One of my walking routes from home in to ‘town’ takes me past a quiet bit of water (between two busier canals) and the back of the Hortus Botanicus, Amsterdam’s botanical garden. It’s such a beautiful spot, always tinged with a bit of mystery and magic whatever the season, and if it’s possible to covet a building (which, it seems, it is!) then I have a serious case of palm house envy.

The Hortus’s palm house (and, in fact, the entire garden) is not on the grand scale of the palm house at Kew, but it’s the unassuming mellow brick and glass, and the human-scale of it, that make it so appealing. It doesn’t dominate the landscape, like an overwrought wedding cake*, it nestles into it and they become one…

It’s hard to believe that this magical landscape is, practically, in the middle of the city!

If you stand around long enough gawking at palm houses, autumn leaves and their watery reflections you’re bound to attract some attention. When two handsome strangers approach for a chat…

… it would be churlish not to hang out for a while. Topics of conversation are limited however – mostly we talk about the deliciousness that’s lurking beneath the dew-damp carpet of fallen leaves.

Hmm, beak-smacking good!

* Actually, I love the majestic greenhouses at Kew! But for the sake of this comparison the ‘wedding cake’ simile seemed appropriate ;)

Hortus Botanicus palm house built 1912, designed by Amsterdam School architect Johan van der Mey (also responsible for this gem)
Kew Gardens palm house built 1844-48, designed & built by Decimus Burton (architect) and Richard Turner (engineer)