Botanical gardens are a wonderful outdoor place to retreat to in these COVID times and because the plants evolve so much over a short period of time you can return regularly and feel like you are discovering a new place. No matter how often I go to the Botanical garden in Amsterdam Zuid, every visit is different and new details pop out every time.
On that cold morning, I first went to the French consulate to apply for my passport renewal. The process these days involves two temperature checks by the security guard, waiting room with face masks, handing over my paperwork to the clerk on the other side of the plexiglass added to her desk and a whole lot of hand-sanitiser gel… I’m very glad that they are taking careful precautions, but couldn’t get out of the stuffy office and into fresh air fast enough. Luckily, the Botanic garden is just a few minutes bike ride away:)
Apart from the people working in the garden, I was the only visitor, so I could really take my time strolling through the alleys, unworried about people getting too close, and slowly marvel at the variety of plants. The highlight that morning was the fall colours. Reds, pinks, yellows and oranges catching my eye all around me, the last ones hanging on the branches, on the ground, or landing among beds of other plants forming new creations…
As I start taking pictures, my breathing always deepens and I enter into a lovely state of flow. I am unaware of time passing as I crouch down to look at the ground at what treasures I might find and drop my knees into the soggy soil to closely look atthe lines and textures on the plants.
I’ll share more pictures from the Botanical garden soon. In the meantime for pictures of my previous visits click here. If you are in Amsterdam, I highly recommend a visit, you can find all the details and adjusted opening hours on their website.
Often I find myself drawn to plants that are slightly past their prime or have suffered under heavy rains.
I really enjoy capturing the details of an rebellious cowlick petal, dried-out leaves, a slightly wonky flower or fragile frozen petals… In a world where beauty is often constricted by strict norms, symmetry and fitting neatly into boxes, I love how nature has its way of showing that beauty can take many shapes and has nothing to do with perfection.
Striving to ignore the messages of the media and being mindful of unrealistic expectations is a daily practice. The unexpected charm of these plants is a wonderful reminder for me to be more accepting of my perceived flaws and loving myself as I am is probably the best way to resist a system that is not doing us any good.
This is a theme that I keep coming back to. You can find previous musings on the topic here, here and here🙂
Late this autumn, I planted some mixed seeds into the soil of the empty looking pots on my balcony, and to my surprise some these lovely orange flowers came up. I can see them every day, through the glass of the balcony door when I sit at the kitchen table. Their hardiness and bright colour have been giving me so much joy in past weeks.
Normally the petals reach straight outwards from the center, but recently, maybe because of the cold, they started curling slightly, making the flower even more beautiful. One morning last week I decided it was ok to miss the usual tram I take to work, to spend a few quiet moments to photograph its fleeting charm in the first rays of daylight. So glad I did!
Yesterday as I was cycling leisurely home from my boxing class just before 10pm, it was still daylight and the Vondelpark was bathed in the soft light of the magic hour… and an incredible mist started rising mysteriously over the wide open grass spaces and the water of the lakes. It was a breathtaking sight. So grateful to have been there to witness it:)
Poppy season has arrived bringing flimsy stems and light petals, splashes of bright colours around the city. I cycle past a lovely field of bright red amongst other wild flowers on my commute through the Vondelpark, there is a lone poppy poking out from a crack on the sidewalk where I park my bike at the office, resilient to all the people passing it by, and then there are the gorgeous yellow poppies growing at the Botanical garden in Zuid… So grateful for these joyful reminders of fragile beauty!
We are finally enjoying some warm summery weather in Amsterdam and that’s the moment when I most wish I had a garden. A small green space of my own where I could relax in the shade without needing to face all the other Amsterdammers who are out and about also searching for their own few square meters of greem.
Luckily the Botanical garden is just a 7 minute ride away, a lovely place to escape from the masses. On Saturday I took refuge there for a few hours, sitting on a rock amongst the blossoming plants, feeling the light breeze on my skin, listening to bumble bees buzz their little hearts out whilst feasting on pollen:) It was a moment of slowing down, breathing deep, being surrounded by nature, just noticing all the simple beauty of the many varieties of plants that grow side by side. I hope one day to have a garden of my own just like that!
When I was in Cologne visiting my sister recently, we spent a beautifully warm and sunny afternoon exploring the Botanical Garden. I was particularly excited by the many fern varieties on display, each one more intriguing than the one before.
I’ve mentionned before both how much I love ferns and how they are my photographic nemesis, so it was great to have some practice in trying to capture their beauty.
While I knelt down here and there in this fern paradise, my sister patiently wandered by my side and was a perfect assistant, placing herself in such a way that no direct sunlight fell on the plants if needed and looking up the species’ names on the ‘plant shazam’ app.
I really love the tightly wound extremities, like tentacles, ready to unfold and stretch out into the world, as well as the different textures and colours.
One thing I love about photographing plants is that there is just such a profusion of possibility to explore and play with. With the seasons passing, the plants and their textures evolve so much. There are new buds appearing and fresh shiny leaves, perhaps flowers, rough bark, apparent roots, unusual seeds and pods, rugged surfaces, uncanny spikes, odd stems, gorgeous color combinations as the light evolves and changes the aspect of the backdrop…
I am astounded that even without wandering far there is always more beauty and unusual details to be found, an infinite amount of inspiration. Look at these star-shaped pods that I came across in the Amsterdam Hortus a few weeks ago, aren’t they delightful?!
Spring time in the Hortus Botanicus in Amsterdam is enchanting! The garden is coming back to life with buds and blossoms everywhere you turn, from the sprawling beds on the ground to the trees, peering out from in between rocks and on flush bushes.
I love how the changes with the seasons means every visit is really different. This time we took a tour, led by a guide who shared her knowledge and fun facts about different plants around the garden.
But my favorite part was afterwards, walking along the winding paths with my camera, unrushed, spotting colours and textures of the new bursts of life, emerging under the sunshine, reaching towards the light.
When, despite the sunshine, it got a bit chilly, I went to my favorite spot in the greenhouse to warm up and admire the captivating cacti… but I’ll write more about that soon;)
Over the Christmas holidays, one afternoon I felt the irresistible need for some fresh air, my body craving to make the most of the little sunlight of the short winter days. So I grabbed my camera and went out, with no other plan than to walk along the streets close to home, open to capturing whatever inspired me. The light was beautiful, though I was clearly working against the clock to actually take some photos before darkness fell.
This simple window caught my eye, the colour and texture of the shutters with their half-moon crescents and the stack of mixed-and-matched plates drying in the rack. In my imaginary it brings up a feeling of home, cosyness, like everyone was off having a nap after tidying the kitchen together and in a few hours preparation for the next family meal will start…
I walked further, along the old walls of the village. A few families were out and about, several generations together walking dogs or most probably taking a digestive stroll in the chilly air. The last rays of sunshine lit up these bare trees, so it seemed like they were in the spotlight.
As the sun disappeared, I loved the sight of these pretty lanterns lining the street against the last colours of the sky.
My last find was this incredible mansion with its tower, the wooden beams in different tones of blue, perfectly colour-coordinated. It’ s a private house so I could only peer semi-discreetly from behind the wall, but I can imagine settling there to write a book, a steaming coffee by my side on an old wooden desk by tower window, overlooking the garden while birds flit in and out of the trees…