Dec 162014
 

The glossy red berries of the Eurasian Viburnum opulus are a treat for bird life at this time of year. This plant is also trying to send out corymbs of white flowers at the tail end of this year. A valiant effort on the deciduous shoots. A useful species when considering a mixed native garden hedge. It will grow intermingled with other species to form a wildlife sanctuary beneficial to the biodiversity of suburban gardens. Consider such a mix rather than a “leylandii” line when contemplating hedge planting.

Viburnum opulus

Viburnum opulus

Dec 092014
 
Camellia sasanqua

Camellia sasanqua

Camellia sasanqua

Camellia sasanqua

Camellia sasanqua

Camellia sasanqua

Camellia sasanqua, an evergreen bush itself is tucked away beneath an even greater evergreen behemoth. Yet even in this shady situation opposite the arid land house managing to push out a few flowers.
A native to Japan, where it is cultivated and hybridised with enthusiasm.
This specimen has delicate flowers with light pink petals and a central ring of yellow anthers. Some petals exhibiting a slight white variegation. There are many cultivars including ones with variegated blooms. Unlike the spring flowering species this shy autumn flowered Camellia exudes a scent on a warm day. Not a pleasant scent though, reminiscent of musty leaf mould.

Dec 032014
 
Lunaria rediviva

Lunaria rediviva

Lunaria rediviva

Lunaria rediviva

Just as the dampness of the short days creeps into our bodies so does the fabric of the plant world slowly decay.
These images of seed pods illustrate the gradual breakdown of the cellulose layers and then the tougher lignin decays to release the seeds held within.
The brightly coloured Physalis alkekengi lanterns are in high demand as seasonal decorations.
The silvery, paper thin elongated pods of Lunaria rediviva are equally as valued for decoration in the home. However, left alone they both provide colour in the border as winter arrives. Grow in sun or semi shade in well drained soil.

Physalis alkekengi

Physalis alkekengi

Physalis alkekengi

Physalis alkekengi

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