Wednesday, 27 January 2016

January 23rd - Trip to National Botanic Gardens

On Saturday January 23rd the Dublin Branch took a trip to the National Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin. Our guide Niamh was a mine of information about the many interesting things to be seen in the gardens, even in January. For example, there was already a beautiful display of snowdrops, rises and other bulbs, and Niamh showed us the shrub wintersweet, which flowers in January with a delicious, delicate fragrance. Mistletoe could also be seen growing on some of the trees, one of the few places in Ireland it can be seen. Niamh informed us however, that it is a bit of a pest and needs to be cut back regularly to avoid damaging its host tree. A tree looking beautiful at this time of year was the myrtle with its striking cinnamon coloured bark, looking a bit like a eucalyptus.

Mistletoe growing on a poplar tree

Myrtle tree

After a while Niamh took us into the warmth of the glasshouses, which was very welcome on a cold January day. There we learnt that all cacti are succulents, but not all succulents are cacti. According to Niamh, cacti are only seen in the Americas, which means you will never see them appearing in a spaghetti western! We also learnt many other interesting facts, such as teabags are made out banana leaves, and that vanilla comes from the seedpod of an orchid. Even in winter there were many orchids in flower in the orchid house, giving a gorgeous display. Finally Niamh showed us the carnivorous plants, like the pitcher plant, and our own native butterwort, which trap insects with their sticky juices, and slowly digest them. Alas there were no venus flytraps on display, as apparently people can't resist poking them to make them snap shut, and the plants become exhausted and die. Overall, the group were very happy at all that they saw, and agreed that a trip to the Botanic Gardens is highly recommended!

Learning about exotic plants in the warmth of the greenhouse

Learning about orchids

Some of the many ferns to be seen in the glasshouse

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