Nature Day Trips – Florida – Butterfly World

Since spring is just starting and most of you are going stir crazy from being stuck in place due to the coronavirus COVID-19, I thought I’d start pulling out some of my nature pics that have been in my drafts folder for a while so you can go on some germ-free, socially distanced virtual trips and, perhaps find some places you’d like to visit once they re-open and we can all travel again.

Perhaps you noticed a new tab on my home page: Gardens & Parks. I put it there to keep track of what and where I have posted, but it can be a good travel resource for any of you who are planning a trip. I will keep it updated as I post new places. Some day, I may split this little hobby off into a separate blog, but most of you don’t seem to mind my crazy hodgepodge mix of crafts and hobbies.

Do you like butterflies? Lepidoptera is the order of insects that includes butterflies and moths. You’re a lepidopterist if you study or collect butterflies and moths. And if you’re one of the many folks who are afraid of them, you have lepidopterophobia and should probably skip down to the second half of this post! Fair warning, this post is quite lengthy and picture heavy, so grab your favorite cuppa, sit back and enjoy!

We recently had family visit and were pleased to get to take them to one of our favorite local attractions: Butterfly World in Coconut Creek, FL. It is the largest butterfly house in the world with 3 acres of butterfly and bird aviaries, botanical gardens and a working butterfly farm and research center. You can also see more pics in my two previous posts (as always, you can click on any colored text you find in my posts to be taken to see the page or website):

There are some 50 species and over 20,000 individual butterflies just waiting to enchant us with their beautiful colors and designs. Here are some of this trips highlights…

There are oodles of the Heliconius genus (aka Longwings), including many hybrids found only at Butterfly World:

Zebra longwing (Heliconius charithonia) – You’ll see her caterpillar later on:

Piano key (Heliconius melpomene) butterflies. There is always classical music playing softly in the background, adding to the relaxing atmosphere of the park, but I always smile when I see a piano key butterfly just when a piano solo comes on! Don’tcha just wanna ‘tickle the ivories’ on her back wings?!!

There seems to be an endless variety of patterns and colors!

Here’s a G-rated pic of a pair of piano key longwings mating:

White crescent swallowtail (Eurytides thymbraeus):

If you enlarge this picture of a mist encrusted swallowtail, you can tell that the red ‘stay on path’ sign is reflected in the droplets on her eye and antennae:

If you look closely at this paper kite aka tree nymph (Idea leuconoe), you might make out the blurry Florida state bird that happened to be sitting on her wing (a joke as mosquitoes are huge and thick over by the everglades)… I wonder how she’s gonna scratch that itch?!!:

Sometimes, no matter how good your camera, you just have to rely on someone else to take the picture!:

The blue morpho below is missing part of a wing, giving us a peek of her beauty. Don’t fret, butterflies have been observed going about their daily activity with up to 70% of their wing surfaces missing. I once read an encouraging article that used that fact to illustrate how, similarly, many people display a resolute spirit — not giving up despite suffering from severe physical or emotional problems. How? The article sited 2 Corinthians 4:16 and Philippians 4:13 if you want to look them up. I also found a beautiful 6 minute video that talks about this about 2 minutes in… you can see it by clicking HERE (Learn Endurance from Creation is the video’s name.)

Among the most dazzling butterflies are the blue morphos (Morpho peleides) with their metallic looking iridescent wings that span 5-8 inches. Their color comes, not from pigment, but from the structural patterns on the scales of her wings. If you want to see a fascinating 5 minute video explaining this, you can click HERE on to see the video I found that’s titled “The Wonders of Creation Reveal God’s Glory – Light and Color“… about 2 minutes in, it shows how the iridescent color is created.

Not all morphos are blue… these white morpho (Morpho polyphemus) seem particularly attracted to something on this cattleya orchid’s pot. This was clearly taken before coronavirus and social distancing became everyday words in our vocabularies!:

Another real stunner is the male Cairn’s Birdwing (Ornithoptera euphorion) butterfly, with a wingspan of about 6 inches, in vibrant colors and a heavy fur coat:

I’m going to sneak in a picture of this leafwing that I took at home a while back. His camouflage is pretty amazing!

The yellow-edged giant owl butterflies (Caligo atreus – of the family Nymphalidae) have huge eye spots that remind people of owl eyes. But this was the first time I noticed how the tip of her wings also looks like a snake’s head.  Plenty of protective camouflage!  This is the largest butterfly species in the Americas, with a wingspan of up to 8″

You know my love fore water drop pictures…here you can see how some water droplets magnify the scales on this beautiful malachites’ wings (Siproeta stelenes), while others reflect the surrounding foliage:

To see a video from Butterfly World’s Instagram page with even more butterfly varieties, click HERE.

