Nov 252014
 

Now that deciduous foliage has fallen, the canopies of trees and shrubs are opened up. An ideal time to prune. During the dry summer we had this year, overhanging growth that was acceptable to brush past on pathways now holds water and in passing results in clothes absorbing this rainwater.

Make clean cuts to shoot/branch junctions using sharp pruning implements. Do not leave coat hangers. These stubs of branches not only look unsightly but can result die back and subsequent infection in healthy wood. Examples of these can be seen in the attached images.

Coat hangers

Coat hangers

Overhang

Overhang

Poor pruning cut

Poor pruning cut

Nov 182014
 
Eucomis bicolor
Euonymus nanus

Euonymus nanus

Fruits abound this autumn, some less noticeable than others. Tucked away in the rock garden’s east valley is Euonymus nanus. As its name suggests this is a dwarf growing member of the genus. This low growing shrub is sparsely covered in linear leaves; the distinctively shaped and easily recognisable fruit capsule is bright red. The aril encasing the seed; orange.

Introduced by Reginald Farrer from Gansu Province, China where it is found in dry habitats in high mountain forest and scrub. Here it reaches 1m +, in cultivation on a rock shelf in the garden it barely makes 200mm.

Eucomis bicolor

Eucomis bicolor

South African bulbs did well this year; Eucomis bicolor is retaining its crown of leafy bracts topping off the flowered spike. This spike is now covered in paper thin angled seed pods. Held within are the small shiny black seeds. If fertile, sown into compost the resultant seedlings will give a flowering plant within five years.

As day length shortens and average temperature drops the need to cut grass reduces and then the relief of the last cut. This is the time to give mowers, strimmer’s and other equipment a seasonal clean. Wet grass is a congealing mass in corners of hoods and guards and on the blades of mowers and shears.

Strimmer heads require cleaning

Strimmer heads require cleaning

The attached image of a strimmer hood illustrates how lack of maintenance results in a build-up of layers of clippings. It is too easy to thrust a machine back into a shed at the end of the job. Yet a couple of minutes with a strategically placed stiff bristled hand brush and an old knife prolongs the life of the equipment and makes it easier to use the next time.

A light spray with duck oil prevents rust forming on metal parts.

Of course, if you treat equipment with respect and clean it after use it goes without saying the big clean at the end of the season will be minimal.

Oct 282014
 

With the protection of the alpine house this pan of Scilla lingulata var. ciliolata sunk into the sand bed is flowering exceptionally well. An added bonus is the scent I associate with the mass of spring flowering bulbs grown here.

Scilla lingulata var. ciliolata

Scilla lingulata var. ciliolata

Scilla lingulata var. ciliolata

Scilla lingulata var. ciliolata

Oct 142014
 
Araucaria araucana

Araucaria araucana

Araucaria araucana

Araucaria araucana

Weeding through the border carefully, and before a size 10 tackety boot crushed it, eagle eyed, we spotted a seedling of the Monkey Puzzle tree, Araucaria araucana.
An unexpected find, a healthy dark green colour with the tell-tale spikes to the end of the leaves.
The two mature trees in the garden to the south of the Front Range Glasshouses, one male; one female tree are producing fertile seed. The squirrels are breaking up the dome shaped cones and dispersing and burying the seed they do not eat.

A native to the Andean mountains of southern Chile and Argentina where they grow on the slopes of volcanoes. Seed was first introduced to Britain in 1795 by Archibald Menzies, a plant collector from RBGE.

Araucaria araucana

Araucaria araucana

Araucaria araucana

Araucaria araucana

Oct 082014
 

Dianella ensifolia has bamboo like growth, sprouting from a rhizomatous root system. With a distribution through the Old World Tropics it has flourished in a tub positioned beneath a raised walkway. Effectively a dank basement area in the sunken courtyard of the Front Range glasshouses. Here with low light levels it exhibits a spectacular crop of berries, shiny glossy blue.
A monocot with sheath like linear foliage, a rough midrib runs the length of the leaf. The stems have overlapped brown sheaths giving an attractive contrast to the mass of evergreen foliage.

