Monday, April 27, 2015

Spectacular Weekend for Cherry Blossoms in Washington DC

Spring in the Baltimore-Washington area starts when our snow bells bloom. However, it is the blossoms of the many varieties of cherry trees that signal spring has arrived.

Snow bells blooming in early spring

Washington Monument surrounded by Cherry Blossoms

The Tidal basin in Washington DC is a wonderful place to see cherry trees in bloom. The Cherry Blossom festival is a yearly event attended by approximately 1.5million people. Even I, a local, brave the crowds to enjoy the beauty of the location.

Photo of the Washington Monument from the Tidal Basin during Cherry Blossom

Lincoln Memorial during Cherry Blossom festival

This year the cherry blossom peak coincided with the peak of the magnolia trees in the garden behind the Smithsonian castle and with the Cherry Blossom Parade.

Cherry Blossom trees against the Smithsonian castle

Smithsonian Castle garden with Magnolia trees in full bloom

Magnolia trees in full bloom by the Smithsonian castle

To say that it seemed as if the entire world was at the National mall on Saturday, does not begin to describe the crowds and multitude of visitors. Yet, despite the crowds, people were civil, cordial, and amicable; taking turns when taking photos at favorite spots. The weather was beautiful and the views were amazing.

Fun photo- Looking as if holding the Washington Monument with one hand

For how to navigate the crowds and enjoy your time, read my earlier post Cherry Blossoms Everywhere in Washington DC. Wear comfortable shoes, preferably sneakers, I can assure you nobody will notice. Also, bring a light jacket, there is always a cold breeze by the tidal basin.

The Smithsonian castle garden during Cherry Blossom festival

Did you know?

  • The trees were a gift from Japan in 1912
  • 3020 trees were given
  • from 12 different varieties
  • The tidal basin cherry trees are all Yoshino trees
  • It took roughly 7 years to plant all the trees around the tidal basin

A bunch of Cherry Blossoms in a tree

If you get the opportunity to come to Washington DC, do so during the Cherry Blossom Festival. To see our Nation's Capital monuments such as the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial among others embellished by the natural beauty of the Cherry trees in bloom is something you should do at least once in your lifetime. You will have many photo opportunities to record and share your visit with friends when you get back home.

Photo of Magnolia trees in full bloom

Washington Monument surrounded by white cherry blossoms

Hope to see you next year. Wishing you all Happy Travels in your area.

If you enjoyed the photos and post, please recommend and share with friends.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Treasures at the New York Botanical Gardens Orchid Exhibit

While we wait for spring to arrive with all of its colors, orchids have been flowering everywhere.

Phalaenopsis orchids shown at the New York Botanical Gardens

Recently I visited the New York Botanical Gardens to see the orchid exhibit. The subway ride (4-line) from downtown Manhattan to the Bedford Park Blvd station in the Bronx was about 30 minutes long. Most of the ride was above ground which gave me an opportunity to see sections of New York I have not see for a long while such as the Yankee Stadium.

View of the Yankee Stadium from the subway train

The hustle and bustle of downtown Manhattan gave way to normal living, with many apartment buildings and with people going about their daily lives.

Apartment building view from a subway station in NYC

The walk from the station to the Botanical Gardens while not long, felt long as it was a sunshiny day but bitterly cold and windy. The walk from the station to the Gardens entry is about 15-25 minutes.

The Botanical Gardens are huge, 250 acres, but unfortunately I had no time to explore it, just enough time to see the orchids in display in the conservatory.

NYC Botanical Gardens Conservatory

The NYC Botanical Gardens Facts

  • Founded in 1981
  • It is a National Historical Landmark.
  • It is 250 acres (Central Park in Manhattan is 843 acres).
  • A tram tour is available (additional fee) that covers the entire facility with many stops along the way.
  • Numerous classes are offered for children as well as adults.
  • Many outreach programs are offered for local schools and residents.
  • It carries out many research and conservation programs.
  • Within the Gardens there is the largest botanical library in the world. It is all about botany and anything relating to the plant world. I definitely have to see it next time I am there.
  • Becoming a member automatically gives you entry to many other gardens and arboreta nationwide, so this is a fabulous thing if you enjoy visiting gardens.

The orchid exhibition is held inside the Haupt Conservatory.

Front view of the NYC Botanical Gardens Conservatory

The Haupt Conservatory was first opened in 1902. Lord and Lady Britton of New York, both botanist, wanted to build something magnificent and beautiful for the city and I think they accomplished that. It is funded by a generous contribution and endowment from Enid Annenberg Haupt, a philanthropist who died in 2005.

The general information says the Conservatory has 11 pavilions that connected form a 512 foot long C-shaped area. I am sure it is all true but I must say that once I stepped inside, I was mesmerized by the beauty of it all. At the entry is the Palm pavillion with huge high ceilings and enormous tropical vegetation. And then you are bombarded by the beauty of the orchids on display. It is a feast to the eyes, a pleasure to the senses with a feel of paradise, heaven on earth.

