Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Gardens of Aruba: A Look Beyond - Southern Dutch Caribbean Birds and Blooms

Gardens of Aruba

Welcome to the gardens on the island of Aruba! Aruba is located in the southern Caribbean Sea about 1,600 kilometers (990 mi) west of the Lesser Antilles and 29 kilometers (18 mi) north of the coast of Venezuela. One of the islands comprising the Netherlands Antilles or "Dutch Caribbean", Aruba measures just 32 kilometers (20 mi) long from its northwestern to its southeastern points and 10 kilometers (6 mi) wide.  Aruba's semi-arid tropical climate makes the island home to an interesting variety of flora and fauna.
Aerial Roots on Palm
I am always on the lookout for the unusual to capture with my lens.  Very common in the Caribbean are trees with these aerial roots but not on Long Island where I come from. I am always intrigued when I see them.
Aruba Blackbird in Coconut Tree
Local wildlife is camera friendly near the resorts and easier to capture with the lens. Here a local blackbird watches over me from a coconut tree. He actually stayed there long enough for me to zoom in on him.
Aloe and Snake Plant
Aloe and Snake plant are very common on this semi-arid island and thrive here...
Barrel Cacti
as well as various species of cacti.
Coccoloba uvifera (Sea Grapes) Growing on Beach in Aruba
I learned that these are Sea Grapes.  The small green fruit native to the Caribbean grow in bunches and resemble grapes as we know them. In late summer as the grapes ripen they become tinged with a red or purple hue and can be quite sweet.  Sea Grapes can be eaten raw (when ripe), made into jams or jellies, or fermented into sea grape wine. 
Stenocereus griseus (Candle Cactus)
Stenocereus griseus or Candle Cactus can be found almost everywhere on the island and are abundant in the outback.  It is also known as the Mexican organ pipedagger cactuspitaya, and pitayo de mayo.  There are three cacti species known to dominate the landscape of Aruba: Stenocereus griseusPilosocereus lanuginosus and Cereus repandus.
Aruba Bloom
I am still trying to learn all the names of the flora in Aruba.  These yellow blooms were way up high on one of the local trees and somewhat resemble a hibiscus.
Pink Oleander (Nerium oleander)
These beautiful Pink Oleander are found near the resorts.  Even though parts of the plant are known to be poisonous, Oleander do have a multitude of medicinal qualities. The leaves have been used for the treatment of heart disease, as an antibacterial, a diuretic, and against snake-bite. The roots have been used externally in traditional medicine for treating cancer, ulcers and leprosy.
Aruba Dove
Here is an Aruba Dove who is not at all camera shy!

(Caesalpinia coriaria) Divi Divi or Watapana Tree
Aruba is known for its Divi Divi trees which grow in the direction of the one way winds on the island.
Banana Tree
Not yet ripe but tempting are the bananas that are readily growing on the island.
Heliconia (Lobster Claw Plant)
Heliconia or "Lobster Claw" plant can be seen planted by the resorts and has a tropical flare. 
Male Iguana
The island is home to many iguana such as the male shown here. I recently learned that the males display spikes on their back, which the females lack.
Monarch Butterfly on Spider Lily Flower
With the lack of Monarchs at home the view of Monarchs on the island of Aruba was a delightful sight. This one is enjoying the sweet nectar of Spider Lily, which can be seen throughout the resorts.
Yucca Plant
Yucca is a more indigenous drought tolerant plant of Aruba.
 Bananaquit (Coereba flaveolaAruba Sugarbird
The Bananaquit is a playful nectar-loving bird that is very common to Aruba. The bird can become very tame around people and are known as sugar birds, which stems from the fact that they have been known to enjoy sugar in the form of sugar packet and jellies. These two birds were within about three feet of where I was sitting.
Ixora coccinea (Jungle Geranium)
Here is Ixora. The elongated looking spindles eventually open up into a large cluster of blooms resembling a geranium.
French Cotton or Giant Milkweed (Calotropis procera) 
Giant Milkweed is one of the largest of the Monarch Milkweeds, growing as a tree to a height of about ten feet.  It was brought to Aruba and has become naturalized on the island.  The Monarchs and Sugarbirds love it...
Sugarbird on Milkweed
as you can see here!
Croton Plant
Croton, which is normally grown as a houseplant in the states thrives outside here on the island of Aruba.
Rufous Hummingbird  in Flight (Aruba)
On an early morning stroll I visited this "hummingbird tree". Vibrant orange blooms attract numerous hummingbirds each morning before the heat of the day.  As you may know, hummingbirds are very quick to move about so I had to be extra quick with the lens.  I was able to get several captures and got this one while the bird was in mid flight!
Aruba Flora and Fauna


I hope you enjoyed the flora and fauna from the island of Aruba.