Let’s move on to the butterfly buffets aka flowers… here’s a view inside the tropical rain forest atrium:

I think the red flowers in the background above are Allamanda blanchetii. Queen’s wreath (Petrea volubilis), aka purple wreath, is our southern version of wisteria with its drooping lavender cluster of flowers (called a raceme). Since its leaves are stiff and feel like sandpaper, it is also called sandpaper vine. I love the flower within a flower look!

Love this tropical rhododendron… it’s like pure sunshine packed into a flower:

A bloom of the aptly named Chinese lantern tree (Abutilon pictum) aka flowering maple or red-veined Indian mallow from the Malvaceae family:

The lipstick tree (Bixa orellana) aka annatto is next. According to the sign, ‘The dye bixen obtained from the seeds is used all over the world as a red dye for coloring rice, cheeses, soft drinks, oil, butter, margarine and soups. It is also used as a dye for textiles and as a condiment. It is the original Amerindian war paint. It has also been used as a sunscreen and insect repellent. The red covering on Gouda and other cheeses is made from bixen. It also has many medicinal uses.’ When I was in the Amazon jungle in Colombia, back in the early 80s, the local indigenous tribes showed us how they used the seeds both as lipstick and to color their grass skirts. One plant can produce up to 600 pounds of seeds! Most of the seeds are gone from the open pods in this picture, but if you look close, you might see a couple that are left.

Jaboticaba (Plinia cauliflora), a native to Brazil, is part of the myrtle family (Myrtaceae) and its edible grape-like fruits grow right on the trunks of the tree. This fruit was one of my favorite treats when I lived in Paraguay!

The vine maze is packed with many varieties of passion flowers. I love how they look like dancing ladies!! And, of course a cool drink made from the passion fruit is quite refreshing!

The information sign says: ‘Passionflower plants, flowers and fruits are used for many purposes such as perfumes, pharmaceuticals and fruit juices. Butterfly world uses passionflowers to raise beautiful heliconius butterflies, which eat them as caterpillar food plants. Early Spanish and Portuguese missionaries believed each part of the passiflora represent a different aspect of the passion of Jesus Christ, hence the name passion vine… passionflower plants are used by the caterpillars of zebra longwing, julia and gulf fritillary butterflies.’

Passiflora ‘Royale’:

Passiflora ‘Inspiration” by Roland Fischer Passifloraceae:

Tiny Passiflora boenderi (named in honor of Ron Boender, the founder of Butterfly World) … the leaves have a row of egg-mimicking dots. See the Zebra longwing (Heliconius charithonia) caterpillar?

The tiny passion fruit of the Passiflora boenderi — as someone who saw this pic said, “it’s really thumb-thing!”

Mysore trumpet vine (Thunbergia mysorensis) aka Indian clock vine, dolls shoes or ladies’ slipper vine (not to be confused with ladies slipper orchids!) from the  Acanthaceae family. I love how it looks right before it opens (second bloom from the top on the right)!

A bumblebee happily foraging for food on a giant milkweed (Calotropis gigantea) (EVERYTHING’s bigger in the tropics!). Oh! There’s another really interesting two minute video you might want to see about how bumblebees manage to control their flight in the video I found HERE: Was It Designed? The Bumblebee’s Flight Control

There are two aviaries with plenty of colorful birds like this Lady Gouldian finch:

Even if you haven’t taken the time to watch any of the other videos I’ve linked in this post, you’ll want to make time for this less-than-two-minute impressive video I found on why bird colors never fade and how researchers are trying to mimic this for paints and fabrics that never fade. You can see it by clicking HERE: Was It Designed? Bird Colors That Never Fade

Budgies (Budgerigar) are among the smallest of the true parrot species. In case you didn’t know, all budgies are parakeets, but not all parakeets are budgies.

The pair in the video below happens to be courting (for you young whippersnappers reading this, that’s the old-fashioned way of saying ‘dating’). Click in the middle of the video below ( or HERE) to see the couple doing their love dance (Do the budgie hop! Hop! Hop! Hop!)

I hope you enjoyed your virtual vacation today! I have several more ‘trips’ stored in my drafts folder and a few more cards and crafts. As I find the time and energy, I’ll post them for you. Stay positive. Stay safe, socially distant, disinfected and healthy!

