Botanical Beauties

I never want to see all there is to see or do all there is to do. (Not that I could if I wanted to, but that is another story.) Don’t get me wrong, I want to see a lot, do a lot, fill my world with fun, challenging, delightful, worthwhile, interesting amazing and beautiful things and activities. I want to use every moment I can wisely because you never know what’s around the next bend.

But if I could see it all and do it all, what would be left? In my world, there’s something new every day. The reason for this seems clear: Otherwise I might cease to be astounded at the diversity and majesty of the natural world around me as well as the artistry and cleverness of my fellow humans. Standing in awe at the wonder of creation or the ingenuity of people keeps me on my toes, which is one way to keep things unboring.

Yesterday, for instance, a quick walk through the botanical gardens here in Washington, D.C., included lots of green, lots of spikes, lots of color. None of that is what struck me first though. As you walk in the door, the very air embraces you, tells you a story, encourages you to keep moving forward. It both feels and smells fresh, sweet and in its own way intoxicating. I kept going.

Maybe you have seen how coffee grows, how shiny green its leaves are, but I hadn’t. They might be plastic for as perfect as they looked to me. The staff added those few broken brown edges just to make it look real, right?

coffee plastic.jpg


The beans seem to like to hide. Shy maybe? Hoping to escape detection? See them in there?

coffee beans (2).jpg

Some of these plants have a very effective way of protecting themselves. Don’t even think of touching me! says the cactus to anyone or anything that comes by. We get the message!

cactus up close.jpg


Some plants are aptly named. Botanists sometimes get the fun of assigning a name. Do you think this name works? It’s the “devil’s dagger.” The little heart-shaped green parts looking remarkably like harmless leaves are a bit misleading. They say You know you want to touch me, while the spikes are waiting patiently, in just as plain sight, for you to try it. Just try it!

devil's dagger2.jpg


Whoever named these little babies clearly did not have a sense of humor, so I am choosing to call them “sausage cactus.” What would you call them?

sausage cactus.jpg

I did not see a name for these beauties, but a fairy who is bent on housekeeping would surely carry one around as she goes flitting from crystal to crystal on your undoubtedly gorgeous but unfortunately dusty chandelier, happily revealing the splendor under the dust with her “fairy duster.”

fairy dusters.jpg

And who could look at the Cabbage on a Stick without wondering who had the fun of naming it?

cabbage on a stick.jpg

Here’s another great name: parodia warasii. It looks healthy, wispy – don’t those hair-like things look wispy? soft even? It’s very interesting and, yeah… don’t come any closer.

parodia warasii.jpg

It’s great to see where fruits come from. My education today included papayas. Who knew they look like this when they’re growing on a tree? I admit I didn’t.


This handful of plants is but a drop in the bucket (or a drop in the ocean!) of what’s out there in this marvelous world of ours. Knowing that, taking a moment to grasp the enormity of that, makes me happy to be a part of it, even if my part is just looking and not touching!

One more — bougainvillea. How beautiful is this?? And who can’t love a plant with a name that rolls off the tongue like boo-gan-viya?



11 thoughts on “Botanical Beauties

  1. I LOVE botanical gardens. One of my favorites is in Balboa Park, and yes the senses come alive with the smell earth, flowers of all kinds, and that one you just can’t quite place…oh yeah…the corpse flower! 😖 You never forget a 6 foot flower that smells like…you guessed it, a rotting corpse. But I love botanical gardens😊


  2. I adored all your lovely photos ,thank you. I visit our Botanical gardens here in Geelong quite often, and today is our first warm day of spring so you’ve inspire to go there today….


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