" Read up on more salad bowl gardening tips here...

Green is a major color in Japanese Garden design. Here is my post, This Month's Color in the Garden: The Role of Green in Japanese Garden Design. "When I think of a predominately green garden, Japanese Garden style comes to mind. The color green has been a basic element in Japanese garden design over the centuries and has also been an element found in both formal and informal gardens throughout horticultural history. Greenery provides architecture in the landscape in the form of hedges, trees, shrubs, grass and moss. The color green is a neutral color, one that can be used with any other color without changing the desired effect for a space. It is the perfect combination of the basic primary colors yellow (warm, energizing) and blue (cool, calming) creating a perfect balance. Conifers which are commonly used in Japanese Garden design provide soothing shades of green and grow in a variety of structural forms for year-round interest. In Japanese Garden design, evergreens are used for their simplicity, ability to mimic the natural landscape, and to provide structure all year round. Typical plant species used in Japanese Gardens are juniper, Hinoki Cypress, pine, bamboo, maple, cherry, azalea, camellia, and iris. Moss is another element that has especially played a major role in Japanese garden design, and is regarded as a symbol of harmony, age, and tradition." Read more about Japanese Garden design here...

My Author Page
Thank you for visiting and I hope you enjoyed #PB Color Our World Round-Up for the month of March. If you are enjoying these monthly Round-Ups, please leave a comment, and do share your thoughts about the color GREEN!

Also, be sure to visit these wonderful bloggers regularly for their inspiring articles on gardening, home remedies, DIY projects, decorating, culinary delights and more! I am also linking to Floral Friday Fotos. Be sure to check out their weekly meme!

NEXT UP is This Month's Color in the Garden on the 7th, where it's all about the color yellow. Then, join me for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day and Foliage Follow-Up each month on the 15th, and Round Up posts at the end of the month! 

Author: Lee@A Guide to Northeastern Gardening, © Copyright 2017. All rights reserved

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Beautiful and Romantic Fern Grotto Kauai, HI

Fern Grotto, Kauai, HI
This past year my husband and I had the pleasure of re-visiting one of the most beautiful and romantic places we have ever experienced, the Fern Grotto, on the island of Kauai in Hawaii. There was a time when the Grotto was a sacred place only to be seen by Hawaiian royalty, but for the past 50 years, visitors have been allowed to travel to the site by river boat. Unusual tropical ferns grow upside down from the roof of a lava rock grotto, which was formed millions of years ago, a true geological wonder. Native Hawaiian plants and colorful exotic tropical plants provide a rain-forest atmosphere, which is cooled by the remains of an ancient waterfall. The concave rock formation forms a natural amphitheater, which is the location of many wedding ceremonies. 
Fern Grotto Kauai, HI
The Fern Grotto is part of the Wailua River State Park and access is by boat on the Wailua River. More than 60 years ago, Walter Smith, Sr. started taking visitors up the river on a small rowboat, powered by an outboard motor. Seeing the need for something better, he came up with the idea of a rear-engine system river boat, which is used by the Smith’s family Wailua River tours today. The spacious, open-air boats provide excellent views from either side during the trip upstream. The Wailua River is known as “the only navigable river” in all of Hawaii.
Smith's Family Tours, Fern Grotto Kauai, HI
The river’s fresh water pours down from Mt. Wai‘ale‘ale, one of the wettest spots on the planet. The land along the river makes up the sacred capital of ancient Kauai and the was the birthplace of the island’s royalty. The two mile ride up the Wailua River is a peaceful one in which tropical foliage and wildlife can be explored.
Rear-engine System River boat, Fern Grotto Kauai, HI
Along the way, kayaking tours can be seen, as well as an ancient Hawaiian Village.
Kayakers along Wailua River Kauai, HI
The Kamokila Hawaiian Village is a 4 acre reconstructed ancient Hawaiian village along the banks of the river. The village consists of thatched huts and houses, including an ancient canoe house, chief's assembly and doctor's house. Story boards and artifacts are located around the grounds to explain ancient Hawaiian life. Our destination is just a few minutes away.
Kamokila Hawaiian Village Along Wailua River Kauai, HI
Once docked, a short walk through the tropical rain forest leads visitors to the beautiful Fern Grotto. Already, the memories started to come back.
Fern Grotto Kauai, HI
There is an abundance of both indigenous and introduced tropical plants along the walk, including Hawaiian Ti Plant, Torch Ginger, Shampoo Ginger, Bird of Paradise, philodendron, bamboo and a variety of palms. Magnificent aerial roots came down from the trees above.
Fern Grotto, Kauai, HI
A non-invasive form of clumping bamboo can be seen along the path. This type of bamboo exists in many of the gardens on the island.
Clumping Bamboo, Fern Grotto Kauai, HI
Tropical plants surrounded the walkway from all directions. Red Torch Ginger is a popular plant on the island. This beautiful flower is grown for its ornamental value.
Red Torch Ginger, Fern Grotto, Kauai, HI
While following the path, even more beauty can be admired. Grown for its ornamental value, Beehive Ginger can grow to over 6 feet in height with one foot long leaves. 
Beehive Ginger, Fern Grotto, Kauai, HI

