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WORDLESS WEDNESDAYS – PRICKLY STAYCATION

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THE ROAD TO MADAGASCAR!

DSC05472Yesterday, my longtime friend Bill and I went to the Missouri Botanical Garden’s 2013 Orchid Show which was themed MADAGASCAR. Madagascar is a tropical island country in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Africa, and many artifacts from that country were displayed among the exhibit of orchids. Enough for words, check the pictures. You can enlarge any picture by clicking on it.

DSC05455 DSC05439 DSC05441 DSC05442 DSC05451 DSC05458 DSC05463 DSC05450 DSC05459 DSC05467  DSC05461 DSC05470

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DSC05460It was really a fantastic exhibit!

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BEYOND The Photo Challenge Post

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  This is the photo I used for this week’s photo challenge which was supposed to represent my idea of BEYOND. It has always been one of my favorite photos. And I took it a couple of years ago, when I revisited the Missouri Botanical Garden for the first time since I was a kid. During those early visits I was with my parents and I went where they wanted to go and saw what they wanted to see. On my own, I was able to concentrate on the things that interested me. And one of these things was the Fountain Angel by Raffaello Romanelli.

According to the MOBOT guide: Water flows from ewers in the angel’s hands and originally spouted from four dogs’ heads at the base.The figure may represent Persephone, queen of the underworld, guarded by the dog Cerberus. Originally the sculpture stood in front of a marble column with overhead basin at the Skinker Avenue entrance to the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition (The Saint Louis World’s Fair). At the close of the fair the statue  moved from location to location into the park where unfortunately it became the target for vandals. Then it was put into storage until 1975, when it was restore and reinstalled next to Henry Shaw’s Tower Grove House in the Garden.

Since this was after my childhood visits to the Garden, the statue was something totally new to me.Fountain Angel

 

THE OTHER CONTENDERS: Before I committed to using The Fountain Angel for the BEYOND challenge, I had considered three other photos.

1 – Beyond The Looking Glass DarklyOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is a photo I took of myself in the Modern Art Galleries of the Saint Louis Art Museum. It was my reflection in a ginormous sheet of black glass or lucite. I don’t know what it was supposed to represent, but I though of Lewis Carroll’s strange adventures of Alice.

2 – The Light At The Top Of The Stairs
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Another photo taken at SLAM (Saint Louis Art Museum) on the ascending West Staircase from the classic Chinese/Japanese/Indian Galleries and going BEYOND to the world of Modern Art. I also had considered a descending version with an arched picture window view of the outside parkland.

3 – Beyond Today To YesterdayOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is an image taken in the historic Free Flight Aviary at the Saint Louis Zoo. I shot it through a porthole in a stained grass panel. It captures a recreation of the Cypress Wetlands in the Mississippi Valley of yesteryear. The Aviary was the largest free flight bird-cage ever built. LPE01293It was built by the US Government for the Saint Louis World’s Fair of 1904. When the fair closed, the Smithsonian planned to disassemble it and then reassemble it in Washington, DC. The people of Saint Louis shouted FOWL, and the government relented and sold the structure to the city for $3,500. And so, it’s still stands here for all to see 110-years later.  For FREE, too!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So, which of my four choices most says BEYOND to you?

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: BEYOND

In a new post specifically created for this challenge, share a picture which means BEYOND to you!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I had four photos that I felt expressed BEYOND to me. I kept studying for a while, and I kept being drawn back to this one. It’s  a photo of 19th century sculpture of an angel that flanks the Henry Shaw mansion in the Missouri Botanical Garden. The photo was taken on a sunny summer afternoon, but I thought the play of shadows from the trees and the highlights supplied by the afternoon sun gave the sculpture an etherial, other worldly quality … a  mysterious step beyond the world in which we live. The gardens are a great place for just sitting around and just reflecting.

VIEWING HINT: Click on the photo to enlarge the image and check out the base of the statue to really go BEYOND.

CHINESE LANTERN FESTIVAL … LIGHTS OUT FOR THE GRAND FINALE!

