Dreams in Blue
Each year these blossoming blue fields attract thousands of tourists. Hitachi Park is located in the Ibaraki Prefecture on Honsyu in Japan. Its a beautiful spectacle during the flowering of the nemophila. Nemophilas are annual flowers. The word is a combination of the Greek words “nemos” (small forest) and “phileo” (love). The Japanese word “hitachi” translates to dawn. Taken together: “small forest love in dawn.” A blue heaven on Earth.
Colour chart used by Austrian botanical illustrator Ferdinand Bauer (1760-1826) for his field observations. His technique was to sketch a ‘painting-by-numbers’ in situ, which we he could later add colour to after returning from whichever botanical expedition he was on. The example of his painting shown here is a depiction of Grevillea banksii, named for the great Sir Joseph.
What’s beautiful now? If you ask our horticulturists they’ll say one thing: rain. It’s been a pretty dry spring, and while we have the ability to water deeply, there’s just nothing a plant loves more than an old fashioned rain storm. And like the adage says: May showers bring May flowers …. er, or something.
Just in time for Mother’s Day, we’re seeing a real turn towards the later spring flowers now, away from the cherry blossoms and daffodils of early spring. This week is all about flowering shrubs like lilacs, azaleas, and tree peonies. And then there are the tulips. Oh sooooo many tulips! In an absolute riot of color all over the Home Gardening Center.
In the newly opened Native Plant Garden things are a little more subdued, but still so lovely. Expect lots of beautiful dogwoods and gorgeous drifts of foam flower, Tiarella cordifolia. In the Ruth Rea Howell Family Garden, the Otto Pizza Garden beds, part of Mario Batali’s Kitchen Gardens are looking unmistakably pizza-like.
What’s still beautiful from last week? The Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden has another bloom every day. On Tuesday it was Rosa nutkana. By this weekend there should be a handful more in bloom. The Azalea Garden just gets better with each passing day, and the Native Plant Garden is just awesome, the perfect place to celebrate your mom on Sunday.
So, ready to come hang out with us in the Bronx? Here’s everything you need to know. For day-to-day updates on what we’re seeing around grounds, be sure to follow us on Instagram and Twitter where we post daily updates from our staff and visitors. Also, need help getting around? Our iPhone app can help out there. It’s free and available in the App Store. ~AR
Like A Bee Sees
By now you’ve probably all watched the latest It’s Okay To Be Smart video about the amaaaaazing ways that bees are able to sense flowers. (actually I know a few of you haven’t so go do that, mmkay? Thanks!)
Beyond the electric field sensing part (which is cool in its own right), it’s the fact that bees see into the “invisible” that just blows my mind. Bees (and butterflies too, actually) have photoreceptors that respond to wavelengths down in the UV range (see chart above). They use that vision to zoom right in on the important part of the flower: the sweet, sugary nectar pot.
Spoiler alert: As much as we love flowers, they don’t really give a crap about us. But they do love bees. In return for giving the bees the sugary yum-yums, flowers get pollinated. And in the name of the evolutionary game, that’s the most important thing. To help get the gene-passing-on done, flowers have evolved certain pigments near the center of the flower that absorb UV light. That paints a big, fat bulls-eye for the bee to land on, right where the flower needs them (next to all the flower-sex bits). To us, the whole flower may look yellow or orange. To a bee. BIG “land here” spot in the middle.
THAT IS AMAZING!!! Nature, you are just too cool.
Thanks to camera technology, we can take UV filtered photos of flowers and see those patterns pop out. It’s a pretty advanced technique, but some of my favorites are above. Check out those photographers’ galleries at the links below:
Cedric Laquieze is an artist working out of Amsterdam. I like the idea that Cedric has taken the idea of taxidermy art, and added a different twist to it. The idea of skeleton is a clear link to death, but with the flowers adorning them the idea seems to be softened. It’s also a stronger connection to life; if we did not go through such trouble to embalm and preserve, the bodies we bury would give way to other life such as flowers. (Via)