Thursday, August 15 – The Conservatory

by Cam Miller. 0 Comments

Day 347 – The Conservatory

(Click any photo to enlarge.)

Please join me on the last day, September 2, for a celebration photo walk!  Registration details are here.

This looked like a glowing caterpillar.
I love the patterns these make.

Joan and I met my friend Kris for lunch today; then Kris treated us to an afternoon at the Longwood Conservatory.  Although Joan and I were at Longwood yesterday, we saved the conservatory for today.

What a beautiful place this is.  Kris told us that Pierre du Pont wanted to create a place to grow fruits, so he built the conservatory.  It soon became much more than that, evolving into a building to hold fabulous parties for both friends and du Pont company employees.  A huge organ was installed; we were lucky to hear a demonstration of that today, and afterwards we walked to the rooms where we could see some of the thousands of pipes that create the wonderful tones.

The center of this hibiscus is gray.
Inside the Conservatory

We saw the living wall of ferns, the succulents, the tropicals, the espaliered fruit trees, the children’s garden, and more.  All of it is lovingly cared for by staff and volunteers, who remove spent blooms and brown leaves, so that nothing but perfection remains.

Thorny Underside
Platter-like Leaves

But the star of the show is definitely the Victoria Lily, for which there is a special exhibit called “Secrets of Victoria:  Waterlily Queen.”  We walked through the informational exhibit, which told about the discovery of the Victoria in South America, the efforts to hybridize it at Longwood, the details of how scarab beetles pollinate the mysterious flower, and the anatomy of the plant, including its huge, platter-like leaves.

After viewing the exhibit, we went into the water lily gardens, where we were lucky to catch the end of a demonstration by a gardener who was in the water with the plants.  He talked about how the leaves can withstand weights up of to 100 pounds of matter placed on them; he said the leaves grow 8-10 inches a day.  He then used a large stick to lift one of the leaves out of the water to show us the undersides, being careful not to catch himself on one of the many thorns protruding from the leaf’s underside.

Pink Caladiums
The Victoria Lily

I had seen these water lily leaves at Lily Pons, growing near the gazebo, and I had always admired them and been amazed by them.  Now I can appreciate these plants all the more.

It was such a treat to walk through the conservatory with someone who knew it well, could fill us in on tidbits of history as we walked through the building, and share her love of Longwood with us.  Thank you, Kris, for a most delightful afternoon.

Click on any photo to enlarge it.
Forward me by email any receipt for an online donation made to the Red Cross for
disaster relief, and I will send you a 5×7 print of your choice from
any of my daily photo walks or from my website.  Offer good until
September 2, 2013.

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Follow me on Twitter: @camscamerashots


Cam’s rules for the Daily Photo Walk:

  1. walk every day
  2. the walk must be in addition to any other planned activity for the day
  3. post a photo every day
  4. use whatever camera is easy and convenient for walking comfortably;
    always have a backup camera at the ready in case of mishaps (I use the
    Nikon Coolpix P7700)
  5. no weather excuses
  6. walk only where it is safe to do so

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