Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Zillions of Zinnia at the Jardin des Plantes, Paris..

Be they insect, animal or human, all visitors to the Jardin des Plantes in Paris are offered the beautiful spectacle of extensive avenues of flower beds that run the length of the grounds. Mid-September was no exception.

The sun was amazingly bright on the afternoon that I walked through the gardens that were themselves aflame with colours from the vibrant Zinnia.

This resiliant little plant belongs to the daisy family - asteraceae and compositeae - yet manages to present itself in many forms, thanks to hybridization. Today, there are more than 100 cultivars and the Jardin des Plantes seemed to have endless varieties on display.

Although early varieties of the Zinnia have graced European gardens since the 18th century, the plant is in fact a native of Mexico. The Aztecs labelled the vibrant flowers mal de ojos ('pain to the eyes') due to their intense colours.

The plant is named after the German botanist, Johann Zinn (1727-1759), but benefits from a whole host of names, used to describe the variations in form and colouration,of the many different series...

Indeed, there is the Zahara series, the Peter Pan, Ruffles, Queen Lime, Dahlia, amongst many others... And Zinnia is known for the many ways in which the flower petals are laid out, with quill-leaf forms, spiders, stars and daisies, domes and buttons. Also, the body of the plant bears characteristically long, sturdy stems...

Given its natural resilience that enables the plant to cope with harsh weather extremes, it has, not surprisingly, been taken as a symbol of endurance. Last year, zinnia were even rumoured to have germinated and flowered in the International Space Station, yet this claim was soon dismissed. On a more down-to-earth front, in the Victorian language of flowers, Zinnia represented the lasting affection toward absent friends.

Well, I was unable to take a photo free of the very numerous visitors, who, like me were enjoying this magnificent setting on a radiant September day. Instead, here is another from another tiime; different flowers (poppies!) but same incredible views, facing the Muséum national d'histoire naturelle .

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