One of the famous areas of the Flower Dome was the Olive Grove, an area made up of around 12 very mature Olive trees, some of which are more than 1000 years old. Brought from Spain and transplanted as full specimens in 2011, they have established very well and have been thriving within the climate of the dome. Using special fans stealthily installed under the trees, the horticultural teams have experimented successfully with artificial pollination around flowering time. This has ensured that the wind pollinated Olives achieve successful pollination and since this has been established the trees have regularly produced yearly crops. I was told that the original team that went in search of the Olive trees in Spain spent many a day searching various orchards for suitable trees before coming across one farmer who opened his orchard to them, and he told them to take their pick from the many hundreds he had on site. A veritable Olive ‘gold mine’ no doubt!
Another significant feature in the Flower Dome is the amazing Baobab and Bottle Tree gardens. Here mature Boababs, Adansonia digitata dominate, with one of them weighing in at more than 30 tons and by far the largest tree in the Dome. The trees and various understory plants in this garden are planted in raised garden areas, that is itself a main focal point towards the top of the planting space within the Dome.
Interpretation details provided in this area tell of the trees immense importance to its natural African environment and the many practical uses of the tree by the local human communities. There are many intriguing stories from this one tree alone, such as the bats that pollinate the flowers through to the elephants that help its seeds disperse and germinate into the environment.
This dramatic display is the epitome of the incredible diversity of plant collections displayed within the Dome and one that leaves a lasting impression on the visitor.
From time to time as I took a breath and paused to take in the surrounds of the Dome, I could not help but stand in awe at the amazing architecture both of the Dome’s cathedral like forms and from the truly futuristic, and almost out of this world architecture that seems to project in through the glass of the Dome from the city surrounds.
Breathtaking to say the least!