 Thankfully, there  are a lot of benches around the MOBOT grounds for  foot-weary visitor who have completed the 2.5 mile trek around the grounds viewing all 26 lantern creations. The break was also necessary because we’re still in the midst of summer days, and the MAGIC can’t start until the sun has set which in garden time is about 8 pm. Also those in the know didn’t start showing up until shortly before eight. We had decided we  weren’t going to repeat the entire  trek around the garden, and we were just going to revisit a few of our favorites we wanted to see illuminated. Don’t forget you can enlarge any picture by clicking on it.

 

It was a great presentation and I encourage all who can to visit it — it will run up until August 19. Dining from 5:30 – 8:00 in the Sassafras Cafe/Visiter’s Center and from 6:00 – 10:00 at the The Lantern Festival Food Court in the Linnean Plaza.

 

CHINESE LANTERN FESTIVAL – ACT TWO

 If you’ll remember, yesterday’s post left us resting on a Victorian bench in Mr. Shaw’s front yard drinking Ice Mountain Water and catching cool breezes before starting on the second half of our trek through the second half of the Chinese Lantern Festival.

We begin with GODDESS BLESSING BUDDHA …

And move on to THE FIRST EMPEROR’S QUEST FOR IMMORTALITY

Next up is an illustration of a fable about the creation of the Milky Way THE DOUBLE SEVENTH FESTIVAL – cowherd boy marries weaver girl without asking mom who is the Goddess. Goddess gets pissed and brings girl back to heaven. Boy keeps looking for her  so mom creates a wide river  (aka. The Milky Way) to keep them apart. But one night a year … the seventh night of the seventh moon … all the magpies on earth fly up to heaven to form a bridge so the two lovers can be united.

From heaven we encounter THE FLYING APSARAS 

The next stop is THE FOUR FACED BUDDHA … even though you can only see three.

THE BUTTERFLY LOVERS illustrates the century old Chinese version of Romeo and Juliet …

Next is a gigantic panoramic lantern NINE DRAGON MURAL 

THE HEAVENLY TEMPLE 

THE COLORFUL FLOWER … leads us to the Garden’s official Chinese Garden …

  And JIANG TAI GONG FISHING 

Then on to the BLISSFUL WEDDING that reminds me of a Chinese Small World.

Which brings us to the last lantern … QILIN which is a rare creature made up of many animal forms both real and mythical. The lantern Qilin is made up of many recycled glass bottles.

But this trek isn’t over yet … come back for the GRAND FINALE when the sun sets and the lanterns light up!

THE CHINESE LANTERN FESTIVAL – ACT ONE

 Well, since it took me two days to get through the 150 pictures I took during my four hour visit to the Missouri Botanical Garden’s Chinese Lantern Festival on Thursday … this post will not only a day late, but also be sent in two parts on two days.

The Lantern Festival is this summer’s featured attraction at the Garden, and on Thursday through Sunday is has special evening hours (6 to 10) where you can view the lanterns in both daylight … and once the sun sets with their own inner illumination. Oh, and by the way, these are not your ordinary hardware store lanterns, these are the same kind of massive illuminations that were created by Chinese artisans for the Summer Olympics in Beijing four-years ago.

You get an idea of what to expect when you drive into the Garden’s parking lot and come face to face with this block long dragon. (Note: you can view any photo  in a large size by clicking by clicking on it … and still larger by clicking on it a second time.)

DRAGON EMBRACING THE PILLERS  The Garden’s central fountain features a large dragon surrounded by four fish like dragons …

… at each corner of the reflecting pool.

LOTUS FLOWERS and LOTUS PONDS

The Garden’s Central Axis features a face off between two PORCELAIN DRAGONS 

Both dragons are made from porcelain plates, bowls, cups and saucers … about 45,000 to create each dragon.

This SAIL BOAT was made from reclaimed plastic bottles.

And if you follow the MOONLIGHT PATHWAY 

You’ll discover the PANDA’S PARADISE!

