Creating a wildlife haven one plant at a time

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Hurricane Shoals

Hurricane Shoals is just down the road from our house near Maysville, Georgia. It is a wonderful park steeped in local history. The land was once considered to be neutral ground for the Creek and Cherokee Indians. A treaty proclaimed that the Yamacutah area was a sacred Holy Ground.

The Shoals are named after the water that goes whirling around one end of a solid rock dam built by the hand of nature, and then ripples over a series of miniature falls in such a way as to seem that one wave rolls or tumbles over another. Hence the name, which comes from the Cherokee word, YAMACUTAH, signifying to tumble.

There are all sorts of rock formation and shallow pools along with minature falls which are great fun for children and adults alike to play in. These remind me of an angel fish...

This weekend my family and I enjoyed a stroll through the park to take in all the fall foliage. The leaves are just beginning to change their color and the reds on the maples, yellow hickory leaves and orange sassafras leaves were stunning.

The ducks were even frolicking in the North Oconee River.

A wander through the covered bridge (one of only 21 remaining in Georgia) reveals a settlement of restored buildings found throughout Jackson County.

Silversmith Shed

beautiful stone work of the chimney from the Freeman Log Cabin (circa 1840)

Miles WIlson Matthews Chapel (built 1892)

Today the storms rolled in and all the sunshine reflecting on the leaves is a thing of the past. At least for the time being. It is cloudy, dreary and humid. But I will continue doing the happy rain dance because my plants at home are in dire need of a good drink and not one that comes from the garden hose.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Lily Pool Terrace

This my third post about my trip to New York this summer. One of the stops on my list of must see places is the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. I saw so many interesting plants and I took so many photographs it was difficult to decide what to share.

The Lily Pool Terrace completely captivated me no doubt because I love water and the blooms and huge waterlily leaves floating around just radiate vigor and well-being. There are three 4 foot deep pools mostly with hardy water-lilies and lotuses with a few tropicals. There are almost 100 varieties in the ponds in full bloom in the middle of summer to early fall.

The intense purple on this bloom is spectacular. Notice the visiting bee...

Nymphaea 'Panama-Pacifica'

The crisp white of this bloom is so pure and clean and I like the yellow and white combination...

Nymphaea 'Lemon scent'

The marbled leaves on these lilies are so interesting and make a lovely contrast against the water and pink booms...

Nymphaea 'Acr-En-Ciel'

I learned that water-lily blooms open late morning and close at night so the best time to see them in full bloom is mid-day. The tropical culitvars have larger leaves and more vibrant colors than the hardy varieties.

The hot pink of these blooms are just a great color for summer...

Nymphaea 'Luciana'

There is a lot of wildlife in and around the pools including dragonflies, turtles, fish, frogs, ducks, and bees...

Dragonfly on a hard water-lily bloom

The hardy water-lilies are planted in tubs set at the bottom of the pool because they can withstand colder temperatures. As long as the rhizome doesn't freeze the plant will survive the cold. Surprisingly these hardy cultivars can survive winters as far north as Alaska. The tropicals on the other hand are planted 8" below the surface and they will die each year and must be replaced. The lotuses are raised above the pool floor to use the warmth of the pool's natural thermocline.

These seed pods of the sacred lotus (Nelumbo nucifera 'Lutea') are in various stages. These plants are sacred in the Buddhist religion and as so beautifully states in the BBG's description "emblematic of the soul of man, resting always in calm above the surging activities of the world; existing in the sunlight pure and undefiled; rooted in the world of experience".

These tropical Ludwigia sediodes blooms are striking. They look like a mosaic and have the most amazing geometric pattern. The red variegation on the leaves are stunning.

Ludwigia sediades

My visit was both spectacular and very inspiring. I have much more to share but I hope you enjoyed this walk around the pools with me.

A fall surprise in the garden

Sometimes called Meadow saffron, wonder bulb, or naked ladies this autumnal is best known as the Autumn Crocus (Colchicum autumnale). When you first set eyes on it it looks like an larger version of the spring crocuses we all know but the Autumn crocus is actually part of the Lily family (Liliaceae) alongside lilies, tulips and hyacinths. The crocus that blooms in the spring time is part of the Iris Family (Iridaceae) as are irises and gladiolas.

Colchicum 'Lilac Wonder'

It has a rare life cycle. The flowers rise out of the ground in September or October with beautiful blooms that look like champagne glasses. The plant doesn't have any leaves. They bloom for about 2 weeks and then they die back. The following spring several leaves will appear. They will produce the food that is stored in the plant's corm. The leaves die in early summer and it lays dormant until fall. Because of this unusual life cycle they must be planted long before most of us think about putting bulbs in the ground. So, it does take some planning.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Gardens of the Cloisters

One of the fascinating places I visited during my recent trip to New York was The Gardens of the Cloisters (a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art). The Cloisters is situated atop a hillside overlooking the Hudson River with some stunning views.

There are three gardens in the museum planted in reconstructed Romanesque and Gothic cloisters. Each garden is very unique and features plants that were grown in the Middle Ages. They are maintained by a horticultural staff who are actively researching and developing the living collections as historians, botanists and archaeologists provide new information on the plants and gardening practices of the Middle Ages.

Cuxa Cloister Garth Garden

This garden is designed in a cross path with a central fountain. This is primarily an ornamental garden which includes modern plants as well as medieval herbs.

View into the garden through cloister elements

Many of the plants found in this garden attract pollinators and there were plenty of bees buzzing around during my visit.

The plants being wispy and gentle flowing species really complimented the purpose of the garden which is to enjoy nature without leaving the confines of the monastery. It was extraordinarily serene.

The Bonnefont Cloister Herb Garden

This was by far my favorite of the three gardens. It holds one of the most specialized plant collections in the world. The plants are all grouped by their medieval uses (cooking, medicinal, art, industry, housekeeping or magic) and the garden plan with raised beds, wattle fences and central wellhead is typical of a medieval monastic garden. The garden contains some 250 species of plants cultivated in the Middle Ages. Amazing!

Fuller's Teasel (Dipsacus sativus)

Four large quince trees grow in the beds at the center of the herb garden. They are very dramatic and full of fruit!

They have educational tours through the herb garden which describe all the uses of these plants during the Medieval Times. One I found particularly interesting was this thornapple which was used in medieval magic. Highly toxic and sometimes deadly.

poisonous thornapple (Datura metel)

The Trie Cloister Garden

This garden is home to plants native to the meadows, woodlands and stream banks of Europe such as hellebores, narcissus, wild pansies, English daisies, columbine, bluebells, and foxgloves. These are all spring blooming plants and the garden is abound with blooms from very early spring to late May. I was here in late summer and it was mostly a green garden but still beautiful with all the textures in the foliage. The only blooms I saw of these plants were in the famous Unicorn Tapestries that are on display here.

There is a fountain in the center of the garden where I observed many birds drinking

Alone, the gardens are well worth a visit. But equally impressive is the museum with its remarkable collection, particularly if you have an interest in art from the Middle Ages. If you have an interest in the role of plants and gardens in medieval life their blog is worth a view Welcome to The Medieval Garden Enclosed