Orchids in Bloom!

Hello, sweet peeps!

Since most of you are in dreary, snowy winter mode right now, I thought I’d send you some Florida sunshine from my porch to perk you up. Once in a while the whim takes me to photographing flowers, but with this infernal headache (6 weeks now), I haven’t been able tolerate being out in the sun. It’s frustrating to be missing the best time to be outside in South Florida as you don’t sweat buckets the minute you step out the door. Grr! Ok, enough ranting, sorry!! So, since I had to bring in my orchids from the porch as the temps are to drop below 50 tonight, I took advantage of a mini photo shoot for you… Here are the orchids currently in bloom:

I don’t often have success with cattleya orchids, in fact this one is a little sickly, but it sure gave one stunner of a bloom! The ‘noses’ on the cattleyas make me smile… it’s like they’re surrounded with the daintiest of handkerchiefs!

Phalaenopsis orchids are the most common and I usually get them to re-bloom, from little miniature plants like this one:

To the large ones you find in the supermarket. Sometimes they put food coloring in the water to turn them brighter or unusual colors (like blue), but these are all natural.

I especially like the frilly, cupped shape of this one:

Something I didn’t know until recently… Don’t cut off the bloom stalks until they’re COMPLETELY dried up — they might bloom again! I though it was a fluke when my aunt and my cousin’s wife told me their re-bloomed on the same stalk, but I decided to start leaving mine alone just in case, and….

Yes!! I’m looking forward to these and the other 7 orchid plants with a total of 15 bloom stalks keeping me in bloom for the next several months. That’s another reason why I find orchids are such a value… You can usually get them to bloom again and the blooms usually last for weeks to months… the longest I ever saw one bloom was at my aunt’s in N Florida… she has an amazing pair of green thumbs… this picture is one that had been blooming for over 17 months at the time the picture was taken! Look at how the bloom stalk meanders round as it kept on blooming. I think that bloom stalk put out continuous flowers for nearly two years. Amazing!!

Full disclosure: No, I am not affiliated with the orchid industry or trying to sell anything! Lol! Just a huge fan of orchids!!

I hope that little bit of floral sunshine brightened your day! Have a lovely weekend!!

~D.Ann

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Naples Botanical Garden Flowers

Today I’m happy to be sending you all some lovely flowers to brighten your day! On our way back from Sanibel, we stopped at the Naples Botanical Garden. This lovely garden features plants from the tropics and subtropics between the latitudes of 26 degrees North and 26 degrees South that you can see highlighted on the map:

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The 170 acres include Florida, Asian, Brazilian and Caribbean Gardens, as well as an orchid garden, water garden, children’s garden and butterfly house. The paths are exceptionally ADA friendly and they have the most comfortable scooters I’ve ever tried available for a small rental fee. Ok, it’s time to grab a cuppa, sit back and let your imagination take flight with these floral pieces of eye candy…

Let’s start with some of my favorite flowers – orchids!

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If you’ve been here before you know I have a fondness for these flowers and how they often strike up the imagination’s pareidolia…

Pareidolia  the human ability to see shapes or make pictures out of randomness.

… like the big ‘noses’ of the Cattleya orchids:

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– that sometimes look like puppies!

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… or the amazing Oncidium orchids, also known as ‘dancing ladies’.:

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What do YOU see in the following orchids?20170129_192023_wm

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For my cat loving friends… do you see what I saw in these next two?

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Another of my favorite flowers is the water lily and there were tons of them.

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I was especially delighted to see the amazing Victoria Regia (Victoria amazona) water lilies in the Brazilian Garden. It reminded me of the ones I saw in the South America.These are the largest waterlilies on earth and can only be found in the wild in the Amazon rain forest. The leaves can grow to some 8′ across and are so buoyant they can support the weight of a small child or an evenly distributed load of nearly 100 lbs!

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The butterfly garden was aflutter with these winged ‘flowers’ and I was happy to see several monarch butterflies.

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Have you ever seen a monarch chrysalis? The little pearls of gold amaze me… Looks like they got a hold of some of my crafting supplies and added some bling!

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Speaking of crafting… we’re always looking for fun and lovely color combinations and there is plenty of inspiration in the Creator’s color palette:

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This one had a sign: Aechmea “Blue Tango”:

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I may have to bookmark this post to use for color inspiration on those days when the brain fog rolls in thick and heavy. lol

Ok, lets close with some interesting and unusual plants and flowers – like this fruit from the Toad Tree (Tabernaemontana elegans Apocynaceae) from Zimbabwe. If you do a Google Search on Toad Tree, you can see a picture of when the fruit bursts open and really looks like a wide mouthed toad!

