Saturday, June 23, 2012

Fruit at Pisa Botanical Gardens

There were quite a few green ponds

I wonder if these beds used to be full of plants?

Apricot - Prunus armeniaca.

Kiwi fruit leaves - Actinidia deliciosa and loquats - Erybotrya japonica.

Lots of signs to help identify the species.

The wide-leaved lime and an unknown fluffy shrub.
I'm 40 today. It feels really weird writing that. I don't feel it at all. Apart from my aching arthritic hip and the fact that I nearly had an asthma attack after jiving with my husband at the Jubilee Jive last week. That's never happened before! Continuing our tour of the botanic gardens in Pisa we came across a long border against a sunny wall with a variety of fruit trees and shrubs. It was a thrill to see so many well established, exotic fruit trees growing outside. If it wasn't for the signs I wouldn't have been able to identify many of them. I have never seen a loquat tree before. Also known as the Japanese or Chinese plum. They are unusual because they produce flowers in the autumn and early winter. The small downy, orange fruits were ripe when we visited in early June. I have a habit of climbing trees in pursuit of a tasty treat but I managed to restrain myself on this occasion. The flavour is a mix of peach, citrus and mild mango. In Mexico the fruits are placed on alters as offerings to the spirits of the deceased on the Day of the Dead holiday. I love that there is so much to discover, so much that is completely new to me, so much more out there that I have yet to find. If anyone knows what the white, fluffy shrub is in the last photo I would love to know.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Pelagorniums at Pisa Botanical Gardens

Pelagorniums are drought and heat tolerant making them an ideal pot plant in the South East of England. I have one in a pot that is a few years old now. Sheltered in a sunny position against a wall, it grows as an evergreen perennial. They are usually thought of as annuals in the UK. It doesn't need much looking after at all and doesn't mind when I forget to water it sometimes. It was lovely to come across a tiered wall of ceramic pots filled with different varieties of pelagornium at the Botanical Gardens in Pisa. The leaves are often as showy as the flowers, with lots of variations of colour and shape. The flowers come in hot shades of pink, mauve, burgundy and scarlet red as well as snowy white. I'm not a big fan of bold flowers that also have very loud leaves but if I had a large bed to fill I would be tempted to use the variety shown in the last photo as the leaves alone en masse would look stunning.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Pisa Botanical Gardens

The Botanical School in Pisa Botanical Gardens.
One of the well kept ponds in front of the Botanical School.
A welcome shady area.
Giant bamboo on the left and a Magnolia tree planted in 1787 on the right.
The delicate Mock-Orange (Philadelphus) flower and the Prickly Pear (Opuntia) cactus.
In this blog I strive to show everything I see that is amazing in the natural world. In a world that is sick in many ways there are many, many wonderful moments. People have said I must live a wonderful life when they look at my blog. In many ways I do. I live a flawed life that is full of emotion, drama, conflict, joy, sadness, peace. My Polish friend told me that when Eastern European women would do their weaving they would make a deliberate mistake somewhere because they believed only God is perfect. Whether you believe in God or not, accepting imperfection saves a lot of energy; loving it saves a lot of disappointment. To try to be your best is sometimes all we can do. A couple of weeks ago I was threatened and chased by a drunk man while walking with my friend on a sunny afternoon. I had such a massive flight or fight reaction to it that it took me a whole week to settle my nervous system back into balance and be able to think straight again. The quickest root to recovery from distress for me is to accept it and talk about it, laugh and hide from the world for a while if necessary and learn. How do my actions affect others and the world around me?

We can learn from nature that nothing is static, everything passes. I've just come back from a weeks holiday in the beautiful region of Tuscany in Italy thanks to my in-laws, for a reunion of friends and family. Looking now at the cold wind throwing the trees about at the bottom of my garden makes me feel that the warm, sunny days by the pool were a dream. In many ways they were. We flew to Pisa where we had a hotel for the night. There's nothing like the first day of being in a new country with unfamiliar language, temperature, sights and sounds. I was delighted to discover there was a botanical garden very close to our hotel so we headed their first. We only had half an hour until closing time and ended up rushing around the garden in order to see everything. The botanic Garden in Pisa was founded in 1544 by Luca Ghini. It was relocated from it's original riverside location to one near the Convent of Santa Marta in 1563. It was the first university botanical garden in Europe and is still used by the University of Pisa today. It also contains one of the earliest iron-framed hothouses built in Italy. Rather than rushing you through the gardens like we did I will share a little bit at a time. I learned the story of the garden and its trees and plants when I was researching it back home. It made me view the place with a whole new reverence. My first thought when I arrived was 'it's a bit old and neglected' because on the surface it was. This made me laugh because every thought I have about the world around me is actually about myself. There is always something to learn.
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