Chester Zoo. 13.07.13

Chester Zoo might seem like a strange place to take Gloria for a visit. She is so strongly opposed to the fur trade that she doesn't even believe the animals should be allowed to wear it. However Chester Zoo holds a number of important National Collections and Gloria was persuaded to march past the other exhibits without offending anybody.

The glasshouses are the centre of the plant collection. Gloria was wilting in the heat of summer but was game enough to spend a few hours in the Tropical House.

The Zoo has recently taken on the National Collection of Nepenthes which are not to everybody's taste, but they are quite glabrous so Gloria was well suited.

This is one of the superb upper pitchers on Nepenthes inermis, which was clearly prospering

There is also a subtantial collection of cacti, including the National Collection of Mammillaria. The whole collection has been re-labelled and substantially improved since I was last here.

Some people grow cacti for the beauty of their flowers, others for the grotesque character of their bodies. Copiapoa hypogaea ssp. hypogaea had charms to suit both camps.

Finally there is a National Collection of pleurothallid orchids, mostly grown on bark on this wonderful staging. They have small flowers but there is a charm to them that is lacking in the usual run of orchids.

Pleurothallis phyllocardioides is typical, with tiny flowers that seem to grow directly from the leaf. In fact the structure that looks like a petiole is a pseudobulb which is a modified stem. The flower grows from the top of it just above the solitary leaf. It has been a very hot day and my humour was not improved when Gloria slapped me on the cheek. She says she was deterring a horse fly and I am sure that was the intention though no dead horse fly was found.

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