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…

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).

Fleeting beauty

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When I met my boyfriend’s aunt zia Pina during my first visit to Sicily, I quickly discovered we have a shared passion. She cultivates an amazing roof-top terrasse full of hundreds of cacti, succulents and other plants which are thriving under the hot Sicilian sun. That evening in the dwindling heat, she held onto my arm and walked me around, showing me all the different plants while I enjoyed discovering her little paradise on the roof.

This summer my boyfriend brought me a surprise back from zia Pina’s in his hand-luggage: a gorgeous round cactus to add to my plant collection:)

After a few weeks of acclimatising on my windowsill, a long shoot started to grow out of the cactus. Though we could tell a flower would soon bloom, we had no idea what it would look like.

Until finally one rainy summer morning I woke up to this beautiful flower with light pink petals rising high above the cactus like a firework. I enjoyed observing and smelling it. It seemed so incongruous that such a graceful flower would come out of this ball of spikes and needles.

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Unfortunately, after just 2 short days the flower shriveled up and drooped.  I don’t know how often the cactus will flower, but I hope I’ll have the joy of seeing more of these gorgeous flowering events.