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.
The ivy has gradually changed its appearance over the past weeks. Walls are no longer covered by a dark green curtain. Some have turned red all over. Others show an abundant mix of reds and greens. Yet all these walls proclaim: autumn has come.
In the Botanic Garden in Oxford, I came across this beautiful trio of the blue globe thistle (Echinops bannaticus). One sphere in full flowers, the other two just getting into bloom but already attracting a bee.
The 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.
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!
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.
Fields full of tulips are a joy to behold. In several provinces in the Netherlands, the colourful fields stretch as far as the eye can see.
At the beginning of a row, you’ll often see a knotted net. The tulip bulbs are planted in nets as this makes it easier to harvest them, especially in areas where the soil is more clay-like than sandy.
Sooner or later a stowaway shows its true colours.
Around the end of April, farmers are taking the flowerheads off: they are topping the tulips. In this way, the bulbs grow bigger before they are harvested during the summer months. Not all flowers are chopped off, though. Between the green stems, a fair number of tulips come into bloom. They were too small when the others were topped.
The irises I saw in someone’s front garden last week, brought back memories of the irises in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Madrid. A selection of the pictures I took there a couple of years ago (with a simple compact camera).
The pretty, little port of Dunbar is worth a visit. On the North Sea coast of Scotland, some 30 miles east of Edinburgh, its ruined castle stands guard over the harbour. Sailing boats and small ships can only enter and exit at high tide.