May 202014
 

The crown of the tree fern, Dicksonia antartica, has rushed into life. Catching the warmth from the sun and surrounded by four walls in an enclosed courtyard it always makes good growth.
The unfurling frond has regularly placed “steps” to resemble a ladder. These will rapidly extend and a complete rosette of new leaves will form especially with this spell of continuing warm weather.

Dicksonia antartica

Dicksonia antartica

 

May 132014
 
R. orbiculare ssp. orbiculare on left R. vernicosum on right

R. orbiculare ssp. orbiculare on left R. vernicosum on right

A walk through the Garden will prove rewarding with so many Rhododendrons in flower. In the copse R. orbiculare ssp. orbiculare and R. vernicosum are full of colour. Both native to SW China where seed was collected and gradually following sowing and germination we now appreciate the full beauty of these wide spreading evergreen shrubs.
An added bonus this year has been the relatively frost free climate. So often a frosty night followed by early bright sun will ruin these blooms.

Rhododendron orbiculare ssp. orbiculare

Rhododendron orbiculare ssp. orbiculare

Rhododendron vernicosum

Rhododendron vernicosum

 

May 072014
 

A clump of contrasting foliage within a mixed border is always welcome. A border full of Lysimachia ciliata is a different matter.
This North American native has an invasive root system that results in pervasive invasion. May is the time of exponential growth, get your border fork and prepare to do battle with this bronze foliaged, yellow flowered border coloniser. As well as colonising rhizomes the root mass is made up of masses of white fibrous root with the ability to extract soil moisture to the detriment of other plants.

Lysimachia ciliata 20082257B 2a

Lysimachia ciliata

Lysimachia ciliata

Lysimachia ciliata

Lysimachia ciliata

Lysimachia ciliata

May 282013
 

Continuing the centuries old tradition of plant collecting, staff from RBGE travelled to Japan in 2005 and collected seed. Returning to the Garden this was sown, nurtured and planted out in the garden.

On the Pyrus lawn is a mature specimen of Malus sieboldii from Ernest Wilson’s expedition to China in 1908, now a wide spreading loose canopied tree full of light pink blossom. Nearby is a young Malus sieboldii sapling, not ten years old, awash with flowers collected on the BBJMT trip to Japan in 2005. Seed of both was collected from trees growing in woodland; however, Wilson did not have a ski resort in the surrounding mountains as backdrop! Times change and the demands on our environment also change. The need to study, research and classify living plants remains a priority to RBGE especially as the pressures on the plant kingdom from an increasing population are impinging on all aspects of our lives.

There is a desperate need in gardens to manage a range of species that represent various age classes. Mature stands of trees, ornamental or otherwise, need a youthful and mid age class of tree within the canopy to ensure shelter and representation for study and appreciation.

Continuing this ethos within the garden at home, if you have space in your garden and are appreciating the diversity and colour of spring blossom; now is the time to invest in your garden and develop the age range of planting.

This has been an uncertain twelve months for plant sales in the nursery and garden centre trade due to the wet summer of 2012 and this season’s cold, late spring. Help to boost their sales, invest in a plant and appreciate its growth and form for years to come.

Malus sieboldii collected in 1908. Photo by Tony Garn

Malus sieboldii collected in 1908

Malus sieboldii collected in 1908. Photo by Tony Garn

Malus sieboldii collected in 1908

Young Malus sieboldii. Photo by Tony Garn

Young Malus sieboldii

Young Malus sieboldii. Photo by Tony Garn

Young Malus sieboldii

Young Malus sieboldii. Photo by Tony Garn

Young Malus sieboldii

May 212013
 

The genus Ribes includes the species that provide red, white and blackcurrants, also showy species of spring flowering shrubs that are found in many gardens.

Ribes longeracemosum tucked away on the south border is an uncommon plant. A vigorous deciduous shrub whose individual flowers may be insignificant but these sit like a string of pearls on the stalk hanging 400mm in length. In effect a long raceme as the name describes.

An elongated inflorescence with stalked flowers. The bell shaped flower has frayed reddish edges to the tube. Looking into the corolla, the anthers are set on a twist and the formation of these resembles an aeroplane engine fan.

Harking back to the first sentence the mature plants observed in Sichuan Province, China were said to have black juicy fruit. Growing at c. 2600m in deciduous forest.

