Thursday, June 24, 2010

Newport Flower Show 2010

The Newport Flower Show starts up tomorrow. I was out there bright and early this morning to lend a hand with "passing" entries for the judged show, which basically meant checking for proper naming, making sure no pest-infested or otherwise unsuitable material got through, and filling in paperwork. It was a nice excuse to check out the show setup and a little bit of Newport, and catch up with New England plant people.

The show is held in and around Rosecliff, one of the 19th century mansions along Bellevue Avenue. It's a somewhat fancier venue than the Connecticut Flower Show's Hartford Convention Center.

Massachusetts cactus club bigwig Paul C. and his wife relax on the terrace. It was a hot day, but there was a pleasant sea breeze.

The theme of this year's show was Safari Flora & Fauna, so plants native to Africa were well represented, such as Art S.'s award-winning Aloe plicatilis being wheeled into place here.

Back in the registration tent, the succulent plant entries had all been processed and the action had moved on to cut flowers, so my duties were finished for the day.

Just in time for a late lunch at Rhode Island institution Flo's Clam Shack. The eats at Flo's were pretty typical deep fried seafood, probably a bit fresher and less oily than average for beach food joints.

I meandered down to the beach, but a storm was moving in (possibly remnants of the one that apparently trashed part of Bridgeport earlier in the day), so I decided on a quick retreat back to the safety of northeastern Connecticut.

Monday, June 14, 2010

New York Botanical Garden

On Saturday, about 50 people from southern New England enjoyed a day at the New York Botanical Garden. The Connecticut and Massachusetts cactus clubs chartered a bus for the trip to the Bronx. The weather was fine, and the gardens seemed more spectacular than ever!

The Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, home to a world class collection of exotic plants. The Victoria plants and other tropical water lilies weren't really out yet.

CCSS regular Sully in the New World Desert house, with a Boojum in the background.

The Lithops, Conophytum and other mesemb plants were in a glass case in the Old World Desert house. I think the glass is to prevent visitors from swiping or molesting them.

Theobroma cacao, the chocolate tree. The fruits were all pretty high up.

The Conservatory is slated for major renovations soon, so we got in our trip just in time. In the corners of the palm house there were some recently moved specimens, possibly intended as replacements for some of the old palms that are getting too large.

Cavendishia grandifolia, a blueberry relative in the highland tropical greenhouse. The NYBG has a long history of research in the neotropics (Central and South America), and their living collections from this area are especially good. Nobody else grows some of the plants they grow.

There is a huge area of gardens outside the Conservatory, too. The Rockefeller Rose Garden was just about at its peak.

The rose gardens were completely redone about 20 years ago.

Everyone who knows about carnivorous plants is always aghast at the Sarracenia (North American Pitcher Plants) growing on a seemingly dry slope in the acid-loving plant beds in the rock garden. The plants have persisted there for several years; I suspect the soil below the gravel stays pretty wet.

Trunk of Prunus serrula, the Birch Bark Cherry: the bark looks and feels like ribbon candy.

Hardy cactus expert John Spain admires the rock garden. Next month, the CCSS is meeting at John's house, where he will lead a workshop on making hypertufa troughs like the ones seen here (well, probably they won't turn out quite that nicely, but you can try).