Mar 242015
 

From this time of year onwards Scottish gardens are coloured with Rhododendrons in flower. At RBGE Rhododendron meddianum var. atrokermesinum is flowering in the lower woodland garden. Native to NE Myanmar where collections were made by Frank Kingdon- Ward. These packets of seed returned to many gardens throughout Britain and are now seen as mature plants through the country.

This evergreen species holds many flower trusses and adds considerably to the interest of the Rhododendron collection at RBGE. Scarlet red petals on opening. In bud it is just as attractive. The flower truss shedding brown papery bracts on opening.

A flowering shoot from a specimen growing at Logan garden was selected in April 1954 by the then owner of the Logan estate, Ronald Olaf Hambro, of the banking dynasty, to exhibit at the RHS show in London where it received an Award of Merit. This was in the decade before Logan was gifted to the nation (1969) and became a regional garden of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.

Rhododendron meddianum var. atrokermesinum

Rhododendron meddianum var. atrokermesinum

Rhododendron meddianum var. atrokermesinum

Rhododendron meddianum var. atrokermesinum

Rhododendron meddianum var. atrokermesinum

Rhododendron meddianum var. atrokermesinum

Mar 172015
 

Ribes sanguineum ‘Albidum’ is an easily grown and propagated deciduous shrub that never fails to flower.
The racemes of flowers develop as the new growth expands. These racemes of individual white flowers resemble smudges of correction fluid so loved by the typing pool to alter the infrequent mistakes. Single specimens lack the impact that a wave of five or seven in a border provides at this time of year.
The species has long been in cultivation, introduced from Western North America by David Douglas in 1826. An early cultivar, ‘Albidum’ according to WJ Bean, was raised in Scotland in the 1840’s.

It may be of interest to know that the works of Bean are now available on line at:

http://www.beanstreesandshrubs.org/

All the information gleaned from years of study and correspondence with the prolific plant collectors of the late 19th and early 20th centuries that Bean transcribed into his original volumes of “Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles” is now freely available thanks to the International Dendrology Society.

Ribes sanguineum 'Albidum'

Ribes sanguineum ‘Albidum’

Ribes sanguineum 'Albidum'

Ribes sanguineum ‘Albidum’

Ribes sanguineum 'Albidum'

Ribes sanguineum ‘Albidum’

Mar 102015
 

At this time of year wild fluctuations in air temperature are often experienced. Over the weekend, a high of 14.8oc was recorded at the Garden. The following two days also recorded into double figures. Not a reason to become complacent and much too early for an early sowing of lettuce outdoors.
Soil temperature is a more even; rise and fall affair. This benefits root growth and the ability of a plant to produce spring growth. Within a collection of herbaceous plants the range of colour, form and texture of new growth is quite phenomenal. Sharp edges to Crocosmia contrast with the concertina like unfolding of Alchemilla foliage. The best way to appreciate this new growth is as a low shaft of sunlight radiates along the ground highlighting the fresh shoots of spring. The best by far are the thumb like twists that Paeonia mlokosewitschii throws up. Seen to advantage with fresh compost mulching the ground around.

Alchemilla mollis

Alchemilla mollis

Crocosmia pottsii

Crocosmia pottsii

Paeonia mlokosewitschii

Paeonia mlokosewitschii

Mar 042015
 

An apt name for a flower that bursts into colour at the start of the growing season. Iris ‘Vivacious Beginnings’ is one of several cultivars new to the alpine house this season. For the second week; seasonal plants of interest highlights the diversity of colour within the alpine house. The team working to cultivate these plants are producing a much admired display that is constantly replenished from the growing frames. One specimen deserving mention is Dionysia afghanica, looking literally like a perfect miniature pin cushion, covered with light mauve flowers. This plant requires substrate drainage and a cool root zone to succeed in cultivation. Here grown in a terracotta pot within a second, larger, pot. Native to North West Afghanistan where it grows through limestone and enjoys shade provided by the cliff faces from the intense sun.