Linking with more blooms at Today's Flowers and Floral Fridays.

As Always...Happy Gardening!

Author: Lee@A Guide to Northeastern Gardening, © Copyright 2015. All rights reserved

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day & Foliage Follow Up August 2015: Late Summer Blooms

August 2015 Garden
Welcome to my Long Island garden. As the summer moves along, record high temperatures in the 90’s, with virtually no rain scorched the landscape during the second half of July through first week in August. The temperatures finally broke as severe storms moved into the area, lowering temperatures into the 80's which is more normal for this time of year.  Now there are many familiar sights in the late summer garden such as the vibrant pink blooms of Crape Myrtle and fragrant purple blooms of Butterfly Bush, each welcoming butterflies to the landscape. There are also signs of summer coming to an end with plumes of fountain grasses dancing in the wind and Sedum 'Brilliant' getting ready to bloom.  Come take a walk with me in my August garden.
Swallowtail Butterfly on Dwarf Butterfly Bush Lo & Behold Blue Chip
  Butterfly visitors frequent Lo & Behold Butterfly bush as it goes into full bloom.  The butterfly population has been slight, but after the decline last year they are a very welcomed sight in the garden.
Crape Myrtle 'Sioux'
Here, Crape Myrtle starts blooming at the end of July, and will continue throughout August and even into September.  The display is so worth the wait, and just as the summer winds down, the blooms bring new life to the landscape.
Crape Myrtle Sioux August 2015
I cannot get enough of their color and enjoy looking at them several times a day.
Platycodon (Balloon Flower)
These Platycodon (Balloon Flower) are such a conversation piece and have been for years.  They are located in the garden bed leading to the back entry and visitors always want to know their identity. This particular variety is unusual in that the "balloons" never open. They stay closed and filled with air so you can pop them like bubble wrap once they turn brown...such fun!
Hydrangea 'Endless Summer'
The hydrangea are in flower and doing well after not blooming last season due to the harsh winter.  Here are Hydrangea  'Endless Summer' with its voluminous bluish-purple blooms...
Hydrangea 'Tardivia'
and 'Tardivia' with its large white fragrant panicles that last for several weeks.
Daylily 'Stella D Oro'
 Daylily 'Stella D Oro' is still blooming for a second round after rejuvenating them in July... 
Echinacea 'Pow Wow' Wild Berry
and Echinacea 'Pow Pow' Wild Berry is still putting on a show...
Echinacea 'Pow Wow' Wild Berry
And now for the close up!
Saliva 'May Night'
Salvia 'May Night' is a favorite perennial of mine for its vibrant color.  It will get several blooms throughout the summer with regular deadheading.  This is bloom cycle number three, which will bring color into the end of August.
Mockingbird in Golden Oriental Spruce
Above is one of the Mockingbirds on the property. They appear to be very territorial and every year the population seems to increase. They sing a melody of tunes consisting of several calls in sequence throughout the day and seem to have a need to serenade whoever is outside at the time...which is alright by me!
Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar
In the front yard is Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar, Japanese Garden Juniper, Liriope and Heuchera (Coral Bells) 'Caramel'...
Coreopsis 'Zagreb' and Dwarf Fountain Grass 'Hameln'
along with dwarf fountain grass plumes behind Coreopsis, which is still in bloom from June.
Backyard Color Combinations
As we move along to the back here are a few long shots of the raised garden with dwarf butterfly bush in bloom...
Back Side Garden
the side gardens with Nepeta and Coral Bells...
Perennial Border August

and back perennial border along the patio with Lamb's Ear, Astilbe and Echinacea.
Sedum and Mugo Pine
For some foliage combinations, Mugo Pine serves as a backdrop to Sedum 'Brilliant', which will start blooming within the next week and continue into fall.
Sedum with Palace Purple Heuchera (Coral Bells)
Here is another combination consisting of Sedum 'Brilliant' with Heuchera 'Palace Purple' for some color contrast.
Double Pink Knock Out Rose
Still blooming are Double Knock Out Rose.  They bloom from June until frost and require little maintenance.  I just clip them once in a while to keep them full and compact.  The blooms just keep repeating for months!
Fountain Grasses August
Summer is winding down and a sure sign are the plumes on fountain grasses at the driveway's end.  One of the elements of gardening I enjoy most is the way the garden changes from month to month.  There is always something new to look forward to.

