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Archive for February, 2011

Henry Shaw founded the Missouri Botanical Garden in 1859 as his country house and a place to study and display collections of rare plants. It is now the oldest botanical garden in continuous operation in the United States and one of the only gardens to achieve National Historic Landmark status. It is locally known as “Shaw’s Garden” and is a much loved oasis of magnificent gardens.

Every year from February through mid-March the Garden has their orchid show.  This is the only time of the year the vast collection is available for public viewing. Today, the orchid collection is the Garden’s largest living collection, with over 8,000 plants representing some 2,500 species and named varieties.

The current display features a rotation of over 800 orchids from their world-class collection. A Mayan-inspired design was the theme for this year’s show. It is a tropical display infused with an eclectic mix of Mayan-themed accents. There are orchids from the kind I remember as the Mother’s day/Easter corsage orchid you could pick up at the grocery store to exotic hybrids and historic rarities.

Upon entering the display you are greeted by the Stone Warrior. This replicates one of numerous Toltec columns that supported the temple roof at Tula’s Pyramid of  Quetzalcoatl. Created between AD 900 and 1250, it is represented near actual size.

STONE WARRIOR

STONE WARRIOR

The Chac Mool stone replicated the one found at Chichen Itza in Yucatan Mexico. The stone is believed to have been used by Maya high priests to sacrifice their victims by way of removing their beating heart.

CHAC MOOL

CHAC MOOL

Depicted here are the Royal Scribes.  They were important assistants to the royal family. They could read, write, and draw detailed depictions, recording the ancient writing system of their people.

ROYAL SCRIBES

ROYAL SCRIBES

This display was titled girl or goddess. She wears an elaborate headdress reserved for ancient Maya elite.  Men and woman of royal blood were akin to gods and goddesses.

GIRL OR GODDESS

GIRL OR GODDESS

We went on a cold rainy day in the hopes that it wouldn’t be too crowded.  It started out that way but after a short while the crowds picked up, making it more difficult to photography overall displays.

ORCHIDS

ORCHIDS

I thought it was a beautiful show, one of their best.  All the flowers were in such pristine condition, some almost looked artificial they were so perfect. Then there was this beautiful one in a family member’s  favorite color.

'MENDENHALL'

'MENDENHALL'

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Every time I visit a Botanical Garden I take pictures of the water lilies.  That adds up to a lot of pictures of water lilies.  I think they are such a beautiful and interesting  flower. I have never grown one, but I  know they need to be in still water and should be contained in a pot or else they will spread like mad, and like full sun. So when I recently came across an article about them, in a garden magazine, I took the time to read it.

From Beth Chatto's Garden-England

From Beth Chatto's Garden-England

 The article was titled “The Waterlily magician”.  It was about Joseph Bory Latour-Marliac, a botanist working in southwest France and exhibiting his plants at the 1889 ‘World Fair’ in Paris. (The Eiffel Tower was built for this event.) He sent some hardy waterlily cultivars to Paris, 11 of which he had hybridized himself, to be displayed in the water gardens in front of the Trocadero. His hybrids were among the first non-white hardy cultivars in the world.  It turns out that Claude Monet was exhibiting his paintings next door and was entranced with the waterlilies.

Bellingrath Gardens

Bellingrath Gardens

 After Monet bought the meadow below his house at Giverny, he placed his first order for waterlilies. After that he would continue to paint these lilies for much of his life. 

MONET'S WATER LILIES

MONET'S WATER LILIES

 They created a unique landscape of breathtaking beauty and originality for him. As for Latour-Marliac he spent the rest of his life breeding and introducing 110 waterlilies. The growing fame of his plants meant he shipped them all over the world. He died in 1911 and his nursery continued to flourish through his descendents into the 1980’s. In the 1990’s the nursery was saved from foreclosure and opened to the public. So today you can still order waterlilies from the same place Monet got his waterlilies.

St. Louis Botanical Garden

St. Louis Botanical Garden

In a pool of water waterlilies make a wonderful display all by themselves.  But then you could enhance them with some Chihuly glass.

Chihuly & Waterlilies

Chihuly & Waterlilies

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 Since the weather has been so cold and snowy here I enjoy looking at my pictures of various gardens I have visited. In Manhattan’s Meatpacking District, south of 35th Street to Spring Street, the High Line’s elevated tracks were originally built to save the West Side from the rail/pedestrian traffic accidents that turned the street into a death row.  In the 1960’s the southernmost section was demolished and in 1980 the last train rumbled across the overhead rails and the abandoned line went derelict.  That is until 1999 when two New Yorkers, along with City officials, spearheaded an effort to save the overpass. It was planned to turn the High Line into a naturalistic park.

HIGH LINE IN MANHATTAN

HIGH LINE IN MANHATTAN

They designed a complex green-roof system above a waterproofing material laid on the existing concrete slab with a growing medium topping it all. Today there is a mix of native, nonnative and more-exotic cultivated perennials, shrubs and trees growing between the preserved tracks.

PLANTS BETWEEN TRACKS

PLANTS BETWEEN TRACKS

PLANTS ON THE HIGH LINE

PLANTS ON THE HIGH LINE

TREES ON THE HIGH LINE

TREES ON THE HIGH LINE

  We toured it in the summer of 2009, a  month after it had opened.  At that time nine of the 19 planned blocks were open. It was unbelievable the amount of people who turned out to walk along the old lines.  You had to get in a line, which extended a couple blocks, before you even made your way up the stairs to the line.

FLOWERS ON THE HIGH LINE

FLOWERS ON THE HIGH LINE

FLOWERS ON THE HIGH LINE 

I have been to many gardens but I think this was the first above ground garden, and certainly the first one on an old railroad line. It was quite an interesting thing to do. Along the way they had reclining wooden benches and they were filled with people sunbathing, reading, visiting with friends.  We were in New York as a tourist but it seemed most of the people here were residents.  Interesting how many would turn out to see it when they have their wonderful Central Park. The next time we are visiting New York we will need to return to see if they have extended it further and how it is doing, if it is still attracting the crowds.  What a wonderful use for old railroad tracks.  Instead of being an eye sore they were turned into a thing of beauty.

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