Friday, May 27, 2011

Rhododendron Collection of the Cornell Plantations

Let’s take a tour of the Comstock Knoll and the Clement Gray Bowers Rhododendron Collection of the Cornell Plantations.  I am a docent for the plantations and want to share a few highlights with you.

            About 12,000 years ago the glaciers receded and Fall Creek carved out the surrounding area, leaving the mound that is now the knoll that houses this garden.  The knoll is named after John and Anna Comstock, famous professors at Cornell University.  John Henry Comstock was a professor of entomology. Anna Botsford Comstock was a professor of nature studies and  wrote the Handbook of Nature Study: A Guide to the Variety and Beauty of the Natural Universe in 1911.
            Dr. Clement Gray Bowers, considered a world authority on rhododendrons, bred varieties that were suitable for the cold winters in Ithaca.  The knoll is a well-drained and sheltered environment that enhances a mixture of shrubs, but the rhododendrons and azaleas are the highlight at this time of year.
            All azaleas are considered rhododendrons but not all rhododendrons are considered azaleas.  The latter are usually deciduous and the former evergreen. The rhododendrons have 10 stamens per flower and the azaleas have only 5. Check this out on your next visit to the garden.
            When visiting the knoll, you can find 302 accessioned plants that represent 123 different classifications of rhododendrons, many of which are hybrids.  There are also perennial ground covers and canopy trees.   I hope this information encourages you to visit the Cornell Plantations.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Cornell Plantations Grand Opening

Today was the grand opening for the new visitor's center at the Cornell Plantations. The "green" building has been cited for architectural awards and is very attractive.  The Brian Nevin center fits nicely against the Rhododendron Knoll, with wheelchair access to the bottom of the knoll from the second floor of the building.

As a docent for the Plantations, I volunteered to help out today and enjoyed seeing so many people come out to enjoy the new facility.

The Rhododendrons are in excellent bloom and were hybridized to handle this ecological region.  Attached are a few images I took with a point and shoot camera, since I did not bring the Canon Rebel with me.

There is always something to enjoy at the Cornell Plantations, with drop in tours on weekends and scheduled events for other times during the season.  The Botanical Gardens include the Rhododendron Knoll, the Herb Garden, the Ground Cover Garden, the Young Garden, the Winter Garden, and the Container Garden.  Extending outside of the Botanical Gardens are the Arboretum and the Wildflower Gardens, in addition to several other gardens on the main campus.

Check out the website for visitor information and other programs.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Where is the Lotus Pond?

The constant rain is great for the gardens and lawns and is quickly filling the Lotus Pond to overflowing. The mist is poetic, but I yearn for the sunny days for photographic moments. While out capturing images of the pond, I also took some shots of the tulips and bleeding heart.  Hope you enjoy them. Always interested in your feedback!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Backyard Blues on a Rainy Day

After a week of luscious sunlight, the forecast is for a week of rain. Actually, the gardens needed the moisture and the plants are sprouting quickly early in the season. Right now, the garden has a blue hue of Forget Me Nots and will continue with this color scheme for about a month with various perennials in bloom.

I also photographed some Bleeding Hearts and the Crab Apple tree. I do prefer the image with some backlight, but there is none of that today.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Montages for an art project

I just designed some montages for an art project and would like to ask some help in deciding which are the best 5 pieces for a public art show.  Please vote soon and let me know since I need to have them printed.  Thanks for any help you can give.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Flowering Cactus in May!

This plant would be absolutely stunning at the holiday season, but blooms in April and May.  My friend from Cornell Institute for Biology Teacher Days, Rita, gave me a cutting of this plant a few years ago. Time passes and I do lose track of such events. After rooting the cutting, it was several years before a flower was produced. Well worth it, however!

Right now, there are over 20 magnificent blooms on the plant, each close to 4 inches in length.  I took these pictures with a macro lens and tripod during the afternoon light.  I think they look delicious!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Montages of Six Mile Creek Plants

My artistic bent is to play with the digital images to produce montages that are artistically pleasing to me.  The process is done in Photoshop, but can be done with any software.  It involves extracting portions of a digital image and arranging the portions on the digital canvas in Photoshop.

The Photoshop software is powerful and I feel I have just scratched the surface of the learning curve.  I find it rewarding to develop new skills each time I use Photoshop.

Here are some montages I produced from the digital images I took on my walk last week. Would love any response and opinions.

The montages below, in order of presentation, are of Blood Root, Marsh Marigold, Ferns and Skunk Cabbage, Hellebore, Jack in the Pulpit, Skunk Cabbage, and Red Trillium.