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Puzzling tree

On my last visit to the Botanic Garden in Oxford, the monkey puzzle tree (Araucaria araucana) caught my eye, with its strange spiky branches.

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Resin was seeping from its bark.

Especially the dead one on the ground gave the impression of a branched snake covered with dragon scales.

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Purple bells with black & green pods

On one of my last visits to the Oxford Botanic Garden, the Nicandra physalodes caught my eye. Apparently, the plant goes by a number of English names: shoo-fly plant, apple of Peru, apple of Sodom, and Peruvian bluebell.

I just like the way the plant grows: a single, bell-shaped flower followed by a row of pods. The pods – or calyces – reminded me of their better known, bright orange counterparts: Chinese lanterns.

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Sweet smelling roses

 

Rose-14The beauty of a rose can -with a bit of luck- be captured with a camera. Unfortunately, a photo can’t convey its sweet smell. But maybe you can imagine their scent looking at these pictures. These shots are from the Oxford Botanic Garden, and one or two from the Orto Botanico di Padova.

 

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Maybe you’re familiar with Cicely Mary Barkers painting that accompanies the poem of the Rose Fairy. If not, you’ll find it here. I bought the print years ago, had it framed and still admire it. The poem is lovely as well:

Best and dearest flower that grows,
Perfect both to see and smell;
Words can never, never tell
Half the beauty of a Rose —
Buds that open to disclose
Fold on fold of purest white,
Lovely pink, or red that glows
Deep, sweet-scented. What delight
To be Fairy of the Rose!

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Pink and purple poppies

On an earlier visit to the Botanic Garden in Oxford, I found mainly poppies of the ‘Ladybird’ variety. About a week later, there were still a lot of Ladybirds around. But pink, lilac and dark purple poppies were now towering over them. As before, bees were around as well. Flying from flower to flower to gather food.

 

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True tulip tree

Last week, I spotted a tree with white, tulip-like flowers in the Botanic Garden in Oxford. This weekend I discovered they have a true tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) as well. The name doesn’t give it away, but it belongs to the magnolia family.

The pale green buds and the flowers, light green with a bit of orange, are not always easy to spot between the leaves.

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Tulip-like magnolia

White tulip-like flowers sheltered by large green leaves. What type of tree is this?, I wondered. I had once seen a tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) and this one evidently a different type of tree.

After a while, I spotted the sign: Magnolia sieboldii subsp. sinensis. Chinese magnolia in common English.

One interesting detail: the tulip tree belongs to the magnolia family as well.

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Tree full of hankies

Last week, in the Oxford Botanical Garden I came across a tree that seemed to be surrounded by used white handkerchiefs or tissues. Looking up, I found that the little white sheets had actually fallen from the tree.

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A sign by the tree identified it as a Davidia involucrata. It originates from China and is commonly known as handkerchief tree, dove tree and ghost tree.

It is a lovely sight, to see the bracts fluttering in the wind like white doves or pinched handkerchiefs.

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Bright poppies

In the Botanic Garden in Oxford, a collection of red poppies with black dots reminded me of ladybirds. Seen from above, my husband associated them with ballerinas in a tutu.

One thing is for certain: this bumblebee liked them as well.

Lots of buds, so more poppies to come…

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Would the orange poppies have anything to do with the Dutch monarchy?

 

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Some large-leaved bright red papavers

And the occasional white poppy

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