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I hope you enjoyed the pics! If you did, I highly recommend including this beautiful garden on your next trip to the southwest coast of Florida!

Hopefully I’ll be back to crafting again real soon. Thank you for stopping by today. Ya’ll take care and stay warm!

– D. Ann

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A Visit to Florida’s Flamingo Gardens

Since some of you are stuck inside with the winter storm, I thought I’d send you some colorful sunny warmth to brighten your day! There is even a puzzle and you might find a few good laughs along the way. So grab a hot cuppa and sit back and enjoy your visit….

We had a delightful time visiting Flamingo Gardens yesterday. The gardens were established 90 years ago (2017).

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They are also on the Reciprocal Admissions Program with the American Horticultural Society.

Hint: If you plan on visiting two or more botanical gardens in the US in a year, it is worth checking to see if they are one of the 300 in the Reciprocal Admissions Program, as  AHS membership gets you in free.

Of course the parks’ namesakes are a huge attraction…

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Here’s a video of my favorite part of the flamingo section… getting to feed them!  (Just click on the ‘play’ arrow in the middle.)

What a delightful experience to get to hand feed these beautiful birds! They’re very careful not to bite the hand that feeds them.

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Another favorite section for cat lovers like me is getting to see the Endangered Florida Panther. The National Wildlife Society estimates there are less than 100 left in the wild.

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I wish my camera would do better on long distance photos. I am glad to see she has a nice large area to roam with plenty of green (unlike one of the nearby zoos). A distant cousin playing nearby was happy to let me pet her and get my ‘fur therapy’ in for the day.

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Also for cat lovers are these cool T-shirts in the gift shop… Other than the three cats and the background pair of eyes, can you find the hidden cat images? The manufacturer says there are 10 cougars on this shirt. You can click on the picture to be taken to their answer page.

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Another prominent feature of the gardens are the many peacocks roaming free.

Here’s an artsy shot of those gorgeous colors for you…

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Here’s one of those gorgeous guys resting among the banana trees.

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Speaking of banana trees… Their blooms are gorgeous!

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Each one of those flowers inside the main pod can eventually become a banana. as each petal unfolds, it releases a new bunch.

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BANANA!!

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(If you want to do an instaminions pic, just click the photo)

There is also an amazing aviary where you can walk around with the injured and recuperating birds taken under Flamingo Gardens’ wing. (See what I did there?!) It’s so neat to get up close and personal with some of of my favorite waterfowl, like the spoonbill:

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And pelicans:

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One of these birds is not like the others. Can you guess which one? lol!

One could walk around the aviary for a long time looking for just the right shot of a beautiful bird…

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And THEN you come across this sign:

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Bwah-hahahaha! (Now go back and look at the previous picture… on the branch below the bird he’s trying to picture. Yep…. it happens!!! Hahahaha!)

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Ok, so this barred owl is not impressed. There is a whole section in the park with a variety of birds of prey. There are also several displays of exotic birds, too..

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And, of course, there are plenty of plants and flowers. I only wish there were more name tags… I don’t know what this plant was.

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But the flowers at its base were pretty nifty:

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The shrimp plant is aptly named… (If you don’t know why, say, “Okay, Google, find “shrimp in the ocean.”)…

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Sometimes a little bit of sunlight can make all the difference in what you see:

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Visiting parks can be great for meeting people. I came across a really fun guy at the park:

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(Note: This blog claims no responsibility for bad puns!!)

Some plants just make for cool photographs…

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Beautiful ground orchids:

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Cattleya orchid:

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Well, I hope you had a fun visit to Flamingo Gardens! I sure did!! Hopefully, we’ll get to go again while the temperatures are more moderate. I won’t tell you it was pretty chilly at first in the low 60’s, but it warmed up quickly and was a lovely day… That’d just be cruel. : )

Stay warm, my friends, and have a lovely day!

~D.Ann

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A Visit to McKee Botanical Gardens, Vero Beach, Florida

It’s been a while since I’ve taken you on a garden tour. A couple of weeks ago we had a lovely stroll through the McKee Botanical Gardens in Vero Beach, Florida and I thought those of you stuck with gray skies and snow might enjoy some flowers to lift your spirits.

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It’s a beautiful park with Monet-esque scenery. There are lots of canals with oodles of water lilies, including the lotus flowers and Victoria Regis Waterlilies. Here are just a few:

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They often have art exhibits scattered throughout the grounds. Right now, they’re exhibiting Nature Connects, Art with Lego Bricks by sculpture artist Sean Kenney. Here are a couple of my favs:

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This one took 60,549 Lego bricks to build. Fun Fact: A Monarch butterfly can travel some 265 miles per day!

