Happy birthday, Suebee!
I flew to Huntsville on Friday to visit Sue…we then drove to Atlanta on Saturday, returning Sunday night. We attended the Tea Expo and had our fill of freebie teas, catching up with people we met at the Las Vegas expo years ago, shopping, etc. On Sunday morning we went to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. It is such a beautiful place! And they have a really nice website, too: www.atlantabotanicalgarden.org
I got some nice shots of various flowers, orchids, and critters…as well as some fun ones of Sue hamming it up for the camera (as only Sue can do!).
We especially enjoyed the “Big Bug” sculptures that were on exhibit. This exhibit travels to gardens all over the country. My friend Norma first told me about it when she saw the exhibit in Minneapolis. We didn’t know the display was in Atlanta until we visited the garden. If you’d like to see some of David Rogers’ work, click here: http://www.big-bugs.com/
Just a few notes on some of the photos:
The pink flower is a Rain Lily (also called fairy lilies, zephyr lilies, zephyranthes)
Rain lilies, so named because of their tendency to burst into bloom after a rain, are originally from Mexico, Guatemala and the grassy plains of South America. These clump-forming perennials start small, but when left in undisturbed will develop over several seasons into truly impressive sights. Lovely starry blossoms, easy care, tough constitutions and inexpensive. The flowers face upward, much like crocuses. Plants grow to a height of 8-12 inches. In Zones 7-10 rain lilies can be planted in fall and left in the garden through over winter. From Zone 6 north, plant the bulbs in spring, dig in the fall and store over winter in dry peat moss, perlite or vermiculite. Plant the bulbs and 3 inches apart and 1 to 2 inches deep in full sun. They do well in containers outdoors, but not as houseplants. Keep the soil moist moist and feed monthly with a slow-release fertilizer throughout the summer. When the leaves wither, withhold water and food, then store in a dry cool place for winter.
The Atlanta Botanical Garden has one of the most extensive collection of (really exotic) orchids I’ve seen to date. This orchid looks almost like a bat running in mid-air, doesn’t it? It’s called “Stanhopea embreei,” and is named for Alvin Embree, an American orchidologist (didn’t know there was such a profession). It is native to Guatemala, Panama, Ecuador, and the Andes. It is usually found in cloud forests.
With most Stanhopea flowers lasting three days or less, the blooms must attract pollinators very quickly. These chemical attractants are generated in the hypochile, attracting the male euglossine bees to the flower. When the bee touches down on the flower, a great effort is made to collect chemical scent — he eventually slides on the waxy surface of the hypochile, gliding down on the slippery lip to exit the flower (sounds like an amusement park ride….wheeeee!). The long column is touched in the process, resulting in the bee taking up pollinia at the very tip of the column. When the bee slides down another flower, the pollinia are deposited on the sticky surface of the stigma. The majority of species are robust plants that grow readily in cultivation.
The Nun Inside the Orchid
In the conservatory, I stopped to change batteries and felt something staring at me…it was this tiny little “figure” inside this unusual orchid. At first glance, I thought it looked like a nun (see her habit?) praying inside….I called Sue over and she thought it looked like a sheep or lamb…how about this: a sheepish nun? If you don’t see what we saw, squint a little and it will come to you easier.
© 2007 Cindy Dyer, All rights reserved.