Houston – May 2019 – McGovern Centennial Gardens

Just south of downtown Houston is Hermann Park, and the McGovern Centennial Gardens. It is a small, well thought out space with flowers, plants and statues.














The statues featured great Latin American leaders, as well as (strangely) Scottish poet Robert Burns!












Avery Island, Louisiana – May 2019 – Jungle Gardens

With Avery Island’s location in southern Louisiana the main agricultural business is sugar cane.



With the year round warm, wet weather it is the perfect climate for nature to grow. In the late 1800s the son of the founder of Tabasco sauce, Edward Avery McIlhenny, created the botanical gardens known as Jungle Gardens.



The gardens cover 170 acres of Avery Island.



There isn’t a large number of different plants, flowers and trees, but the gardens are well laid out, and immaculately kept up.



As with most of Louisiana, water is always nearby.



Including this nice pond, with a warning sign to not feed the alligators (which seems like anyone would know that).



We did NOT feed this alligator.



The turtles were safely out of harms way.



A few buildings remain from the early days of Tabasco pepper growing.




This drive is appropriately named Wisteria Lane, as you make your way under the Wisteria arch.



The highlight however is Bird City. In 1895 Edward raised eight egrets in captivity, releasing them in the fall for their migration. The next year they returned with more egrets.

Ever since then thousands of egrets return to Avery Island in the spring and reside there until late summer.

When we arrived for the Tabasco tour we were one of the few who opted to purchase combination tickets for the factory tour and the gardens. It was money well spent!








New Orleans – May 2019 – Botanical & Sculpture Gardens

City Park in New Orleans is a perfect place to escape the hustle of the city and relax. It is larger than Central Park in New York, with a number of attractions throughout, including the New Orleans Botanical Garden.



There is an impressive piazza just across the street.



The street itself is lined with Live Oaks, complete with Spanish Moss.



The Arrival Garden is colorful, with the flowers growing up the wall.



There is a nearby sculpture garden, as well as sculptures scattered throughout the gardens themselves.






The walkway was in full bloom.



Most of the gardens were destroyed by the flood waters from Hurricane Katrina, but with donations and volunteers from all over the country it has recovered nicely.



The Train Garden is designed to represent New Orleans in the early 1900s. It has over 1300′ of track, and on weekends they run the trains.




The Yakumo Nihon Teien Japanese Garden was completed by the Japanese Garden Society of New Orleans.



Throughout the gardens are well placed sculptures to accent the flowers and plants.



City Park is home to more Live Oaks than any other urban space in the country.



A view inside the Conservatory of the Two Sisters.



A final look back towards the gardens.



And the Arrival Garden becomes our Departure Garden.



As a spectacular bonus just across the street is the Casino Building, which is being restored. Just outside on this beautiful day was the Cafe du Monde beignet truck!

No need to fight the crowd in the French Quarter, we had wonderful, warm, powdery beignets in the relative calm (along with 30 4th graders on a field trip!) of the park.






Hawaii – November 2018 – Day 6 Hilo

Day 6 started with some rain as we made our way down the mountain towards Hilo. As we drove along in the rain to our first destination I found the Apple Maps (the rental car has Apple Car Play) can let you down.

It had me turn on this ‘street’, which after about a mile I decided to give up, and back up until I could turn around. It is literally at the edge of town, so we weren’t way out in the middle of nowhere.

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Eventually we reached the town of Kalapana, about 20 miles south of Hilo, and Kaimu ‘Beach’. At one time it was a black sand beach, but in 1990 a lava flow overtook the beach and filled the entire bay.

As noted yesterday many believe that Hawaii is an independent Kingdom, not part of the U.S., especially for any new land that wasn’t part of the U.S. acquisition.

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This lava flow had some large cracks in it when it cooled.

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We are standing ‘in the bay’ looking back towards town.

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Further down the road is where the Spring 2018 lava flow wiped out 700 houses. While I feel bad for the people and their loss, who builds their house in the path of a volcano that has been flowing nearly continuously for 100 years or more.

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Yet here they are again, already popping up these little houses on the freshly cooled lava.

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Returning the other direction along the coast, we passed through some great forests.

 

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Eventually we reached MacKenzie State Park. Note the fisherman climbing the precariously placed ladder on the left and his fishing pole on the right. I am not sure what he is catching, but I hope it is worth it.

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On another recent lava flow people have placed Cairns made out of coconuts and leaves instead of the traditional rock piles.

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But it did lead to another great coastal view.

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Returning to Hilo, we went to Wailuku River Park, and found this impressive Banyan tree.

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The highlight of the park is Rainbow Falls. If you are there in the morning you will most likely see a rainbow, but it was afternoon so alas, we only saw the waterfall.

