Friday, March 15, 2019

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day & Foliage Follow-Up March 2019: Signs of Spring!

March 2018 Garden
Welcome to my March garden. With the vernal equinox just five days away, the garden is finally starting to show signs of spring! This has certainly been one of the most unusual winters the northeast has experienced in a long time, with higher than normal temperatures throughout most of the season, followed by periodical blasts of temperatures in the single digits. Our first significant snowfall just occurred eleven days ago on March 4th with approximately 3-4 inches of snow, which you can see lingering in some areas of the garden. For the remainder of the month, the temperatures are supposed to be above normal.
A Silent Snow
To start the tour, in a more sheltered portion of the property sits one of my favorite statues of a young girl and her kitty, an addition to the garden which I will always treasure. In the March garden she is surrounded by the lingering snow.
Hellebore Lenten Rose 'Merlin'
I am finally seeing some Hellebore blooms. The buds failed to open throughout January and February, and a few finally started to open now in March. We never got the snow to insulate the plants and with the periods of severe cold, the buds stayed tightly closed.
Hellebore Lenten Rose 'Shooting Star'
Once the temperatures rebounded, I trimmed off some of the severely winter burned foliage, which helped to spark the blooms. There is such a delicate balance that exists with nature.
Hyacinths Emerging!
The Hyacinths started coming up before the March snow and appear to be well on their way...
Sedum Foliage
and Sedum 'Brilliant' is showing some of its perfectly rounded mounds of rosette foliage.
Birds Preparing for Nests
As spring approaches, the birds have been exceptionally active in the trees on the property, especially near the Weeping Pussy Willow, where they tend to congregate and perch on the upper branches. Nesting season is on  the way!
Pussy Willow Catkins!
One of my favorite first signs of spring are the catkins on the Weeping Pussy Willow, that grow larger by the day, until they explode into little bundles of golden pollen. 
Morning Teatime
Here is the latest addition to the garden. My dear husband saw this while he was out shopping near the end of February, and the moment he saw it, he knew that it had to have a place in our garden. He said it reminded him of the two of us sharing a morning cup of tea/coffee. After 36 years of being married to a gardener, my husband finally gets it!
Oriental Skyland's Spruce and Coral Bark Maple March
Let's venture around to the front gardens. Here is Golden Oriental Skyland's Spruce and Coral Bark Maple 'Sangu Kaku'. Even though we didn't experience the snow that triggers the redness of the bark of the Maple, the cold temperatures did the trick. I always admire how the bark of the tree seems to "glow" alongside the Oriental Spruce. 
Daylilies Emerging!
The Daylilies are emerging! The Daylilies are emerging! This is a sure sign of spring on the way!
Back Perimeter Garden March
The nice part about going through a milder than usual winter is that the evergreens are not showing any signs of bronzing, and I am not out in the garden removing broken branches like we had last year. I am hoping that we don't experience any late season snowstorms like we did at the beginning of last April.
Nellie Stevens Holly Berries
Even the berries on the Nellie Stevens Holly are looking exceptionally plump and bright this year during the month of March.
"Turkey Tail" Bracket Fungi
While walking around the winter garden, I ran into this unusual formation that is growing near an old decaying tree stump in the back corner. It is not something I planted, yet very intriguing. It is known as Turkey Tail Bracket Fungi, named after its structure. I think I'll leave it right where it is!
Structure in the March Garden
The 'Star Magnolia' in the back bed is forming buds for spring. At this time of year I also like to focus on the structure of the tree and the evergreen foliage that surrounds it.

Back Shade Garden
Here is a closer look with a little whimsy thrown in. The Leucothoe axillaris behind the statue wintered very well this year and I just gave the garden statue a new coat of paint, even though it is only in the 40's outside. Do you think someone is just a little anxious for spring?
Garden Gal
Last, but not least in the outdoor garden, is garden gal with her basket of black Mondo grass. Winter comes and goes, and this perennial perseveres. 
Christmas Cacti Round Two!
Moving to the inside blooms, I couldn't resist sharing this Christmas Cactus going through its second bloom. It usually blooms once, but this year I am getting a bonus display for March! Even the Amaryllis which has already bloomed, is getting new leaves coming up out if it. There's nothing but foliage right now, but I am wondering it it will have a second bloom as well. If it happens, I will certainly share!
Phalaehopsis Orchid
Have you ever bought an orchid from a super market? I just did. They were too beautiful and healthy to pass up. Wish me luck!
Phalaehopsis Orchid
Here is a closer view of the beautiful blooms. From what I've read, this particular variety is supposed to be easier to maintain and will bloom longer than other species.
March Garden~Thanks for Visiting
I hope you enjoyed your stroll through my March garden. Please feel free to stay a while and catch up on some past posts and perhaps visit my author page (link below). There's also a tab at the top of the page, called My Gardens, which will take you on an adventure with yearly highlights of each month in the garden. Special thanks go out to our hostess 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. Also, special thanks to Pam Penick at Digging who has hosted Foliage Follow-Up for all these years, a meme I will still continue to honor. I am also linking with some other wonderful hosts and hostesses at Floral Friday Fotos, Macro Monday 2, Mosaic Monday at Letting Go of the Bay Leaf, Nature Notes at Rambling WoodsDishing It & Digging It on Sunday with Angie the Freckled RoseImage-in-ing weekly photo share every Tuesday with NC Sue and Gardens Galore Link Up Party every other Monday with Everyday Living. I am also happy to join the Homestead Blog Hop on Wednesdays.
~As Always...Happy Gardening! ~

