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!

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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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Hooray, it’s the holidays!

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JOYFUL GRATITUDE #58

After a frantic end of the year trying to finish off as much as possible at work, the holidays have finally arrived:) I am so glad to have some time off to enjoy the important things in life. These include but are not limited to having time to catch up with my family around chocolate cake and tea, while planning the menus for the coming festivities; hunting around our garden for intriguing and beautiful plants to photograph; reading magazines and looking through the art books on my Mum’s coffee table… Free time feels like such a luxury.

Back to the roots

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JOYFUL GRATITUDE #38

I am grateful for a lovely long weekend spending quality time with my family in France.  What a pleasure spend the hours like we did, chatting away while baking cakes, practising my portrait skills with my very patient sister as a model (portraits are so hard… I’ve got a lot of practise ahead of me), taking walks with Paolo in beautiful parks, enjoying long meals all together, celebrating birthdays and eating above mentionned cakes;), laughing and catching up…

Fruit picking in Fruittuin van West

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Spent a lovely morning last weekend with Paolo picking raspberries and apples at Fruittuin van West, a beautiful organic farm in Amsterdam-West where you can go to pick your own fruit (local and seasonal – hooray!) .  There is a lovely dynamic atmosphere, and I like that they share very openly in their newsletters about their fight against pests and the methods they use, as it gives a realistic idea of the challenges of organic cultivation.

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Searching through the raspberry bushes to find the ripe fruit, holding them softly between my fingers and pulling lightly to pick them without crushing them, was the perfect exercise in mindfulness.

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We walked through row after row of apple trees laden with tempting fruit and picked to our heart’s content, coming home with 4 kilos of appels next to our kilo of raspberries.

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Don’t they look delicious?! (Needless to say that as I write this, the raspberries are already long gone, we enjoyed them ‘au naturel’, with yoghurt and in a delicious apple and raspberry cake!)

Summer plants

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During the holidays, I spent lovely afternoons walks exploring the tiny alleys of the village of Capraia, looking at the carefully tended plants in people’s gardens or in front of their houses and I’ll share more about that soon.

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But I especially fell for the wild plants growing in the hills or on the edges of the cliffs on our way down to the sea.  Those plants really represent the island for me.

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I love how their branches and spikes lightly scratched my legs as I walked by, reminding me of their presence, as if urging me to look down and observe them.

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What the photos unfortunately can’t show is how the strong smell of the aromatic plants (like wild rosemary, erba gatta and elicriso) rose up in the air under the hot sun, titillating the senses as we walked by.

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Depending on the hour of the day, the light would show up the colours against the backdrop of the sky in different ways, what a lovely sight.

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The prickly pear cactus is one of the plants that is synonymous to me of hot summer days in Italy. When I see one I am immediately mentally transported to wonderful moments spent by the sea, feeling warm rays of sunshine drying the salt water on my skin and the joyful sensation of being on holidays and free:)

Plant spotting in Thailand

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JOYFUL GRATITUDE #35

One of the wonderful things of exploring Thailand was the quantity of plants everywhere. On many street corners, balconies, house fronts there were lovely plants. There were all sorts of frangipanis (which are one of my all time favorites since I lived in Australia) but the gorgeous colours on these ones shown above defy anything I’d seen yet.

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This lovely lotus shot after a small rainshower is magical. Nature really knows how to combine colours.

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How could I resist making a close-up of such a tiny furry leaf… it’s pure perfection!

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There were also plenty of lovely flowers as decoration around the temples.

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In Surat Thani as I was walking by the river, I came across this plant vendor’s shop on wheels. I admired the collection of luscious green pot plants for every taste, expertly squeezed onto every square centimeter of the cart.

Happy Peperomia

DSC_5499This week Mirena sent me some cool pictures of her Peperomia ‘Happy Bean’ which is growing like crazy and rocking the windowsill in its colourful pot!! Thanks so much for the photos:)

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).