Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge: nature

Close up shot. Varigated leaves of tropical plant. Seen at the Wintergardens, Auckland Museum. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Seen in the tropical house, Wintegardens, Auckland Museum. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

The blossoming of a single magnolia flower and the sporadic hibiscus blooms in my garden have lulled me into a false sense of flower security. So when I visited the Auckland Wintergardens looking for a floral fix, I was disappointed so few plants were flowering. Instead my eye was drawn to the variagated foliage of plants in the Tropical House.

They don’t offer the botanical ‘bling’ of flowers; definitely a restrained beauty that I should learn to appreciate more.

Sunshine backlighting large variagated tropical leaves. Auckland Wintergardens. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Seen in tropical house, Wintergardens, Auckland Museum. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Written for Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge at Lens and Pens by Sally.

 

Nature confined

Tropical foliage shot through window at tropical glasshouse, Wintergardens, Auckland Domain. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Behind the glass. Outside the tropical glasshouse, Wintergardens, Auckland Domain, New Zealand. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

A visit to the Wintergardens at the Auckland Domain last week (Daily Post Photo Challenge: Vibrant) was both relaxing and uplifting. Both the Temperate and Tropical glasshouses were bursting with well-tended, colourful plants.

The Wintergardens, designed by Auckland architects Gummer and Ford in a style much influenced by the work of Edward Lutyens and Gertrude Jekyll, were first opened in 1928 (1). Although renovations were carried out in the 1990s, the buildings definitely have an air of genteel decay.

Tropical foliage pressed against mould and dirt-covered window. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Hidden foliage. View from outside the tropical glasshouse, Wintergardens, Auckland Domain, New Zealand. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

As I was leaving, I noticed within the Tropical House plants pressed against the grimy, shabby windows, on which moss or mould seemed to be growing.

On one window, the impression was of an abstract painting, with the mould growth somehow blending into the foliage behind.

Tropical foliage pressed against windows, Tropical glasshouse, Auckland Wintergardens, Domain, Auckland, New Zealand. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Foliage pressed against windows, Tropical glasshouse, Auckland Wintergardens, Domain, Auckland, New Zealand. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Stepping back, the scene reminded me of a zoo. A plant zoo if you like; built to contain nature for the pleasure of humans. There is no doubt that people (myself included) derive enormous joy from time spent in the glasshouses; nor any doubt that those who tend the plants do so with great skill and care.

But in a small moment of contemplation; standing outside the building looking in, I couldn’t help but feel some sadness at the human impulse to capture nature and to use our considerable intelligence and skill to maintain species of life in artificial environments made to simulate their own, in order that we may enjoy those species on our own terms.

This post was written for Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge at Lens and Pens by Sally. This week’s theme is nature.

(1) Domain Wintergardens, Wikipedia.