Monday, June 25, 2007

Botanical Journey

Last week I meandered through the Cambridge University Botanical Gardens. Opened in 1846 it displays over 8,000 plant species. Above is the winter garden, many plants being evergreen or giving color in the winter months. I only wish I would have visited this garden during the snow back in February.

There were many water gardens, with abundant water lilies and grasses.

The gardens were meticulously edged. No mulch is needed as the summers don't get scorching hot.

I was fortunate to come upon this delightful scene of school girls skipping through this grass maze. The giggles and laughter were music to my ears.

This is a bears' breech, acanthus mollis. It grows up to 5' tall.

I haven't seen this type of sage before, Turkish Sage. It's pale yellow color reminds me of an early morning sun. Most yellow flowers are a deep, rich yellow, but this one is very subdued.

This very tall, showy plant is the common hemlock. It grows along all the roadsides and is quite irritating when touched. It's purported to be the poison used in the execution of Socrates.

There was a nice display of the fen plants. "The Fens are a large area near Cambridge that were once a wetlands. In the 18th century farming was limited to the higher areas surrounding the fens. The rest of the Fenland was dedicated to pastoral farming, grazing cattle and sheep. The medieval and early modern Fens stood in contrast to the rest of southern England, which was primarily an arable agricultural region. Today the Fens have been radically transformed and arable farming has almost entirely replaced pastoral, and today the economy of Fens is heavily invested in the production of crops such as grains, veggies, and rapeseed. There are still very wet areas around the Fens where grasses and other marsh type plants grow."

We saw this young Moor hen on the lily pads. Too cute!

I always like to peek behind the scenes.

The greenhouse and cold frames were of course, empty.

This is the resident cat who gets quite a bit of attention from the visitors. One gardener told me she has a bit of a mean streak and has scratched him.

I'm amazed by the grass here. They do have the perfect environment for grass growing. The blades are nearly flat to the ground, no more than 1/8" tall. I saw the mower and it has 2 big rollers in the front that flattens it out as it cuts it. Our poor lawns would scorch and dye in our heat if it was this short. It sure is a pleasure to walk on though, like walking on soft cork.

And then I saw this EVIL plant, stinging nettles. Ick! It was in the wild garden. They are surely taking their chances even growing this plant as it so invasive. I think I would've just put a picture of this plant out.

This wheat exhibit was in the Genetics Garden. It showed how wheat has changed over the century. It started out tall and spindly. Due to hard rains and wind, it fell over a lot. So they developed a shorter, 'stalkier' variety with large seed heads that yielded more grain.

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