Phalaenopsis arranged as chandeliers hanging at the NYC Botanical Gardens conservatory

Tiger like Phalaenopsis as seen at the NYC Botanical Gardens

Many of the orchids were arranged to be displayed while hanging for a chandelier effect and wow, they were beautiful and some were enormous! There were so many orchids that it was hard to cover the entire conservatory at a fast pace, you would not want to.

Big cluster of orchids arranged as a chandelier at the NYC Botanical Gardens

Cluster of orchids at the NYC Botanical Gardens

What I liked about the exhibition

  • The orchids looked fresh and healthy.
  • Most of the orchids were from the Phalaenopsis family but with so many different colors and all in beautiful arrangements, it did not matter.
  • The arrangement of orchids as chandeliers just made me wonder how long it must have taken to prepare for the exhibit and the many challenges the people involved must have had installing the large chandeliers without damaging the orchids in the process.
  • It was a WOW view.
  • I was very pleased to see a few miltoniopsis orchids, which are my current favorite that I am trying to grow myself.

Red Miltonias orchids

Pinkish Miltonias orchids

Below are several of the photos I took, I hope you enjoy them. I also hope you get a chance to visit the NYB Gardens, it is a beautiful place.

Orchids at the New York Botanical Gardens exhibition

As for me, I am so very glad I had the opportunity to see the orchid show at the NYB Gardens. This is a New York tourist attraction that should not be missed. I will be going back during warmer weather to see the rest of the gardens.

If you enjoyed this post, or the photos, please recommend it and subscribe to my blog. If you grow orchids which one is your favorite?

Wishing you all Happy Travels in your area.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Let's Go Fly a Kite at The National Mall

If it is spring it is time for the Cherry Blossom Festival at the National Mall in Washington DC. This year the festivities started on March 20 (the first day of spring) and culminate with the Cherry Blossom parade.

Tidal Basin view during Cherry Blossom Festival in DC

For three weeks the National Mall, the Smithsonian area, is full of visitors and foreigners, estimates say 1.5 million people come  during this time. It is all true, it is hectic and crowded and yet even I who live nearby cannot stay away. I also look forward to the many festivities. One of my favorites is the Kite festival.

Kites at the Kite Festival in Washington DC

Washington Monument surrounded by kites during the Kite Festival

What I don't understand is why couldn't the festivities start with the Cherry Blossom parade in early spring and end with the Kite event? In essence moving the Cherry Blossom Festival a couple of weeks forward so that the weather is truly in spring mode. I say start the festival the first weekend in April and end it three weeks later.

This year, this is how welcomed spring: it snowed on March 20. Our spring blossoms are late and our daffodils are just getting ready to bloom.

Street view covered in Snow

The day of the Kite event, March 28, was awfully cold, it was barely above freezing in the morning with a breeze that made it feel even colder. But at least it did not rain, and it was not terribly windy, perfect for kite flying. Of course young kids as always did not seem to mind the cold weather; they came all bundled up and were running all over the grounds.

Happy child running trying to fly a kite at the National Mall

What to expect and what to do at the Kite festival

  • As in years past, there are areas helping young kids make their own kites and although the materials are provided, the kites are quite basic but they do fly!
  • They have a Kite clinic with "kite doctors" ready to help repair kites and assist young kite flying aficionados.
Group of people lined up at the Kite Clinic at the Kite festival at the National Mall

  • This year the festival was selling kites but the lines were quite long. You could buy one at the Air and Space museum but it is much easier to just bring one. Don't go crazy; just bring an average size kite to ensure it will fly.
  • The area is out in the open so be sure to bundle up, our weather is not very predictable and you want to enjoy your time.
  • Bring your camera, the views are wonderful.
View of the Lincoln Memorial from the Washington Monument during the Kite festival
Found the Kite eating tree

  • Upon arrival make your way to the main location (by the Washington Monument) and pick up a Kite festival schedule to learn when the competitions take place and how to sign up for any of them if you want to participate.
  • Find a spot and start flying your kite!

Kite Festival brochure at the National Mall

Kites flying during the Kite Festival at the National Mall

Kite in the shape of a dragon flying during the Kite Festival at the National Mall

When you are done, make your way to one of the many Smithsonian museums to warm up and to eat lunch.

Why I like going to the Kite festival

  • I enjoy flying a kite. The young kid in me still loves doing it.
  • I enjoy watching the young kids and the young at heart (which are many) having so much fun flying a kite.
  • I enjoy seeing the kites up in the air and the variety of designs, although this year there were not so many, probably due to the cold weather.
  • The Washington Monument area gives you great views of other historical monuments in the area.
  • I enjoy seeing the kite flying demonstrations and competitions. Some of those kites do take skill to fly; it is very neat to watch them.
Kites flying during the Kite Festival at the National Mall

I hope you get a chance to come to the Kite Festival in Washington DC in the future, you will enjoy it. I also hope next year's event has better weather!

Wishing you all Happy Travels in your area and a Fabulous spring!