Author: Lee@A Guide to Northeastern Gardening,© Copyright 2010-2019. All rights reserved.

Friday, March 1, 2019

This Month in the Garden: A Visit to the Allerton & McBryde National Tropical Gardens, Kauai

Allerton & McBryde Gardens Kauai
Welcome to the National Tropical Botanical Gardens (NTBG)! Based in Hawaii, the gardens are a non-profit educational institution dedicated to the research, preservation and re-population of native and endangered tropical plants. There are five botanical gardens open to the public, Allerton and McBryde on the South Shore of Kauai, Limihuli Gardens on the North Shore, Kahanu Garden on the island of Maui and the The Kampong Garden in Coconut Grove, Florida. 
National Tropical Botanical Gardens
Since the National Tropical Botanical Garden has been in operation, thousands of species have been gathered by field expeditions throughout the tropical world. Its living collection includes the largest number of native Hawaiian plant species and breadfruit cultivars in existence. In 2002, the Breadfruit Institute was created by the NTBG to increase awareness and focus on the preservation of breadfruit, promoting the fruit as a highly nutritional answer to global food shortages. The institute also includes five preserves (not open to the public) that are maintained for scientific research and reintroduction of critically endangered species no longer found in the wild, allowing them to grow and reproduce in a natural environment. The preserves include the Lawai and and the Limahuli Preserves, (Kauai), Ka'upulehu and Awini Preserves (Hawaii), and the Kahanu Preserve (Maui). 
Endangered Species Brighamia insignis (Aluha)
On the Combination Tour, we visited one of the areas dedicated to scientific research. Here is endangered Aluha plant. Hawaii is known as the extinction capital of the U.S. because it has the greatest number of endangered species. Over 90% of plants in Hawaii are native and don't grow anywhere else in the world. The threat comes from  a number of sources including location of the plants, evolution, climate change and the introduction of invasive species of plants and predators. Some species, like Brighamia insignis, are found only on steep cliffs and the main pollinator, the green sphinx moth is rarely ever seen. To the knowledge of scientists, there was only one remaining Aluha left in the wild. The species has now been preserved through the efforts of the NTBG.
 Myrmecodia tuberosa Rubiaceae Tunnels Inside Aerial Roots 
This is Myrmecodia tuberosa Rubiaceae, also known as "Ant Plant". This unusual plant has tunnels inside its aerial root that provide a habitat for ant colonies, while protecting them from the elements. In exchange, the nutrients from the ants and the debris left by the ants are absorbed into the plant's chambers. 
  Trumpet Vine (Podranea ricasolina)
While heading into the gardens, we passed by this magnificent pink Trumpet Vine with foot long glorious blooms, which are an attraction to butterflies and hummingbirds.