-D.Ann

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Painting Dory and Strawberries plus Flower Pics

Thanks for joining me today! I’m hoping to start catching up on some back-logged posts I’ve been wanting to share with you. Today’s comes from a visit to my aunt’s home in N. FL back in the Spring. She has some amazing plants, so I thought I’d share a few…

The Panda Plant aka Pussy Ears (Kalanchoe tomentosa) has these darling furry velvet ‘ears’ that you just want to pet!

She also has this nifty Rabbit’s Foot Fern (Davallia fejeensis) where the rhizomes (creeping rootstalks) look like fuzzy rabbit’s feet.

A pretty cactus bloom.

She was given this by family in Ohio and told it was a Jerusalem plant, tho I can’t find anything like it on the net. It’s nifty how the inside reminds me of a poppy ‘fruit’. Let me know if you know what it is!

I finish with her lovely irises… I couldn’t pick a favorite, so you get to see all three…

The strawberries and leaves on her welcome sign had faded away, so I went to Michaels and got some paints and refreshed them for her.

She wanted me to sign and date it and we all got a laugh when she caught that I put ‘o8 instead of ’18… yep, I’m running a few years behind! lol!

I was honored and a little bit nervous when she entrusted me with her next project…

She was tired of her plain white fish and wanted him to be colorful. Her BFF had a picture of her son’s royal blue tang and those were the colors she wanted used…

Ahh… Dory! Also known as regal tang and surgeonfish (Paracanthurus hepatus).

So, I used the picture as a starting point and then took a little artistic license for some extra pops of color and sprayed on a lacquer to seal her up for easy cleaning and give her some shine….

My aunt seemed pleased with how it turned out and if she ever gets bored with those colors, we now know it’s not too hard to change it up.

Thanks for stopping by here today. I look forward to seeing you again as soon as I can find another little break to catch up again. Have a lovely day!

~D.Ann

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Cup of Cheerful Columbine Card and Robin Eggs

Surprise! I’m back!! A lot has happened since my last post and part two will have to wait a bit longer. Meanwhile, it’s time for the 2018 Spring/Summer Coffee Lovers Hop.

Although I haven’t had much time for crafting lately, I was excited to make up the new Power Poppy Cheerful Columbine stamp as it is a prefect reminder of a couple of the fun highlights of my recent trip to Indiana… My aunt’s columbine flower patch and getting a birds eye view of newborn baby robins!

This year the robins built their nest in my aunt’s garage window. They were very attentive to their family.

    

  

Here’s a video of the the first two newly hatched. They’re not the cutest, but still they’re amazing! (click in the middle of the pic to start the video):

Aww!!

Columbines are one of my favorite flowers. Their little stamen bunches look like little balls of sunshine! Did you know the first official Colorado State Song was Where the Columbine Grow? For me, they grow in my aunt’s flower garden in Indiana!! I was happy that they had just started blooming when we were there. My aunt has several nifty varieties. Here are just a few:

  

 

   

That last one on the right is a Clementine Rose Columbine.

  

I chose these as a color guide for my card (they go the best with the MarkerPop challenge colors this month – see below):

What a sweet tea cup full of flowers! To give the flowers a sense of depth, I fussy cut them and a couple of extra plus the robin and an extra egg. I used flower shaping tools to shape them and foam dots to help hold their shape.

I added the little seeds stamp and filled them in with Liquid Pearls… there was even room to poke a seed in her beak. A little Wink of Stella gave some morning dew sparkle to the slower petals and cup.

Materials used:

  • Power Poppy Cheerful Columbine stamp and little seeds
  • Spellbinders Thoughtful Expressions Thinking of You die set
  • Recollections cardstock: white, brown and Blig Bloom (peach)
  • Memento Rich Cocoa dye ink
  • Copic Markers: B02, 05, 21; C5, FYG1; G05, 09, 24, 82; N4; R20, 22, 32; RV63; V12; W3, 5; Y000, 32; YG17
  • Ranger Liquid Pearls Coral & Dark Chocolate
  • Pebbles, Inc. Chalks
  • Martha Stewart Crafts Florentine Gold Microbeads
  • Misc foam dots and pvc glue

I’m playing along in the following hops and challenges – click on any one for more information on how you can join the fun:

  

Thank you for stopping by today and for sharing your encouraging comments – I always look forward to reading them!

-D.Ann

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Butterfly World Part 1 – Butterflies

Hello, everyone! As you might have already guessed, today’s post is going to be full of butterflies. There will be plenty of amazing colors to inspire your next papercrafting project!

