Nov 282013
Ananus fritzmuelleri

Ananus fritzmuelleri

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.

Nov 262013
Gunnera manicata. Photo by Tony Garn

Gunnera manicata

Coincidentally set out to resemble a group of tepees, the giant leaves of Gunnera manicata have been cut down. Left to stand, the winter winds would gust through the canopy and wreak havoc with the foliage. The established planting now resembles a ghost town, the green pigments having drained from the foliage almost immediately following cutting.

Depending on the weather, degradation follows and by late winter the fallacy that their job of protecting the crown from deep cold is over. Our plants have withstood temperatures down to -15°C through winters past. The need for protection is in spring just as the buds split open and the young foliage starts to expand. At this stage a late frost clipping the growth will cause burnt edges or dieback of the foliage.

Nov 192013
Cleaning Viburnum dilatatum seed. Photo by Tony Garn

Cleaning Viburnum dilatatum seed

Most people gather seasonal fruits for preserves. At the Garden we collect a selection of material for seed sowing demonstrations as class practical’s for the various horticultural courses run at RBGE.

Cleaning the fleshy part of the fruit from the actual seed is a messy and laborious process. One where it is important to work methodically and avoid cross contamination between the various fruit collected.

The colour range is wide and resembles an artist’s test pad when the correct shade of watercolour paint is searched for.

Please note: collecting seed in the garden is not permitted.

Nov 122013

A sub shrub, one that continues to increase in woody growth until a severe winter cuts it to the ground like an herbaceous plant.

The growth habit of Nipponanthemum nipponicum suits this description. The specimen in the rock garden has two or three years growth covered in glossy green leaves and topped with white floretted Nipponanthemum nipponicumflowers. A magnificent addition to the garden at this time of year. If allowed to get too old the growth becomes leggy and flops apart exposing an open centre. Ideally cultivate in full sun for maximum flower production.

Nipponanthemum nipponicum. Photo by Tony Garn

Nipponanthemum nipponicum

Nipponanthemum nipponicum. Photo by Tony Garn

Nipponanthemum nipponicum

Sep 042013

A good year for apples, cultivated and botanical. Malus yunnanensis is no exception. A native to south western Provinces of China. The seed was collected in Yunnan Province from trees growing to six metres on steep wet wooded slopes. A wide spreading small, deciduous tree the fruit is small 20mm in dia, brown skinned and with an acrid taste. Just do not be tempted to sink your teeth in, it is so astringent, it immediately dries the mouth out as the teeth break into the flesh of the fruit.

Malus yunnanensis. Photo by Tony Garn

Malus yunnanensis

Malus yunnanensis. Photo by Tony Garn

Malus yunnanensis

Malus yunnanensis. Photo by Tony Garn

Malus yunnanensis

Nov 272012

Ribes vilmorinii planted on the Chinese hillside has the remains of startlingly bright leaf colour. This is a deciduous species native to NW Yunnan into Sichuan and Hubei Provinces of China. Found at 1600 – 4000m through forests on mountain slopes.

By retaining leaves late into the season it is possibly compensating for leafing out late in spring. The plant matures into a small growing shrub of slender stemmed habit covered in deeply indented, irregular shaped foliage adding hues of red, orange and yellow colour to the garden at this time of year.

Ribes vilmorinii. Photo by Tony Garn

Ribes vilmorinii

Ribes vilmorinii. Photo by Tony Garn

Ribes vilmorinii

Nov 202012

The media is full of information on Chalara dieback of Ash; Chalara fraxinea. Below are web links that give information on the fungal disease that will cause loss of foliage then dieback of the crown which may result in death of the tree should the spores infect a tree.

The mature specimen in the Garden exhibiting its winter silhouette and distinctive black buds is healthy. The wood of Ash, Fraxinus excelsior, is used to make truncheons and walking sticks.

Reporting suspected cases

If you think you have spotted the disease, please check the symptoms video and pictorial guide on the Foresty Commisions web site above , and their guide to recognising ash trees, before reporting it to one of the following:

In England and Wales

Chalara helpline: 08459 33 55 77 (open 8am – 6pm every day) or

In Scotland

Forestry Commission Scotland: 0131 314 6156 (9am – 5pm weekdays + out-of-hours messaging system) or

Fraxinus excelsior. Photo by Tony Garn

Fraxinus excelsior

Fraxinus excelsior. Photo by Tony Garn

Fraxinus excelsior

Nov 132012

At this time of year you may observe two interesting fungal colonisers through lawns. These gain a foothold during dank and humid conditions where they often colonise poorly drained lawns with a sward of disputable quality. More frequently occurring where tree cover is also reducing light to the area.

Yellow Club Fungi, Clavulinopsis helvola: mini pillars of fungi sprouting above closely mown turf. These are an attractive yellow colour making it easily recognisable.

Dog Lichen, Peltigera canina; a fast colonising, grey, ear shaped lichen that responds to cultural control.

When dry it will shrivel to a crisp yet absorbing water as the weather changes.

Neither the fungi or the lichen are a problem in a poor quality lawn and by definition to improve the quality of the turf good drainage and light quality are essential. Doing this will then reduce the diversity of fungi and lichen found through lawns.

Dog Lichen, Peltigera canina. Photo by Tony Garn

Dog Lichen, Peltigera canina

Yellow Club Fungi, Clavulinopsis helvola. Photo by Tony Garn

Yellow Club Fungi, Clavulinopsis helvola

Nov 052012

This species is a native to Japan where it establishes on forest margins and in clearings. When in cultivation; enjoying a position on a stream side with exposure to the sun or in an open border.

The image of the species shows rounded heads of seed all puffed out ready to disperse and act as a seed bank for a future generation of Ligularia.

For images of the Ligularia dentata hybrid in full bloom refer back to seasonal plants of interest of 18th August 2009. Remains of the ray florets can be seen shrivelled and hanging down from the seed head in the attached image of the hybrid. Contrasting the two; the species and the hybrid, shows the hybrid may be more stunning in flower but the species comes into its own at this time of year.

Ligularia dentata hybrid. Photo by Tony Garn

Ligularia dentata hybrid

Ligularia dentata. Photo by Tony Garn

Ligularia dentata

Nov 222011

Single golden yellow flowers are perched on the end of 150 – 180mm long stems of this autumn flowering bulb, from warm temperate Uruguay and Argentina. It is labelled Ipheion hirtellum at the moment. The poor plant has changed name a number of times since being discovered and is now known as Nothoscordum hirtellum. The flowers scent of rubber or deep heat depending on your imagination.

Pot cultivated and plunged in a sand bed to give a cool root zone but naturally found growing in open grassland where regular rainfall is experienced. A member of the Alliaceae (the onion family); smell the leaves for confirmation.

Ipheion hirtellum. Photo by Tony Garn

Ipheion hirtellum

Ipheion hirtellum. Photo by Tony Garn

Ipheion hirtellum