Who doesn’t like cute little pandas?

But even better than pandas, we noticed Mr. Shaw himself offering us a chance to sit down and take a break. In case you didn’t know, this is Mr. Shaw’s garden. He built it around his home, and when he was done enjoying it he left it to the people of Saint Louis to enjoy forever.

And what better place to take a break — the second half of our trek continues tomorrow.

AS IF I WERE A KID AGAIN …

WELCOME TO THE GARDEN OF HENRY SHAW

After an exceeding miserable and somewhat stormy winter and spring weather-wise,  the promise of the temperature reaching the near- and even possibly mid-90′s last Wednesday had me jumping at the chance to get out of the house and do a little trekking around town.

My site of choice was a special exhibit at the Missouri Botanical Garden —  better known to the locals as Shaw’s Garden.

Henry Shaw was an Englishman who at age 18 arrived in the then little river town of Saint Louis in 1818. He planned to sell the hardware that his father manufactured in England to the settlers who were moving west. And he became the richest man in the Saint Louis by the time he decided to retire and enjoy life — prior to reaching age 40.

He had always had an interest in botany, and on retiring he traveled to England to research his second passion. Returning to Saint Louis in the 1840′s he purchased several hundred acres of prairie land west of the city’s boundaries. His plan was to build a country home for himself, and inspired by the Chatsworth Gardens in England if would include a garden where he could continue his study of botany.

In 1859 he opened his gardens to the public —  founding the Missouri Botanical Garden which is now the oldest continuously operated botanical garden in the United States.

This year the Garden is hosting a TREEmendous year in celebration of the United Nations International Year of The Forest. And to kick things off they just opened the exhibit of EXTREME TREE HOUSES which I set out to visit.

The exhibit consists of nine different tree houses constructed of recycled and salvaged materials and located through the garden grounds.

1 – THE NOMAD NESTThis house is made of salvaged branches and saplings woven and joined together to create a strong dome structure around a Sycamore tree. Tree stump chairs fill the interior and planters filled with wild edibles are mounted outside.

2 — A “LIVING” ROOM IN A GARDEN  This tree house is constructed entirely of recycled Christmas trees. It is build around an Amur Cork.

The carpet of this “living” room is made for fir and pine needles. The smell of this tree house could almost make visions of sugar plums dance in your head!

3 — TREEHENGE Built around a Silver Linden this house is made from bamboo and re-used utility poles.

4 — INSIDE THE TREE HOUSEBuilt around a Red Oak tree, what little girl wouldn’t like to play house here?Yes, the house is sprouting from the giant “helicopter” seed pods of the maple tree. It also features solar power and a recycled rain water system. Notice even a robin dropped by to visit.

5 — THE AMAZE-ING RINGSThis house built as a maze around a Ginkgo Tree was inspited by the structure of tree rings.The two-way maze is lined with panels explaining the functions of the different parts of a tree.

6 —REFLECTIONS TREE HOUSEThis structure built around a Sycamore Tree mimics the canopy of the tree overhead as well as the root structure.

7 — HOUSE + TREE=PHIThis abstract house built under a Chinese Elm was basically Chinese to me.I guess you’re supposed to sit inside and contemplate nature and the universe. Write if it inspires you.

8 — A TREED PLACE OF PLAYBuilt around a Tulip Tree this is a tree house that would have ruled back when I was a kid. Is it a pirate’s ship?

Is it a fort?

It’s a place for pretending … and play!And for older kids … it’s a great place just to sit and look at the mighty tree overhead.

9 — SWEET GUM TREE HOUSEThis tree house was designed to create a structural pathway allowing the visitor to view areas of the garden from a new perspective.I won’t explain the negative perspective it left with me. It was constructed from re-purposed materials like shipping pallets.

And that was the exhibit! So, which tree house would have turned you on when you were a kid?

And since I took over 250 photos during my sunny day garden walk, expect a few more visits to other area’s of Mr. Shaw’s Garden.  Coming up soon!

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