Astrantia major subsp. involucrata ‘Shaggy’

Astrantia major subsp. involucrata ‘Shaggy’ is a real winner, especially in Northern England. This species grows best in a damp, sunny spot. Blooming begins in June and continues well into October. The cultivar ‘Shaggy’ has notably larger flowers than others. These are produced plentifully throughout the blooming months.

Today I took some photos of Astrantia major subsp. involucrata ‘Shaggy’ in the garden. This plant is only a year old and is already providing a strong display. The photos are below, including a nice macro bee shot ­čĹî


Eco Gardening – Green Wall

In the garden at the Palestine Natural History Museum, a green wall is being prepared. The aim is to grow plants vertically on the wall. For this green wall hessian bags of compost are attached to the existing wall. These bags will then be planted. Photos below show the current progress, even at this stage it’s aesthetically pleasing.

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.

Ananas comosus, Micropropagation

Yesterday me and Kady (Curatorial scholar) visited the Palestine Polytechnic University. Dr Rami Arafeh gave us a tour of the micropropagation lab. If you are interested in trying micropropagation, here is a link to a protocol. Rami was kind enough to give us a jar of Ananas comosus which he had propagated. Photos below show the growing room and the A. comosus being transplanted.

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.

Philodendron erubescens ‘Red Emerald’, Cuttings

Philodendrons propagate easily with vegative methods.Cuttings were taken from Philodendron erubescens ‘Red Emerald’ three weeks ago. They have all rooted through. Today they were potted on. 

P. ‘Red Emerald’ has brilliant red stems and petioles. It’s a vigorous trailing or climbing plant. The cuttings were move into six litre pots because of this species vigour. The pots will be full in a month. Photos below.

Planning and Preparation

Most of my blog posts are practical or photographic. Today I want to share briefly the mundane but essential records keeping required for the tropical collection. The collection inventory I posted about a while ago is complete. Now I’m preparing work lists and materials estimates for the collection.

The project has budget constraints, the garden is stretched. It’s therefore important to know the upcoming materials and labour required for the collection. The inventory revealed the tropical collection contains over 500 taxa. Between seeds sown and on order there are a further hundred taxa coming in. It’s a magnificent collection.

Good records will help me hand the management of the plants over, when I leave in a few weeks. Dave (Scholar) and Rottem (Nursery/Garden staff) will take over the collection. Over the coming weeks I will work with them and show them what I’ve been doing. They will be planting the collection in the tropical conservatory in September. Below are some pictures of the excel sheets I’m using.

Tropical Glasshouse Progress pt2

Things are moving quickly now. The walkway is being prepared for concrete. When it’s set, the frame can be removed and  the growing media can come in. Plants need to be in before winter and the budget is tight, thankfully things are progressing well. Photos below.