horticalural marvels


Wisteria Tunnel -

Yahatahigashi Ward, Japan Make sure to visit in late April or Early May, during the “Fuji Matsuri,” or “Wisteria Festival,” when the magical tunnel is in full bloom. Arrive at any other time of year, and its appearance will be a disheartening mass of lifeless, twisted branches A member of the pea family, wisteria is an ornamental vine, wildly popular in both Eastern and Western gardens for its graceful hanging flowers and its ornate, winding branches. Easily trained, the woody vines tend to reach maturity within a few years, at which point they bloom in cascades of long, lavender flowers of varying pastel shades. Explore further at Atlas Obscura


Commissioned by Francesco I de’ Medici in the 16th century Villa Demidoff and the nearby Villa di Pratolino took over 12 years to complete. The end result was a stunning near-labyrinth of natural caves, lakes and massive sculptures. Of the statuary, the 16th century “Appennine Colossus,” is the main focal point of the landscape. Hesits atop a grotto in apparent anguish at his fate.

After changing hands a few more times, the wild grounds eventually fell into the hands of the government of Florence, who operated the area as a public park during the spring and summer months.

To learn more of the beauty and mystery of these gardens visit Atlas Obscura


BY ALLISON MEIER / 30 JUL 2014 In some places people toss coins into fountains begging for a wish, but in parts of the United Kingdom coins are pressed into trees for the same purpose. These “wishing trees” or “money trees” are a strange fusion of nature and manufactured metal, and represent a tradition dating back centuries. Learn more and see some amazing photos at Atlas OBscura

The Tree of Knowledge - Qurna, Iraqi

An unusual shrine stands on the shore of the Tigris: a small, dead tree. Protected by low brick walls and surrounded by a concrete plaza, this tree is -according to local legend- is the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, the one that Eve ate from in the Garden of Eden

Visit Atlas Obscura for a little more of a look at this sacred spot…



Founded in 1379, New College, Oxford is one of the oldest Oxford colleges. It has, like other colleges, a great dining hall with huge oak beams across the top, as large as two feet square, and forty-five feet long each.

A century ago, some busy entomologist went up into the roof of the dining hall with a penknife and poked at the beams and found that they were full of beetles. This was reported to the College Council, which met the news with some dismay, beams this large were now very hard, if not impossible to come by. “Where would they get beams of that caliber?” they worried.

One of the Junior Fellows stuck his neck out and suggested that there might be some worthy oaks on the College lands. These colleges are endowed with pieces of land scattered across the country which are run by a college Forester. They called in the College Forester, who of course had not been near the college itself for some years, and asked him if there were any oaks for possible use.

He pulled his forelock and said, “Well sirs, we was wonderin’ when you’d be askin’.”

Upon further inquiry it was discovered that when the College was founded, a grove of oaks had been planted to replace the beams in the dining hall when they became beetly, because oak beams always become beetly in the end. This plan had been passed down from one Forester to the next for over five hundred years saying “You don’t cut them oaks. Them’s for the College Hall.”

For more details, and other fascinating histories, visit Atlas Obscura.