Cherry Tree Blossoms in Brooklyn’s Greenwood Cemetery (All Photos By Gail)
Today, April 22nd, is Earth Day, so I wanted to celebrate something from the earth that adds value to my life each time I leave my house. For me right now, that means spring flowers. We didn’t get to fully enjoy the unique beauty of spring in 2020, due to the pandemic lockdown, but now many parks and botanical gardens are reopened and in full bloom. On the weekends especially, I try to spend as much time outside as possible, and flowers are my favorite subject to photograph. Please enjoy this carefully-curated selection of ten beautiful flowers taken during my recent adventures in and around the NYC area.
As soon as weather turns from winter to spring, you are going to see a full spectrum of jewel-hued tulips pop up all over NYC. These guys were hanging out in a public planter in the Flatiron District.
On an otherwise gloomy and very rainy Sunday in New York, we made our way to the NYBG in the Bronx for the second day of artist Yayoi Kusama’s new exhibit, Kusama: Cosmic Nature. While Saturday’s opening day enjoyed the benefit of bright sun and warm temperatures, we did not let the overcast skies dampen our sprits at all while exploring this amazing exhibit which showcases of all of Kusama’s ‘greatest hits’ (if you know what I mean). An in-depth review will likely be on the horizon here on The ‘Gig. In the meantime, check it out for yourself buy snagging a couple of hot tickets at This Link!
This is one of my favorite photos taken during an August visit to the New York Botanical Garden shortly after it reopened post-lockdown. 2020 was a hard year, but I like to think that it made me a stronger, more resourceful, more appreciative and more compassionate individual. I thank you for your readership and support of the blog this year, and I hope that you have at least a few precious memories of 2020 as we welcome and look forward to 2021, where things can only get better. Cheers!
When I check the calendar on my iPhone, it’s easy to isolate March 7th, the day I visited the Orchid Show at the New York Botanical Garden, as the last time I attended a public event at any cultural institution. Maybe ten days later, the NYBG, like every other art museum, gallery and event space in NYC, closed for an indeterminate period of time as part of the Covid-19 shelter-in-place order. The new normal for many of us living in the city means life with little or no contact with nature and art: which is just unacceptable. For this reason, Worleygig.com brings you Art in the Time of Covid. Today we are going to revisit NYBG Orchid Show!
While the Garden is thankfully being tended to by groundskeepers during its closure, the Orchid Show, originally scheduled to run through April 19th, will not reopen this year. If you missed it, you at can least peruse a selection of photos I took during my visit to make you feel as if you were there (#livethroughme)
Jeff Leatham’s Kaleidoscope Orchid Show (Click Image to Enlarge for Detail)
This year’s 18th annual Orchid Show, entitled Kaleidoscope, was created by Jeff Leatham, famed artistic director of the Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris. Leatham’s bold and colorful vision unfolded through captivating installations and designs, transforming each gallery of the exhibition in the historic glass Enid A. Haupt Conservatory into a different color experience and visual effect, like the turn of a kaleidoscope.
Enid A. Haupt Conservatory
Thousands of orchids provided bursts of forms and colors — in purples, reds, oranges, and hot pink — revealed through overhead arches, vine-inspired ribbons, mirrored sculpture, dramatic lighting, and other artistic embellishments.
I didn’t make note of the majority the names of these species, so I will just post for the enjoyment of how lovely they are. All flowers will be presented in the order in which they were seen by me as I travelled through the conservatory!
I believe that there is no better way to improve your skills as a photographer than to take photos of flowers. Who agrees?
This is one of my favorites. Do you wonder why there are so many different types of orchids? Different orchid species evolved to attract specific animal pollinators. Sometimes a flower’s color can hint at its unique pollination mechanism.
Some white and light-colored orchids attract nocturnal moths. Their pale coloration reflects moonlight and makes them visible to moths that can only distinguish between light and dark.
The NYBG Orchid Show Continues, With Many More Photos, After the Jump!
At the end of the Ice Age, the last ice sheet began to melt back from the New York City region about 14,000 years ago, leaving behind a layer of clays, sands and pebbles, as well boulders known a glacial erratics. Glacial Erratics are made up of rock materials not generally found in their immediate surroundings.
This large boulder, found in the Native Plant Garden at the New York (Bronx) Botanical Garden — known as Split Rock — is a glacial erratic.
Split Rock is composed of Yonkers gneiss, which is different from the local bedrock. The split in this boulder was likely caused by an ancient freezing and thawing cycle thousands of years ago.
Photographed on New Year’s Day, 2020!
Update August 15th, 2020: We just got home from visiting the NYBG, which has recently reopened after being closed since March due the Covid 19 Pandemic. It was great to be back! I snapped a couple of new photos for this post which show the Split Rock amid the summer flora! Enjoy!
Behold: The Titan-Arum, or Corpse Flower (All Photos By Gail)
On Wednesday, June 27th, I took a three-hour lunch break in the middle of a work day so I could take the train up the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) in the Bronx to see the Corpse Flower bloom. I had been following the NYBG’s Instagram feed for a couple of days while it was on bloom-watch, and knew that once the plant blooms you have about 24 hours to see it before it wilts. Considering that these plants bloom only once every 2 to 10 years, I knew it would be worth the hassle to get up there and, as you can see by these photos, it was!
