Friday, January 28, 2011

The Conservatory at Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden

A short trip on the highway and a few peaceful country miles from my home is Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden in Belmont, North Carolina.  I often drive out here to stroll around -- there is always something interesting to see.

Large golden Chamaecyparis greet you at the entrance to the gardens and long vistas of ponds, grasses and waterbirds invite you further in.   But it isn't what's outside that I drive to see this time of year -- it is the conservatory and the 4th annual Orchid Spectacular exhibit.

Leave winter's shades of gray behind for a little while and step inside.  The sweet scent of thousands of blooming flowers will take you to another world for a while.

Just inside the door, going clockwise around the conservatory, Tillandsia balls hang and  on a trellis and planters overflow with tropical orchids. The sun begins to peek out from behind the clouds.   Do you feel like Dorothy now?

Climbing on the trellis (and in the background of this photo) is the Flaming Glory Bower I posted about  earlier this week. Throughout the conservatory are lush orchid and bromeliad filled containers.  These photos only give you an idea -- they are so extravagant and gorgeous!

Pass under an arch of air plants (Tillandsia spp.) and look back to see Madagascar palm (Pachypodium rutenburgianum).  This tree is not a palm at all -- the leaf arrangement and blooms are like Plumeria, to which it is related.  Madagascar palm stores water in the trunk so it can survive seasonal drought in its native home, Madagascar.  Large thorns all along the trunk and stems help it keep its stored water mostly for itself.

Also in this succulent garden -- Ponytail Palm (Beaucarnea recurvata). The coral-pink flower in the foreground is Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii).

Filling in between the arches is a banyan fig (Ficus benghalensis).

A container full of succulents surround the flapjack plant (Kalanchoe thyrsiflora).  Mother of Thousands plant is just to the right of this display.

Beyond the succulent garden is the dramatic orchid waterfall.

Hanging lobster claw, sweetly scented begonia and croton line the path beyond.

This striped bromeliad with its red and white inflorescence is looking a lot like tropical Christmas to me.  It's one of my favorites.

Tree branches support an array of orchids, air plants, and other bromeliads. Overhead is the Hong Kong orchid tree (Bauhinia x blakeana).

If you love orchids, the Garden has a collection of over 5,000 and hundreds of them will be on display until March 14th.

A case full of miniature orchids comes into view as we come full circle.  Is there anything more charming than miniatures?

And then, one more lovely display as we near the exit door.

Thank you to Kylee at Our Little Acre for hosting the Conservatory World Tour.  For some great therapy for the winter blues, stop by her site and take the virtual tour for youself.