An unapologetic plant geek shares advice and opinions on gardening, the contrived and the natural landscape, as well as occasional topics from the other side of the gate.

August 23, 2015

Tubing and Tattoos

     Earlier this month, some friends and I left the flatlands, and headed west to Scottsville for a day of tubing on the James River. This is one of my favorite things to do on a late summer day when the water is warm and clear. I wish I could share with you the beauty of the James, but on a total immersion trip like this, carrying anything subject to water damage, such as a camera, is not good idea. Though this didn't stop several members of the nearby and inebriated college crowd from bringing along their own electronic devices to broadcast loud and bad music. I kept wondering if I could hold my breath long enough to swim under water to the noise's source, overturn it, then swim away undetected. I've already made a note to myself to make an earlier departure next time so as to avoid this crowd. Despite this we had a lovely time, and after spending a delightful evening in nearby Charlottesville, we headed back home, but not before stopping at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) in Richmond.

     Having spent much of my life in Richmond, the museum is familiar to me, or at least it was before its latest, and impressive, renovation.
Entrance Planter

Robins Sculpture Garden (2)

     Underneath and behind the sloping garden above is the new parking garage. What used to be the old parking lot is now the Robins Sculpture Garden, which as a card-carrying treehugger, I think is indeed a better use of any space.
Robins Sculpture Garden

Red Reeds, Dale Chihuly  (1)

La Riviere, Aristide Maillol

     On one side of the garden is a building whose architect was allowed access to the original plans for the White House to use as derivation. Built in 1932, it was, ironically, the Home for Needy Confederate Women. It's last occupants were moved to a nursing home in 1989, and it then became VMFA offices and meeting rooms. The rest of the museum's grounds were once part of a residential complex for poor and disabled Confederate veterans. There has been much talk of relegating all things Confederate to museums, so I guess Richmond has had a head start.
Home for Needy Confederate Women

     The museum itself has undergone many additions and renovations, the latest one is decidedly modern, and has created much new space. The entrance is now a large atrium that runs through all the museum's floors. At one end is the sculpture garden and restaurants, and at the other is a large leaping hare.
VMFA Cochrane Atrium (2)

VMFA Cochrane Atrium (1)

Large Leaping Hare, Barry Flanagan (1)

Large Leaping Hare, Barry Flanagan (2)

     The first thing we saw was a photography exhibition titled Organic: Photographs of the Natural World. Though I enjoyed the show as a whole, I got stuck on the fact that the title of one of the photographs is Bellevue Chinese Witch Hazel though it is clearly a loropetalum. Next to the photos was the entrance to the South Asian gallery, where I ran into a childhood memory.
VMFA South Asian Galleries (4)

     I think I first saw this depiction of a dancing Shiva on one of Miss Greene's 5th grade field trips, and I was fascinated with the statue, and have looked for it on each visit since. On my recent trip it was only one of many things that caught my eye at this wonderful museum.
VMFA South Asian Galleries (7)

VMFA South Asian Galleries (8)

Tiffany Lamps (1)

VMFA, Animal Figures, The Paul Mellon Collection (1)

Suite of Furniture, Félix Del Marle

Desk and Chair, Lily Pond Window, Jacques Gruber

Two Beauties at Azalea Garden, Kawase Hasui

     The museum is free, but we did pay $10 to see the exhibition, Japanese Tattoo: Perseverance, Art, and Tradition. Though we are both without any ink, my wife and I are somewhat fascinated with tattoos. Even so, I entered the exhibition not thinking I would enjoy it as much as I did. Once you got beyond all the colorful backsides and noticed the details, skill and artistry, it was utterly fascinating.
Japanese Tattoo Perseverance, Art, and Tradition (1)

Japanese Tattoo Perseverance, Art, and Tradition (5)

Japanese Tattoo Perseverance, Art, and Tradition (7)

Japanese Tattoo Perseverance, Art, and Tradition

Japanese Tattoo Perseverance, Art, and Tradition (8)

     I recommend the tattoo show, and it is well worth the extra money, but it ends 9/27. There is much more to see at the museum, but we didn't have the time, so a return trip is called for. As usual, there are more photos available on my Flickr page.

August 15, 2015

Bloom Day - Thankful Yet Again

     Someone asked me tonight how I was liked working in the weather this week, which was more than just small talk considering we have been enjoying a remarkable-for-August spate of weather with crystal clear skies, lower (but not absent) humidity, and temps in the low to mid-80's. I answered that I was indeed thankful for the weather, but can take anything as long as it is not cold. It is bordering on late summer, and I still haven't forgotten February, and I'm not about to either.

     As for Bloom Day, I only have a few bits of color beyond green to show you. Let's start near the front steps. My former next door neighbors planted 3 Rudbeckia fulgida (probably 'Goldstrum') years ago in their garden, and the current owner has allowed them to grow with abandon. Seeds blow into my garden, and I keep what I want, the others are pulled. This one grows in a small crack in the concrete.
Rudbeckia fulgida

     Climbing above the Rudbeckia is the grape Nehi smelling, misleadingly named evergreen wisteria (Millettia reticulata).
Millettia reticulata

     Begonia boliviensis 'Bonfire' is still blooming on the steps. I'll try to save the tuber for next year.
Begonia boliviensis 'Bonfire'

     I need to keep an eye on my Viburnum lantana 'Variegatum' so it won't be choked by an air potato (Dioscorea alata) planted in the same pot.
Viburnum lantana 'Variegatum' and Dioscorea alata

     After two horrid winters, I was afraid that my Cestrum aurantiaum 'Orange Zest' would not come back, but it did, though dying to the roots this year. It was later than normal to bloom, but has been going non-stop since early July.
Cestrum aurantiaum 'Orange Zest'  (2)

Cestrum aurantiaum 'Orange Zest'  (1)

      Red flowers are common, black foliage a little less so. Put them together and you have Dahlia 'Mystic Enchantment' and a welcome addition to a sea of surrounding yellow foliage.
Dahlia 'Mystic Enchantment'

     The flowers on my unidentified Haworthia look more like a spider than a flower.

     I moved Lantana 'Miss Huff' early in the summer, and she has been sulking and stingy with blooms. So I doubly appreciate 'Landmark Sunrise Rose', one of the best annual lantanas.
Lantan 'Landmark Sunrise Rose'

     If you would like to see what other garden bloggers have growing, then visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens, where a glass is raised on the 15th of each month for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day.