Disney’s Epcot Flower Festival: 30 million blooms!

Pluto Topiary at Entrance by Spaceship Earth

Lakeside Flower Beds and Floating Mini-Gardens

Buzz Lightyear Topiary by Mission Space

Pooh and Red Balloon Topiary

Piglet and Eeyore Topiaries by Flower Tower

Tigger Topiary

Scarlet Passion Flower

Yellow Poppies

Queen Butterfly on Milkweed Flower

Lady and the Tramp Topiaries

Bambi and Friends Topiaries

Fantasia’s Dancing Hippo Topiary with Bromeliad Skirt

Panda Topiaries at Chinese Pavilion

Spinning Lettuce Hydroponics Garden at The Land Pavilion

Bioluminescent Anemone at The Living Seas Pavilion

The 2017 Epcot International Flower Festival at Disney World in Orlando, Florida, is a total delight to the senses!  There are over 30 million blooms on display!  Visitors can view 100 topiaries, 240 floating mini-gardens, dozens of flower towers, and lakeside flower beds containing 70,000 plants.  A video about preparation for the annual festival is at:  http://www.icflorida.com/entertainment/attractions/channel-9-goes-behind-the-scenes-of-epcots-flower-and-garden-festival/511547714  Planning for next year’s festival has already begun.  More info is at:  https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/events-tours/epcot/epcot-international-flower-and-garden-festival/  Details about some of the most popular topiaries are at:  http://www.hgtv.com/outdoors/gardens/garden-styles-and-types/31-magical-walt-disney-world-topiaries-pictures

Florida: Spectacular Oak Tree

Oak Tree in Black and White

Oak Tree in Black and White

This spectacular oak tree was photographed at the Malabar Scrub Sanctuary in Florida.  An entire community of organisms make their home on this tree.  

Florida: Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens

Yamato-kan

Yamato-kan

Woodruff Memorial Bridge

Woodruff Memorial Bridge

Walk through Shinden Garden

Walk through Shinden Garden

South Gate and Stone Lantern

South Gate and Stone Lantern

Morikami Falls

Morikami Falls

Karesansui Late Rock Garden

Karesansui Late Rock Garden

Hotei, God of Happiness

Hotei, God of Happiness

Chenille Plant (also Caterpillar Plant and Kitten’s Tail)

Chenille Plant (also Caterpillar Plant and Kitten’s Tail)

Recently we visited the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens in Delray Beach, Florida (http://morikami.org/).  The gardens, named “Roji-en: Garden of the Drops of Dew”, are meant to complement the museum.  It is a beautiful place to visit!

Spectacular Beautyberries

Colorful Beautyberries

Colorful Beautyberries

Beautyberries are one of Florida’s best native plants.  This shrub attracts both birds and butterflies, and the purple color of the berries in Fall is spectacular!  Although the berries are not tasty straight off the bush, they do make a wonderful jelly or sauce (recipe is at:  http://www.authenticflorida.com/articles/what-to-eat/time-to-make-authentic-florida-beautyberry-jelly/). 

Iceland: Fragile Moss Fields and Tiny Wildflowers

Moss Covered Lava Field

Moss Covered Lava Field

Moss Covered Lava Ridge

Moss Covered Lava Ridge

Alpine Mouse Ears in Moss

Alpine Mouse Ears in Moss

Sea Campion

Sea Campion

Purple Saxifrage

Purple Saxifrage

Moss Campion (cushion pink; lambagras)

Moss Campion (cushion pink; lambagras)

Angelica Flowers

Angelica Flowers

Lupines

Lupines

In Iceland there are vast areas of pillow-like moss covering the black lava landscape.  This unique moss is rare outside Iceland and extremely fragile.  It grows less than an inch per year, so you must never step on it.  Walking on it would be hazardous anyway, because the moss covers up lava with unseen crevices and jagged edges. 

Wildflower peak is in June and July.  Many of the flowers are tiny and grow close to the ground in response to the arctic climate.  Fields of lupines in early summer are spectacular! 