Its bracts arise from the ground and can range in color from chocolate to golden and pink, resembling the shape of a beehive. The true flowers are insignificant white blooms that appear in between the bracts.
Shampoo Ginger, Fern Grotto, Kauai, HI
Near the end of the path is Zingiber zerumbet (Awapuhi).  It is named Shampoo ginger, or 'awapuhi kuahiwi' and may be recognized as the name of a familiar brand of shampoo made by Paul Mitchell. Awapuhi was introduced to Hawaii by early Polynesians and includes earlier uses with the leaves being used as flavoring for foods and rhizomes and leaves being used for medicinal purposes. 
Path through rain forest to Fern Grotto Kauai, HI
As we approached the grotto, a joyous feeling came upon me, as we had finally made it back to this wonderful place after so many years.
Fern Grotto Kauai, HI

We have arrived! To give a little background, the Fern Grotto is one of nature's wonders. Native tropical Sword ferns grow upside down from the top of the 80 foot opening, with water streaming down from the top of the cave where a waterfall used to exist. The plant life in the grotto is nurtured by rainwater, which feeds from the river, beginning on the slopes of Mount Waialeale, 20 miles inland. The 5,000-foot mountain averages 450 inches of rain per year, which comes down into the grotto.
Sword Fern and Ti Plant Fern Grotto Kauai, HI

The falling water from the river can be seen from the visitor platform facing the grotto.
Fern Grotto Kauai, HI

In 1992, the Fern Grotto was nearly destroyed when the island of Kauai was hit by Hurricane Iniki. Most of the ferns hanging from the grotto were torn from the rocks and the grotto is still rebounding. We were pleased to see that much of the vegetation had returned over the years and the grotto still remains one of the most popular and beautiful spots on the island. Even though visitors can no longer stand inside the grotto, today it can be viewed from the designated observation deck. 

Hawaiian Wedding Song, Fern Grotto Kauai, HI
In April of 2006, the grotto was hit again by severe rains that caused rocks to fall from the ceiling onto the viewing area below, causing the area to have to close. The Grotto was reopened in 2007 following artificial reinforcement of the rock walls and installation of ramps to access to the area.
Hawaiian Wedding Song, Fern Grotto Kauai, HI
Up until 2006, weddings were performed within the grotto, but due to the damage, they now they take place on the observation deck facing the amazing feature. We got a feel for how a wedding ceremony would be there, as we listened to water falling from the top of the fern-lined cave, while being serenaded by the beautiful and well known Hawaiian Wedding song.
Aerial Roots Fern Grotto Kauai, HI

While standing in silent awe, we could not get over the beauty of this magical place. It was as we had remembered, with cascading aerial roots and three to five foot long tropical ferns descending from the roof of the grotto. Close to the platform were Hawaiian Ti Plants, believed to bring good luck
Fern Grotto Kauai, HI 2016

It started to gently rain, which seemed to make the grotto even more magical. We were signaled by the tour guide that is was time to go. I could have stood there all day.
Ravenala madagascariensis (Traveler's palm or Peacock Palm) Fern Grotto Kauai, HI

One the way back, we viewed Peacock Palm, a favorite of mine. Peacock Palm is not really a palm at all, but rather belongs to the genus Strelitzia, which is a relative of the Bird of Paradise. If you have ever seen a Bird of Paradise flower, the resemblance is remarkable.
Philodendron along path at Fern Grotto Kauai, HI