We recently went to Butterfly World in Coconut Creek, Florida – the largest butterfly house in the world with 3 acres of butterfly and bird aviaries, botanical gardens and a working butterfly farm and research center.

It was a cool day and we arrived first thing in the morning, so most of the 20,000+ butterflies (up to 50 species) were still lazing about posing for picture after picture rather than rushing about all a flutter to fill their tummies with nectar.

How many snoozing butterflies can you find?!

Choosing pics for this post was tough! Take these lovely Tree Nymphs (aka Paper Kites (Idea leuconoe))…

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How can you choose just one pose?!!

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The gorgeous green Malachites (Siproeta stelenes) were also showing off for the camera:20180330_091717_wm

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There’s also a huge difference depending on which way the light hits their wings!

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This Julia Heliconian (Dryas iulia) is another case in point.

As the sun warms things up, everyone flutters about their business. You can see some of those amazing blue Morphos flitting by in this video…

Here’s one I caught recharging her batteries – love that gorgeous iridescent blue!

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The under side of the wings have large eye spots that startle predators. Their wingspans measure 5-8 inches.

This one has a piece of his wing missing so the iridescent blue of the opposite wing shines through. I love the water droplets beading up from the fine mist sprinkers nearby!

The Owl (Caligo) butterflies have huge eye spots. The outer wings are a duller blue than the Morphos. With a wingspan of up to nearly 8 inches, the species is the largest butterfly in the Americas.

A Rusty Tipped Page (Siproeta epaphus) and a Tiger Longwing (Heliconius hecale).

 

There are oodles of variations of Piano Keys (Heliconius melpomene):

  

 

Check out the amazing female Cairns Birdwing (Ornithoptera euphorion) butterfly with a wingspan of about 6 inches:

As is often the case in nature, she is greatly surpassed by gorgeous colors of the male Cairns Birdwing:

I MUST do a card in those amazing colors some day!!

Let’s close with a trip to the nursery and check out the newly emerged butterflies still clinging to their chrysalises…

It’s interesting to see the chrysalises with the Malachites still inside are green, but once they’re out, they’re white.

I hope you’v enjoyed seeing these flowers with wings! I’ll be back soon with part 2 – birds and flowers. Thanks for taking the time to enjoy these wonders of creation with me!

~D.Ann

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A Visit to Mounts Botanical Garden of Palm Beach County

Hello all! Those of you who are regulars here know that, in addition to crafting, I love photographing nature. Since many of my cards have flower in them, it’s also a great way to get color inspiration, too. We were fortunate to have some cooler days in March this year. After having missed most of the nice weather with that 3 month migraine, it was wonderful to get out and enjoy a garden again!

Mounts Botanical Garden of Palm Beach County, Florida is a 14 acre living plant museum divided into 23 themed gardens. It’s right across from the Palm Beach International Airport. For those of you who have been with me from the beginning, you may remember one of my early posts was of a visit to this garden. (Click HERE if you’d like to re-visit it. I’ve selected different flowers for this round). There is special pricing in effect as they currently have a special exhibition: Washed Ashore Art to Save the Sea.  It runs through June3,  2018. So, if you’re a member of the American Horticultural Society, you get a $5 discount off the $15 admission, instead of the usual free admission.

FYI, there is a main paved trail throughout the garden for easy wheelchair access, but to get close to many of the plants you’d have to go off-roading, which is tough.

Throughout the gardens are various sculptures of aquatic creatures endangered by marine debris and pollution. They are made of items collected from beaches by volunteers. This one, weighing in at 1600 pounds, is called Priscilla the Parrot Fish and she’s made of up toys, bottle caps, buoys, lighters, beer cans, a bowling pin, toothbrushes and fishing lures, among other things. Did you know that parrot fish feed on algae and take in coral in the process, which passes through their system undigested, coming out as sand? Think of this fish-produced sand next time you’re walking on the beach! : )

The botanical show opens in the parking lot with an arbor supporting the Variegated Chalice Vine (Solandra) with its huge, chalice-like flowers:

You know I can’t resist catching a busy bee hard at work!

This is the Vanilla Orchid which produces a seed pod which is fermented and dried into the “vanilla Bean” and then processed into vanilla extract. Wish computers came with a scratch-and-sniff feature!!

The cool thing about photographing flowers is that you notice things you might otherwise miss… I didn’t know there was another sweet little flower inside moss roses! Since it was in the edible plants section, it must be of the varieties that are fit for snacking.

Nasturtium flowers and leaves are also edible I have enjoyed them in salads.

