Now that the foliage is clearing from the deciduous canopies the full beauty of the trunk of Acer pensylvanicum is revealed. This seedling is now eight years old; it has developed good striations vertically down the length of the trunk and around the branches. A mixture of white, green and grey shades are ideal as winter interest. Growing to 8 metres by 4 metres it will eventually form a sizeable specimen. It is a native of eastern N. America where it grows in association with Acer saccharum, Fagus grandifolia, Tsuga Canadensis.
Sorbus harrowiana is not the best specimen for displaying ornamental fruit but it does have a related back story. It is native to SW China where, as can be seen from the attached image, the leaf size is one of the largest of the genus; composed of up to four pairs of leaflets and one terminal leaflet. The fruits are small, white and borne sparsely on the corymb structure, when crushed these smell of fermenting apples. First collected in Yunnan Province in 1912 by George Forrest it was described by William Wright Smith, Regius Keeper. He named after Robert Harrow, curator at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 1902 – 1931.
Wrap up warmly and take the opportunity to appreciate the remainder of the autumn colour on the deciduous trees. The colder nights see the leaves dropping as the abscission layer breaks down. As the leaf falls a barrier has formed on the bud that prevents the ingress of disease and other pathogens into the living tissue, thus keeping the tree in good health. Two that have coloured and lasted this year were the Chinese Euonymus alatus and from eastern North America, the cut leaved Sumach, Rhus typhina ‘Laciniata’.
One of the Styrax officinalis plants growing at the west gate has produced several fruits. These hang elegantly from the previous season’s growth. The fruits resemble a grey ball with a stalk like appendage that is the remains of the style appearing from the top and the calyx enveloping the base. It is a native to the warmer climes of southern Europe and the Middle East. This probable explains the sparsity of fruit as the summer temperatures here did not match those of Anatolia where viable seed was collected from the parent plant.
Daphne gemmata, is compact, with an inflorescence of clear yellow flowers. This species, a native to SW China where it is found growing in sun, well drained, stony banks. Replicate these conditions in cultivation and this plant will grow to 1 metre in height and width. The flowers are scented and long lasting. Flowering at this time of year it will be interesting to see if a frost knocks them out and discolours the corolla. In the meantime a plant to be appreciated.
In the corner of the QMM garden is a columnar tree full of lightly scented musty white flowers. Awash with flowers this Hoheria populnea is a deciduous member of the genus, native to South Island New Zealand. A plant to be appreciated in a season of decaying herbaceous growth and wet swirling leaves caught in corners of the garden.
Despite the past week of storms, rain and battering inclement weather this scandent Delphinium sp. has proved resilient. It has sparse growth but from this is thrown a steady profusion of delicate sky blue flowers with an interesting kick back spur that extends from the elongated upper sepal. Collected from the island of Corfu where it was found growing in grassland. Worth a look when passing through the alpine area if only to remind ourselves that blue sky will return.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Takeover Day Scotland is a celebration of children and young people’s contribution to museums, galleries and historic homes. It is a day on which they are given meaningful roles, working alongside staff and volunteers to participate in the life of the Garden.
I am a pupil at Broughton Primary School, Edinburgh and have chosen a plant from the tropical plant houses as seasonal plant of interest. I was attracted to the pineapple in fruit.
Its full Latin name is Ananus fritzmuelleri it was collected in Brazil in 1980 by Mr Leppard.
Pineapples are in the family Bromeliaceae and are found in tropical regions of the world. This species is a terrestrial species.
The pineapple you eat is a fusion of many fruits.