Cactus beauty

Botanic gardens and greenhouses are my happy place.  I can easily entertain myself for several hours, slowly making my way along the pathways, mesmerised by the hundreds of different species and their unique details. A couple of weeks ago, I spent the end of the afternoon quietly observing the cacti in warmth of the desert greenhouse at the Amsterdam Hortus. Here are some of the details which I liked the most.

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This cactus looks to me like a sea-urchin, stripped naked of its spikes, revealing a pattern reminiscent of a scottish tartan.

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These flowers are a delight, the bright colours of their petals popping out against the parched surroundings.

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Look at these incredible spikes, lined up all along this plant, it seems like each tip has been handpainted in reddish brown.

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The symmetry of the Fibonacci sequence spiralling outwards from the heart of this cactus, growing drier and spikier as it goes…

Spring in the Amsterdam Hortus

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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;)

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.