Monday, February 22, 2010

Hot and Humid - Part II

Welcome back to Part II of my recent trip to the Des Moines, Iowa Botanical Center!  As I recall from my previous post, we were heading over the footbridge toward the cactus plants.......

Cacti are a group of plants that are easy to grow, and offer a variety of shapes, color and form. They can be grown in any sunny, well-drained area and need very little maintenance (I love low-maintenance!).
They also make excellent houseplants. Many hardy varieties can also be grown outside.

I admit, I've never been a huge fan of these prickly plants,
but have gained a new appreciation for them ....
the texture and form of these unique plants really are amazing!

Unfortunately, this was the only cactus plant I saw with a tag....
I asked an employee why some plants in the BC were not marked,
and she stated they were in the process of updating and re-marking all of their plants.

I was really suprised to learn that the 'ponytail palm'
is part of the Cactus family....
I'd hate to have to brush these ponytails!

I feel like I have the attention span of a gnat in this place as 
I gravitate toward the next plant that catches my eye.......

The leaves on this Christmas Palm are amazing!

This small, dainty bloom really stands out
against the large, dark green leaves of this plant....
Jungle Geranium (Ixora javanica)
Madder Family
Origin: India

I love the name of this next plant.......
unfortunately, it was not in bloom

This next picture really doesn't do this plant justice. 
The lace-edged leaves are amazing - LOVE this plant!

Lace Aralia (polyscias guilfoylei) 'Victoriae'
Aralia Family
Origin: Polynesia

Now THIS is a lily!!
It really stands out against the darker green foliage of the
Fiddle Leaf Fig and Boston Fern

White Giant Spider Lily (Crinum asiaticum)
Amaryllis Family
Origin: South Africa

Here's a nice, tranquil spot to stop and pause by..... 
The mist spraying from the waterfall feels refreshing
 in this warm, humid environment!
(at this point I am sweating profusely
and keep steaming up the camera lens)

Again, there goes my attention span as I see this fantastic beauty out of the corner of my eye.....
Giant Dioon (Dioon Spinulosum)
Cycad Family - Origin: Mexico
It is the largest of the American cycads and is known to grow
up to 50 feet high in nature.

Talk about a filler plant!!!

Next Stop.....The Gardeners Show House

Here's a little preview...

Stay tuned for the final portion of the tour.....

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Suprise Visit....

I know I said today's post would be a continuation of my Botanical Center trip, but something totally wonderful and unexpected came up today - a suprise visit from two of my most favorite people........

my new grandson and my 2 year old granddaughter. 

I spent the entire day with them and enjoyed every minute! 

I am incredibly blessed.

So.... forgive me for missing today's promised post, however,
I'm thinking you might understand :)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Hot and Humid!

I made a trip recently to Des Moines, Iowa to visit my aunt who was hospitalized for a bad fall. I’m happy to report that at 84 years of age, she remarkably (and thankfully) did not break any bones, is bruised up pretty bad, but is getting stronger every day.

During my visit, I took a break and headed over to the Des Moines Botanical & Environmental Center.  If you ever travel to the Des Moines area, I highly recommend that you visit this wonderful attraction. I especially enjoy the Botanical Center on a cold, wintry day because as soon as you walk into the dome, you breathe in the richness of soil and humidity…….oh, how wonderful that feels this time of year!

I have been to the Botanical Center in the past, but it has been quite a few years, so when I first walked in I couldn’t believe how much everything had grown….especially the palm trees. They were ‘ginormous’!

Anyhoo…. I got some fabulous shots that I wanted to share with you.  I am posting the names of as many plants as I was able to obtain.  Sadly, some were not tagged.  Believe me….I was down on my hands and knees, practically crawling through some of the larger plants looking for the name plates.  This is not fun in a warm, humid environment, and while having a hot flash at the same time!!!  I walked into the center feeling somewhat well-groomed and left looking like a wet dishrag!!   Well worth it though, I must say.

Come, take a walk with me into the Des Moines Botanical Center…….oh, and don't forget to leave your coat at the door!!

Wow!  So much green.......a site for sore eyes this time of year.

Yes!! Color!  That's the fix I've been needing......brightly colored Gerber Daisies

and a lovely mass planting of tulips and daffodils.....

