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

Jan 132015
 

Duchesnea indica carries an interesting berry resembling a miniature strawberry. This invasive stoloniferous ground covering plant was introduced from Taiwan where it was growing in sub-tropical rainforest. Quite happy colonising an area of shaded ground within the F beds near Inverleith House. Coping with sub-zero temperatures and a dry root zone.
The flower stalk rises up from the trifoliate leaves; the foliage is also very similar to the true strawberry, Fragaria hybrid. Yellow petals, short lived, surround a mass of yellow anthers fading to reveal the aggregate fruit made of many achenes. At present out of season sporadic flowering and fruiting is occurring. The main flowering season being late spring.

Where this plant is grown it is preferred to keep it within bounds. Fork out the runners and seedlings as they extend beyond the area originally planted.

Duchesnea indica

Duchesnea indica

Duchesnea indica

Duchesnea indica

Duchesnea indica

Duchesnea indica

Jan 052015
 
Gaultheria semi-infera

Gaultheria semi-infera

Gaultheria semi-infera

Gaultheria semi-infera

On the peat walls is a specimen of Gaultheria semi-infera native to western China and the Eastern Himalaya; where it was found growing at 2900metres in the Arun valley on a degraded hillside in amongst Rhododendron and Bamboo forest. In cultivation choose a position of semi shade where the soil will not dry out for establishment and best growth.

The young wood is a vermillion red colour with evergreen leaves that have roughly serrated edges and attractive venation. Fruits range from light to darker purple in colour and are full of fleshy pulp which holds the seeds protectively.

Mar 192014
 
Latua pubiflora

Latua pubiflora

Latua pubiflora has been in flower intermitently since January this year and is still going strong!

Click here for more information

Jan 302014
 
Red bark of Pinus sylvestris

Orange bark of Pinus sylvestris

The Scots Pine is an iconic tree within the Scottish landscape. Easily recognisable with its reddish trunk, best appreciated during a west coast sunset when the rays from the lowering sun hit and highlight the canopy colours within a mature tree. Now chosen as Scotland’s national tree; the Scots Pine gained 52% of the vote from those that responded to a call to vote for a national tree of Scotland.

Gertrude Jekyll, the 19 – 20th century horticulturist and author, refers in her book “Wood and Garden” to a musical note coming from the trunk of the “Scots Pine” or “Scotch Fir” as she calls Pinus sylvestris in her “notes and thoughts, practical and critical of a working amateur gardener”, published in 1899.Pinus sylvestris

Not often seen as a mature specimen in the urban environment, P. sylvestris is the tree you remember from travelling in the wild open spaces of northern Scotland; its distinctive bare trunk, topped with the flattened wind pruned canopy braced against open sky and mountain peaks.

Young Pinus sylvestris plants

Young Pinus sylvestris plants

One of the 2 needled Pines, the blue/green needles varying in length dependent on soil, situation and climate. Trees can reach 40 metres in height and provide useful timber. Once the timber was used as pit props, nowadays it is felled and milled for use in the building industry. Much also finds its way to pallets, fencing and as wood pulp. A wide ranging species geographically; native Scottish populations are now recognised as a subspecies, P. sylvestris ssp. scotica. A young plant of which can be found in the Scottish heath garden. Mature specimens of P.sylvestris are towering above the Holly windbreaks in the copse. These exhibit the mature orange colour of the trunks and at certain times of the year are lit up by the rising and setting of the sun.

 

Jan 282014
 

Out with the mower on the 22nd; last Wednesday, topping off the Palm House lawns which with the mildness of the winter had that straggly appearance of uneven growth over the sward. We had previously cut these lawns in mid-December. There is always a knock on effect from each type of weather that settles on these islands. I am just pleased we have not had to snowplough the garden roads.

Photinia serratifolia 19890657A

Photinia serratifolia 19890657A

On the eastern boundary is a mature specimen of Photinia serratifolia. The attached images show the amount of extension growth, not just an open bud but fully formed leaves with drip tip. Growing through many vegetational habitats in China and found from sea level to c. 2500m.

