Brookside Gardens Conservatory– February 2019

The Brookside Gardens conservatory was much warmer than outside – one of the immediate pleasures of stepping inside on a winter’s day. And then all the beautiful flowers that are all around draw attention. I did some quick photography using the zoom rather than taking the time to get closer to the flowers. I find that it’s faster and I like the results of the blurry or dark backgrounds. My favorite picture of the morning was shades of purple against a black background…curves and creases.

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The flowers in the conservatory are always colorful and even more appreciated in winter when the outside is so brown and black. In the conservatory there are always pinks and oranges and yellows and reds…with green framing.

I couldn’t resist documenting the cycads near the door back toward the gift store as we were leaving. There wasn’t as much vegetation around the plants, so the structures were more visible than usual. When I see cycads, I always think of dinosaurs since this type of plant was around that long ago…and somehow survived whatever killed off the dinosaurs.

Longwood Gardens – Part II

My favorite plants to photograph in the Longwood Gardens Conservatory are orchids, fiddleheads, and hibiscus.

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The only time I used my clip-on macro lens for my phone was to attempt to capture some very tiny orchids. This was good practice for photographing native orchids which are very small in our part of North America.

Then I noticed the different kinds of slipper orchids. They are probably my favorites. There was a couple in the room with us that had been growing orchids for years and they told me that the slippers are often the easiest ones to grow…good to know if I ever get the yen to grow orchids. They warned me that the hobby can be addictive.

Another bit of orchid-lore from them: some orchids have a butterfly mark in their center!

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Fiddleheads are always fascinating to look at closely. They are always spirals – sometimes spirals within spirals - that will eventually unfurl into the fronds of ferns. Often there is a fuzz covering the spirals that will be green – maybe shiny – when they are totally unfurled. The fuzz in white

Or brown (tree ferns). I am always surprised at how large the primitive plants can be – realized that earlier in earth’s history, ferns were the ‘big trees.’

There were some that were unfurled enough that the ‘fidddle’ was more of a ball of green.

I managed to see and photography several that were the spirals within spirals. Maybe these are ideas for a Zentangle tile!

Finally – hibiscus. I like their huge petals, the blends of color, the gentle curves, and the complex centers.

Tomorrow – I’ll post about the Longwood water lilies.

Gleanings of the Week Ending July 28, 2018

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

Go Orchids: North American Orchid Conservation Center – A great site for learning about orchids…mentioned in my second post about the class I attended at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center.

In praise of drawing - The Painters Keys – This is post originally written in 2006 but still very applicable today. I looked more at Internet Archive for some of the ‘how to draw’ books that were mentioned in the article; it’s amazing that in a 40-year period in the 1800s so many were published. A more recent post – from a science education perspective – was published in 2015: Rediscovering the forgotten benefits of drawing. I am contemplating taking a ‘next step’ from Zentangles to realistic drawings.

Time-Lapse Videos Capture Echinopsis Cacti in Bloom – Eye candy videos…beautiful.

Free Technology for Teachers: 7 TED-Ed Food Science Lessons – We could all learn a little more about the food we consume….educate ourselves to eat wisely.

Research Dollars Go Farther at Less-Prestigious Institutions: Study | The Scientist Magazine® - Interesting finding. I wonder if it will change how some organizations that award research dollars make decisions in the future.

Material formed from crab shells and trees could replace flexible plastic packaging -- ScienceDaily – This type of technology gives me hope. Recycling can’t do everything. We have to reduce the non-compostable materials in our packaging…have a net decrease in what has to be (expensively) recycled and/or go to the landfill.

Recovery: America’s Giant Squirrel Back from the Brink – Cool Green Science – I’ve seen signs about the Delmarva Fox Squirrel when we have gone to Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge but have never seen one. It’s good to hear a environmental improvement story!

As usual – I can’t resist the ’25 birds’ posts from National Geographic. Here are two that have come out recently: Top 25 Bird Interactions and Top 25: Wild Birds with Spectacular Catches

BBC - Future - The complicated truth about a cat’s purr – We all like to think that when our cat purrs that it is a sound of happiness…but is it?

Compound Interest - Volcanic eruptions: the chemistry of lava and volcanic gases and Compound Interest - The chemistry of spinach: the iron myth and ‘spinach teeth’ – Two posts from Andy Brunning. In the first one – click on the graphic and the larger version of the infographic will appear....a timely post with the volcanic event in Hawaii this summer.

Smithsonian Environmental Research Center - Part II

Continuing about my day at SERC last Friday…

I got to SERC early enough that I walked around a small pond and took my first pictures of marshmallows.

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There were more of them in the marsh near the boardwalk as we made our way out to Hog Island. They were – by far – the biggest flowers of the area.

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A tiny flower that I photographed along the trail from very close up was a mint. I was careful to look for poison ivy and plants with thorns before I positioned myself to take the picture.

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And then there were trees…trees with lichen…a canopy of green…a pathway lined with green.

There are ongoing studies that make exact measurements of tree trunks over time. Metal bands are used; they expand as the tree grows and the amount they have expanded is measured.

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There were trees with holes in their trunks. The rows of holes are probably made by a bird – a yellow-bellied sapsucker. I remembered seeing a similar tree during my last hike at Belmont and being thrilled that the campers already knew the bird that made the holes!

There are young paw paw trees in the forest and I realized that I had seen these at Belmont as well. I know the tree from its bark but not is leaves!

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There was a standing dead tree that had the thickest collection of shelf fungus I’ve ever seen.

A sickly dogwood had more colorful bark that I am used to seeing on a dogwood.

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As we got back to the cluster of buildings – on the road by the geothermal well area – there were some sycamores – with a few skeletonized leaves…something was eating them…and the last flower of the day:

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Some black eyed susans.

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After the hike, we had lunch followed by a lecture about orchids. The North American Orchid Conservation Center is based at SERC and there are 9 native orchids that have been found there! We saw one on the earlier hike (the cranefly orchid) – unfortunately I didn’t get a good picture of it. The website for the organization - https://northamericanorchidcenter.org/ - is full of get information about native orchids and there is a colelction of orchid-gami printables if you want to make paper models of orchids!

Brookside Conservatories – March 2018

After my walk around the outdoor parts of Brookside Gardens, the warmth of the conservatories was much appreciated. Both are currently open although one will close to prepare for the Wings of Fancy Butterfly exhibit in early April. There were not many people about so I had the luxury of moving myself to the best location to capture the photos I wanted. There was lots of color from flowers like poppies, begonias, and orchids as well as the foliage of variegated croton (and they were blooming too!). Of course the greens were well as well since outside we are still mostly brown. I like the shapes of papyrus, water droplets on big leaves, and the unfurling ferns. I like conservatories in general but appreciate them the most on visits in the depths of winter.