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This one took 31,565 Lego pieces to build and measures 64″x32″x77″.

Of course, there are tons of other plants and flowers at the garden. One of my favorites is the Rainbow Eucalyptus tree…

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Here are some more beautiful flowers at the garden:

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I always find it amazing when you look closely at flowers and often find little flowers withing the flower! I hope you enjoyed your tour!!

Traveler’s tip: If you like visiting botanical gardens and know you will visit more than two a year, you might want to check out becoming a member of the American Horticultural Society as your membership not only benefits them, but they have a reciprocal program that gets you into many gardens across the US free of charge. A win-win… just sayin’. : )

Sending you all plenty of sunshine and warm wishes for a lovely day!

~D.Ann

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Tea Party Card & Tips

Hello and welcome to The Cat’s Pajamas Winter Blog Hop and the Winter Coffee Lovers Blog Hop. Yes, you read right, it’s the COFFEE Loving Cardmakers who are organizing this hop, but this time with extra attention to the Tea and Cocoa drinkers, too. I fit into all categories. : )

So, I’m starting off with a tea party card. It’s a winter card because, here in South Florida, I only feel like having tea parties in the winter as the rest of the year it’s so hot I usually only want cold drinks. I see we might dip into the 60s next week with mid 70’s for highs. Finally! Yay! It’s also a winter card because several of my orchids bloom in winter, like this lovely lady:

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Have you ever been able to enjoy the experience of a high tea, low tea or afternoon tea at a tea house? They’re becoming more and more popular and are quite a delightful indulgence!

On a more budget friendly scale, I love hosting tea parties for my friends and their kids and there’s always some kind of shenanigans going on, like on this card. : )

Speaking of tea parties — Who doesn’t love to play dress up and eat fancy food? Here are some of the yummy goodies at tea parties I’ve had recently (as always, you should be able to click the picture to enlarge it):

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I usually have lots of hats, boas, scarves and clunky necklaces on hand for everyone to dress up…

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Sometimes there are extra little handmade gifts like the Kanzashi pins on the flowers and hats – everyone was allowed to choose one to take home.

I usually start with a blooming tea for show. So far, these have been much more fun to watch than to drink as I haven’t been wild about the flavor of the ones I’ve tried so far.

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Once the show’s over, we quickly move on to the tiny sandwiches and quiches. Usually there are cucumber sandwiches, shrimp and cream cheese, and tiny quiches. Sometimes there are also chicken salad on croissants, bacon wrapped scallops and guacamole on Parmesan chips. I usually serve a fruit tisane with lunch.

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The highlight of the party is always dessert! There are usually chocolate cups filled with cheesecake, strawberries dipped in Nutella, scones with lemon curd, and stroopwafles which can sit on top of your tea cup, melting the yummy honey or caramel inside. Sometimes there might be divinity, persimmon loaf, chocolates and other incredible goodies. A great dessert tea that most everyone loves is the chocolate macadamia nut tea. It’s fabulous by itself, but we recently tried it with mint spoons and it was incredible! I had trouble finding more mint spoons, so have been investigating making my own. More on that in a later post. (HERE.)

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I usually print out a couple of pages of tea facts on filly stationery to put in the little gift packages for the guests.

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Since I don’t know how to link a document for download yet, I’ll put them at the end of the post and you can copy them for your own party if you like. Have fun!

Now, getting back to the card…

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Inside:

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I hope you have a joyful day!!

Materials used:

  • The Cat’s Pajamas stamps:
    • K-0707 Coffee, Tea or Meow
    • S-5852 First
    • W-5833 Patterned Petals (sentiment)
  • Spellbinders Card Creator A2 Tranquil Moments
  • Spellbinders Create-a-Flower: Orchid
  • Memento Tuxedo Black dye ink
  • Copic Markers: C1, 3, 5; E02, 23, 25, 33; R20; RV34; V04, 06, 12; Y17, 28; YG61, 63
  • Faber Castell Pitt Artist Pen Gold
  • Kuretake Zig Wink of Luna green
  • Ranger Inkssentials Glossy Accents
  • Craft Smith Flutterbloom paper pad
  • WorldWin Purple Swirls Floral Vellum
  • Queen & Co. Pearls
  • DCWV card
  • Misc. cardstock, adhesive

I’m playing along in the following hops and challenges:

I hope you’ve had fun partying with me. I have more fun cards (and shorter posts!) coming up on the hop, but for now, I’m off to see the other entries and thank our generous sponsors. Enjoy the hop!