Here are some fascinating Corpse Flower facts that I learned while I was dancing around the selfie-takers to get these pictures. Titan-Arum (Amorphopallus titanium), or Corpse Flower is a native to the island of Sumatra in Indonesia. Its enormous flower spike is the largest inflorescence (flower structure) in the Plant Kingdom. This Titan-arum was nurtured in the warm tropical zone of the Nolan Greenhouses. The hot and humid conditions in the greenhouse mimic the natural conditions of Sumatra, and the plant must be watered and fertilized copiously. Titan-arum blooms are rare and unpredictable. Each plant takes seven to ten years to store enough energy to bloom for the first time. This Titan-arum is 11 years old.
The fleshy spike, called a spadix, bears small flowers in rings around its base. The spadix can grow up to 12 feet tall, and is wrapped in a frilly, modified leaf called the spathe. When the plant is ready to bloom, the spathe unfurls, exposing the flowers inside. You may recognized the structure’s resemblance to a calla-lilly, anthurium, and jack-in-the-pulpit, which are all relatives in the arum family, Araceae.
Amorphopallus titanium is often called corpse flower because when it blooms it emits a powerful stench similar to that of rotting meat. This scent, along with the deep-red, meaty color of the open spathe, attracts insect pollinators that feed on dead animals. Which brings me to the question everyone wants to ask: how gross did it smell? From where I was standing, about five or six feet from the flower, the smell reminded me of when you empty the water from a vase that fresh-cut flowers have been sitting in for a week. Funky, but not repulsive. If you put your nose right up on it, it would probably be a different story.
Titan-arums take years to form flower buds, but when they finally do, the flowers mature very quickly. Horticulturists noticed that a six-inch-tall flower bud had formed on Friday, June 1st. By June 18th, the bud was 57 inches tall! Wow!
Later, growth slows significantly. Two leaves at the base of the spathe shrivel and fall off. The spathe begins to open, revealing the red-purple color inside, and completely unfurls over the course of about 36 hours. During full bloom, the spadix self-heats to approximately human body temperature, which helps to disseminate odor particles.
Displayed alongside the blooming plant are several other Titan-arums, in various stages of growth.
For most of its life, a Titan-arum lives as a dormant underground plant stem that stores energy. Occasionally it produces vegetation that grows up to 12 feet tall. Though it looks like a slender tree, this structure is botanically only one enormous leaf, divided into many small leaflets. The leaf collects energy for 12 to 18 months. Between leaf cycles, the plant goes dormant for up to one year.
The smallest plants on display are the seedlings that are decedents of the plant that flowered at the NYBG in 2016, and another Titan-Arum that bloomed at the Denver Botanic Gardens one week later. The NYBG collaborated with colleagues in Denver to use pollen from the New York plant to pollinate the flowers of the Denver plant. In seven to ten years, these plants may produce flowers of their own.
The Garden’s previous Corpse Flower — the third specimen ever to bloom at NYBG — is the one that bloomed in late July, 2016, attracting over 25,000 visitors to the Garden in just a few days. This is only the fourth Corpse Flower to bloom at NYBG since June 8th, 1937. If you ever have the chance to see one of these plants in person, you should definitely take advantage of it. It could be a once-in-a-lifetime experience!!
All Photographs were taken in the Enid A, Haupt Conservatory at the New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, NY.
The New York Botanical Garden’s annual Orchid Show for ended a couple of weeks ago, but if you weren’t able to make it all the way to the Bronx for the 2018 edition of this landmark event, you can now live through me with a selection of my favorite Orchid photos from the show. Enjoy!
The show takes place each year inside the beautiful Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, the garden’s climate controlled glass treehouse which is based on an Italian Renaissance design. I visited the show on a frigid Sunday in late April and, like these lovely tropical plants, I was very grateful for the warmth!
This years show featured installations by Belgian flora designer Daniel Ost.
Just inside the conservatory, you enter the Palms of the World Gallery, where Ost installed a monumental living sculpture of orchids entwined within a network of transparent tubing — which mimics the jungle vines on which orchids grow in their natural environment.
The show features hundreds of varieties of orchids, and while many of them may look similar, each plant has unique characteristics.
These look like little Ballerinas, don’t they? I think so.
Orchids live mostly in the air, attached to trees, rather than on the ground, rooted in the soil.
Its almost impossible to resist taking one photo after another after another.
Look, how beautiful is this one, which its bright crimson center?
You might this that this bright fuchsia bloom is identical to the ones at the top of this post. But if you go back and compare the two, you will see many differences, aside from the similar color.
I’m sure you can see how moving from room to room, being continously faced with so much breathtaking beauty, can be a bit overwhelming.
Here’s a reminder to look up!
About half way through conservatory, you come to a room with a fountain in the middle of a long reflecting pool , which runs through its center. This is the room where everyone stops to take all kinds selfies and posed photos, so it gets pretty congested. You have to indulge people though, because as you can see it is quite beautiful.
The fountain is draped by a curtain of hanging orchids.
As hard as it is to leave the fountain room, there are many more orchids to discover!
I hope you enjoyed a glimpse of this year’s Orchid Show at the New York Botanical Garden, and that if you live in NYC area you will add a reminder to visit to your calendar for next year!