As observed during November 2012
Takeover Day Scotland
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.
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.
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.
Bright white to lift a grey November day
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 flowers. 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.
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.
As observed during November 2012
Last gasp of autumn colour
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.
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 email@example.com
Forestry Commission Scotland: 0131 314 6156 (9am - 5pm weekdays + out-of-hours messaging system) or firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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.
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.
As observed during November 2011
Fast and fulgens
Salvia fulgens is set to enter December with flower colour worthy of summer. The warm weather of the past weeks has extended the flowering season of this evergreen sub shrub. Although perennial it is best propagated vegetatively annually to ensure a fresh batch of plants that have vigour and as a guarantee of winter survival. Not a plant to survive a prolonged cold dank wet spell through our winter. A native of Mexico with aromatic leaves. The plant develops to 1.6metres in height dividing and growing to form a mass of flowering stems.
The Labiate flowers are of a deep red that reverberates in the border. The recurved lip of the stigma, protruding slightly from the mouth of the petals resembles the tongue of a snake ready to strike. The upper petal is covered in a mass of hairs giving extra presence to the flower. The papery calyx is long lasting on the stem, gradually turning light brown. Leaving evidence as to the succession of flowering.
A late entry into the Alpine House
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.
A scent to savour
Other members of the genus are often sold as herbs, the foliage used to flavour Mediterranean foods.
Combine this with a south facing aspect and the late flowers are a positive bonus. More usually flowering in September but the mild weather we have been experiencing has prolonged the flowering season.
Found growing with ground hugging form through the Mediterranean Region to Iran.
Late autumn colour
Now that the clocks have changed and day length is becoming squeezed visit the garden to kick through carpets of fallen leaves. Appreciate the remains of the autumn colour and the views and vistas created within the landscape and by the topography of the garden.
Low early morning sun lights up foliage to great effect. There is still plenty of colour on the semi tender planting to the south of the Front Range. Come and appreciate this before the impending frosts suck the life from the chlorophyll.
From the lawn at Inverleith House are panoramic views south over the city skyline. The mature and majestic specimens of Fagus sylvatica framing the view.
Dash and a splash of red
These plants were stooled down in April, just at the start of the growing season. With a steady supply of rain and a deep organic soil the dormant buds soon shoot out and by the end of the growing season have reached 1.4m in height.
The resultant display of autumn colour provided by the foliage is extended through the winter by the mass of vibrant red stems.