-D.Ann

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Bonus: Fun tea facts and uses

Please note: All of the information below was gathered from various sources and is provided for informational purposes only. None of it is intended for medicinal purposes nor is it guaranteed by dannscraftingwhims.

With a little bit of know how you can brew a superb cup of tea.

Bring fresh cold water to a full boil for Black teas, Herbals, Tisanes and some Oolongs. Use water that is just below boiling for Whites, Greens and Darjeelings. Using a teaspoon, (which is the perfect tool for measuring tea), measure one level teaspoon of loose tea for each cup. Pour the prepared water over the tea. Steep according to the brewing instructions below, or to your own personal taste. Enjoy!

                    Water Temp / Steep Time

  • White tea 180F (pre-boil) 3-5 minutes
  • Green Tea 180F (pre-boil) 1-2 minutes
  • Oolong Tea 180-212F 2-5 minutes
  • Black Tea 212F 3-5 minutes
  • Herbals& Tisanes 212F 5-7 minutes
  • Rooibos 212F 5-10 minutes

** Most Green and White teas taste better after steeping for only 1 to 2 minutes and can usually be infused multiple times. Over-steeping can cause the tea to taste bitter.

** Darjeelings, with their delicate, fruity aroma can quickly become bitter and should usually not be infused for more than 3 minutes. Fifteen seconds more or less can make a huge difference in taste. Also, keep water just under a boil.

**When preparing Oolongs “washing” the leaves is common in Asian cultures–the thought is that the first washing preps the leaves for the first brewing. Hot water is very quickly swirled over the leaves and then poured off before adding more water to steep the tea.

Preparing a good cup of loose-leaved tea is neither difficult nor time consuming. The human palate is much more sensitive to moderately warm beverages than to very hot ones. Therefore, please have the patience to let the tea cool until you can comfortably touch the cup.

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Helpful uses for tea and tea bags

1. Clean carpets: Clean up musty, dirty carpets by sprinkling dry, used green tea leaves on the carpet. Let them work their magic for about 10 minutes and then vacuum them up. Delicate Persian and Oriental rugs can also benefit from a sprinkling of tea leaves. In this case, sprinkle nearly dry, used whole tea leaves on the rugs, and gently sweep them away.

2. Shine wood floors: The tannins in black tea can help shine and color hardwood flooring. Follow your regular floor cleaning routine by carefully rubbing some brewed tea into the floor (don’t use too much water on hardwood flooring) and letting it air dry.

3. Polish furniture: Brewed tea also can help clean and shine wood furniture. The tannins in tea will re-color light spots and scratches in wood surfaces. Dip a soft cloth in a small amount of strongly-brewed tea, and use it to wipe down scratched tables, chairs, and more. Woodworker Jim McNamara suggested using “regular orange pekoe (Lipton’s) or other dark tea” in Woodworker’s Gazette.

4. Clean mirrors and windows: Tea can remove stubborn, greasy fingerprints from glass, and make it sparkle. Simply rub a damp teabag on the glass or fill a spray bottle with brewed tea.

5. Clean toilet stains: Rumor has it that used tea leaves can magically remove stubborn stains in the bottom of the toilet bowl. Just leave them in the toilet for several hours, then flush the toilet and brush the bowl.

6. Eliminate odors: The herbs and flowers in used herbal tea bags may have run out of flavor, but they often still have a good scent. Dry out herbal tea bags and add to potpourri or scented sachets. Likewise, you can freshen up the car without a chemical-laden commercial air freshener. Put lavender tea or other soothing herbal tea in a bag under the seat to fight odors. Rinse your hands with tea after eating or preparing fish (or other stinky foods) to eliminate odors. Instead of baking soda (or maybe in addition), try used tea bags in the fridge to absorb odors. Likewise, used tea leaves can help deodorize litter boxes when mixed into the litter. Dry, green tea leaves are recommended.

7. Soothe sunburn:  Tea can soothe sunburns and other minor burns. Dr. Oz suggests sponging sunburned skin with “cooled chamomile tea” for its anti-inflammatory effect. Don’t try this if skin is broken. For full-body sunburn, soak in a tea bath.

8. Soothe tired eyes: Warm, wet tea bags can reduce puffiness and soothe pain around tired eyes — and tea bags on your eyes look a little less ridiculous than cucumber slices. You can also use warm, wet teabags as a compress to soothe the pain of a sty.

