Emily and I walked over a mile to both of these places, the Artis Zoo and the Hortus Botanicus, located in the Plantage part of Amsterdam. I didn’t take too many photographs of the critters that proliferated at the zoo, as there is still some feeling that it’s not right to keep animals in artificial environments like that.
However, the butterfly garden at the Artis was magnificent. It was hot, humid, and replete with fluttering insects. Fruit trays were laid out for the butterflies to feast upon. Many of the butterflies would land on each other before figuring out that their companions weren’t, in fact, food. Oops.
The Insectarium held some beautiful specimens, including the beautiful brown and white mantis! It reminded me of the lovely, if beautifully intimidating ghost mantis a friend of mine is rearing.
The Hortus Botanicus holds over 400 years of history, and thousands upon thousands of plants! Probably my favorite was finding out that there is a tree literally covered in spines, called the silk floss tree. I had to research a bit about it because Nature is so insane, and found out that it grows in tropical and sub-tropical Uruguay, Brazil, Bolivia, and Paraguay. The spines hold water so it’s drought resistant, and it can get over 80 feet tall. All I can think is holy kapow. Also, where can I get one and bring it here to dry Montana?
I walked around the Hortus, where the light came in through the leaves of various trees and plants in the most gorgeous, vivid shades of green, yellow, and brown. The cactus greenhouse was full of desert species, and I stumbled upon several enormous varieties of aloe plants, large enough that I could almost take a nap on one of the leaves and wrap myself in others. They had endangered species of palm trees, ancient varieties of plants they were preserving, and I couldn’t stop reading the labels.
The Hortus also had the neatest addition ever- an apiary! I meandered on a path and heard the familiar buzz of bees. Ever since I helped my friend Julia with her honey harvest (blog post here) I have fallen in love with the efficient and beautiful lives that bees live. Sure enough, the apiary was busy! Signs warned visitors about the bees, but they went about their business without bothering a soul, merely pollinating and making food for themselves in their fantastical, algorithmic ways.
I could go on and on about all the naturalia but I’ll leave you with a litany of photographs instead. Hasta luego!