Philodendron, introduced to the islands many years ago, have grown freely and become invasive due to the perfect conditions of temperature and rainfall. Philodendron can be seen along this pathway to the left, climbing up the trees.
Fern Grotto Kauai, HI

I believe this is another variety of ginger. The color is striking and adds to the beauty of this place!
Departing Fern Grotto Kauai, HI

We have now arrived back to the river boat and the captain is ready for the trip back. 
Boat Ride Back from Fern Grotto Kauai, HI

On the boat ride back, Hawaiian singers play a variety of island songs, including Blue Hawaii, as Hula dancers sway to the music. Even a fun hula lesson was taught to the passengers as we approached the shore. After a fun day, we say "A hui hou", or good-bye and until we meet again.
Fern Grotto, Kauai, HI

It was a very special day as memories flooded our minds...memories of our honeymoon vacation to this very spot back in 1982, when the grotto was lush and undamaged from the dangerous winds of hurricane Iniki. We were part of a privileged group who had the experience of standing inside the actual grotto and feeling the mist from the water that came from above. We had heard stories that the grotto just wasn't the same after the storm, but it has recovered quite well, and the whole experience was just as wonderful as we had remembered.

For more information on the Fern Grotto visit Smith's Family Tours, Hawaii.

Linking with Our World TuesdayFloral Friday Photos and Image-in-ing Photo Link-Up.

As Always...Happy Gardening!

Author: Lee@A Guide to Northeastern Gardening, © Copyright 2017. All rights reserved

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day & Foliage Follow-Up March 2017: Seasonal Changes and Spring!

March 2017 Garden
As we head into spring, it is time to reflect on the garden once again. It has certainly been another unusual winter here in the northeast. There have been significant signs of a changing climate over the past few years with seasons shifting by several weeks. While Autumn has lingered well into December and January with milder than normal temperatures, winter has set back in with hopefully its last performance. Spring arrives in just five days, but the true arrival of spring temperatures this year and over the past few years have been delayed. There are many signs of spring however; and it's time for another Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day and Foliage Follow-Up. Come along and walk with me in my Long Island garden to see what's new for month of March!
Heuchera 'Caramel' and 'Evergold' Sedge
There have been visible foliage changes on many of the semi-evergreen perennials, such as on Heuchera 'Caramel' and 'Evergold' Sedge. Several days with temperatures up into the 60's over the past couple of weeks have prompted new growth. Right before new growth emerges, some of the foliage turns into a rainbow of color. 
Heuchera 'Caramel' (Coral Bells)
Heuchera 'Caramel' is showing its newer foliage much quicker in this sunnier location. The caramel colored foliage is really amazing, and as you is one of my favorite perennials for all year interest!

Hellebore 'Shooting Star'
The Hellebore 'Shooting Star' is now in full bloom now during the month of March. They bring such a joy to the garden during the winter months, with blooms right into spring.

Hellebore 'Shooting Star'
I have three clusters of Hellebores on the north side of the property and they have been blooming ever since January. All they really need is a mostly shaded area with a well-drained soil. The only maintenance required is the removal of worn out leaves to allow for new growth. You can read more about Hellebores in a recent post.

Hellebore 'Shooting Star' Bud
The newly formed buds display a pinkish hue before opening to a large mature greenish-white flower with a tinge of pink towards the center.
'Crippsii' Hinoki Cypress (Left) and Nandina 'domestica' (Right)
Along on the northern side of the property with the Hellebores is Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Crippsii' (Crippsii Hinoki Cypress). The evergreen keeps its bright golden foliage all year long, and in spring new growth is lighter in color than deeper tones within. Next to the cypress is Nandina 'domestica' with its bright winter berries. Nandina domestica is also known as "false bamboo" because even though the foliage resembles bamboo, it is not a member of the bamboo family.
Nellie Stevens Berries March
Here are the Nellie Stevens Holly on the west side of the property.  This winter has been very good for their production of berries and these evergreen trees can be perceived from a distance as almost glowing! 
Weeping Pussy Willow March
One of my favorite trees at this time of year is Weeping Pussy Willow (Salix caprea Pendula). Weeping Pussy Willow is hardy in USDA zones 4-8 and grows to an approximate height and width of 6-8 feet. Its beautiful weeping characteristic is almost fountain-like and adds much interest to the landscape. The development of its large silvery-white catkins are one of the first signs of spring!
Weeping Pussy Willow Catkins March
The outer silvery hairs that appear as catkins are actually a protective cover for the reproductive parts below. Larger male catkins and smaller female catkins form in March on the same plant and burst open later in the month, exposing yellow pollen-bearing anthers and stigmas. 

