It masquerades as a small tree, and is seen as simply a nice addition to the landscape, until it explodes with bloom in mid-July. Then it takes over as the focal point of the yard, putting most other blooms to shame, and welcoming visitors to my front door.
Although it is trained to be a dwarf, the Limelight Hydrangea can grow to up to eight feet if it isn’t pruned to maintain the smaller heights.
It is usually healthy and resistant to disease and pests. It also tolerates drought well and requires little in the way of care.
This tree gives stunning blooms every year, with little maintenance or pruning. Unlike other hydrangeas, the soil pH is not a factor with the Limelight's performance.
I receive months of enjoyment as it flowers and then I can even dry and preserve some of my favorite blooms to keep them on hand after season's end.
No matter how beautiful snow covered evergreens of northern Indiana may be, after a month or two of frozen landscape, I’m longing for green growing plants. That’s when a trip to the Botanical Gardens is in order.
The Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory of Fort Wayne, Indiana, is always a refuge for me in the cold winter months. An hour or two inside the greenhouses serves as a mini-vacation.
When I last visited, right after Christmas, the Atrium was filled with hundreds of festive poinsettias and Christmas trees decorated the hallways.
The theme throughout, was the Twelve Days of Christmas. There was even a (fake) cow to milk as I became one of the Eight Maids a Milking.
My first stop was the Showcase Garden, which features changing seasonal displays as well as permanent plants such as bamboo, loquat tree, gardenias, hibiscus, and creeping fig.
After that was the Tropical Garden. This is my favorite place. Thirteen types of exquisite palms, breadfruit, coffee, banana and orange trees, cycads, and ferns grow in abundance there. There’s even a chocolate tree.
Stress slips away with the peaceful background sounds of the waterfall. Rushing water tumbles from a rock ledge high above, and feeds into a rushing stream. I climbed steps to the top, for a bird’s eye view of the gardens and returned below to walk under the fall of water. I followed the stream that wound through lush undergrowth until it emptied into a goldfish pond.
The tropical plants are fascinating. Delicate orchids, lilies and various tiny blooms are sheltered by palms and the over-sized leaves of unknown (to me) vines. Possibly the showiest of the flowering plants is the Bird of Paradise.
After marveling over the individual plants, I took time to sit on the park bench, breathing in the aroma of moist earth and growing things.
The next garden in my path was the Desert Garden, hauntingly quiet and intriguing. Saguaro cacti, fishhook barrel cactus, prickly pear, creosote bush, jojoba, and yucca, mesquite and ironwood trees are among the residents in this southwest desert greenhouse. The plants are allowed to grow and ramble just as they would in the desert.
There are several gardens to explore outside in the summer months. Since I visited to escape the cold, I saved those for later.
Orchid growing requires patience--lots of patience.
First of all, there are strict instructions on watering--no killing it with kindness. My orchid is to receive two ounces of water per week. So, every Wednesday, I take my shot glass of water and spray orchid food, and lavish my plant with love, for about a second. Then I leave it alone until the next week. (I spray the leaves lightly with food and spray some of it into the water I use to water it.)
After my orchid bloomed, I didn't know that it might re-bloom from the same spike. So...I cut it off. I've been caring for it and waiting for about a year. I watched little nubs develop. I watched a new spike grow and develop tiny buds. I've watched a few of the buds increase in size--one more than the other.
Today the larger bud began to open. I feel like a new grandma.
These are the pictures. I'll post more as the flower opens. And since it's been so long in coming, I've forgotten what kind of orchid it is. I think moth orchid, but I'll let you know for sure, when the bloom opens. Found the name ! Phalaenopsis Orchid
NEW ! 12/1/2016
The previous seven flowers lived several months before they began to drop off. This time, I didn't cut off the stem and I didn't have to live with the bare stem very long. Soon, my orchid began to form new buds. This time, six flowers are forming on the old stem. And, a new stem is growing! A sign of a healthy and happy plant.
May 29, 2017
My lovely orchid keeps on producing with minimal care.
June 20, 2017
The long stem is clipped up to make the full beauty of the plant apparent.
Four blossoms on the long stem and four on the new stem.
The mundane becomes inspiration.