The walk around the block was one of the things were were allowed to do when shelter in place took effect. This started at a good time for the local flora. As we walked up the hill near the house, we could see across to the grounds of a large plot near the street. They had a row of bushes that were all in flower providing a beautiful burst of color. I was carrying the small M6 but took a sequence of shots to stitch together. I also include a few other shots of the flowering we saw walking around.
Spheres visits have shown up in a bunch of posts. When my sister visited last year, I took a different approach to my photos and focused a lot more on the weird and wonderful plants that are growing within the Spheres. Here is a selection of fascinating looking plants that I was taking a look at. Nature certainly produces some amazing shapes.
I am regularly fascinated by the way in which a fallen tree will be the source of food for new plants. The decaying wood releases nutrients and provides a great base for the next generation. Of course, as it decays further, the base may gradually disappear from under them. In the interim, though, any number of plants will sprout and develop. I came across one such log in Meerkerk Gardens. It seemed to be home to any number of new plants (and that ignores the insect species that were, no doubt, hard at work on its surface).
When Chris and Sam visited, Sam had a list of things she wanted to do. I have to admit that one of those things I had no idea existed until she mentioned it. Having been here eighteen months and also having been through the area involved a couple of times, this was a bit embarrassing. The subject is the Amazon Spheres. Amazon seems to control a lot of territory in Seattle these days but, while most of this is in traditional office space, the Spheres are something different.
They are an environmental space that encompasses a wide range of plant life. It is designed to be used by employees as they have meetings or not to work alone for a while. They can relax in these spaces. At the weekends, though, it is sometimes made available for the public to visit for free. You just have to book a slot. We didn’t know about this when Sam and Chris were here so we only saw them from the outside. However, we did then know a little more and were able to plan a visit when Tom and Lenore came to stay.
The interior of the Spheres is something that you can guess at when you are looking from outside but being inside is totally amazing. The huge diversity of plant types throughout the space is incredible. The engineering of the spheres themselves and of the stairs and walkways within are very cool to someone with that sort of background like me. The ability to sustain the plants and keep them fed and watered is impressive and every turn takes you to something new and interesting. Couple that with some cool workspaces for the staff to use for meetings and you have a unique building complex. I would happily go back there on another occasion just to hang out and relax while possibly photographing more of the plants. I could probably have multiple posts of shots from this place but I shall make do with a combination of architectural shots and some of the plants for now. If you are planning on coming to Seattle, try and time it to coincide with one of the open weekends and give yourself enough time.
Point Defiance Park had a rose garden that seemed worth a visit. Walking in to the garden I was immediately struck by the fragrance of the flowers. Some roses are a lot more fragrant than others but, stick enough of them together and you are going to get a strong smell. Roses are interesting in how many varieties that they come in. Some look exactly like you might imagine a rose while others are very different in shape.
The garden was laid out around a central point with rows of blooms curving around the middle. They were attracting human and insect visitors in large quantities. Some blooms seemed to be quite persistent while others looked like they reached their peak before quickly wilting and being replaced by another bloom.
We had entered the garden from one side but on the other was a more structured entrance which took you through an arch covered in multiple blooms. The concentration of flowers made it visually striking. Also, having the light coming through from above meant that the flowers were backlit which made for a nice look and a filtered color of light inside the tunnel. Hardly a person passed without taking their own photo.
Located in Federal Way, the Pacific Bonsai Museum is not the easiest place to find. It shows up in my GPS but, when you arrive at the turning, the signage is either too small for me to spot or nonexistent. I turned in to the entrance, more as an act of faith. Once on the access road, there were signs but then you drive for a long time before you get to the place. You do start to wonder whether it is a spoof.
Once there, though, it is worth it. Entrance is free which was a surprise, particularly given how good the trees were. Everything is outdoor with the trees displayed in groupings around the space. Backdrops provide some visual separation and information boards explain their individual histories as well as telling a little about the styles of Bonsai and the history of the art form.
Individual plants are intermingled with compositions that involve many plants, sometimes over fifty different plants being incorporated into one display. The sizing of some of these is carefully tailored to give an increased sense of depth. The bases are also chosen to emphasize different elements of the plants. As with any activity, when you find out a little bit more about it, you discover just how much complexity is involved. Old trees are not as important as those that appear to be old apparently.
The place is very impressive and, if you are in Federal Way, definitely give it a look.
We took a day trip up to Davis to check out the arboretum. Running alongside the old Putah Creek, it has a range of different plants and trees along its length. With the university buildings stretching alongside the creek, the paths provide access to the students and staff of the university as they get where they need to be. Being, at least most of the time, away from the roads makes for a quiet and pleasant place to stroll. At the time we visited, it was a turning point for some of the plants. Fall had already done it work on some trees while others were still showing signs of color.
We weren’t the only ones appreciating the view. We passed a number of painters (whether they were part of a class or just like minded individuals I don’t know) who were capturing the scenes around them. I didn’t get to see whether any of them were particularly good but I hope they had a good time anyway. There was plenty of wildlife along the creek. Ducks were abundant, the occasional turtle showed itself, squirrels were everywhere gathering food for winter and some of the visitors had their dogs with them so no shortage of life.
Work was underway to reconfigure the flow of water through the creek. This is intended to freshen up the water, deal with some of the weed growth on the surface and promote some other wildlife activity. In some areas it was already showing results but the work was due to run into 2017 so it will be a while before the full effect is seen.
While other parts of Balboa Park have a very ordered look to them, the Alcazar garden is an interesting contrast. The beds are laid out in a pattern for sure but the plants that grow have a far more natural feel to them. It doesn’t have the feel of a perfectly manicured garden but instead feels a bit more like what the natural plant growth would be if things had been left to their own devices. It makes the place feel more relaxed as a result.
While it was a nice place to relax for a while, it was a bit tricky to find a way to convey the relaxed nature of things photographically. The type of plants gets a little lost when you are looking at the wider view of the garden and the detail of the plants loses the feeling of the overall space. Perhaps you will just have to take my word for it!
While the scenery on Kauai is dramatic and interesting, the plant life there is quite something too. Since I am not well traveled enough to see what other Pacific locations have to offer, I have no idea whether all of these things are unique to the Hawaiian chain or even Kauai with one exception. Our visit to the one of several botanical gardens on the island did explain how one plant was native to the islands and rather rare.
I can’t remember the name of the plants off hand but it looks like a baseball bat with a cabbage on the top. Not a graceful description I know but if you look at it below, I think you will agree it is a fair one.
Some of the plants are just colorful, others seem to have interesting structures. Probably some effort to get to good sources of water make for the interesting shapes. To be honest, I don’t care too much. I am just interested in seeing them.
Not all of them were so unusual. I include below a picture of a tree down on a beach. The ground underneath it has gradually eroded away but this doesn’t seem to have bothered to tree one bit. It now just stands a little above everything around it.
I have had my Mum visiting . We try and find some fun things to do while she is staying and maybe even tie them in to things I have been meaning to do. One of these things was a trip to the Botanic Gardens. The thing that made this different is that, during the summer they have been having a late opening until 9pm. The evening light should provide some good opportunities with the camera.
It certainly is a good time to visit. The crowds are not there as they would be normally (although there are still a fair number of people around) so you have less of a feeling of being rushed by people around you. Also, having a tripod is not a problem! As the evening draws in, the light gets lovely and then, once the sunset passes, you can play around with some night photography.
You do have to pay attention to which areas will get the nice light since the terrain will block certain parts of the gardens but, apart from that, you can really have a nice time wandering around and looking for nice shots.