Biodiversity Trail
The Biodiversity Trail is a meandering 800-foot pathway that simulates more than 450 million years of plant evolution, starting with a moss filled tunnel representing the first plant life. Located in the McBryde Garden, each step along the way shows how species have developed in complexity over time, ending with plants of the present. 
Cycad Gymnosperm Reproductive Seed Cones
Cycads are an ancient group of seed plants dating back in time to the Jurassic period, which have been used for food and medicine. Because Cycad seeds are mostly toxic, they had to undergo much processing until they were edible. Recent studies have shown the plant to contain a signaling protein, BMAA (β-Methylamino-L-alanine) which has been linked to the development of Alzheimer-like symptoms in patients on the island of Guam, where the plant is abundant. Now that this is known, the protein's amino acids are being looked into for finding a possible cure for Alzheimer's. 
Pineapple Plant  (Ananas comosus)
It's amazing to be able to see pineapple growing throughout Hawaii. The founder of Hawaii's pineapple industry was Captain John Kidwell (1880's) who after much experimentation, selected the "Smooth Cayenne" variety of fruit to cultivate. In the year 1899, James Dole arrived in Hawaii and started a plantation, and In 1922, he purchased the island of Lanai, so that he could establish the largest pineapple plantation in the world. Dole passed away in 1958, and his legacy lives on worldwide as the Dole Food Company.
Cook's Pine (Araucaria columnaris_
Cook Pine were discovered by Captain James Cook on one of his voyages in the south Pacific Ocean during the 1770's. These beautiful and graceful trees are very similar to Norfolk Pine, but straighter and more narrow in appearance. Trees are either male or female, each bearing cones. The smaller male cone, about 2 inches long, is found at the end of branches, while the female cones are egg-shaped, 6 inches long and wider in diameter. Female cones are made up of scales that bear the seeds and are rarely seen on the ground because they open to disperse the seeds in midsummer.
 Heliconia bourgaeana Petersen
Heliconia, or Lobster Claw displays yellow, red, orange or green flowers that hang from brightly colored bracts. The growth habit of Heliconia is similar to that of CannaStrelitzia, and bananas, to which they are related.
Heliconia Psittacorum
Here is another variety of Heliconia with multi-colored bracts. Heliconia Psittacorum is also known as Parrot's  Beak Heliconia.
 Pink Banana
In the McBryde garden are these tropical pink bananas. Never had seen or heard of a pink banana before, it was fascinating to learn about this smaller and sweeter variety. We also leaned that a banana tree produces fruit once in a lifetime and that as soon as it forms the fruit, new shoots are produced which grow into new plants. The original expired plant should be cut down after fruiting.
Tiger Orchid-Largest species of orchid in the world at 150 pounds
Here in the rainforest growing on the side of a palm tree is the largest species of orchid in the world, the Tiger Orchid (Grammatophyllum speciosum), which grows up to 150 pounds!  
 Tour Guide with Tiger Orchid Flower
Our tour guide shows us the beautiful flower of the orchid up close.
Staghorn Fern (Platycerium grande )
Giant Staghorn Fern grow from trees above and reach a diameter of three feet or more. Being epiphytic in nature, these giant ferns derive their moisture and nutrients from the air, rain, and from debris around the plant. Their unusual look and beauty never cease to amaze me.
Tropical Hibiscus
Tropical Hibiscus can be found everywhere in Hawaii in a variety of beautiful colors. 
 Vahana Palm Rarest Palm in the World-only 13 exist
A rare treat we came across is this Vahana Palm (Pelagodoxa henryana). It is the rarest palm in the world, in which only 13 exist, one being right here in the McBryde Garden!
White Anthurium (A. crystallinum f peltifolium)
 Anthurium is a tropical plant known for its white, red, yellow, orange or green bracts.
Allerton Garden Kauai
Back into the Allerton Garden is the set for the television pilot and first episode of the well-known Gilligan's Island, which took place over four days in November of 1963. 
Lagoon from Gilligan's Island
Here is the infamous lagoon from the three hour tour!
Pulsating water feature mimics heartbeat
Allerton Garden has been transformed through time from Hawaiian Queen Emma, a sugar plantation magnate, and most significantly by an artist and an architect, Robert Allerton. Allerton designed the garden as rooms, which he endowed with beautiful tropical plants and artwork that he collected while traveling to countries around the world. This pulsating water feature is architecturally designed to mimic the rate of a beating heart.
Bamboo Room
There is such beauty to be seen in the gardens, some simplistic, like this bamboo garden...
 Alpinia Purpurata Purest White
to beautiful tropical plants, such as this Alpinia. This variety of ginger is pure white and quite rare. The plant reaches a height of approximately 5-8' and produces flowers throughout the year.
Bromeliads of varying colors can be seen throughout the gardens. I happened to admire this particular variety with speckled dots of yellow on burgundy-green foliage.
Moreton Bay Figs (Ficus macrophylla)
Last, but not least, in the Allerton Garden are the infamous Moreton Bay Figs from the movie set of the 1997 movie, Jurassic Park! Moreton Bays Figs are large evergreen banyan trees that reach to 60 feet in height with massive buttress roots for stabilization, which can extend to 30 feet above and below the surface. They are by far the most majestic and beautiful trees I have ever seen. 
Allerton & McBryde Gardens Combination Tour Kauai
Allerton and McBryde are truly a tropical paradise with a vast variety of rare and endangered plants, all preserved in their natural environment by the National Tropical Botanical Garden. Accompanied by a very knowledgeable tour guide, the visit was complete.

For more information, visit National Tropical Botanical Garden

Be sure to stop by on the 1st. of each month for This Month in the Garden, as I share gardening tips, information and horticultural adventures! Linking with:  Floral FridaysMacro Monday 2Friday Photo JournalImage-in-ing Weekly Photo Link-Up and Dishing It & Digging It, Our World Tuesday and Wednesday Around the World.

As Always...Happy Gardening!

Author: Lee@A Guide to Northeastern Gardening, ©Copyright 2010-2019. All rights reserved.