When my friend and fellow plant-a-holic Laura (who blogs over at Durable Gardening) suggested at lunchtime that we forget about food, grab our cameras and head to the U of I Plant Science Conservatory, I jumped at the opportunity.
|Nun Orchid (Phaius tancarvilleae)|
While most orchids are epiphytic (i.e. they grow on other plants), Nun Orchids are terrestrial and prefer a well-drained, acidic soil. Native to much of tropical Asia, they can be grown as a perennial in Zones 9-11, and find the conservatory environment just like home. (Source: Floridata)
Today, a few of the individual white buds had unfurled from the tightly-wrapped, almost Hosta-like flower clusters. Soon these buds will open, displaying their rich, reddish-brown interiors-- and I certainly plan to return for their unveiling.
But my visit today was not a waste, for when I entered the conservatory door, I saw an open instrument case laying on the ground. Nearby, a visitor was tuning his banjo as he sat on the bench near the entrance. Soon, he began to weave the most wonderful music with his fingers and voice -- a sound that filled the conservatory with a life I'd never before witnessed.
Just as Laura arrived, the banjo player started to pack away his instrument to return to his workplace. I complimented him on his musicianship, and he simply said, "This is such a wonderful place. It rejuvenates me."
After spending a little more time taking photos and fawning over the amazing examples of plant morphology in the conservatory, Laura and I packed up and headed back to our own workplaces. Together, we shared a feeling with the banjo player -- a feeling of rejuvenation -- on a dreary January day.
You can view the photos from today's shoot at http://fromthesoilblog.shutterfly.com/places/6136.