Saturday, 22 April 2017

Shenandoah Caverns


We set off for the weekend in pouring rain, heading for the Blue Ridge Mountains and, we had hoped, a few miles of great views along Skyline Drive.  The mountains were shrouded in low cloud and so we headed to Shenandoah Caverns, a network of limestone caves under the mountains at the side of the Shenandoah Valley.





The caves, originally opened in 1922, had some similar formations to Luray, which we visited during David's parents last visit.  Again we were surprised by the extent of the caves - we walked for a mile underground and there are other caves there not open to visitors.


This formation - referred to by our guide as 'bacon' was one that we hadn't seen before and is interesting because of the different strata of minerals.



A few of the features, including this underground lake had been illuminated with bright colours - not really an improvement in my view!


Friday, 21 April 2017

Bonsai at Longwood


One of the most amazing sections of the glasshouses at Longwood Gardens last weekend was the one dedicated to the Bonsai trees.

I think this was the first time that I have ever seen a Bonsai 'copse' like the one above, a number of Hornbeam trees.


The miniature leaves on this maple tree were exquisite.


I am not sure that I have ever seen a full size pomegranate tree, but this tiny one was complete with miniature flowers.


Some of the trees had been trained for over 100 years and the trees themselves could be much older as the training does not always begin when the tree is very young.

This Gingko tree had been trained since 1909..


Just beautiful but I don't think I would have either the patience or the vision to engage in Bonsai as a pastime! 



Thursday, 20 April 2017

Butterflies Live!


At the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History today we visited the 'Betterflies Live!' exhibit.


Once we had passed through the airlock and inside it was hot, humid and very bright, with many butterflies fluttering about and landing on flowers, visitors and, most perilously, the floor.


The most beautiful large blue butterflies are very elusive to capture, closing their wings as soon as they land.


The Swallowtails, Monarchs and other smaller butterflies were more easily captured with the camera.



Probably the most extraordinary creature in the butterfly tunnel was this Atlas Moth.  Not flying free but inside a mesh enclosure, it was difficult to photograph well despite its huge size - it has a 6-8 inch wingspan!  That would be quite something to be fluttering at your window or around your lamp at night!!



Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Mount Vernon in Spring


Our day trip to 'George Washington's' Mount Vernon to visit the house and gardens started off with visits to the upper (mainly flower) and lower (vegetable and fruit) gardens.


At this time of year the very ordered planting of the vegetable garden and neat pruning of the espaliered and border fruit trees is very clear to see.





In the flower garden, Spring bulbs still dominate the beds...






Other flowers are coming into bloom..









We visited the house (no photos are permitted inside)  and then took a short boat trip on the Potomac.  

Everything was a little grey due to the overcast skies but David managed to take a photo of an osprey nesting at the end of the Mount Vernon jetty..



It was a good visit and provided some unusual  photo opportunities for our guests..


As well as some more conventional ones..