Dianella ensifolia

Dianella ensifolia

Dianella ensifolia

Dianella ensifolia

Dianella ensifolia

Dianella ensifolia

Sep 302014
 
Begonia 'Non Stop Yellow'

Begonia ‘Non Stop Yellow’

Begonia 'Non Stop Yellow'

Begonia ‘Non Stop Yellow’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The two entrance borders to the Palm House were filled with the tuberous Begonia ‘Non Stop Yellow’ in May. True to their name these plants have provided continuous colour throughout the summer and autumn season. Still in full bloom they will soon be remove to make way for winter bedding, so admire while you are able.

Sown and then grown as plugs these compact plants produce multitudes of flowers, single and double of varying forms. As they fade each bloom naturally drops, taking away the task of deadheading.

Begonia 'Non Stop Yellow'

Begonia ‘Non Stop Yellow’

Begonia 'Non Stop Yellow'

Begonia ‘Non Stop Yellow’

Sep 252014
 

Mature deciduous trees are developing their autumn leaf colours. With the change of weather last week it was noticeable the quantity of fallen leaves on lawns and paths through the garden.

These images of leaf colouration in the herbaceous Paeonia potaninii are a timely reminder that it is not just the arboreal members of the plant kingdom that give us autumn colours.

Enjoy the kaleidoscope of colours that this year’s warm dry summer has helped to produce.

Paeonia potaninii

Paeonia potaninii

Paeonia potaninii

Paeonia potaninii

Paeonia potaninii

Paeonia potaninii

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sep 172014
 

Vaccinium arctostaphylos, a deciduous shrub showing full autumn colour. All foliage shines with the vibrancy of this single deep red colour that is attracting so much attention. Amongst the foliage are sporadic, out of season ivory white flowers. Growing in the peat walls, it is naturally found on acid soils below the tree line on slopes and mountainsides, native to SW Asia.

Vaccinium arctostaphylos

Vaccinium arctostaphylos

Vaccinium arctostaphylos

Vaccinium arctostaphylos

Vaccinium arctostaphylos

Vaccinium arctostaphylos

 

Sep 092014
 
Onopordum cyprium

Onopordum cyprium

Onopordum cyprium

Onopordum cyprium

Onopordum cyprium

Onopordum cyprium

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even on holiday many RBGE staff are on the lookout for interesting plants. On a trip to Cyprus one member of staff took resulted in the Garden growing a gigantic thistle. Resplendent with silvery foliage, with spines abounding over the surface, the colour tends to wash out with our torrential rain. Forming a statuesque plant not ideally suited to the rock garden, but being monocarpic will die following flowering and to keep it going seeds will be collected.

The original seed was collected from stunted plants of Onopordum cyprium. In the Gardens moist, fertile soil the plants have grown double the height, it was observed in the mountainous stony substrate near Salamiou. An area containing abandoned vineyards amongst a parched landscape all watched over by hungry vultures.

Sep 032014
 

The vigorous cross, Anemone x hybrida makes a dash of colour in the copse here at the garden. This shaded area with moist soil proving a perfect home to grow and develop.
A vigorous plant reaching 1.5m bearing simple terminal flowers with pink petals. It is however a variable hybrid with many colour forms. This group producing a succession of flowers with overlapped petals cupped together as a shallow dish. As the petals drop the ring of yellow stamens gains prominence.

In contrast, to exhibit the diversity of the hybrid, A. x ‘hybrida ‘Whirlwind’ has pure white petals and can be seen in the roadside planting opposite the rock garden.

Anemone x hybrida

Anemone x hybrida

Anemone x hybrida

Anemone x hybrida

Anemone x hybrida 'Whirlwind'

Anemone x hybrida ‘Whirlwind’