Wednesday, March 27, 2019

If you’re looking for a peaceful, leafy place in Madrid, you really can’t go wrong wandering around the Real Jardín Botánico for a while.
On my recent second trip to Madrid, I decided to do a bit more exploring and spent an hour at the Royal Botanical Garden of Madrid, an 8-hectare botanical garden located at Murillo Square, in front of the popular Prado Museum. The garden also is adjacent to the sprawling El Retiro Park, which is worth a visit as well when you are in the area.

The garden date back to 1755 when King Ferdinand VI had them installed in the Orchard of Migas Calientes, near what today is called Puerta de Hierro, on the banks of the Manzanares River. In 1774, King Charles III ordered the garden moved to its current location, and it was redesigned into three tiered terraces to look more like the popular French gardens across Europe at that time. Today, the garden contains about 30,000 plants and flowers, 1,500 trees and two greenhouses.
Since the March weather was warmer in Spain than it was back in London, I guess that I was expecting more flowers to be blooming. Unfortunately, I was a bit disappointed, so I imagine that the gardens would look more luxurious in late spring and early summer.

Still, if you enjoy gardens like I do and want to escape Madrid’s hordes of tourists, I would recommend popping into the botanical gardens for a bit.


Thursday, March 14, 2019

Who knew that orchids bloom in nearly every shade of the rainbow and beyond?

Every year, the annual Orchids Festival at Kew Gardens in London impresses me! This year was no exception, once I actually got inside the conservatory. When we went on opening weekend, the queue to get inside Kew’s 24th annual orchid show was more than an hour long, so I had to return on one of my days off work right before it ended.

This year’s theme focused on Columbia’s diverse landscape and its flora and fauna that inhabit it, complete with a gigantic sloth and jaguar replicas. The show included approximately 6,200 orchids, including Columbia’s national flower – the Flor de Mayo (Cattleya trianae).

Did you know that Columbia has more than 4,000 orchid species – more than anywhere else in the world? That’s four times more than what grows in the “tiny” country of Thailand which featured in Kew’s Orchids Festival last year.
Stepping into the Princess of Wales Conservatory, at first, I felt like I was in an arid dessert complete with cacti, but soon the temperatures turned tropical and humid as I moved to the next rooms. I love visiting Kew Gardens anytime of the year, but during the winter months, the orchids seem to add an extra dose of cheerfulness on otherwise grey days. Of course, I couldn’t resist taking more than 200 photos – no surprise there!

Hope you enjoy the orchid photo show!

Which photo is your favorite?


Seriously, the different shades of orchids look like a tropical rainbow!
Look closely at this red, yellow and white orchid below…doesn’t it look like a Ronald McDonald character in the center?
Columbian artists like Omar Castañeda created original sculptures such as these to feature alongside the Colombian orchids from Kew’s collections.