Monday, January 17, 2011

My Vegetable Love Will Grow

Annie and I visited the National Botanic Gardens today. It was the first time we’d gone, and we had a lovely time, although I wish that not quite so many other people had had the same good idea. The Conservatory—the indoor part, and the only part we visited on this cold winter day—has a number of themed rooms whose leafy denizens either share a habitat (The Jungle, World Deserts) or are a focus of specific human interest (Medicinal Plants, Rare and Endangered Plants). There’s also a Garden Court with all kinds of fascinating and pretty photosynthesizers, including—this was the big one for me—a kumquat tree, the sight of which instantly inspired in me a desperate desire to own one myself. (Annie seemed amenable, though not enthused.)

The largest area, the Jungle room, reminded me of the Amazonia exhibit at the zoo, although the Jungle has a much more extensive botanical collection and Amazonia has more monkeys (two; as opposed to zero). The exhibits are similar in that they’re both pleasantly warm and humid and positively filled with oxygen from all those respiring plants, and both are equipped with water systems that emit sudden, startling showers of mist, causing the many people wielding cameras to curl up, shrimplike, around their digital equipment as they shield it from the spray.

[notice the condensation on the window
behind the orchids]

I’m no plant expert (in fact, I managed to get through college and graduate school without ever taking a single botany course), but I can appreciate them, in an amateur fashion, and it’s impressive to see the vast diversity of approaches they’ve taken in order to survive in various climates and deal with the problems of reproduction and/or pollination. The variety of flower types alone is mind-boggling.

[a bromeliad, maybe]

[a giant orchid]

[maybe a bougainvillea?]

And, of course, the great thing about visiting a zoo or a botanic garden is that you don’t have to be an expert to have a good time—to appreciate behaviors and colors and forms.

And, while my heart still belongs to the zoo, I have to say: you hear a lot fewer people giving misinformation at the botanic garden. Maybe there’s just no plant equivalent for calling an orangutan a monkey—or maybe, since the plants stay still, nobody gets as excited about pointing things out and, in doing so, naming them incorrectly. Either way, it’s a very peaceful place to visit.

{A note: I do write all text and take all pictures. Please do not reproduce either without my permission.}


Anca said...

The cactus shot and the giant orchid are super! The latter looks very much like an O'Keefe, and the cactuses remind me of your sea-urchin photos.

rebecca said...

Nice photos, as always! People spouting misinformation at the zoo is one of my biggest pet peeves, and it had never occurred to me how much less prevalent that is at botanical gardens.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I am going to take a course in tidal pools. I am so excited! I will try to take some passable shots of some of the flowers blooming here.

Olivia V. Ambrogio said...

A course in tidal pools? That's fantastic!! Let me know if you see any sea slugs! (Depending on species, you can sometimes find 'em in tide-pools.)

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...