Iceland: Gorgeous Waterfalls

Seljalandsfoss  Waterfall

Seljalandsfoss Waterfall

Seljalandsfoss Flow into Basin

Seljalandsfoss Flow into Basin

Skogafoss Waterfall with Angelica Flowers

Skogafoss Waterfall with Angelica Flowers

Mighty Skogafoss Waterfall

Mighty Skogafoss Waterfall

Gullfoss Waterfall with Dandelions and Buttercups

Gullfoss Waterfall with Dandelions and Buttercups

Gullfoss Waterfall: Tourists on Rock Ledge

Gullfoss Waterfall: Tourists on Rock Ledge

Close-up of Gullfoss First Tier Waterfall

Close-up of Gullfoss First Tier Waterfall

Iceland is filled with gorgeous waterfalls – the variety and beauty are amazing!  Our favorite waterfall is Seljalandsfoss (on the south coast).  You can walk behind its curtain of water.  Another favorite nearby is Skogafoss.  A short stroll there leads up to the base of this mighty waterfall.  The most powerful waterfall of all is Gullfoss (along Reykjavik’s Golden Circle Tour).  This waterfall generates more power than Niagara and features a double tier of falls.  Many other beautiful waterfalls can be seen by simply driving around the Icelandic countryside.

Los Angeles: Getty Center and Gardens

Getty Center Campus

Getty Center Campus

Building's Curvilinear Design

Building’s Curvilinear Design

Giant Travertine Slab of Fossilized Reeds, Mosses, and Algae

Giant Travertine Slab of Fossilized Reeds, Mosses, and Algae

Travertine’s Fossilized Crystallized Bubbles Formed in Ancient Hot Springs

Travertine’s Fossilized Crystallized Bubbles Formed in Ancient Hot Springs

Natural Ravine and Tree-Lined Walkway of Stream Garden

Natural Ravine and Tree-Lined Walkway of Stream Garden

Blooming Bougainvillea Arbors

Blooming Bougainvillea Arbors

Central Garden Overlook of Getty Logo formed by Floating Azalea Maze

Central Garden Overlook of Getty Logo formed by Floating Azalea Maze

Flower Bowl Garden

Flower Bowl Garden

Waterfall into Floating Azalea Pool

Waterfall into Floating Azalea Pool

South Promontory Cactus Garden

South Promontory Cactus Garden

Close-up of Barrel Cactus

Close-up of Barrel Cactus

Van Gogh’s Irises Sold for $53.9 million in 1987

Van Gogh’s Irises Sold for $53.9 million in 1987

When we visited Los Angeles, California, last summer we toured the Getty Center and Gardens.  The $1.3 billion Center opened in 1997 and sits on a hilltop overlooking the Los Angeles basin.  Featured on campus are the Getty Art Museum, outdoor sculptures and fountains, the Central Garden, and the Getty Research Institute.  Buildings are covered in white Italian travertine that comes from the same quarry used to build the Roman Coliseum (look for fossilized plants, marine life, and crystallized bubbles in the stone).  The architecture is stunning.  On a clear day the view extends from the mountains to the sea.  Indoor spaces emphasize the use of natural light.  Masterpiece paintings on display include those by Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, and Edgar Degas.  

The ever-changing Central Garden is so exquisitely planned down to the last detail that it is registered as a piece of art in the Getty collection.  Even the way the soil is tilled is part of the master plan created by artist and designer Robert Irwin.  A fun television show called “California’s Gold” by Huell Howser features details and interviews about the garden: https://blogs.chapman.edu/huell-howser-archives/2008/01/13/getty-garden-californias-gold-10006/

The Getty Center was an all day excursion that far exceeded our expectations – it is a very impressive and amazing place to walk around.  It is a monument to both nature and culture.  And besides the parking fee, the Center is free!   Don’t miss this gem in Los Angeles.  More info is at:  http://www.getty.edu/visit/center/­­­­­

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