If you want to know what vegetation is like in a given area, visit a local plant nursery or botanical garden.
I was driving through Phoenix, Arizona with a friend recently, and was mesmerized and pleasantly surprised at the plant nurseries we passed, stocked with cactus, palm trees and other desert plants. How fun and exotic! I even saw a cell phone tower hidden by an artificial palm tree as we drove through the city streets! In my part of the northwestern United States, it would have to be a Ponderosa Pine tree or other trees suited for the Eastern Washington ecosystem. Pretty amazing how diverse the plant world and natural landscapes are, with a mind boggling spectrum of super cool vegetation and critters that inhabit those landscapes. For each natural landscape, there is a ecosystem that thrives perfectly in that particular local. Nature’s design is perfect.
A few weeks ago, I did something I have not done after all the years of coming to Oaxaca, Mexico. I visited the Jardín Etnobotánico de Oaxaca near the colonial city center. It was delightful! Located on the grounds of the impressive Santo Domingo Church, it is a magical collection of cactus, exotic looking plants, and beautiful landscaping that seemed so…..well, Mexican!
Being from the Pacific Northwest, I love how the plants and landscapes here are so different from my bioregion, and I am amazed at how nature creates these systems, adapted perfectly to fit and thrive their own unique environment.
Nature has a pretty good system going on. The tour guide pointed out the irrigation channels that catch and direct water to supplement rainfall, mentioning that the plants adapt to the various levels of rainfall during the year. It is dry here. No brainer, right? Sometimes during the year it doesn’t rain at all, so plant varieties are mostly drought resistant. This group of plants work together to sustain the life that comes from the land, providing food and shelter for people and animals, nutrients for the soil for the next generation, as well as medicine and by-products used in things like plant-based dyes or material for textiles.
So, as I strolled along with the tour group (given in Spanish and made me realize that I could brush up on my botany vocabulary in Spanish!) I realized how complex this system is, but how magical as well. All of these amazing natural systems functioning right in front of our eyes that often go unnoticed.
I would recommend visiting the site if you are in Oaxaca. You can see their website here, where you can find more photos, a map on how to get there and some other info. It seems like there English page is not working, but you can get the most important info you need off the Spanish page. Tours are offered through out the day in both Spanish and English, and although there may be a bit of a wait before the next tour starts, it is a lovely place to wait in!