Jane, Clive and I were invited to a friend’s 50th which was held in the Aeolian Islands so we decided to add a ‘few’ more weeks and visit some of our plant and tissue culture suppliers plus some new breeders in Europe while we were there. Jane has put some thoughts together to summarise our trip:
“As Di had said, “it was a long way for a birthday party” but 24 hours on a plane and 12,000 kms under our belt, we made it. The destination was Vulcano, an island in the Aeolian group in the Mediterranean Sea between Sicily and Italy. Vulcano lived up to its name with a large one in the centre of the island and steam wafting up every day.
The birthday was a great celebration, in a peaceful place, surrounded by colourful plants, like oleanders, pelargoniums, euphorbias, olives, hibiscus and quite a few other introduced weed species that have run amok. There happened to be a second reason for this overseas trip - we have always been interested in plants, and Clive and Di have friends in the horticultural industry in The Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. It has always been a fascination to see where many plants, new and old, are bred, grown and presented to prospective retailers, some as far afield as Australia. These nurseries are growing tens of thousands of plants a year (literally half a million in one growing house). It was astounding to see the quantity and their quality!
At the end of the trip, a highlight was a stopover in Singapore, to see the Gardens by the Bay, worth every minute. Several huge Flower Domes are impressive and well loved by the locals and tourists. One, the Cool Dry Conservatory is 1.2 hectares, with thousands of plants from all around the world. Full sized Baobabs - craned in from Senegal, olive trees over 1,000 years old, succulents, sculptures the size of horses and even a wonderful slice of Australiana.
The Cool Moist Conservatory, with its Cloud Forest at 42 metres high, is a spectacular manmade mountain and waterfall. It’s atmosphere is 85% humidity, with misting for thousands of epiphytic plants, flowering medinellas and bounteous leafy plants in all shapes and sizes. It was a very special trip to share our interest in so many plants in differing parts of the world. I hope you’ve enjoyed this snippet of it.