At this stage such tender growth is vulnerable to a cold snap. As the leaves mature they become leathery and resilient to extremes of temperature.

Jan 212014
 

Kalopanax septemlobus fruit on ground 5popup

Beneath the extensive branch framework of Kalopanax septemlobus lays a carpet of fallen fruit. Further from the canopy edge are seedlings that have germinated from viable seed that may have been eaten and then regurgitated through a birds gut. With the mild weather to date this winter the seedlings have retained their leaves, the parent plant fully deciduous.

Kalopanax septemlobus 19340276A seedlings 3popup

Notable for their intensely spiny stem and multi lobed leaf each lobe of triangular shape.

Kalopanax septemlobus 19340276A seedling 2popup

Native to temperate Asia where it is found in forests from sea level to 2500m. Initially fast growing making a wide spreading crown, the large leaves react rapidly to water stress by drooping down reducing the surface area exposed to the sun.

Jan 142014
 
Calendula cv.
Tomato

Tomato

Backed by a west facing wall, Tomato plants set in grow bags in the lean to glasshouse of the Fletcher Building are continuing to yield edible fruit. For this time of year a highly unusual trait.

Usually during November a severe frost causes growth to blacken and the fruit, which is mainly composed of water, turn to mush.

Further evidence of this unseasonal mild weather is provided by the bright and unblemished flowers on Calendula officinalis cultivars. These, planted in late spring 2013 in the demonstration garden and placed in the open with no protection from the elements look as though they will keep up the pretence of summer the winter long. Calendula derives from the Latin calendae meaning little calendar. Best not to set our clocks by this one.

This year the lowest recorded temperature has been -1.7°C on the 12th January. Rising to a maximum recorded on 7th January of 10.6°C.

Words and text by Tony Garn

Calendula cv.

Calendula cv.

Calendula cv.
Calendula cv.

 

Jan 292013
 
Xanthoria parietina growing on Tapiscia sinensis. Photo by Tony Garn

Xanthoria parietina growing on Tapiscia sinensis

Take a look around when the sun is low in the sky and lighting up the lichens on deciduous tree bark. Xanthoria parietina can be found on the bark of Tapiscia sinensis it also grows throughout the arctic, adding a much needed splash of colour to the white surroundings. The Polar Inuit of Northern Greenland call it “sunain anak”, meaning the sun’s excrement.

Currently, X. parietina, is one of the commonest lichens in the UK as it loves nitrogen pollution. It especially likes to live near roads and in cities and is used as an indicator of (poor) air quality. The good news though, is that we also have clean air/nitrogen sensitive lichens growing in the Garden such as Evernia prunastri . Evernia is also used as an indicator of air quality. Xanthoria has been used as a dye to colour many things from fabric to Easter eggs.

Xanthoria parietina growing on Tapiscia sinensis - closeup. Photo by Tony Garn

Xanthoria parietina growing on Tapiscia sinensis – closeup

Strange we have both but I think that it is the range of tree species growing in the Garden that can explain it – the pH of tree bark has a massive impact on lichen distribution with some lichens liking high pH e.g. Xanthoria and others loving low pH. Trees with naturally high pH (like the Tapiscia sinensis) are more likely to support Xanthoria than those with a low pH (such as pines). The wide range of trees at RBGE means the Garden can support a great range of lichens too.

Jan 222013
 

Rhododendron dauricum is one of the hardiest of the genus, flowering as January starts and often lasting well into February. Found growing through forest margins where it grows to two metres in its area of origin; through eastern and northern Asia. A semi evergreen species that is more or less deciduous with us. Pink to purple/red flowers with anthers a similar colour. The petals of delicate appearance with crinkle cut edges. However, this hardiness does not apply to the flowers which were decimated by the frosts of last week. The light green growth buds are unscathed and the tight flower buds ready to provide a show as the temperature rises.

The roots appreciate a moist cool root run and an annual top-dress with leaf mould or similar light, open organic matter.

Rhododendron dauricum. Photo by Tony Garn

Rhododendron dauricum

Rhododendron dauricum. Photo by Tony Garn

Rhododendron dauricum