Tag: autumn

The Strawberry Tree

  The Strawberry Tree (Arbutus unedo) is a easy tree or shrub to identify, having both flowers and fruit present at the same time. The strawberry (or I think more like lychee) like fruit take up to a year to ripen, so as last year’s fruits turn red, the flowers that will form next year’s fruit start to appear. The fruit is said to be edible, although not very tasty, which may be hinted at in it’s Latin name ‘unedo‘; coming from unum edo ‘I eat one’ – meaning after you have eaten one you wouldn’t want another one? Having not yet tried one I couldn’t say! Which is good news for the birds, leaving plenty of fruit for them to feast on during the colder months.

A member of the Ericaceae family of plants, most commonly known as heather, the flowers bear a strong resemblance to those of heathers, with bell-like downward facing flowers in small clusters.

You may have also seen this plant in a well known Morris & Co. design, used in fabrics and wallpapers where you can clearly see the red fruits and white flowers.

Have a wander down to the Lower Wilderness to have a closer look at these interesting plants..

 

 

 

 

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New plants from old

At this time of year a lot of plants are starting to go to seed, so it is a good time to go around and collect some of them so we can grow new plants for next year. Some can be sown straight away (as we are doing so in the greenhouses), others can be stored to be sown in the spring. We are also taking cuttings of some of the plants in the garden, and hopefully by next spring we will have lots of lovely plants to sell or plant back out in the garden.

We are trying seeds collected from plants including Alcea (hollyhock), Lychnis (rose campion), Lupin, Astrantia, Galega (Goat’s Rue), Poppy and Phlomis. Some, such as Lychnis, have already germinated, others we are still eagerly awaiting for signs of life! The interesting thing about seeds is the genetic variation that can occur, so often the resulting plants will show some variation from the parent, especially in the case of the hollyhocks, where the colour of the flowers on each plant will be a surprise!

Cuttings taken include Lavender, Rosemary, Jasmine and Philadelphus. These are all semi-ripe cuttings taken from this year’s growth, so the base is firm but with soft growth still on the tips. They are put in pots together, and then when roots start to show at the base of the pot, they will be separated and given their own pot to grow on. Unlike seeds, cuttings create clones of the parent plant, so you know exactly what you are going to get.

We look forward to seeing how our seeds and cuttings do, and in the meantime they have a trusty guardian to keep an eye on them!

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Cyclamen hederifolium

If you take a walk along the top of the Upper Wilderness to the far end and gaze underneath the large Yew tree, you will see the tiny but perfectly formed Cyclamen hederifolium coming into flower. A mixture of pink and white, the tiny flowers appear before the foliage, which as its name suggests is ivy-shaped (‘hederifolium’ coming from the Latin ‘Hedera’ for ivy, ‘folium’ refering to the leave shape). The common name ‘ivy-leaved cyclamen’ is self-explanatory, but its other common name ‘sowbread’ intrigued me. A bit of research concluded that it comes from the fact that ‘The root resembled a loaf and pigs were believed to enjoy eating it’.1  

Cyclamen coils

This plant originates in the Mediterranean, and was introduced into Britain around 1596, so would have been available in the early 18th century when the gardens were at their peak.

After the flowers have been pollinated, the stem coils around to take the seed heads closer to the ground, forming interesting little corkscrews underneath the flowers that you can see if you look closely. The reason they do this is not clear, but a possible theory is that ants may distribute the seeds further from the parent plant. All in all, a very interesting plant that is worth a closer look!

1. Campbell-Culver, M. 2001. Origins of plants: the people and the plants that shaped Britain. London: Headline Book Publishing.

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It’s a Big Draw day…

Drawing for everyone with Birmingham Society of Botanical Artists

It’s Big Draw month – time for everyone to find their inner artist. The Campaign for Drawing wants everyone to feel the power of taking a line for a walk and making a mark.

This year we are lucky to have our friends from the Birmingham Society of Botanical Artists back again.

How does Autumn change our Gardens? Autumn ‘fills all fruit with ripeness to the core’ – we have a rich store of garden things to record decay and ‘mellow fruitfulness’ :apples, seed pods, gourds and hazel shells in abundance.

Whether you want to come and see the astounding botanical artists at work, or want to have a go drawing a pumpkin, some crisping leaves, seed pods or softening apple…then just drop in.

Suitable for adults and children. All materials supplied.

Normal entrance prices  – donations for materials welcome

Autumn leaves - front page

 

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Half Term Family Activities – Bats and Pumpkins

Colourful leaves, pumpkins and bats.

Crisp and bright. Run around, stir up a colourful cloud of autumn leaves. Be a dragon blowing steamy clouds from your mouth.

Everyday during half term we’ll have some outdoor and indoor craft activities for young people and orange-pumpkin-with-fly-579be13e3df78c3276846a38their grownups. Our themes are pumpkins and bats… we have plenty of both.

Leaf Hedgehog pictures, pinecone spiders, batty mobiles and bat finger puppets. Make a paper Pumpkin Lantern and on Thursday meet the Bat lady.

bats-web(NB we have various garden grown pumpkins for sale … until they’re gone)

12 – 3pm Monday to Friday. £2 each for everyone over 5 years of age 

(£8 family day ticket, Free to Season Pass holders)

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Batty Day….#WildaboutGardens

Learn about bats and how to welcome them to you Garden.. with BrumBats.

As well as our regular half term activities we welcome, BrumBats, the Birmingham and Black Country volunteer group, who support bat care and conservation. They will be around to talk about and show us2010-brumbats-logo the wonders of our night time fliers.

This week is the annual #wildaboutgardens week for RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) and the Wildlife Trusts. The theme this year is ‘Stars of the Night’, working together to create a ‘batty’ neighbourhood.

Bats (and pumpkins) will be our them all week, but we’re lucky to have our local conservationists BrumBats on Thursday 27th.

Come down between 12 and 3 for batty info, stories, crafts and maybe (maybe….) even a real, sleepy bat.

Everyday during half term we’ll have some outdoor and indoor craft activities for young people and their grownups. Our themes are pumpkins and bats… we have plenty of both.

12 – 3pm Monday to Friday. £2 each for everyone over 5 years of age

(£8 family day ticket, Free to Season Pass holders)

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