Archive for the ‘Somewhere to Visit’ Category

It’s almost February and winter blues have set in. If you haven’t booked tickets to the Sunshine State, an alternative escape into the world of horticulture may be just what you need. Check out these upcoming flower shows and events for inspiration. Send us pictures if attend any of these events along with a review of the displays!

The Japanese Garden at BBG in Winter

Brooklyn Botanic Garden Plant-O-Rama– January 31st. “Plant-O-Rama is an all-day event featuring a free horticultural trade show as well as lectures by leaders in the professional gardening field including Michael Dirr. Mr. Dirr is the leading expert on trees and shrubs and author of the NEW Dirr’s Encyclopedia of Trees and Shrubs, the most comprehensive, best-illustrated, and most authoritative reference yet on woody plants for gardens and landscapes.” If you haven’t reserved tickets to hear him speak, then just enjoy the trade show and exhibits!

Main Conservatory Orchid Display at Longwood Gardens

Longwood Gardens Orchid Extravaganza– Now through March 25. Longwood’s new displays take inspiration from the architectural features of the conservatory “Taking inspiration from our Conservatory’s arching windows, this year’s Orchid Extravaganza features a new 13-foot living arch. Stand beneath this artful curved structure of 350 white Phalaenopsis and you’ll feel your eyes drawn toward the violet orchid orbs suspended above the Exhibition Hall. Another new element of our orchid display, each of our six vibrant orbs features 120 orchids.

Closeup of Phalaenopsis Orchid

New York Botanical Garden Orchid Show– March 3 through April 22. “Renowned botanist and vertical gardening provocateur Patrick Blanc creates towering spectacles of tropical life. Dangling from Blanc’s signature ”green walls,” thousands of orchids abandon the constraints of gravity. In an explosion of alluring color and fragrance, exotic plant walls rise high above the Conservatory’s Reflecting Pool and Seasonal Exhibition Galleries.”

Display from the Philadelphia Flower Show

The Philadelphia Flower Show– March 4-11. “The 2012 Philadelphia International Flower Show will introduce visitors to a tropical experience that blends next-stage digital technology with the natural beauty and rich culture of the Hawaiian Islands. Guests will have fun, learn, and be wowed by real-time floral competitions, the world’s largest lettuce wall, internationally renowned speakers, and a new layout of displays.”


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View of The Pond at Central Park from 59th Street

I’ve been creating a list of things to do on the first snow day of the 2012 season. It came so late that I threw my list out the window and decided to go out exploring instead. It seems that New York City turns snow into slush instantaneously. Amidst the buses spraying icy slurry onto pedestrians and slick sidewalks I snapped a couple of shots of landmark landscapes with their first blanket of snow this year. The Pond at Central Park is frozen over. A glimpse of Katharina Fritsch’s mixed metal sculpture, Figurengruppe, displayed in the MOMA courtyard provided color against a rather bleak winter landscape.

Katharina Fritsch's "Figurengruppe" Sculpture Provides Color in a Bleak Winter Landscape

MOMA's Courtyard with the First Winter Snow

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View of the Bahai Gardens to the Mediterranean Sea

As the third largest city in Israel, Haifa has plenty to boast about. Rolling hills provide stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea and a more distant view to Akko (or Acre). 19 perfectly manicured terraces, which make up the Bahai Gardens, rest on the northeast slope of Mount Carmel. The land is prime property. Thankfully this sacred treasure is preserved and shared with the public.

Bahai Gardens and the Shrine of the Bab

The grounds and surrounding buildings serve as the world center of the Bahai faith. The Shrine of the Bab is the focal point of the garden with its stately gold dome. When you consider what was achieved in Israel’s climate and topography, the gardens are extremely elaborate. However, the simplicity of the design and central symmetry make the garden undeniably photogenic.

Looking up the Terraces to the Top of Mount Carmel

A Path Made From Crushed Terra-Cotta

 Lush formal gardens follow a central axis through all of the terraces. The plant palette is relatively simple and includes: English Ivy, Santolina, Yucca and Palm trees. Crushed terra-cotta and decorative gravel are used for pathways and accents. The garden is filled with white globe lights which serve as a contrasting reminder of a prophet who was imprisoned for many years in total darkness. According to our guide, the many eagles and other statues in the gardens are merely decorative elements.

Less Formal Section of the Bahai Garden

My favorite part of the garden was off to the side. It was much less formal with inviting paths that curved around the slopes of Mount Carmel. Unfortunately, the public is not allowed to stray off of the central path. Many of the steepest grades in the garden were planted heavily with what appeared to be English Ivy. I snapped this shot to show their soil retention system which is critical to this hillside garden. Beyond these little patches where the plants need to grow in, the gardens are maintained magnificently.

