Saturday, August 27, 2011

Coney Island Aquarium

My fiance and I headed out to Coney island Aquarium for his birthday. I love going out to see it. I have mixed feelings about Coney Island itself, but I love how the aquarium will substitute with  really common fish when some of their fancy exhibits go down.

I have no problem with looking at a whole tank of Neon tetras. 

 I guess my favorite exhibit is always the jellyfish tank.

One of the best things I saw last time was their outdoor water gardens. They really weren't anything special but waterlilies are breathtaking no matter how you put it. It was just nice to see a simple water garden and some koi. 

Some nice clear yellow water lilies.

Ooo over sized gold fish. =]

Hurricane Hurricane!

It's been an odd week here in the north east. Hurricanes, earthquakes, we're just not used to these sorts of things. But I guess while I have some time I'll post about some of the things I've been neglecting.

I got to head down to the Jersey shore a few weeks ago for vacation. It was nice to get out of the city and see natural environments again. Being a plant geek is like being in a natural version of the matrix. Seeing each plant is like reading code.

There's nothing like seeing coastal junipers, viburnums, and cranberries... and loads of blue sky and flat lands doesn't hurt either when you're riding your bike.

But sometimes you get to see some interesting plants when you're looking at wild lands. Native plants are one thing. There's a big push to use native plants out in the trade. This term can be very misleading as it just means plants native to the United States in most regards. The problem with this is that not all plants native to one area of the country are native to another. These plants can still spread and naturalize to new areas where they wouldn't normally be found. This becomes a problem when these species out compete those that should be naturally found in those areas. 

 Take Gaura for example. This beautiful plant should be found out in the plains.. not out in the marshes.

While other plants that are native like Hibiscus.. I've never actually seen out in the wild before. It's always fun to see ornamentals in their native environment.

    I also took a walk around some athletic fields and came across some Optunia. 

and.. more Optunia.
Sheesh, what a field managers nightmare.

Lets not forget some awesome signs.

Well, it was a good vacation. I spent most of it on the beach. It was nice to get away and then to come back to hurricanes, earthquakes, and crazies. At least labor day is almost here.

Monday, August 8, 2011

And now from our sponsers... Hibiscus

I'm taking this from another blog I wrote so don't mind the style. I'm on vacation this week so I apologize for reusing a post. Besides, I might be taking a trip down to longwood gardens later on in the week so if that comes to pass, expect a cool post on some plants I enjoyed.

 Hibiscus 'Lady Baltimore'

Is there no better picture of summer than spending the day lounging among bright exotic-looking flowers with a choice tropical drink and a view of the water? Well, the tropical-sounding paradise you might be picturing isn’t exactly what we have here in Manhattan, but it may be close.  Our showstopping hardy hibiscus are in full bloom and if they don’t remind you of the shores of Hawaii, I’m not sure what will.

But wait, aren’t hibiscus tropical? Many of the hibiscus you see sold during the summer months are indeed tropical and cannot survive the hard freezes that we get here in New York. Most common of these annual hibiscus is Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, the national flower of Malaysia. These are grown indoors during the winter months and brought out in the summer when their exotic blooms can be most appreciated. They make excellent house plants, established plants can bloom all winter long if given a sunny window.  These hibiscus only account for a fraction of this beautiful genus.

Probably the most common of the hardy hibiscus is Rose of Sharon, Hibiscus syriacus. These woody shrubs are a garden classic, showing off pink, purple, and white flowers from late July through September. Yet again another hibiscus variety takes the title of national flower, with Rose of Sharon representing South Korea. It is so well looked upon in South Korea that it is mentioned in the South Korean national anthem and its common name translates to ‘eternity’.

Eternity is a pretty good descriptive word for Rose of Sharon. As a cut back shrub, it can be pruned back almost every year to keep it as a small dense bush or it can be allowed to grow to full height and then pruned to tree form. These shrubs are so durable that landscapers tell tales of accidently mowing them over and having them return a year later.

Wildflower enthusiasts might also be familiar with our native perennial hibiscus. These amazing plants range down the east coast from southern Maine to Florida growing wild in wet areas. The most common of these includes Hibiscus moscheutos which can be found natively as far west as New Mexico and has extensive cultivars available in the trade.

At the park we have at least four cultivars of Hibiscus moscheutos. ‘Lady Baltimore’ has light pink, eight inch flowers with deep pink centers. It is interplanted with ‘Lord Baltimore’ which has even bigger red flowers. ‘Kopper King’ is our newest addition to the park, it has similar flowers to ‘Lady Baltimore’ but it has dark purple foliage instead of the classic green.  ‘Kopper King’ is still busy establishing this year but we can expect quite a show from it in the future. Last but not least, we have Hibiscus ‘Blue River II’.  Their dinner-plate-sized pure white blooms are one of the few things that can be truly called both bold and elegant.

If you find yourself hooked on Hibiscus be sure to check out the American Hibiscus Society or if you want to go even further, the International Hibiscus Society for more information.