Home Sweet Home!

So that’s it, my placement is over. I’ve spent over ten months in Jerusalem Botanical Garden and it’s been incredible. Though I’m sad to leave, I’m also happy to be going onto new things.

 I have the say a big thank you to all the great people at the JBG and to the Friends Of JBG for making this placement possible. The Friends of JBG is entirely supported by donations. Those donations enabled three scholars like me to enjoy placements this year and over a hundred prior to us. If you can donate, please do. Trusts like the Friends of JBG offer unique opportunities that are worth supporting.
Now I’m back in Cumbria, England. I’m struggling to get used to the temperature difference but it’s nice to be home. Below is a photo from the Ennerdale valley, just up the road from my house. It’s spectacular.


Though I started this blog as part of my placement at the JBG it’s become something I really enjoy doing. I intend to continue blogging. I’m starting my degree at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh soon, so I’m sure I’ll have plenty to post about!

Welwitschia mirabilis, Seed

Welwitschia mirabilis is a species I never cease to be excited about. This species is endemic to the Namib desert, in Namibia and Angola. It is a monotypic species. Which appears to have remained unchanged for tens, maybe even hundreds, of millions of years. Pretty incredible, but it gets better!

W. mirabilis produces two cotyledons upon germination. These grow into two leaves. These leaves remain as the plants only leaves, for its entire life. Each leaf can reach four metres in length. Considering W. mirabilis can live for over a thousand years, its amazing.

Eli (head gardener) ordered some seeds a while ago and they came yesterday. They were soaked for 24 hours then sown in deep tubes. W. mirabilis resents root disturbance, so it must be repotted before it reaches the base of the tube. 


Fouquieria columnaris, Transplanting 

The Fouquieria columnaris is in bad health. I was suspicious it was a planting depth issue. That is the case. The photo below shows the original depth and the depth the plant was potted to.



Potting like this causes the plants stem to rot. It’s incredibly important to be precise when working with plants. F. columnaris is a rare plant occurring in just two regions of Mexico. The value of the gardens collection makes good care even more important. The photos below show the unhappy F. columnaris before and after repotting.

Peperomia vestita var. lindenii

Peperomia vestita var. lindenii is one of my favourite plants. Something about its shape and texture I really love. In the garden we had one plant. I divided it into three. Smaller divisions can be taken in future but for now decent sized plants are required. The photos below show the division, to me it looks like I ended up with three plants as big as the origina!

 


Typhonodorum lindleyanum, Seed

Today seeds of Typhonodorum lindleyanum arrived in the mail. T. lindleyanum is a striking tropical aroid. Found in ponds and marshes in Africa and the adjacent tropical regions. This species is monotypic.
T. lindleyanum spreads with creeping rhizomes and can be invasive in some tropical regions. Plants resemble Musa sp. in form, but have Alocasia sp. like leaves. Growing up to four metres, they will make brilliant specimen plants in the tropical glasshouse stream.
The seed of T. lindleyanum is recalcitrant. This means the seed cannot survive drying. Seeds must therefore be shipped fresh in moist paper. The seeds arrived to the garden with decent shoot and root elongation. They were potted up in one litre containers, thirteen in total. Photos below.


Above, a mature specimen in another garden.

Calibanus hookeri 

Another great species from the arid collection is Calibanus hookeri. This species is native to arid areas in Mexico. It has a large caudex with grass like foliage. This strange look makes it an excellent species for the display. The garden has one plant and its only small but with good care it should be a decent size in a few years. Photos below show the gardens plant and a mature specimen elsewhere.



Source for the image above.

Cyphostemma bainesii 

Until coming to the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens my exposure to arid climate plants was limited. Working on the JBG’s arid tropical collection has been hugely valuable. The collection contains some beautiful species.
Cyphostemma bainesii is one of those species. C. bainseii is a succulent shrub or tree up to four metres. This species in native to Namibia. I find this species particularly cool because it is a member of the Vitaceae family, as is Vitus sp. (Grapes). Vitaceae contains two genera which have some succulent species, Cyphostemma and Cissus. A good example of convergent evolution, based on climate.
The C. bainesii at the garden are only young. They are also in a poorly draining growing medium. Succulent species dislike damp roots, so the medium must be free draining. Today I potted our plants on and used a more free draining medium. Photos below show the medium (before then after) and the repotting.