Two images, Ivy, Hedera helix covering both plants. The pine trunks are sturdy and it will take several seasons to smother these. The Viburnum is different, colonised at the same time the two are totally different in their approach and growth habit. The Ivy in the Viburnum should be removed with urgency; the vigorous evergreen growth will smother the life out of this plant. Vigour will be reduced and the Viburnum smothered by the end of the 2017 growing season. In the case of the Pines; secateurs can be used to snip the shoots growing up the trunk. The severed growth will die back and can then be pulled from the trunk.
The season of gales and heavy rain can conspire to unseat climbing plants from their supports. Take a pair of secateurs and reduce the overhang growth which can be considerable and weigh heavily especially following rain. As in the attached image of Schisandra plena on a south facing wall. This weight puts any supporting wires of framework under considerable stress. Add in the forces a blustery day will provide and there is the recipe for collapse. Pruning at this time of year will allow a rejuvenated framework of mature stems to support new growth. At the same time inspect all supporting material, repair, replace or strengthen as necessary.
The long arching seed pods of Glaucium flavum are splitting lengthways into longitudinal sections. The seeds long gone, now just sections of the pithy packaging remain within. Found growing along the shoreline with a wide geographical distribution, Europe, North Africa, SW Asia. The specimen at the Garden is in the Scottish native bed where the crown of water repellent glaucous blue foliage holds the many sickle shaped seed pods aloft.
During the short days it is good to have flowering plants in the garden; Lonicera myrtillus is a low growing deciduous shrub. The fresh yellow tubular flowers hang down from the previous year’s growth. Shy to flower, they open in pairs with immature flower buds protected within the calyx. Seasonally, flowering can be erratic, there may be no sign of blossom should the climatic conditions be adverse. A good summer to ripen the wood is necessary.
The Hamamelis have been in flower since mid-December but it is only now that the scent from the flowers is becoming distinctly evident when walking past the palm House. Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Jelena’ is a worthy cultivar, reliable to flower and with showy bronze red petals, coloured and shaped like rough zest from an orange. The calyx has a brown downy exterior and red within. A hybrid between H. mollis and H. japonica, the cultivar of which was originally raised at Kalmthout Arboretum in Belgium.
The evergreen Prostanthera cuneatea is not enjoying the heavy rain and lately the frosts we are experiencing this winter. A native of the Southern Hemisphere it is dropping shoals of the small, evergreen leaves that cover its shoots. These are distinctly aromatic releasing a menthol odour. Once the shoots are seen under magnification the leaf surface is seen to be covered with minute oil glands, from which the scent emanates. On casual observation the plant looks like any woody shrub but magnified there is a resemblance to the fleshy structure seen in Kalanchoe. Thanks to Frieda Christie for the microscope images. Otherwise a healthy plant, to be seen in the NE corner of the QMMG, this stunted woody shrub is suited to a warm, dry aspect with free draining soil. Recognised as endangered in its native SE Australia.
Now is the time to look beneath established Berberis bushes and observe germinating seedlings. As can be seen from the attached image of Berberis aristata the viability of the seed crop is good. If you are not in need of these juveniles then at the earliest convenience take a digging fork and swath it through the soft growth. If possible choose a dry day when desiccation will prevent re growth. Wait much longer and the seedlings become woody, will have a developing root system that also anchor each into the soil, making eradication that little more difficult.
Better to be prepared than to lose the living plant. A timely cover of straw, laid loosely on top of the crowns of Hedychium spicatum and Brugmansia aurea will keep the cold and damp from destroying the growing parts of these semi tender plants. The air trapped within the dry straw acts as an insulating layer. This gives the root zone protection from penetrating frost and lingering damp. The plants being native respectively to the Chinese Himalayas bordering Burma and the Ecuadorian Andes. In the wild they will not experience the lingering damp cold that our climate is renowned for.
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.
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.