Art, Creativity, Photography, Travel, Writing

Posts tagged ‘plants’

Travel theme: plants

Travelling as much as I do, I’ve seen a fair few plants in my time. Here are some of the more unusual/spectacular ones I’ve come across

parrot plant

pitcher plant

angels wing plant

sea pandan

Napoleon’s button tree

sharing with Ailsa and other plant lovers

Stolzembourg plant fair 2010

This weekend, with the sun still shining albeit on an occasional basis now as we head into Autumn, we drove up to the north east of Luxembourg to a tiny village called Stolzembourg situated next to the river which forms a natural boundary between Luxembourg and Germany.  The village has a museum of copper mining and it is possible to visit the old copper mines which date back to the 1850’s as well as follow a geology-themed footpath on the wooded hillside.

The bell tower in the village dates back to before 1585. There has been a castle here since the fifteenth century although the existing castle only dates back to 1898 when the original castle was rebuilt as a Scottish castle. It is now privately owned and makes a delightful exhibition space for paintings and floral creations. For the last ten years this village has hosted a plant fair providing an opportunity to purchase less common plants, pick up a floral arrangement or two or a piece of garden sculpture and sample some culinary delights.Entrance “tickets” to the fair were packets of wild flower seeds.

The castle

This is one of several tables of antiques for sale


bird garden ornaments



Echinaceas in a variety of colours

These beautiful primulas go by the common name of orchid primroses



the allium bulb stall

reproductions of vintage images for sale

painting of the Madonna and child

floral arrangements



a piece of garden sculpture

the musical organ grinder

the cured meat stall, selling a variety of hams and sausages

view from the castle across the valley

postcards from Thailand

Here are just a few of the photos I took in Thailand a few months ago. June is not the best time to go because the weather can be a bit uncertain but we certainly didn’t expect  so few tourists to be there. On a couple of occasions we were the only people in the hotel!

We had some very stormy weather:

which did result in some quite dramatic sunsets:

pictures from nature:

If you look at about 11 o’clock from the top of the trunk you will see the  little owl that was looking down at me

a pink lotus bud with a small green cricket-like creature

full blown flower

a white one

the seedhead

raindrops on lotus leaves

flamboyant tree flowers scattered on the ground

fruit comes in all shapes and sizes; the hairy ones are rambutans. We were later to discover, when we got to Bali,  that the word “rambut” in Indonesian also means barber. The knobbly fruit are custard apples which have a very short season.Inside they are white and fluffy with a single black seed in each segment. They are quite delicious.

a natural still life

patterns in the sand made by the outgoing tide

a temple in the building. In former times temples were constructed of wood but now they are made of cast concrete.  The whole building has been painted with this red undercoat. When it’s finished it  will be painted in bright colours with lots of gold everywhere.

detail of some of the mouldings

a local cat takes advantage of a shady spot between the feet of one the huge statues guarding the entrance to the temple

and finally – children at the nearby temple school have decorated the bare concrete walls with the environmentally friendly message “love the earth”

Stolzembourg plant fair

In lieu of entrance tickets each person was given a pack of mixed seeds.

We started our tour by visiting the chateau and its gardens before walking down through the village. The displays were many and varied ranging from stands selling daffodil/narcissus bulbls, a huge range of allium bulbs and another selling iris rhizomes.

Inside the chateau was a display of glass objects in really vibrant colours.

In the stairwell hung this picture of a raven.

One of the stands sold floral sushi

Down below was another stand selling brightly coloured bird houses.

There were floral displays and mixed-media pictures, assorted organically produced food and apple products, baskets and, obviously, lots of plants.

This man had a sign hanging round his neck “ail I love garlic” (ail being French for garlic) and, judging by the quantity of garlic on his stall, this was no idle boast.

As with all good fairs the kids corner, where they could make assorted wreaths/garlands,  proved irrestible

we visit the local nature reserve and the botanical garden at Schwebsange

we went for a walk around the nature reserve. The leaves on the trees have already started to turn and it looks as if this autumn will be very colourful.

You can just catch a glimpse of the vineyards on the slopes behind this gravel-pit lake

On our way back we stopped in Schwebsange on the off-chance of being able to visit the botanical garden and were lucky enough to be given a guided tour by one of the owners.

Two varieties of Passion flowers climb up one of the outhouses in the main courtyard.

Many of the plants are container-grown which means having to move 450 or so pots indoors for the winter! The garden was pretty colourful even at this time of year but apparently is at its best in the spring.

The succulents grow in a sheltered part of the garden

Pan pipes his music of enchantment under a cedar tree

I do not know the name of this plant that produces these peculiar-looking fruits/seed cases. I only know them as parrots. If you break off a seed case, turn it upside down and perch it on the rim of a glass, it looks for all the world like a parrot taking a drink. Thannks to Manon, I now know that this plant is an Asclepias Syriaca (a member of the Milkweed family, and renowned for its medicinal properties).

These strange-looking fruit/seed cases I only know by the disrespectful name of “Pope’s balls” and first came across them when I visited Japan some years ago. They seem to be quite popular in flower arrangements now and seem to grow well in our temperate climate. I loved the combination of the vivid blue and acid green in this photo.

Plants grew everywhere and the owners had had to resort to growing pumpkins by trailing the vines through the trees and supporting the growing pumpkins in baskets as there was no more room on the ground.

A fine specimen of citrus medica

and finally a beautifully delicate yellow clematis, possibly C. tangutica

Strasbourg municipal park + shop fronts

Strasbourg has beautiful municipal gardens where the plantings are regularly changed. In early September they were a mixture of reds and bronzes with texture achieved through the addition of various grasses and some members of the cabbage family.

On an early morning to walk I photographed these drops of rain hanging off the ends of bamboo leaves with the sun making them shine like so many diamonds.

My namesake plant is variously known as Traveller’s Joy or Wayfarer’s Joy or Old Man’s Beard. The photograph shows the 3 stages of its existence – flowers, flowers turning to seed heads and fully fledged seed heads.

Strasbourg is also blessed with some fascinating shop fronts. Here are three which I pass on a regular basis. Firstly the artichoke café, secondly a childrens bookshop and lastly a master baker’s – I think the strange animal above the door is a bear eating a pretzel.

I went into this childrens’ bookshop to ask if the name meant something special. Literally translated it means “syrup of the streets”. Apparently when children spend much of their time out of doors, either playing in the streets or wandering around, they absorb much of what they see/hear and this is known as taking in the syrup of the streets. I think the nearest equivalent must be “to become street-wise”. If I had children I would spend hours in this shop as its owners dedicate much time and energy to  make it a really appealing place, together with organising workshops and getting authors to autograph copies of their books.

This is a master baker’s shop. I think the animal devouring the pretzel is a young bear. Many years ago bears would have been a natural sight in the forests surrounding Strasbourg.