Soil Retention System at the Bahai Gardens

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Nubian Ibex Standing at the Ramon Crater, Negev Desert

Nubian Ibex Standing at the Ramon Crater, Negev Desert

I consider my trip to Israel to be a pilgrimage, not for religion or history, but for learning new plant species. Israel is home to a diverse selection of flora due to the contrasting geography found in its relatively small borders. Late November and December proved to be a rewarding time to explore the natural landscape. My travels took me all the way from the streams of Golan heights to the Negev Desert and from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River Valley. Now I share with you some of my favorite wintertime plant finds in Israel.

Anabasis articulata Found on the Rocky Slopes of the Ramon Crater

Anabasis articulata (pictured above) blends into the rocky hillside of Makhtesh Ramon in the Negev Desert. Growing around 12″ tall, brown “jointed” stems give way to  pinkish fruiting bodies which appear in October and November. The plants store large amounts of salt which is typical for members of the Chenopodiaceae plant family. Anabasis shares drought and salt tolerance characteristics with its family members which include beets and quinoa.

Nimrod's Fortress Covered in Clusters of Oak Trees

The Leaves and Acorn of Quercus calliprinos

Nimrod’s Fortress sits at the foot of Mt. Hermon in Golan Heights. The scenery in the north is in stark contrast to the south. The ruins of this massive fortress are covered in Palestine Oak trees (Quercus calliprinos). This evergreen Oak is more of a shrubby tree growing anywhere from 10-20′ tall. The glossy leaves which appear more like a Holly, are tiny and measure 1-2″ long. This is the most common Oak out of 5 species which grow in the wild in Israel.

Delicate Single Bloom on Cyclamen Persicum

Lower down in the valley in the Golan Heights lies the Banias spring and waterfall. Here Persian Cyclamen (Cyclamen persicum). The fragile blooms range in color from white to pale pink with a deep pink center. The signature variegated leaves growing between the moss-covered rocks are a telltale characteristic of the plant, and are easy to spot even when they are not in bloom. This species is in full flower from October-March.

If you are interested in reading more about wild flowers and plants of Israel, I highly suggest starting with this this website as well as the Nature in Israel pocket guides by Noam Kirschenbaum.

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Habima National Theater in Tel Aviv

I am hard-pressed to call Tel Aviv a beautiful city from an architectural or landscape architecture perspective. Many buildings are rundown and in disrepair, giving  new meaning to the term “concrete jungle.” The beauty of this city comes from the people, their history, the food and general lifestyle. Many of the streets have large tree-lined promenades sandwiched between two lanes of traffic. The promenades are wide enough for bike lanes, pedestrian walkways and a multitude of small playgrounds and swings for children.

Gates at Habima Courtyard Designed by Dani Karavan

Amidst the chaotic streetscape stands the Habima National Theater located at the end of Rothschild Street and Ben Tsiyon Street in Tel Aviv. The courtyard (referred to as the New Culture Square), which is still under construction, features a gorgeous sunken garden which captivated my imagination. Designed by the Israeli sculptor, Dani Karavan, the garden dances between the lines of formal and whimsical design.

Sunken Garden in the Courtyard of Habima

The garden sits a good 3 feet below the main courtyard level and features a small cactus plot, a grove of trees under planted with an amazing lumpy turf (which I cannot identify) and a parterre-like flower garden at the other end filled with Petunias, Snapdragons, Begonias and Marigolds. It is fun to see these “summer” annuals growing during winter in Tel Aviv.

Cactus Garden at Habima

Parterre-style Garden at Habima

The theater itself is worth seeing and Rothschild street (one of my favorites) is worth an afternoon stroll to see some nice examples of Bauhaus architecture. More to come on my journey through Israel!

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A Forest of Honeylocust Trees Fills Zuccotti Park

2011 has been a thunderous year full of political stalling, economic seesawing and finger-pointing. It’s no surprise that the growing contingent that is Occupy Wall Street has been able to rally thousands to join their forces in NYC and throughout the US. On their one month anniversary I want to point out that their home base, Zuccotti Park, in the Southern end of Manhattan, may be bearing the brunt of this protest.

Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis trees, commonly referred to as Thornless Honeylocust, fill Zuccotti Park. It is a monoculture, but at least it will mirror the single species planting of Swamp Oaks at the World Trade Center Memorial. Honeylocusts make good street trees and can usually take a lot of abuse. Still I can’t help but think that they must be suffering in some way due to this protest. Can gardeners get to them to provide proper care and watering? Are waste and liquids being poured into their fragile soil? What effect will the high density of people living in this tiny park have?

Zuccotti Park in Winter (Photo:

Though they deliver a brief show of yellow fall color, Honeylocust trees drop their leaves very quickly. Wintertime is the most spectacular time to see Zuccotti Park when the trees are completely wrapped in white string lights. If the protestors don’t move out soon, the lighting installers are going to have a difficult time decorating the trees for the holidays which usually starts at the end of October or early November in NYC.


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Fall Annual Display Along the Brick Walk at Longwood Gardens

Spider Mums and Croton Flank the Main Conservatory Walkways

Banana Trees and Alternanthera Make a Striking Combination

The Caryopteris Allee Adjacent to the Topiary Garden

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