Monday, 24 August 2015


Oooh what a lovely piece of rot

I'm kind of certain that most people wont find a really nice bit of rotten tree branch to be interesting. But then again I might be surprised. Anyway, this is the remains of a Red Oak's branch that fell down, more or less without any warning. 

One of the regular jobs in the Arboretum is to monitor the trees for any dangerous branches,  fair enough right? Well we noticed such a branch on one of the mature pines and got out the tree surgeons (as we aren't trained or insured to be climbing 60 feet into the canopy of a 100+ year old tree) and sent him in to get the said branch down.

So as he starts climbing the tree were there marshalling the public to make sure nobody is going to be danger. When all of a sudden there is an almighty crash in the Arboretum, so loud we thought that a tree must have fallen. We leave one gardener to keep the public safe and go off in search of the source of the noise. This was the branch in question. Now it doesn't look like much but we ended up having to use the tractor to lift the whole thing up so it could be removed from the main trunk.

What is interesting is that this tree looked completely healthy and for it to drop a branch that could have weighed a ton was quite shocking....until we got it down and saw the rot. Oh the rot! Its that black bit running through the top hartwood. It had actually been rotted by rainwater, from an old pruning cut that hadn't properly compartmentalised (healed) and let in the rot. So it looked perfectly fine from below but it was a ticking time bomb. Just goes to show the one we thought was dangerous wasn't the one about to fail.

Okay! Back to flowers! The real winner at the moment is the Japanese anemone (Anemone hupehensis) though it can be a bit of a pest due to its spreading habit it is still a welcome sight in the late summer when other plants are starting to lose their "vim".
Its a good choice if you want to fill a large gap as they really will just keep spreading. They lift very well so you can always have a few extra anemones to spread about.
Another interesting plant thats looking great now is the Trumpet vine. Campsis radicans is a pretty hefty climber that can pack allot of punch. Clusters of big orange, trumpet shaped flowers in mid-summer the shrub itself can become quite large. So if you fancy the look of this, just be careful where you put it as, without careful pruning, it can take over walls pretty easily. (Pictured at top of post)

In the greenhouses we've all been hard at work taking cuttings for next year, as well as potting up this years Autumn bedding. Keep an eye out for planting out in mid to late September in the Italian gardens!

I've not propped honeysuckle before, but one of the things I love love about gardening is the skills are transferable. I've done plenty of cuttings before, and where I can I like to do a heel cutting as that "heel" which has a complete bud on as well as a bit of the stem contains some of the juiciest sources of the rooting hormone. I took about 15 or so cuttings and here are the ones that rooted, within a couple of weeks too.


Thats pretty much it from me, but I'll leave you with this flower that is in the herbaceous borders. A plant which I have no idea what it is! Its got a really spikey stem and leaves, and its pretty thistle like. But so far my research has come up empty. I'll have the name by next blog but if anyone can get it that's a good +2 gardening points right there.


New for August, brand new toffee smell!

No joke, we really do have a tree that smells like toffee, or more accurately, burnt sugar. More on that later in the blog!

3 months since my last post and I've been gently reminded to try and stay on top of it! Which I'll try my darndest. In all seriousness, we've been pretty busy these last three months, and I don't have many photos or hilarious anecdotes to share from June and July.


It's not often that I come across plants that I have absolutely no idea what they are. So for it to happen twice in one week. Usually the real challenge is finding out the variety/cultivar/sub-species of plant I am looking at, so to find two plants (ok one did turn out to be a bit of an obvious one) that I had not clue about was a real kicker!



It was starting to feel like the height of summer, which is confusing for the poor plants. Not to mention the fact that the nights have been as cold as they should be for a mid April week, which means that all our frost tender plants just cannot go out yet. Even though they are cooking in the greenhouses!