Crocus Buds March

Here is a grouping of white crocus in the southwestern perennial border. There is always so much excitement with the sighting of the first buds. These appeared almost overnight!
Hyacinth Bud March
The Hyacinths in the perennial border are showing their buds as well.
Here is Sedum 'Brilliant' forming its perfectly shaped rosettes that signal spring. Bright shocking pink blooms don't appear until late summer on this plant, but the foliage is just as to be admired. It is one of the most dependable and maintenance free perennials in the garden.

Hinoki Cypress 'Nana' and 'Montgomery' Globe Blue Spruce
As I have mentioned in the past, evergreens are the backbone of the garden, especially during the winter months. Here is a combination you have not seen before. In the backdrop is Dwarf Hinoki Cypress 'Nana' with Montgomery Globe Spruce in the foreground. Cypress 'Nana' is a true dwarf, this one reaching a height of only five feet in fifteen years. It is perfect for small spaces. In this case, I wanted the golden color of the evergreen without too much height in front of the pool area.
Northern Cardinal
The Cardinals are welcomed guests all winter long here on Long Island. I was able to get a capture of this Cardinal along with a Sparrow in mid-flight.

Northern Cardinal
I always find the male Cardinals to look so majestic!
Garden Whimsy
There's nothing like a little garden whimsy. This garden statue depicts a playful game of leap frog! You are getting a glimpse of it as we pass by the back secret garden.
March Visitor

Many of the birds that reside on the property have been carefully analyzing trees for housing, as they are anticipating building their nests for spring. I have noticed this ritual over the years and have seen a pattern of particular birds preferring certain trees. They get very territorial and tend to claim their real estate quickly!
Weeping Norway Spruce Left Pool Garden
The month of March has certainly been an interesting one. While I had already been out working in the garden during the milder days, the weekend right before Bloom Day brought about some of the coldest days of the winter, with a snowfall on the 10th.
March 10th Snowstorm
As quickly as spring bulbs were emerging, the snow came down and covered them, insulating them a little longer from the colder temperatures on the way. 
March 10th Snowstorm (Winter Storm Stella on the 14th)
The weekend before Bloom Day brought the northeast some of the coldest days of the entire winter with wind chills of -10 to -15 below zero, and now as Bloom Day has arrived, Winter Storm Stella just slammed much of the northeast with blizzard force winds and over a foot of snow. Due to the storm shifting west, the snow on the south shore of Long Island quickly changed over to sleet and rain.
March Garden 2017
While winter gets in its final farewell, this gardener is dreaming of spring. 
March Garden 2017
I hope you enjoyed your stroll through my March garden. Special thanks go out to our hostesses Carol at May Dreams Gardens, who makes it possible to see 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 Today's FlowersFloral FridaysMacro Monday 2, and Nature Notes at Rambling Woods. Also check out Garden Bloggers' Foliage Day at Creating my own garden of the Hesperides and Saturday's Critters at Viewing Nature with Eileen.

Gardening season is on the way! Have you had a chance to check out my books? If not, you can see my author page with links to previews of both books here. The first, A Guide to Northeastern Gardening focuses on specific types of gardens with plant recommendations and maintenance tips to keep your garden looking its best. The second book, Landscape Design Combinations goes into greater detail, teaching the concepts of design, while offering a multitude of garden plans with numbering and detailed descriptions of each plant suggested. If you have read either A Guide to Northeastern Gardening or Landscape Design Combinations and found them to be useful, please consider leaving a brief review. Reviews help a book get noticed (especially when new), and I would really appreciate your help! 

Author: Lee@A Guide to Northeastern Gardening, © Copyright 2017. All rights reserved