Alpine display

Alpine display

Dionysia afghanica

Dionysia afghanica

Iris 'Vivacious Beginnings'

Iris ‘Vivacious Beginnings’

Feb 262015
 

The sand bench within the alpine house contains a swathe of colour. Spring bulbs in full bloom are always a welcome show after the winter.
Yellow, the predominant colour, with Narcissus pseudonarcissus the first of the large trumpet Daffodils to bloom.

Alpine house

Alpine house

Crocus etruseus 'Zwanenburg'

Crocus etruseus ‘Zwanenburg’

Crocus etruseus 'Zwanenburg'

Crocus etruseus ‘Zwanenburg’

Narcissus pseudonarcissus

Narcissus pseudonarcissus

Feb 172015
 
Lonicera caerulea var. glabrescens

Lonicera caerulea var. glabrescens

Lonicera caerulea var. glabrescens; sparse to flower and when it does, the terminal and auxiliary cluster are small and relatively insignificant. This is a late winter flowering multi growth shrub of deciduous habit where growth becomes a criss-cross of shoots.
It has flowered through from early January into February. The cold frosty nights have not damaged the small creamy white flowers.

The species is widely distributed geographically through the northern hemisphere and consequently exhibits many variants. Several of these wild growing varieties have been described and named, of which this is one. Plants are found growing within deciduous forest areas, reaching around 2+ metres in height.
Unfortunately Bean in his book , “Trees and shrubs hardy in the British Isles” notes “it has little or no merit for gardens but is interesting botanically.” Where better a place to cultivate than in a botanic garden? The botanical interest lies in the make-up of the ovaries that give rise to the pair of flowers.

Feb 102015
 
Iris nicolai

Deep loamy clay soil suits this bulbous Iris presently in flower in the alpine house. With the proviso that when watering none should fall on the foliage.
Collected last year within the Hazrati-Sho range in Tajikistan where it grew at 2015m with Allium, Eremurus, Rosa as associated flora in lush vegetation
A variable species in flower colour, Iris nicolai has a large flower; purple, white, yellow and splashes of deep red velvet on the falls. Quite exquisite with the early sun striking the colours through the alpine house glass.

Iris nicolai

Iris nicolai

Feb 052015
 

Days are lengthening and the soil is warming. At this time of year be aware of the weed population shooting up and flowering. Catch the winter “keepers” now. Many are flowering and others are holding embryo seed pods. Once the sun gains strength the weed population develops. There are exceptions to the, hoe all; control all, theory. Emerging bees are glad of a

Lamium album

Lamium album

Lamium album

Lamium album

nectar sink where they can take on board much needed fuel after the winter. Lamium album and L. purpureum are two self seeders that merit avoidance when wielding the hoe. These vigorous growers have square stems which hold lipped white flowers held tight in to the stem at the leaf axil. These flowers are beneficial to all emerging insects so protect a patch in your garden.

Jan 272015
 
Helleborus orientalis

Helleborus orientalis

Helleborus orientalis

Helleborus orientalis

Helleborus orientalis

Helleborus orientalis

Helleborus orientalis found growing through southern Europe and into SW Asia. Seed to grow this plant was collected in Georgia from a plant growing with Primula sp. on a grassy slope overshadowed with mature Picea and Carpinus sp.
The foliage is infected with the black markings of an often seen fungal disease, Hellebore leaf spot, Microsphaeropsis hellebori. If these spots affect stems then collapse is inevitable. Where possible pick out affected leaves and other parts.
The spores are spread in water so this wet January has seen a definite spread on Hellebores.

The flowers of H.orientalis are hung slightly downwards from the stalk and open from pink bud to white with blush pink. The stalks reach a height of 250mm, young leaves have a waxy feel.

Jan 202015
 

Carpeting the ground beneath Picea orientalis are the remains of cones that have been stripped of seed by the Gardens grey squirrel population. They have systematically worked their way up the tree foraging for all available cones. Standing beneath is like watching snow falling so fast and thorough is the stripping of the cone.

The grey squirrel is a native of North America, the Picea from SW Asia, both growing here in Europe.

Picea orientalis

Picea orientalis

Picea orientalis

Picea orientalis

Picea orientalis

Picea orientalis