Grass cutting commenced on 1st February after a very mild, wet winter. Irrigation was much needed for the Rhododendron collection as growth flushed in the spring and flowering commenced.
The sunshine and warmth at Easter, the cool wet summer and the extended dry autumn provided the climate for plant growth in 2007. Autumn colour was average but what did surpass all expectations was the extended flowering of many South African natives cultivated in the Garden.
This month has illustrated how changeable our weather patterns have become, two days of frost, a mild twenty four hours and then a return to freezing temperatures. Ideally this spell needed continuous freezing temperatures to reduce the population build up of pests and diseases, some of which were previously only found in the banana belt or under glass.
Favourite plant of the year? For me a close call between the aristocratic Agapanthus caulescens and Lapageria rosea, which incidentally is continuing to bloom.
A first flowering from a collecting trip to Iran in 2005 has been identified as Iris pseudocaucasica. Collected by the intrepid trio Mitchell, Rae and Miller on the journey between Tabriz and Jolfa at 1462 metres. It can be seen in the alpine house. The petals are lemon yellow with longitudinal black striations. There is a pronounced deeper yellow marking on the fall of the outer petals. Arched leaves with a distinct silver edge and silvery sheen grow out from the brown remnants of the sheathing leaves held at the base.
Finally, be aware that if the soil sticks in clumps to the soles of your boots as you work it: Don’t; you will ruin the structure and impede drainage. Take the time instead to visit the Garden here or one of our regional gardens; Dawyck from 1st February, Benmore and Logan from 1st March for ideas and inspiration.
The attached image shows the sun setting over the garden on 2007. A Happy New Year and successful cultivating and growing throughout 2008.
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