9. Dental use:  After a tooth extraction or when an older child loses a tooth, try putting a cold, wet tea bag in the mouth where the tooth was lost and bite down on it. According to the Cleveland Clinic, “The tannic acid in tea helps healing blood clots to form (blood clots function similarly to a scab on an open wound). It can reduce bleeding and soothe pain.” Similarly, toothaches and other mouth pain can be soothed with a rinse of antiseptic peppermint tea mixed with a little salt

10. Shine dry hair: Brewed tea makes a good conditioner for dry hair. Rinse with (unsweetened) tea and leave to dry for a while and then rinse again with water.

 

Summer Flowers – Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens

Finally getting around to combing through the 2000+ pics from our trip to bring you some highlights. They are low res so they will load quickly, but most retain their beauty.

Here was the first stop along the way: the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens.

Enjoy your tour!

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Purslane (Portulaca oleracea) – some varieties are edible!

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Nymphea ‘White Delight’ Tropical Waterlily

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Pareidolia  the human ability to see shapes or make pictures out of randomness

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What do YOU see in the following orchid pictures? Gonzo? a puppy? long noses? dancing ladies? or just gorgeous and interesting flowers?   : )

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This dragonfly is enjoying breakfast on an Indian Shot (Cana edulis).

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Gloriosa Lily (Gloriosa superba ‘Rothschildiana’)

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Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis)

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Did you know that many types of day lilies are edible?! Find some that are and try adding them to a salad for a fun and lovely surprise.

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Sparks Private Eye Lily   W. Taunton – R.2009

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Mary’s Gold lily    H. McDonell – R.1984

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Red Hills of Georgia Lily     S Scarbrough – R.2006

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Peach Magniloa Lily           E. R. Joiner – 1987

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Aaron’s Little Whopper Lily   A. Joiner – 1999

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Peggy Jeffcoat Lily     J. Joiner – 1995

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I hope you enjoyed your tour in the comfort of your air-conditioned home… it was 101 when we went through the gardens. We only went to a few areas that were of most interest to us, yet we were totally drenched by the time we got back to the car!

I’ll have more posts in the near future… please check back soon… or subscribe so you won’t miss any posts!

– D. Ann

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Spring Flowers at Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens near Charlotte, NC

Ready for some more gorgeous flowers?

A couple of weeks ago we were at the Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens near Charlotte, NC. (You can find more info at www.dsbg.org) If you’re an American Horticultural Society member, you can tour the garden for free. If you’re going to tour more than a couple of gardens, you more than recover your membership fees. (More info at ahs.org)

I’ve been getting questions about what camera I use. I just upgraded and was comparing my old phone with my new one, so these are a mixture from both the Samsung Galaxy S4 and S6. Because the files run about 9MB each, I have saved them as low res images to load faster. Thus they are not as crisp as the originals, but I think they’re still lovely. As always, you can click on any picture to see it larger.

This garden isn’t as meticulous about signage, so it will mostly be a self-guided tour this time… If it’s uncommon and I didn’t write anything, your guess is as good as mine!

Enjoy your tour!

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They had a small aviary with some Golden-Manteles Rosellas (Platycercus eximius). They are members of the parakeet family and native to Australia.

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These were called Firecracker flowers (Dichelostemma ida-maia):

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He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has even put eternity in their heart; yet mankind will never find out the work that the true God has made from start to finish.

– Eccl. 3:11

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‘Paprika’ Yarrow (Achillea millefolium):

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Now we come to my favorite part of the garden… the orchid conservatory!

It’s packed with an amazing array of orchids in all sizes, shapes and colors. It always tickles me when I see faces, noses, lips, dogs, dancing ladies, babies, aliens and more in these flowers! Here are just a few of these lovelies… what fun things do you see?

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I hope you had fun! I have pics from two more gardens we visited yet to come, so if you liked these, check back in a few days for another tour.

Thanks for stopping by!

-D.Ann

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What’s blooming

I really miss the riot of color as spring bursts forth in the North! But not enough to put up with the cold, grey winters!! We have seasons in South Florida, too:  Hurricane season, mosquito season, tourist season…. : )

At least at my place there’s almost always something blooming. Thought you might like to see what’s blooming right now.

(I still haven’t figured out how to re-size pics, so you’ll have to click on any picture you want to see larger. Thanks for your patience… this dinosaur moves real slow!!)

A few orchids…

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If you enlarge the African violet, you might see the shimmer… almost looks like glitter got spilled on it! : )

Hope these sweet blooms brightened your day as they do mine!

-D.Ann