Another year is upon us, and here in the Northeast it’s off to a slow and frigid start. On the day before Christmas I was poking around looking for snowdrop shoots, now just a little more than a week later I’m watching the birds huddle around the feeder while the rivers and lakes freeze over. It’s a bit of a shock to have actual winter weather after years of lackluster cold, but I’m pretty confident it won’t last. The weather is still all over, and when I randomly checked the Nome Alaska forecast it looks like just outside the arctic circle they’re enjoying high temperatures just below freezing while we’re developing our own permafrost here to the south. My best bet in scenarios like this is to head for the warmth of a decent conservatory to enjoy a little warm indoor gardening stability 😉
My choice was the glass houses of Planting Fields Arboretum, located just east of NYC on Long Island. Built in the 1920’s it’s the former Coe Estate, an old Gatsby era Gold Coast mansions which rather than face the wrecking ball or subdivision like so many others, was donated to the state of NY which has cared for it ever since.
My pictures really don’t do the estate credit, I was working with an older cell phone camera and the cold outside caused the battery to shut down for most of the visit (thanks Apple)… so only a few photos… but hopefully someday soon I’ll be back for better. The not-yet-full-of-flowers camellia house is where I did get a few pictures, and although the peak is still two or so months off (late February/early March) the contrast between this and icy walks with cold-curled leaves of rhododendron was perfect.
I seem to recall reading that this camellia house is the largest under-glass collection of camellias in the Northeast, but there are even more extensive greenhouses on other parts of the estate. They’re full of holiday poinsettia displays, tropical fruit and blooms, cacti, orchids, bromeliads… but of course camera issues will spare you from all those photos today. We did manage to make a quick tour around Coe Hall before our noses froze completely (and the phone shut down).
It was a shame to skip the holly and conifer collections, but we weren’t up for a long walk and didn’t have the time regardless. Better to linger during magnolia season or when the azaleas are in bloom, or the rose arches, peonies, perennial borders, annual displays, lilies, dahlias….. 😉
Since the camera died at that point, and in retrospect the photos aren’t all that great in the first place, I’ll move on to another more local winter conservatory… my own winter garden of fluorescent shoplights and workshop benches. It may not have overhanging boughs of fruiting citrus, or banks of multicolored poinsettias (the variety of which rivaled much larger gardens) but it does have my absolute favorite plant, a returned from the dead Australian Tree Fern.
Don’t ask me why but I’m this excited about a stupid fern. As you know they just sit there being green, but there’s something extra special about it, maybe it’s the accent.
It’s still another week or two before snowdrops and cyclamen show up under the lights, but rather than go outside again to take pictures of frosty dead things, I’ll leave you with a bright reminder of the hot colors of summer.
May your 2018 be filled with joy, friendship, and success, and thanks to all who take the time to visit this blog and entertain my ramblings. All the best!