20 October 2012

Botanical gardens, Berlin

I've been in Berlin for a few days on a business trip this week, with two days free at the end because of stupid flight pricing. Yesterday I went on a fantastic bike tour of the city centre with a group of other tourists from all over the world. That was great fun (especially the part where we were cycling through the Tiergarten: the park is really beautiful at this time of year).

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:

This is Cimicifuga simplex, otherwise known as bugbane. This is native to Asia, but the North American equivalent is Actaea (or Cimicifuga) racemosa, a.k.a. black cohosh, black snakeroot or fairy candle. Another one to look out for at home.

The roses in the garden were mostly showing off their hips. These are from the dog rose:

There were one or two brave roses still flowering. I didn't make a note of the variety, but this one looked lovely with its light spritzing of dew:

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.

No comments: