Kyoto Botanical Garden, Japan
Following our visit to Cotoha we walked the 5.5km to the botanical garden to get a little more greenhouse action - the conservatory is (as far as we know) the largest in Japan and home to 4500 different plant species. The sun was low in the sky by the time we arrived and made all the leaves of the beds leading to the greenhouse glow like tiny lanterns. A few weeks before our visit there was a huge cyclone that had taken down a few of the large conifers so some of the pathways were obstructed. Similarly, inside the conservatory building there were signs of minor destruction and some of the main tropical dome was blocked off but there were people hanging from the ceiling so we took it to mean that things were on the mend.
Divided into seven climactic regions ranging from wet to dry tropics, highlands, lowlands, alpines, arid lands and one that we've never come across before in their own section; night-flowering plants, the conservatory was set out with a one-way system to guide visitors through the different rooms and aside from the closure of one half we didn't find any part that we didn't like.
We spent a lot of our time with some special orchids; the Aristolochia Salvadorensis and Dracula gigas because we'd seen nothing like them before - their weird 'faces 'are pictured below.
Behind these curtains live the nightlife of the forest... A group of plants that flower only during the nighttime but by the magical power of darkness they're able to flower during the day instead. We've seen some of the plants before such as the Night-blooming Cereus, Moonflower and Baobab but never before in this way. In fact, we've only met those plants in the daytime so have only seen them flower on Youtube! Behind the blue curtains it's close to pitch-black (so no photos) with the specimens on display stands. Lighting is limited to help the plants think that it's time to flower so you get a little sense of what they need. In their natural habitat they flower at night for pollinators - an example is the Amazon waterlily, which produces a huge white flower to with a specific scent to attract a certain beetle that it traps inside before releasing the next day to transfer the pollen from one plant to the next.
When we got to this point in the greenhouse a strange thing happened; it was about 3.50pm and we knew that the building would close at 4... playing over the tannoy began what we recognised as the music from the Hovis advert, but more educated (and now us!) people would know that the piece of music is Antonin Dvorak's 'New World Symphony'. We posted a video to our Instagram stories and someone told us that it's a common thing to play 'closing music' and apparently it's usually Auld Lang Syne (the words are different to the Scottish original and in Japan it's called 'Hotaru no Hikari') and it's used to indicate the imminent closing time. WE LOVED IT. In fact, we recommend that all greenhouses come with a soundtrack...
We also made a short video of our trip to Japan, click here to check it out