Monday, 18 September 2017

Raindrops and Berries

The appearance of hundreds of berries in the hedgerows, points to the end of summer and the onset of Autumn. This year's crops of berries looks as if it's going to be a good one. The Rose Hips are looking glorious.
Full of vitamin C, these fruits have been used for thousands of years for their nutritional qualities. They can be made into jam, jelly, soup, syrup, pies, bread, wine and marmalade. So, they're versatile too.
Belonging to the same family as the roses, Pyracantha is another shrub which is full of fruit at this time.
Pyracantha berries can also be made into  jelly, but they are mildly poisonous if eaten raw and can result in gastro-intestinal troubles.
One berry which it is definitely best to avoid eating is that produced by the Black Bryony. Belonging to the Yam family, the fruits contain high levels of saponin and are quite poisonous. But the berries are rather attractive and unusually numerous at the moment.
We were lucky enough to have the sun shining on us this morning as we walked around Shipley Park and admired the Autumn berries. We were not quite so fortunate a few days ago when we got caught in a heavy shower and had to seek shelter under an old railway bridge. Fortunately, the shower was short-lived and from our dry vantage point, the splashes of raindrops in the muddy puddles, made for some rather 'arty' shots.
It's amazing what the camera will capture.
Just room for one more...

Wednesday, 13 September 2017


Leaving the botanical gardens, we turn our attention to our walk along the banks of the Water of Leith. We started in the delightful Dean Village.
Taking centre stage was the fine building known as Well Court. Built in the 1880's, commissioned by Sir John Findlay, then the owner of The Scotsman newspaper.
Well Court was originally built for local workers of Dean Village. An advertisement described Well Court as, “providing homes of two and three rooms with conveniences, let to a respectable class of working men at rentals of £7 to £12 per annum.”
We soon left the village behind us and came to the weir.
A little further on, we had views of the Belford Road Bridge.
At a bend in the river, we discovered a Grey heron standing on a fallen log in the stream.
On our way back, we sat for a while at this spot, enjoying the sunshine and the sight of the heron which seemed to be enjoying the sun too.
Back along the Waters of Leith, we passed Dean Village and on past St Bernard's Well.
The classical columns of the building, was designed by Alexander Nasmyth - an artist of the city and was built in 1789. It sits on the river bank with a walkway alongside it with Fuchsias in full bloom...
and Malcolm looking over the side.
Well, that's it for our Edinburgh trip. No doubt we'll be back soon.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Colourful Exotica

Continuing our wander around the glasshouses of Edinburgh's Royal Botanical Gardens, I thought we'd look at some of the more exotic flowers on display. Starting with this species of Aristolochia or Dutchman's Pipe.
Further on, we found another member of this family of strange climbers, looking even more exotic than the last.
Many of the flowers were a little more colourful.
Some were heavily scented, like this Hoya.
Others were just so brightly coloured, that they appeared to glow in the gloom under the canopy.
Some were Blue...
some were pink...
or yellow...
or peach-coloured like this Hibiscus.
Among the most strange were the insectivorous Pitcher Plants with lots of hanging pitchers ready to spell doom to any insects which fell in.
Passion Flowers hung above our heads...
and all around, the greenery was every bit as interesting than the flowers. Passing this weeping conifer, we headed out of the glasshouses.
Tomorrow, we will see something of the Waters of Leith.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Victoria Lily

One of the highlights of our visit to the glasshouses of Edinburgh's Royal Botanical Gardens, came as we entered the 'Plants and People' house. The area is dominated by a large pond filled with lilies, among which the world's largest water Lily was flowering.
This particular lily is a hybrid between Victoria amazonica and Victoria cruziana and has leaves up to 9ft across in the wild. The underside of these lily pads is covered with ferocious-looking spines.
But the most exciting thing about it was its beautiful flower. Pollinated by beetles in the wild, each flower opens at night with white petals on the first night, turning pink on the second night. At about a foot across, this was an impressive flower by any standards.
The pond was home to several other species too. Floating on the surface were Pistia or Water Lettuce and the blue-flowered Eichornia or Water Hyacinth. Standing proud above the water surface, a lone pink flower of the Sacred Lotus or Nelumbo nucifera.
The seeds and roots of this species are used in Asian cooking.
Other lilies in the pond included the Blue Lotus Nymphaea stellata and a yellow-flowered cousin.
This one, seen growing among those Water Lettuces.
Just time for one last look at the Victoria Lily before we move on through more glasshouses.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Gardens Too

Returning to yesterday's wander round the Royal Botanical Gardens of Edinburgh, we continue our stroll around the grounds.
It's sometimes easy to forget to look down as well as up when walking round a garden, but when you do remember, you can be rewarded by the most magnificent sights. Such was this diminutive Gentian, which more than made up for it's size, with the richest blue you could imagine in a flower.
Before heading inside the glasshouses, we took in the Alpine houses.
Here too, colours abounded - but in very small doses.
Tight little cushions of green, supported tiny flowers of great beauty and delicacy - and most from plants which would easily fit in the palm of your hand.
Time to head inside for a look at the Palm House and Glass Houses. Hot and steamy in some of the houses, the flowers were rather more exotic.
Even those plants with names with which we think we are familiar, had a decidedly unfamiliar form. This for instance, is an Impatiens (Busy Lizzie).
Strange and colourful...
and getting hotter and steamier.
Hanging from other plants and supports, 'waterfalls' of Tillandsias or Air Plants seemingly living on nothing but air and fog.
Below all this exotica, Orchids flowered in the dim light.
I think this splendid specimen was a Paphiopedilum and what a stunner!
Much more to come from the glasshouses tomorrow...