Today I headed for the botanical gardens. I got there just before they officially opened, but the entrance gate was already manned, so I paid my €6 and set off into the garden, armed with a printed guide to the best parts to visit in the autumn. For about half an hour I didn't see anyone else at all and felt as though I had the whole space to myself. It was a sunny, dewy, morning with just a touch of mist in the air.
I wasn't expecting to see many flowers, so late in the year, but the trees more than made up for that. The season is less advanced here than it is at home and the trees are looking beautiful. The arboretum is full of interesting-looking small paths which beg to be explored: it doesn't feel at all formal, apart from the labels on the plants.
One that caught my attention in the North American part of the arboretum was this witch-hazel (Hamamelis virginiana). I hadn't realised that this was native to our part of the world. Looking at its range, we're right at the northern edge of it, but it would be great if we could grow this in our woods at home.
Also in flower in the arboretum was this striking plant:
The glasshouses and their contents were architecturally impressive:
I narrowly missed taking a photo of a small brown newt which was sitting on this plant the second before I pressed the shutter button:
I've never been wild about cacti, but there's something about this group that's almost cuddly.
And did I mention that the trees were gorgeous?
Having spaces like this almost makes it worth living in a city, although I must admit that I liked it best in that first half-hour when I felt I was only sharing it with the birds. By the time I left there was quite a long queue at the entrance, so the garden is clearly appreciated by the city's inhabitants and visitors.