Tuesday, November 22, 2005

A Night Visit to the US Botanical Gardens

A Night Visit to the US Botanical Gardens

November 21.2005: A day after the titan arum reached full bloom and three days before the holiday exhibit officially opened, John and I shivered our way from Union Station across the grounds of the US Capitol, into the US Botanical Gardens and out of the rain. Titan arum, also known as Amorphophallus titanum is the freakiest (editor’s opinion) member of the Aroid family: a genus that includes skunk cabbage, calla lilies and philodendron. You gotta be pretty wacky to out-weird a skunk cabbage. But there’s no contest for this native of Sumatra whose once-every-couple-of-years bloom stands several feet high (yes, it’s a single bloom we’re talking about) and smells like a garbage dumpster (full and ready for pickup). I could regale you with all the botanical details but that would be gilding the lily, or the “corpse flower” as it’s commonly called.

Take a look at the photos (OK, OK, only ONE of the photos is of the actual flower and the rest are of holiday decorations (at the slowest shutter speed our digital camera could accommodate).

Titan arum in full regalia

Go to the Smithsonion’s department of botany web page to read about this flower (they own the one that bloomed on 11/19/05) at http://persoon.si.edu/titan . To learn about the USBG’s titan arum that bloomed in July of 2003 go here: http://www.usbg.gov/your-visit/Titan-Day-1.cfm

And here are the holiday photos. If you look closely behind the Christmas tree, you’ll see a toy train rolling along the elevated tracks. This Christmas tree reminds me of the one I decorated as a child (well, the one I decorated was about 1/10th the size, but it had about the same amount of tinsel on it.)

Christmas Tree and Trains

Here "we" (editorial, not royal "we") are outside of the US Botanical Gardens. The little Christmas trees are festively lit in red, white and blue.

Christmas trees outside the USBG

The US Capitol in the background. Sorry it's a little blurry. It was a cold and rainy night... but that's another story.

Christmas trees with US Capitol in the background

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