I remember first seeing the Floss Silk Tree (Chorisia speciosa) in Paraguay. Commonly called the ‘Palo Borracho’ (drunken stick) as the trunk gets kind of a ‘beer belly’ as it matures. The silk was used in the past to stuff pillows. It almost looks like snow when it starts falling to the ground.

The huge spines covering the bark are pretty amazing!

Mexican bush sage (Salvia leucantha) or velvet sage is so fuzzy you just want to pet it!

Rosy Camphorweed (Pluchea rosea) is another fluffy little flower…

A zebra longwing butterfly (Heliconius charithonia) slurping some sweet nectar from a firebush (Hamelia patens).

This nifty little shrub has various names… Cup and Saucer plant, Chinese Hat plant & Parasol flower (Holmskioldia sanguinea):

Yes, even in Florida we have stink bugs.

Did you know the Sausage Tree (Kigelia africana) is from the bigonia family?! This is the first one where I’ve been able to get close to the ‘sausages’. They run 12-39″ long, up to 8″ wide and weigh up to 26 pounds. The fresh fruit is poisonous and must be dried, roasted or fermented for human consumption. Can you spot the orchids?

So neat to see the three stages of the canna (not a true lily) all together:

What is it about hollyhocks (Alcea rosea) that make me want to pluck them and twirl them like dancing dolls in rich chiffon ballroom gowns?!

A busy bee thoroughly enjoying himself on this Jamaican Poinsettia (Euphorbia punicea).

Just like this little guy, I hope to BEE back soon with more fun posts! I hope you enjoyed your garden tour – especially those of you who are still putting up with that white stuff that ISN’T Floss Silk!

~D.Ann

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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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HOYA doin?!

Hello, hello! I hadn’t realized how long I’d been away until I started getting e-mails from you sweet readers checking up on me. Apologies! I’ve been sick a lot and that, combined with the loss of a loved family member, has kept me away for several weeks. I’m happy to be back now and wanted to check in with you all:

Hoya doin?!  : )

A while ago, of my cousins gave me a start of her Hoya (Hoya fungii, I think) and it has finally bloomed. I love how thick and waxy the inner bloom appears and the outer part looks like fuzzy stars!

They bloom in a cluster from the hanging vine. This beautiful ball of blooms measures 3″ across.

I sure hope you have a LOVELY day! I’m also glad to be back to crafting and will be right back with the first card I’ve made in a while.

See you soon,

~D.Ann

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PTI 10th Anniversary Challenge: Transformation – Golden Framed Dewy Periwinkle Photo

The final challenge of Papertrey Ink’s 10th Anniversary celebration was called Transformation. The challenge was to create a new project based on a card you were not happy with. That was easy… That white, pink and green frame I just did really didn’t turn out as great as I’d imagined it. I thought the colors would pull out the colors in the picture, but was highly disappointed.

So, I decided to re-try this time with a solid gold background…

Wow! NOW the picture POPS!! MUCH better, don’t you think?!!

I love making cards out of pictures I’ve taken… I need to do that more often! They make great ‘any occasion’ cards to have on hand!!

Supplies used:

  • Papertrey Ink Quatrefoil cover plate die
  • Colorbok Shiny Gold Metallic Paper
  • Sookwang 6″ Scor-tape adhesive (this also worked MUCH better for piecing in the pieces)
  • Core’dinations Parisian Nights A2 white card

I’m playing along with the following challenges… click on any one of them for more information on how you can join the fun… you’ll want to hurry and join this one if you can – you might win your PTI wishlist of up to $300! Wouldn’t that be fabulous?!

Thanks again for visiting… don’t forget to stop back by on Friday for a cool surprise!

~D.Ann

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PTI 10th Anniversary Challenge: Photo Finish – Dewy Periwinkle Photo Card

If you’ve been following today’s posts, you know that I’m participating in several of Papertrey Ink’s 10th Anniversary Challenges. This one is called Photo Finish – and challenges us to incorporate a photo into a project. I took my recent dewy Periwinkle pic and framed it up on a card:

Supplies used:

  • Papertrey Ink Quatrefoil cover plate die
  • Core’dinations Parisian Nights A2 pink card and white & green cardstock
  • Aleene’s Super Tacky spray adhesive
  • Scrapbook Adhesives by 3L EZ Runner & EZ Dots

I’m playing along with the following challenges… click on any one of them for more information on how you can join the fun:

I don’t know if I’ll get another card posted tomorrow before the deadline or not. If not, I will see you again on Friday when I finally get to spill the beans on the special project I’ve been busting to tell you about!! : ) Hope to see you then, if not before!!

~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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