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About 20 miles north of Hilo is Akaka Falls. The hike down was through another ‘jungle’, although this one was nicely paved.

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At 442′ high it is one of the tallest waterfalls in America.

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There are even small waterfalls coming out of the rocks to the side of the main falls.

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The falls in located near the town of Honomu.

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Interestingly many small Hawaiian towns are built in the ‘old west’ style, albeit much more colorful.

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Once again we had a great view from our hotel, facing west across Hilo Bay towards the mountains (obscured by clouds in this photo).

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Next door was Lili’uokalani Park and Gardens. The site was donated by Queen Lili’uokalani, with the park being built in 1917 in the Edo style Japanese Gardens.

It is thought to be one of the best in the world outside of Japan.

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Well maintained with beautiful trees and landscaping.

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Along with some sculptures.

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I am not sure what these are known as so I called them Bonsai Palms.

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The park was very relaxing, and a great way to end the day.

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Many of the native trees have really cool, funky looks to them.

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Chillin’ on Coconut Island.

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Our hotel grounds were directly on the bay.

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As the sun was setting the last of the days flights were arriving. The airport was nearby, and the flight path brought the planes down the coast with a hard left turn just before the field. The clouds and setting sun added to the look.

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Another great Hawaiian sunset. Note that Manua Loa has come out of the clouds in the background.

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With that it was time for dinner, with entertainment.

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Columbus – September 2018 – Topiary and Ikenobo

Recently we stopped by Franklin Park and were surprised to see a large area fenced in near the Conservatory that had always been part of the overall park. With our return visit, we found that over the last year they had added the ‘Grand Mallway’, a nicely landscaped area.

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As part of the Conservatory’s Topiary display, there were a number of flamingos displayed here.

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They were an interesting mix of floral and painted moss.

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With our mid September visit, much was still in full bloom.

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The flamingos and sculptures backed by the glass Palm House.

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The Mallway is a great addition – adding much needed outdoor space to the complex.

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Ringing the outside of the area is this covered walkway.

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It also provides interesting views of the Palm House.

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Nearby is the ‘Brides Garden’

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The entrance to the Childrens Garden featured more topiary art.

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Including a butterfly. The Conservatory has a great butterfly display (featured on another blog posting today).

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Topiary Dolphins.

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Mexican Wolves.

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Personally I like the permanent Topiary Gardens downtown. These look like Chia pets.

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In addition the use of paint detracts from the whole topiary idea.

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But the elephants are cool.

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Inside the Ikenobo Society of Ohio had a show.

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The flowers were unique and beautiful.

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Their website describes Ikebono as ‘one of the representative aspects of Japanese traditional culture, and ikebana began with Ikenobo.’

‘In 1462 the name Senkei Ikenobo first appeared in historic records as “master of flower arranging.” Senno Ikenobo, who was active in the late Muromachi period (mid-16th century), established the philosophy of ikebana, completing a compilation of Ikenobo teachings called “Senno Kuden.”’

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Simple yet elegant in their presentation.

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We had popped into the Conservatory for a brief visit, but with the new gardens, the topiary, the butterflies and the Ikenobo we ended up having a full morning of fantastic sights and smells.

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Columbus – August 2018 – Looking Over the Topiary Garden

Regular followers of this blog will know we often visit parks and gardens for the interesting landscaping that many contain.

A small park in downtown Columbus is no different. As you approach you are welcomed by a flower bed surrounded by some shrubs.

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The flowers were a home for numerous butterflies

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But this is no ordinary park – it is the Topiary Garden, sculptures in nature.

This park’s subject is the George Seurat painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Isle of La Grande Jatte.

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The shrubberies were groomed to make the painting.

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The couple with the umbrella are the center of the design.

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Soldiers with helmets stand guard.

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Some of the figures are easy to make out.

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They use framing the force the shrubs into the correct shapes.

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Interestingly we did indeed spend some of a Sunday afternoon in the park.

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An overview including the rowing crew. The garden is composed of 54 human figures, eight boats, three dogs and monkey and a cat.

It was first planted in 1988, and has continued to be enhanced through the years.

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Next door is the former Ohio School for the Deaf. This school was built in 1868, and features a number of gargoyles shaped as faces above the doorways.

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Rather than the normal grotesque gargoyles, these are friendly faces.

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To me they are the children of the school welcoming others.

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The keep a watchful eye on all who arrive.

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Situated on the east side of the building, they face the Topiary Gardens.

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Not quite sure many of them are sticking their tongues out, but they add some humor to the impressive building.

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A visit to the Gardens and the school are a must.

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