  Now THIS is an interesting looking says:

 SHRIMP PLANT (Justicia brandegeana) Acanthus Family
Origin: Mexico

  ...the flowers actually do resemble small shrimp, don't you think?

Here's another interesting plant with upright growth and unique shaped leaves....(the picture does not do this plant justice as it is much taller than shown)

Fiddle Leaf Fig (Ficus lyrata) Mulberry family
Origin: Tropical Africa

Lovely, delicate flowers on this "Crown of Thorns" plant....
(Euphorbia milii variety splendens)
Spurge Family
Origin: Madagascar

Some see this plant and think of the crown of thorns used during Christ's crucifixion. 
In Thailand and other Asian countries, it is poplular as a good luck omen.  

Cool!  A koi pond....

Here's a Bush Violet (Barleria sp.) from the Acanthus Family
Origin: South Africa

This plant would make a great filler in my garden........ 
Croton (Codiaeum variegatum) Spurge Family
Origin: SE Asia

Here are some of the 'no name' plants....but all have fabulous foliage......

Whew.......I'm tired....want to take a break? 
Me too, but first let's cross over this foot bridge
towards the Cactus area....

More to come tomorrow........

Friday, February 19, 2010

I look forward to it every year.....

No, I'm not referring to my birthday, but the blooming of this magnificent Magnolia (Magnolia x soulangiana) tree in our backyard.  Each year I anxiously wait for this grand tree to begin blooming, as it is a sure sign of spring.  I also pray that we don't have a late frost which will usually put an end to the spectacular show.

I'm guessing on the type of magnolia, as this tree is over 40 years old and was planted many years before we purchased this property.  I hope she continues to bloom another 40!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

My Little Ladybug

My Little Ladybug is what comes to mind when I think of my 2 year old granddaughter who has developed quite a fondness for ladybugs - or as she excitedly calls them -"obbydugs".  Ever since I learned of her love of these intriguing insects, I seem to come across ladybug-related items everywhere!  




I also enjoy coming across ladybugs in the garden because they love munching on aphids.  There are many attractive plants you can plant in your garden to help attract these wonderful creatures.  Ladybugs seem to be most attracted to specific types of plants, mainly with umbrella shaped flowers such as



Cosmos (especially the white variety)....

and Yarrow, to name a few.

 In closing, I can't help but leave you with a few interesting ladybug facts I recently 'dug' up:

*Each ladybug can eat up to 50 aphids a day, and as many as 5,000 in its lifetime

and speaking of eating......

* Years ago, doctors would mash ladybugs and put them in your mouth to cure a toothache (ewww gross!!)

* Ladybugs are the official state insect of Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Ohio and Tennessee
    (I didn't know states actually had official state insects - I'm thinking ours in Illinois is the Japanese beetle; I hate those little suckers!)

* You can fit 80,000 ladybugs into a gallon jug (somebody had way too much time on their hands to figure this one out!)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I can hardly contain my excitement.....

After hundreds (okay, maybe 90) internet searches, I have finally found my perfect potting bench!!  I have always dreamed of having one and honestly, my 50 year old knees and back are probably the most excited about this purchase.  No more kneeling on our concrete patio creating my container plantings.  This particular bench, Master Gardener Potting Bench, was love at first site! 

This bench has also received rave reviews from other gardeners: "the size is just right - not too large and not too small"...."very sturdy and practical, almost too nice a piece of patio furniture to get dirty"....."I can't wait to set it up on my patio to start potting and also utilizing it as an outdoor sideboard for entertainment."  "It's been one of the best purchases I've ever made in quality and usefulness. I love it!" 

I love it too, and I haven't even met it yet!! Delivery is scheduled for next week. Although the weather here in Illinois is not yet suitable for setting this up outside, I may assemble it in the garage just so I can admire it!!

Isn't she a beauty??

I already know where she will be placed, too.

Goodbye bakers rack (and chairs).....hello potting bench!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Forecast calls for ......SNOW!!

The weather forecasters are predicting accumulations of 6 to 12 inches of snow today through tomorrow, so I ventured out on my property to capture these last 'big snow' shots......

'last big snow'......hopefully!

About Me

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Zone 5, Illinois, United States
I love digging in the garden and getting my hands dirty!