Ribes longeracemosum. Photo by Tony Garn

Ribes longeracemosum

Ribes longeracemosum. Photo by Tony Garn

Ribes longeracemosum

Ribes longeracemosum. Photo by Tony Garn

Ribes longeracemosum

Ribes longeracemosum. Photo by Tony Garn

Ribes longeracemosum

May 142013
 

Opening in a blaze of glory in late April the foliage of Aesculus turbinata was as red as hot embers in the centre of a November night bonfire.

I took the first image on 25th April and the second on the 11th May. In these 17 days the colour faded to a light green more in keeping with our deciduous tree canopy. The chameleon effect of transient colouration stabilises as leaves mature. The anthocyanin pigment causing this redness also gives autumn colour to the deciduous canopy. At this time of year this pigment may provide protection against strong sunlight levels in the tree’s native Japan, where it grows to 30m with a sturdy trunk; here it is not as robust but with foliage of merit and flower spikes developing, worth growing.

Aesculus turbinata 25th April. Photo by Tony Garn

Aesculus turbinata, 25th April

Aesculus turbinata, 11th May. Photo by Tony Garn

Aesculus turbinata, 11th May

May 072013
 

Dappled shade, a woodland glade and signs of growth as the light spring foliage unfurls and catches the light. The pink colours are set alight and highlighted by the spring sunshine.

Known to all as Dicentra macrantha a name change and we are calling this herbaceous plant with snappy fleshy rootstock Ichtyoselmis macrantha.

Here, as in the wild, (Northern Myanmar into Southern China), it colonises the woodland floor enjoying a moist soil. Growth is rapid at this time of year. The leafy stem dividing into three and then three again, soon producing a mass of foliage, reaching one metre in height. Later in May the terminal flower stalk is nodding with pendulous flowers.

Ichtyoselmis macrantha. Photo by Tony Garn

Ichtyoselmis macrantha

Ichtyoselmis macrantha. Photo by Tony Garn

Ichtyoselmis macrantha

May 012013
 

First discovered by Delavey in 1844 it was not until 1910 that seed was collected by George Forrest in Yunnan Province, China and plants of Rhododendron lacteum then appeared in British gardens.

A recent collecting trip to China (1990) resulted in seed being collected from plants growing as understory to Abies delaveyi forest. There are now several good specimens of R. lacteum growing in the lower woodland area at RBGE. Terminal trusses of yellow blooms with wide corollas. Each a delicate yellow with distinct red blotch to the inner base.

These young plants are of vigorous habit and will make impressive specimens of 5 – 8 metres in height. Covered in flowers and given a frost free spell these will be stunning in a decade.

The clump of Pulmonaria angustifolia in the copse that was grazed by a grey squirrel, (4/2/2013), has regenerated and is now a mass of flower. Well worth a look to appreciate the power of herbaceous regeneration.

Rhododendron lacteum. Photo by Tony Garn

Rhododendron lacteum

Rhododendron lacteum. Photo by Tony Garn

Rhododendron lacteum

Rhododendron lacteum. Photo by Tony Garn

Rhododendron lacteum

May 292012
 
Cercis griffithii. Photo by Tony Garn

Cercis griffithii

Struggling to flower in our climate, it is heartening to find a scattering of soft lilac coloured buds held tightly to the older wood of Cercis griffithii. It has a natural range stretching from Southern Europe to central Asia. Here the wood is baked in the more extreme continental climate.

The leaves emerging from the deciduous large shrub framework are heart shaped, dark red in the juvenile stage, turning green as the season progresses. On the edge of its survival zone this plant will not tolerate heavy soil or a wet root run. To be sure of success plant young specimens in sheltered situations.

May 222012
 

Deutzia purpurascens a deciduous twiggy shrub of light structure which nonetheless manages to develop into an impenetrable tangle of growth.

A native to Western China, found on steep slopes around 3000m, where it was collected as seed in 1991. Dark green leaves, prominently veined, cover the plant and at this time of year awash with delicate purple buds bursting open a white shaded pink.

Deutzia purpurascens. Photo by Tony Garn

Deutzia purpurascens

Deutzia purpurascens. Photo by Tony Garn

Deutzia purpurascens

Deutzia purpurascens. Photo by Tony Garn

Deutzia purpurascens