An oasis of peace in Amsterdam

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As the city of Amsterdam gets more and more full of tourists, one place I love to escape to for fresh air and a quiet afternoon is the Botanic garden in Zuidas.  Surrounded by modern buildings, it’s a lovely oasis of calm hidden within the bustling heart of the business district.

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I really appreciate that the entrance is free of charge, making it accessible for anyone to come and discover their incredible collection of plants.  While I was there last I also saw several patients in wheelchairs coming from the nearby hospital for a change of scenery.

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There is an incredible diversity of plants making each visit a new experience as the seasons change. Last time thanks to the Indian summer, there were still a multitude of flowers blooming in October.

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It’s always a pleasure to slowly walk around, spot new plants and take in the details of the various species.  The splashes of colour bring me so much joy.

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It’s a real celebration for the senses with all the different colours, intriguing textures and unusual shapes.   The perfect way to be in the moment and feel grounded.

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Exploring the Japanese garden

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Travelling to Japan is high on my wishlist of destinations, but I haven’t quite organised it yet. For now I live vicariously through books, my sister’s travel stories and photos.  However lately I got a lovely taste of Japan. For my birthday, two dear friends gifted me an outing to go to the Japanese garden in the The Hague, which is open only a few weeks a year in Spring and Autumn.  We planned the date several months in advance so as not to miss the window of opportunity, so I also got to enjoy looking forward to it!

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The garden draws quite a lot of visitors, so it was quite busy on the morning we went, but that didn’t stop us from taking the time to soak up all the beautiful details, colourful bridges and plants.

It was lovely to explore, walking along the paths so as not to disturb the fragile mosses that cover the ground in a comfy-looking carpet. Gorgeous lanterns, harbouring delicate mosses and lichens, were brought over last century from Japan along with native Japanese plants.

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The autumn colours were spectacular with orange and green intermingled, highlighting the changing of the season, and all sorts of mushrooms were popping up all over the place.

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Even though it’s just an hour from Amsterdam, I had the feeling like I’d been to another continent for a short while (feeling extra good without all those CO2 emissions from flying!). Thanks so much ladies and here’s to experience gifts and travel opportunities close to home! 🙂

Familiar plants

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During my recent visit to the Botanic garden in Amsterdam Zuid, I was excited to see lots of plants that reminded me of those years of my childhood that I spent in Australia. I would not be able to tell you their names but they looked so familiar, like coming home.  It’s funny how as a child you take in so many details without realising.

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As I write this, I wonder how at the botanic garden they manage to get these plants that are so specific to the Australian ecosystems to grow in the Dutch environment. And whether the plants have adapted to bloom in our season or are still aligned with that of the southern hemisphere.

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As always, I’m fascinated by the details. This tiny pod looks like it is made of metal. Such perfection!

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And of course the collection wouldn’t be complete without some lovely bright wattle, Australia’s national flower!

Small jungles

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Exploring a botanic garden is a great way to travel without needing to go too far. It’s the possibility of stepping into totally different worlds just a short bike ride away.

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These days we are slowly entering spring but it is still chilly outside, I particularly enjoy ducking into the warm green-houses, small jungles with a different climate to explore in all safety.  Hundreds of species inhabiting the very tight space, the plants so densely packed together and overflowing on the path that they brush you as you enter their world, the air is saturated with humidity, drops falling from the ceiling and settling delicately into the creases of the leaves. So much exotic beauty brought to our doorstep.

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Succulent inspiration

 

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Nothing like a quiet Friday afternoon in the Botanic Garden to slow down and bring my attention fully back to the present moment. I am grateful that my dear friend Eva joined me today (we have a history of visiting other botanic gardens together, spending hours exploring the Hortus which is just around the corner of her house in Leiden and also on a trip to Glasgow:).

We had a great time in the warm green-houses, observing the succulents, cacti and other plants, pointing out to each other many amazing details from the wide collection and getting inspired by the colours and patterns.

More botanic beauty

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Recently I found out that there is another botanical garden in Amsterdam and it’s less than a 10 minute bike away from my flat!  So on one of my free Friday afternoons, in between 2 rain showers, I decided to go and check it out.

 

It’s free and you can just walk in, while volunteers mill around doing their thing. It’s a lovely place to relax and you don’t feel at all like you are close to the busy Zuidas.

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The collection of succulents and cacti both in and around the glasshouses is spectacular, with hundreds of different species in every single available space.

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Observing all the different plants, with their details and colours was a real pleasure as usual. There were very few visitors so I was undisturbed as I got in close to photograph the details.  I think I’ll be heading back there soon for some more inspiration:)

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Check out Botanic Garden Zuidas for the opening times (it’s near the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam Zuid).

Succulent party

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When I saw these tiny succulents it totally made my day!  Looks like they are having an awesome party, dancing away and throwing their hands up in the air, like they just don’t care!

Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam

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A few years back I took a photo course and the field trip consisted in spending an afternoon taking photos at the Hortus Botanicus in Amsterdam of plants and butterflies. My favorite section was of course the desert greenhouse with the cacti and succulents.

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It was so much fun to look so close up at the plants and see their amazing details and patterns. I loved observing these gorgeous little flowers with such beautiful pastel colours.

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The texture of these velvety purple leaves was amazing and a challenge to try and capture on camera.

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I remember being so focussed on the details, I was totally in the flow and didn’t feel time pass by.  I think I will schedule another excursion there soon.

Glasgow Botanic Gardens

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In 2014 during our trip to Glasgow, Eva and I explored the beautiful Botanic Gardens and enjoyed being surrounded by colourful tropical plants while it was grey outside.

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We spent several hours discovering the glasshouses, in particular the Kibble Palace, a huge 19th century wrought iron glasshouse which is amazingly beautiful.

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As we wandered around, taking our time and snapping lots of pictures of the  gorgeous plants, a gardener came up to us.  He indicated a plant and told us with his thick Scottish accent to take a closer… He was pointing to a tiny camouflaged stick-insect which we would never have spotted (not featured here;).

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Sublime succulents in the Madeira Botanical Garden

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I love botanical gardens (this should not really come as a surprise given the nature (literally) of this blog). But I was not prepared for how excited I would be about the Botanical gardens in Funchal.

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Since the island has quite a tropical climate, the botanical gardens have a huge section dedicated just to succulents and cacti which is simply outdoors, with the plants growing directly in the ground.

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The best thing was that we went at the end of the afternoon, near closing time and by the end of our visit we were all alone in the gardens. It was wonderful to be free to observe all the plants at our leisure, in the warm light of the magic-hour sun.

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There were so many different species, I walked around several times to try and see it all. I couldn’t get enough of the amazing colours and details. Like the symmetry of the plant above, and like these little red spikes all along the outside of the leaves of the plant hereunder.

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Or this little guy below who looks to me like a monster’s paw with many tiny claws on it. It’s fascinating how so much colour can just emerges from a stump that looks grey and dried-up…

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