Lillium 'Stargazer' July - August
This tour would not be complete without seeing the 'Stargazer' Lilies in bloom.  Their sweet fragrance and spectacular blooms grace the property from the end of July into August. I look forward to their beautiful display every year.
August 2015 Garden
I hope you enjoyed your walk through my August garden. Thank you to our hostesses Carol at May Dreams Gardens, who makes it is possible to see blooms on the 15th of every month with her meme Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day and Pam at Digging for hosting Foliage Follow-Up.  I am also linking with some other wonderful hosts and hostesses at Tuesday Garden PartyToday's FlowersFloral FridaysMosaic Monday at Lavender Cottage, I Heart MacroMacro Monday 2, and Nature Notes at Rambling Woods.  Also check out What's Blooming This Week Garden Update.

That's it for this month's tour!


As Always...Happy Gardening!

Author: Lee@A Guide to Northeastern Gardening, © Copyright 2015. All rights reserved



Friday, July 31, 2015

Long Island Estates: The Vanderbilt Mansion, Museum and Gardens Centerport, New York

The Vanderbilt Estate and Gardens
There is so much of a historical past on Long Island and I have recently gained a deeper appreciation for the preserved mansions and gardens that exist on the island.  I have lived here all my life and have just encountered another estate, located in Centerport, Long Island, the Vanderbilt Estate and Gardens.   
Vanderbilt Grounds Entrance
 The Vanderbilt Mansion is one of the region's oldest estates dating back from the early 1900’s, and one of the few remaining Gold Coast mansions. William K. Vanderbilt bought the original 20 acre property in the summer of 1910 and commissioned the well-known New York City architectural firm of Warren & Wetmore to build him a summer home.  
Vanderbilt Estate
  Over the years Vanderbilt acquired more land thus expanding the property.  The estate consists of a 43 acre waterfront property with a 24-room Spanish-Revival mansion, known as Eagle’s Nest, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Vanderbilt Estate Gardens

The gardens on the estate consist of fountains, neatly manicured boxwood hedges and various blooming perennials and shrubs. The garden located in the back of the main mansion overlooks onto a view of the Northport Bay.  
Reflecting Pool

On the grounds reflecting pools and fountains are surrounded by blooming rose bushes.
Mansion Entrance
The mansion is museum-like in nature with rare and fine art along with century old furnishings from around the world.  The mansion hosts a display of William K. Vanderbilt II’s marine-life, natural history and artifact collections along with the new Charles and Helen Reichert Planetarium.  The architecture of this estate is amazing as seen here with these medieval looking gates and door knocker that embrace the entrance. 
Mansion Door Knocker
Various statues and stonework are also common around the estate and add an interesting touch.
Vanderbilt Estate Grounds
Along the walkway to the entrance are these decorative mosaics of inlaid stone.
Mosaic Tiles in Walkway
The courtyard of the mansion is seen below.
Mansion Courtyard
Concrete walls, tile roofing and wrought iron gates depict this Spanish-Revival style home.
Vanderbilt Estate Architecture and Courtyard 
Vanderbilt Mansion Bell Tower
The bell tower is presently undergoing restoration and at the very top is a large nest, possibly an eagle's nest, from which the nickname for the estate was derived.  
Eagle's Nest Vanderbilt Mansion
Courtyard Gardens
Courtyard Gardens
Vanderbilt Estate
Vanderbilt Estate Architecture and Gardens

Vanderbilt Estate Long Island
The combination of early 1900's architecture and manicured gardens make this estate a lovely place to visit.  Tours run hourly and the Planetarium is open for the viewing of regularly scheduled shows. 
Vanderbilt Mansion and Gardens, Centerport, Long Island

For more information visit Vanderbilt Mansion.
Author: Lee@A Guide To Northeastern Gardening, © Copyright 2015. All rights reserved


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