When I visited Seattle last February, for the Northwest Flower & Garden Festival, the Amazon Spheres had just opened. I wandered around outside snapping lots of photos (shared here) and dreamt about getting inside. Back then the only way in was to be an employee, or take the Amazon Headquarters tour which visited several their buildings and spent a little time in the Spheres. The horticulture community was all up in arms, we wanted to get in and see the plants!
Well, enough of us asked, and Amazon listened, the spheres are now open to visitors two Saturdays a month by reservation—link here—and get this, it's free! My friend Erin and I showed up on Saturday, October 20th and were ushered inside. I had prepared myself for the inevitable docent-lead tour, where you shuffle around with 75 other people, not able to pause in front of that plant you're particularly interested in, or maybe not even able to get up close to it. But that didn't happen! We were completely free to roam, on our own, for as long as we liked. Wow, well played Amazon!
I took about a 160 photos, a little crazy right? I edited them way down and broke them into two posts. Today we'll take a look at their amazing (huge) green-wall, a few other vertical plantings, and a great carnivorous plant collection. I think there were four floors total that we wandered around.
I'd seen the green-wall from outside the Spheres and in photos my friend Steve took and shared with me (posted here), but I was not prepared for how awe-inspiring it is in person.
The size, and sheer quantity of plants used, was unbelievable.
Several ferns had babies on their fronds...
Others were so delicate they looked like lace.
I really wanted to get up close and touch all the leaves, but I also didn't want to be kicked out.
Each floor we ascended got us up-close and personal with a different section of the wall.
There are misters hidden in with the foliage.
And giant air-circulators at the very top.
This green-wall may just have been my favorite part of the whole Spheres experience. I could have stared at it for hours.
There was another "mini wall" that you could stand in front of for a selfie or group-shot. Plenty of folks were doing just that, I had to move fast to get this shot with no people.
Tucked in here and there through-out the Spheres's plantings were fake trunks with other plants growing on their surface.
A few of them looked so real it took me awhile to realize they were fake.
But when you look down on them from above you see they're concealing giant fans. I wonder if they have a remote control to adjust the direction of airflow? Or do they do it manually?
I love this tightly growing vine but didn't see a label—plant ID was rather limited—only the big things got named. Does anyone know what this might be?
Additional vertical gardening elements included these shadow boxes
And this piece, which I meant to go look at closer, but forgot to circle back around to.
Obviously! So I want to look at the horticulture, I can go back there, right?
I'm not sure I like this vertical planting.
This photo cracked me up. I don't think I even noticed the tropical pitchers plants when I snapped it, I was concentrating on the tree fern. Doesn't it look like the fern is a huge mouth about to take in all those pitchers?
But about those Nepenthes, wow.
They were huge.
And the different pitchers weren't all hanging, several were tucked in a ground level. These were labeled, they're Nepenthes robcantleyi, Asian pitcher plant. Of course that's assuming I matched up the right label to the right plant.
Did you notice this beauty in the photo above?
Here's another, slightly different. When Mark Leichty of Little Prince visited he caught name, Petrocosmea rossettifolia. Some of you no doubt recognize the plant, and/or the name, I did not. They're African violets people! I'm lusting after an African violet!! (hangs head in shame, but not really)...
Oh ya, and what are the chances that I timed my visit to coincide with the blooming of their Amorphophallus titanum? Pretty slim right? This plant only blooms every four to five years and when it does, the bloom only lasts a day or two. It started opening the night before our visit (there was a party) and beginning it's decline by the time we were there the next afternoon.
From what I can find online the window was cut in the side of the plant for pollination purposes. In case you're wondering I didn't detect any of the famous "rotting meat" stench.
The final few plants I'm sharing today are part of a new display of carnivorous plants.
The sundews (Drosera species) were so delicate.
My only photo of the butterworts (Pinguicula) is a little blurry.
The flytraps (Dionaea muscipula) were the most picturesque, planted en-masse as they were.
Luckily there was a rope keeping us gawkers back, so these wouldn't have to suffer the stress of being touched 700 times by little kid-fingers.
That's it for today's Amazon plant-porn. Come back tomorrow for more!
Weather Diary, Nov 28: Hi 52, Low 45/ Precip .32"
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