Botanical Wonders – iPhone Photography

Growing up in Cambridge, the fondest memories I have of junior school were lunchtime trips to the University Botanical Gardens. Captivated by the scents and exoticism of the carefully nurtured natural wonders there, I watched nature programmes like BBC Planet Earth, Blue planet and promptly fell in love with David Attenborough. With the revival of Planet Earth II, I was reminded of the reason I became fascinated by botany in the first place.

 

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(above: Cambridge desert, mountain and jungle greenhouse sections)

The combination of human and natural aesthetic is what really draws me toward the greenhouses especially. I love how the skeletal frame of the metal and glass contrast – and complement – the softer colours and shapes of the natural fronds and flowers that are cultivated inside.

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(above: Oxford jungle, corridor and water greenhouse sections)

I visited Cambridge in April and Oxford in July, so although the external displays are seasonal, the greenhouse interiors stay pretty constant throughout the year. I even recognised some of the same plants and layouts in Cambridge as were there 10 years ago!

Overall, I prefer the Cambridge Botanical Gardens – although there is a certain degree of nostalgia for me when visiting, the gardens themselves outside of the greenhouses are bigger and more ordered with a greater variety of areas and diversity of plants than in Oxford, which is smaller and modelled more like an English Garden than a Botanical one.

Great Wall 2015 – iPhone Photography

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Organic, jagged, untamed, private. These are not words used often to describe places near Beijing, a body-packed engine of commercial drive. But the ‘Wild Wall’ at Jiankou, a 2 hour journey from the capital, is just this. Rising out of the rock, the wall is slowly being reclaimed by the craggy mountains, leaf by leaf. It’s truly an artwork, a synthesis of natural and manmade powers have forged this Wall.

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‘Jiankou’ itself is the lowest point of this part of the Wall. Nestled in the heart of a valley above a small village, it is a half-day hike west of Mutianyu, a refurbished section that has become the most popular tourist destination in the area.

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Colours are perhaps my most vivid memories of the Jiankou pass. The rocks along the pathways here have been polished white with hikers’ footsteps. In summer, it is lush green from head to toe; but in April, for 1 week each year, you may be lucky enough to witness the blooming cherry and peach blossoms blanketing these peaks.

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