Friday, 22 September 2017


I've got the end-of-summer blues. No more butterflies (ahem) and a few months of mostly miserable weather to look forward to. So when I saw the sun was going to be out on the largely unreliable weather forecast (Thursday afternoon,) I cycled along to the botanics for a last blast of sunny flowers, autumnal colours and with luck, maybe some Red Admirals doing last minute nectaring before hibernating.

I also had been meaning to do a round of the glasshouses. It costs £6.50 to get in these days, but given every other part of the place is free, it is a good way to support the gardens. I had not been in for a while and set aside enough time to stroll leisurely through, taking pics. But first I had to check out the blooms at the big hedge which were heaving with butterflies and bees last time we were there. As you can see from the photos I was not disappointed.

how did I miss this lovely house through the gap in the hedge last time?

Five in the same photo!

I was standing still long enough to be mistaken for a plant. The butterflies were sunning themselves between feeding and would flutter around looking for a well positioned leaf or flower. If you offered up a hand they would land on this. First time this happened I put my right hand up and one landed, looking quite relaxed. Only problem was my camera was in my right hand (note sling from camera round wrist) and in order to get a photo I had to pass the camera from right hand to left and switch it on and aim it without removing the short sling from my wrist. The same insect flew a short distance to sunbathe on the hedge. The sunlight was strong enough to reveal the subtle dark chocolate upturned hearts on the bottoms of the hind wings, something you don't normally see. 

Having got a fix of butterflies - possibly the last for the year (sobbing emoji) - I reluctantly left, and went for a tour of the greenhouses. It's one of these places that the more you look, the more you see. Millions of years of evolution have created some weird and wonderful designs. Really amazing sculptures that are far more elaborate, beautiful and intriguing than the stuff you see in art galleries these days labouring under the title contemporary art. You know the stuff; where someone has shit in a shoebox and nailed it to the wall. Just look at the elegance of the plant below, little dewy shoes on elongated legs, offering nectar to insects in exchange for pollinating the flowers. Magical!

There are about 10 different houses, each a different environment. Some you enter and are hit by a wall of steamy humidity and rich earthy smells, others a gentle warm dry air. I still think of the glasshouses as new. They were built in 1967, and I seem to have memories (from age 5?) of them first being opened.

ferns unfolding

the giant lily pads are out in the pond area

next to the lily pond, is this alien life form

these modest but unusual flowers (in the cactus enclosure)
were among my favourite things of the day

a deflated balloon hanging off the christmas lights


love the way the light behind distorts the hairs 
on the stem of this tiny flower

I rarely visit the botanics without a bag of bread and nuts in case any of the locals are feeling peckish. The first squirrel I bumped into (rustle a bag and wait for them to appear) was far too shy and well fed and took ages to bury each nut before returning for a photo another. The second, a nursing mother, was much less camera shy. In fact she knew the drill and for a few nuts did profiles and close ups and would have climbed inside the food bag if I'd let her. She was so keen for more that she rested her little paws on mine while taking nuts from my hand, something that makes my heart flip over, no matter how often it happens.

I looked up to see what the noise was and saw these 2 in the low branches passing comments and hoping I'd leave some bread. Sadly they didn't stand much of a chance as there was a large greedy crow who hopped about clearing up. Not content with one or 2 bits of bread he (or she) got every bit going spare, putting them all down and reloading it's beak; before taking them off to a puddle to give them a soak before consuming.

it's all mine you hear, all mine!

maple turning 

Since the light was fading, I left via the rock garden. I hadn't seen this carved rock before - very reminiscent of Nepal.

As a short term cure for depression the trip to the botanics worked a treat, however it hasn't removed the background noise of dread and can't-be-arsed-ness that I am feeling these days. Just have to get on with it and maybe throw myself into the rigours of running/training.

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