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Posts Tagged ‘Spanish moss’

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On Monday, it was still bitterly cold but bright and sunny, a good day for a drive, and we set off for the Montreal Botanical Garden. The MBG features a set of linked greenhouses that are like paradise on a cold winter’s day. The photo above shows a model of the greenhouses and gives you an idea of their layout. Each house features different plant species. We especially wanted to see the Butterflies Go Free exhibit, which opened February 20th and runs until April 27th.

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When you step into the first greenhouse and are enveloped by the humid, earth-scented air, it is easy to leave winter behind.

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This vivid orchid is xLaeliocattleya Ptarmigan Ridge ‘Mendenhall’. What a beauty!

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Check out these fiddleheads! They belong to a tree fern.

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You can get an idea of the size of this tree fern from the person standing to the right.

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Here’s a bit of information about tree ferns provided with the display.

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You can walk behind a waterfall and look out over a pond featuring two sculpted cranes.

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Here’s yet another reason for banning plastic water bottles!

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Look at these monster cones! They belong to a cycas.

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I’ve gotten lazy about taking down information. The digital age makes it easy to record whatever information is on offer and read up on topics at your leisure back at home.

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The begonia room may be my favorite. There are so many diverse varieties of begonias with all manner of interesting leaf patterns. One of my favorites was the one shown above. The leaves look green in the shade, but when lit by the sun, they are fired with red.

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And how about this swirly pattern? This rex begonia is appropriately named Escargot.

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After the warmth of the other greenhouses, the bonsai room felt distinctly cool. The bonsai are just awakening from a dormant period and many, such as this Chinese Elm, featured tiny leaves, just beginning to show.

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Our last stop was the butterfly exhibit. It’s totally wonderful, with a large, bright, two-storey structure filled with beautiful flowering plants, a tall waterfall and brilliant butterflies everywhere. What a pleasure.

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Here’s the chrysalis house, where you can look for emerging butterflies. The butterflies are easy to observe and photograph, a great spectacle. A helpful full-colour guide is included with your admission so you can identify different species. I’ll leave you with a few photos of some of the butterflies, and a giant moth!

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Atlas or Cobra Moth (Attacus atlas)

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Blue morpho (Morpho helenor)

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Asian swallowtail pair (Papilio lowi)

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Rice paper (Idea leuconoe) and Pink rose (Pachliopta kotzebuea)

 

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This winter has been incredibly mild and largely snowfree. We sure can’t complain. Still, the damp, the grey, the boots and coats, it all gets a little wearing, even so. For a break from the February Blahs, a trip to a greenhouse works wonders. So this week, RailGuy and I journeyed out to the Montreal Botanical Gardens for some leafy therapy. Although we have visited the gardens in summer, we have never toured the greenhouses before. We thoroughly enjoyed the visit from the moment we stepped inside and got that first whiff of warm soil. The greenhouses are linked in a series of themed gardens. Here are some of the tropical plants.

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I love the Spanish Moss, dripping from these branches. Spanish Moss is native to the southeastern United States and south to Argentina. It hangs from trees in dense masses, sometimes several metres long. It’s an epiphytic plant, which means it is rootless. Its stems are covered in greyish scales called trichomes, which allow the plant to absorb water and minerals and protect it from excess evaporation.

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Check out this adorable croc, situated by one of the many water features. His covering of leaves really does impart a scaly appearance.

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These two big heron-like birds were stunning, standing before a tall waterfall and wreathed in mist rising from the water.

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Here’s a selection of bromeliads. The Bromeliaceae family is diverse and includes plants as different as Spanish Moss and pineapples. Some bromeliads are adapted to store rainwater and dew. Their tightly overlapping leaves form a reservoir known as a tank. The water, plant litter and decomposing animal waste captured in the tank provide a complete diet for the plant. Some amphibians lay their eggs in the bromeliad tank. The hatchlings have a food supply of mosquito larvae and other goodies.

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One greenhouse is devoted to bonsai plantings. The tree in the photo below is a 70-year-old Chinese Sweetplum (Sageretia thea).

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Here’s a view of the cactus display. Cactus are mostly succulents, and are xerophytes, adapted to living in hot, dry environments. The variety of forms includes everything from the weird to the wonderful.

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I especially liked these Golden Barrel cactus.

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Another interesting collection featured the Begoniaceae and Gesneriacaea families, which share similar tropical and subtropical habitats. The latter includes a common houseplant, the African Violet. The former includes begonias. I didn’t realize that begonias can be epiphytes, climbers and even shrubs. They are all characterized by asymmetrical leaves.

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Some of the begonias had eye-catching foliage. Here’s an Iron-Cross begonia, above, and the aptly named Begonia Rex-cultorum ‘Escargot’ below.

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That’s just a smattering of the interesting sights. We also enjoyed the orchid display, the fruit and spice plants, and of course, the butterflies that fly free in the winter. I’ll save them for another post.

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