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2011年12月30日 星期五

Burst of Colors under the Rain

After seeing the "Graden Railway" show at the East Gallery of the US Botanic Garden, it was quite natural that I went to see the plants and flowers at the West Gallery. After all, that was why I came in the first place. Before I could so that, I had to retrace my steps through the entrance garden where there were displayed a number of historic buildings associated with former American presidents.







This is the model of the residence of Thomas Jefferson at Montecello, Charlottesville, Virginia. By this time, the sky was overcast and it was beginning to rain. Fortunately, the Botanic Garden was protected from the pelting rain outside by a huge metal and glass/plastic dome- like structure shaped like a transparent loaf of bread with plenty of greenery. But it was dripping at places and it was really dark, as if it were already nighttime.




The garden was full of these Christmas flowers which originally came from, of all places, tropical Mexico!




This one was literally overflowing on to the ground in a torrent of bright reds.




I like these red leaves

Before I reached my destination, the orchid house, I had first to pass through the Tropical House





and passed by this tropical plant. It's called Cryptanthus or "ti" of the Bormeliad Family.





And also these orchids





And also these other orchids before entering into the neighboring haven of their near and distant relatives.





I found these blooming orange orchids




This red one, which we can often find in Hong Kong too.





There was a beautiful purple orchid but it was so dark that it was practically impossible to take any picture without a flash. .





But these purple ones can be found in Hong Kong too.





This is the best I could do without a flash





There were also many of these purple yellow and white orchids





And these with much thicker petals





This one also has thicker petals






These look more like ordinary flowers. I'm sure they'd say ordinary flowers look more like them.






This one was much better because there was a small light from the wall.





I think I have seen these in Hong Kong too.





As a token of my respect, I show three more.





Finally got the name of this one: totally unpronouncible : Pophiapedium or "High Life of Champaign". What a name!






These look nice against the light, whatever its name.





Light is really wonderful. What'd we do without light?






See what I mean?





Some white orchids with yellow stamens





More white ones but with purple stamen





More white ones under the light






These white ones have vermilion and yellow spots on them





These are half breeds, half purple and half white





These are more clear-minded: all purple.




So are these





This one looks pretty shy





Not these. They have absolute no qualms about showing themselves, like soldiers on parade.





They got competition!





These have none because they are high up





I like them all: They're bursting with the colors of Life even under the darkest clouds and a raging storm outside.




But leaves are good too!











































































2011年12月29日 星期四

Choo, choo trains!







However much you dislike what the American government does all over the world especially their efforts to impose their own values upon other civilizations and to advance their own military, political, economic and financial interest and if necessary to use military violence to back them up, you got to give them credit for their dedication to innovation and to the realization of their fantasies.


When I went to the Mall, expecting to go to the US Botanic Garden to look at the plants and flowers there, I was surprised to find that they were holding a "Garden Railway" Fair. The fliers say that it started on 24th November and would continue until 2nd January. Children and visitors were challenged to see if they recognize the various historically important buildings in American history in the Garden Court, some of which are still at The Mall and all crafted from more than 70 different types of plant materials.  



The US Supreme Court?




A closer view of the same





The scales of justice?





A long shot of the same.






This is George Washington's home in Mount Vernon, Alexandria, Virginia





William J Clinton's birthplace at Hope in Arkansas





Andrew Johnson's Homestead at Greenville, Tennessy





This is Grover Cleveland's home in Westland, Princeton, New Jersey





John Adams' home at Quincy Massachusetts






Another view of John Adam's home





Thomas Jefferson's home at Montecello, Charlottesville Virginia



Besides the homes of past US presidents, there was also a fairy tale land  through which several cute looking trains were going to fro along the same set of tracks but somehow never colliding with each other.






This is the Butterfly Abode





A closer view of the Abode





This is the Monkey Mansion




A closer view of the Monkey Mansion





This is a Fairy FLat




This is a close up of another Fairy Flat





A closer view of the Fairy Flat





This is the Book Worm Borough





This is the Caterpillar Corner






This is the Lobster's Lodge





This is his neighbor




Some of the shells on the Lobster's Lodge





The Cobra's Coil





The Peacock's Palace






The Zebra Zone






The Giraffe Garage





A tunnel through a mountain





The Spider Spot





The Critters' Combo





More fairy flats





A train passing through the Critter's Combo combo





This is another Fairy Flat





Another Fairy Flat





A closer view of the Fairy Flat






The interior of the Fairy Flat





Another room in their flat




This would be a bedroom




A Fairy Flat




Another Fairy Flat?





A train passing through the ravine






Another fairy flat





The Residence of Martin van Buuren, 8th President of USA, at Lindenwald in Kinderhook New York.





This is the Schloss Neuschwanstein or Cinderella's Castle in Schwangau Germany




The winding railway.


I asked a young lady usher how long it took to put up the show. She said they started putting in the main frame about 2 months ago and then added in the details  a month later . It must have taken them a year to put up this kind of show from planning to execution. No matter how long they took, the amount of care and attention they paid to every little detail speaks of a professionalism and dedication that it would probably take years for China to catch up to. I just don't want to speculate on how long. To think that this was done by government officials in co-operation with private enterprise is mind-boggling!


Apart from that show at the Botanic Garden there was another Holiday Train Show at the Union Station






The Notice of the other train show





The Show was done at one side of the main hall. This is an annual event





Buildings are done life size. It probably takes a lot of time to put them up





An overview of the model





The buildings were quite realistic





A rural station






There was even a motor car tunnel






with lorries and mini vans running through it.


A little distance off there was another table on which other trains were
running along a different set of tracks in some completely different
mountain tracks.





The train departing from the railway station



A lit train passing through the town






The opposite side of the same show table





A closer view of the train passing through snow covered mountains





These were cars of the early 1900s in the other side

Several trains of different models were running along the tracks but because of lighting conditions and the speed of the trains, I couldn't take photos of them. But one gets an idea of what's on offer.  It's quite an experience to see all these trains choo chooing and chug chugging along the tracks with occasional tooting in finely tuned and precisely timed computerized motion.

All of a sudden, I felt like a 7-year-old gaping at the passing trains mouth eyes wide open, mouth ajar, looking through the windows of these old fashioned trains at all these passing city and buildings, rural cottages, the mysterious shapes of trees, creepers, mountain streams, narrow gorges, deep ravines, water falls, wooden bridges, shells, spiders, critters, butterflies and fairy scapes. My mind was trailing off on their own in a journey to these faraway never never lands.....