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Showing posts from August, 2013

RHS Courses: Getting practical in the garden

It’s Saturday morning at 9:30 and as I walk into the classroom there are fifteen small plates filled with different types of seeds lined up around a table. Along one of the walls, flowering plants are lined up as well. I recognise a few of the flowering plants but even then I wouldn't know the Latin names and I recognise even fewer of the seeds. I’m incredibly glad that I’m not taking the test.
I've come to sit in on the RHS Level 3 course ‘Certificate in Practical Horticulture’ that is currently running at the Botanic Garden. The course has been running every Saturday from 10am until 4:30pm since the 18th of May and it will continue until the end of August.
The course is taught by a number of tutors who teach for a block of seven weeks or so and it covers core units that include collecting and testing soil samples, collecting, preparing and propagating from seed, and identifying a range of common garden plants, diseases and disorders. The course is a balance of theory and p…

There's plenty of room at the bee hotel

Andy gently pushes some moss out of the way to allow me to peer in. “See there,” he says, “they've moved some of this moss and built that wall – this is occupied”.  I’m staring into one of the rooms of the hotel trying not to invade the guests’ privacy, but also too curious to look away. The occupant seems to be out getting a meal or tucked away so as not to be seen by peeping eyes.
We are standing in the wildlife area of the Botanic Garden, behind a city skyline of wooden planks. We are staring intently into what might at first glance look like a very artistically and precisely stacked woodpile.  However, this is indeed the Garden’s bee hotel - the sign above it even says so – and there are guests!
The Garden had quite a bit of bamboo left over from the construction of the Chinese herb garden, as well as other materials from some coppicing they had done, and what better way to use them than to create habitat to encourage native bees.
There are over 250 species of native bees and …

Plants that endure

by Helen RobertsWhether perched upon a windblown cliff or nestled in a small crack deep within a canyon, some plants seem to overcome all odds of survival. These survivors, which are frequently rare, quite often grow in remote inhospitable environments, show true resilience and perseverance and are highly adapted to their specific habitats. You just have to admire them for their sheer tenacity.
However, some of these ‘bulldog’ plants aren’t the hardy-looking brutes one might expect of such survivors; sometimes they are delicate and very beautiful. Discoveries of plants such as these are occurring regularly with over 2,000 new plant species being found worldwide each year. Many are found in far flung areas of the globe, as well as on our very own doorstep here in Bristol.
A Malaysian beauty
A rare and endangered endemic plant found in the biologically diverse Pennisular Malaysia has recently been described. The beautiful plant is called Ridleyandra chuana and is only found in two small …