Plant Portraits: Clematis alpina ‘Pamela Jackman’

Clematis alpina ‘Pamela Jackman’ in Cumbria, England. I purchased this beauty from Great Dixter House and Gardens. The nursery there stocks many brilliant herbaceous species and a good selection of clematis.


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.

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.

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.

Vanilla planifolia 

Vanilla planifolia is an epiphytic vine in the Orchidaceae family. It is native to Central America and Northern South America, found growing in wet tropical forests or margins. This species is the main source of vanilla, it also has attractive yellow flowers.
V. planifolia is easy to cultivate. It enjoys a moist but well drained medium such are large woodchips. It should be grown in a well lit space out of direct sunlight, temperatures should not drop below 10 degrees Celsius.
This species roots freely from cuttings. They can be rooted just in water. I took cuttings four weeks ago, I chose a free draining coir based medium to root mine. The photos below show root development after four weeks and repotting. Shoot growth should initiate over the next week or two.