Browsed by
Tag: exotic

Botanical Gardens and Botanics

Botanical Gardens and Botanics

Definitions and Scope

Botany is the science of plant life. In other descriptions it is the study of plant science or plant biology. A botanist is one who studies botany.

A botanic is a drug or medicinal preparation obtained from a plant or plants. 

Botanic gardens are institutions holding documented collections of living plants for the purposes of scientific research, conservation, display and education.”

Oxford Botanic Gardens and Magdalen College Tower.

This garden, the oldest in the UK was founded in 1621 as a physic garden growing plants for medicinal research

The original Cambridge University Botanic Garden (CUBG) was founded in 1762  with the larger site opening in 1846. It provides inspiration for botanists, gardeners and the public with an array of 8000 plant species. As a university garden it has a resources for research and teaching based on a collection of living plants labelled with their botanical names. CUBG is one of 1600 heritage-listed gardens  which are based on ‘designed’ landscapes, rather than on planting or botanical importance.

Chelsea Physic Garden was established as the Apothecaries’ Garden  in 1673

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Durham University Botanic Garden plus other University led botanic gardens at Leicester and Bristol

Ness Botanic Gardens

Royal Botanic Gardens Kew

Sheffield Botanic Garden has been restored  with  different garden areas with plants from all over the world, this 19-acre Gardenesque-style botanical garden is a diverse one to visit. As with other good botanic gardens it holds National Plant Collections in Sheffields case Weigela, Diervilla and Sarcococca.

National Botanic Garden of Wales

Belfast College Park, Botanic Avenue

Jardim Botânico, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil  contains exotic plants in a massive 137-hectare garden’

Singapore Botanic Gardens founded  in 1859 has Singapore’s  National Orchid Garden holding a collection of more than 1,000 species and 2,000 hybrids of orchids

Other large cities have notable botanic gardens including Sidney, New York, Kirstenbosch, Padova, Munchen and Montreal.

Botanic Labeling

cyclamen cilicium

Botanic label and specimen containing the  family name Myrsinaceae, or the myrsine family and origin S W Turkey. The species name Cyclamen Cilcium, the forma as two cultivars have been named but there are many similar wild forms. The number is the accession number 4 digits show the year the plant was first acquired  then last four numbers are sequential numbers.

Myrsinaceae is a rather large family from the order Ericales, that includes Cyclamen among 30+ genera.

RHS Plant label information downloadable

Book Cover

Book Cover

Japanese Garden at Giggle Alley Eskdale

Japanese Garden at Giggle Alley Eskdale

Japanese Garden

Features to Expect in a Japanese Garden

  • In Giggle Alley there are winding pathways, stone steps, rockeries and pools of water.
  • The Japanese style bridge over a gurgling stream is pictured below.
  • The planting includes excellent Maples and colourful leaf combinations.
  • Azaleas waft scent around the glades and provide further colour and a sense of harmony.
  • A venerable old Magnolia looks half dead but is flowering at the top of several 20′ high branches.

Giggle Alley Design

  • Designed in 1914 and left to become overgrown since 1949, the garden at Eskdale is currently being renovated.
  • The Forestry Commission created a Design Plan for the Japanese garden 2006-2011 see it on this pdf. You can contribute ideas and comments to the next plan and phase of renovation.
  • This Japanese Garden, in Giggle Alley forest, was the jewel in architect James Rea’s horticultural crown.
  • There are thickets of bamboo, a stunning display of Japanese maples and the heady scent of azaleas in the spring.
  • The whole forest is open to the public.

Japanese Garden

Wild Life in Giggle Alley

Read More Read More

Dwarf Water Lilies for Small Ponds and Barrels

Dwarf Water Lilies for Small Ponds and Barrels

You can’t throw lilies away if Lily is still wearing them (Lonnie Donegan)

If you have a lake then you can grow some brilliant Water Lilies (Nymphaea). If you have a large pond you can also grow water lilies like those above. However if you have only a small 6 inch deep area of water you can still grow Nymphaea ‘Pygmaea Helvola’ a small water lily with 3 inch yellow flowers.

Dwarf lilies are generally suited to small ponds, while some of the smallest of their kind can safely be used in tubs and half-barrels. They spread 12 to 24 inches and cover 1 – 3 square feet when fully grown.
They need a planting depth of around 6 inches and will produce a series of small but beautiful flowers over the summer.
Available to buy from Amazon

Dwarf and Small varieties to consider

  • Nymphaea ‘Aurora’ – a compact ‘changeable’ variety, suited to tubs as well as small ponds.
  • Nymphaea ‘Paul Hariot’ – another ‘changeable’ it has big flowers for a dwarf variety.
  • Nymphaea pygmaea’Alba’ – a tiny flowering variety ideal for the smallest of water features.
  • Nymphaea ‘Laydekeri’ – various Laydekeri varieties exist that are ideal for even very small ponds.
  • Nymphaea tetragona – “White Pygmy”

Far from mini a mass of water lilies to admire.
Water Lilies

Bright Indoor Bromeliads

Bright Indoor Bromeliads

Try a bromide ‘oops’ I mean a Bromeliad.


This Bromeliad is a relative of the pineapple and as it is easy to grow indoors it makes a fine house plant. There are a wide range of Bromeliads and a society dedicated to there culture the Bromeliad Society

Bromeliad Tips

  • Grow the Bromeliads for their coloured leaves that spring from the plants center.
  • If flowers are wanted try a dose of epsom salts or magnesium sulphate as this promotes healthy growth, cell structure and the production of chlorophyll.
  • As the inflorescence or coloured spike starts to go brown cut it down to encourage off sets called ‘pups’ and get a new generation of plants.
  • It can be good fun growing from seed as different Bromeliads pollinate one another and you can’t be sure what you will get.
  • For water holding Bromeliads keep the center topped up with soft water.
  • For more data try a reference book  on Bromeliads

Book Cover

Bottlebrush Callistemon and Kunzea

Bottlebrush Callistemon and Kunzea

A red wine coloured bottlebrush flower

Callistemon is a native genus of Australia, with around 30 species of woody evergreen shrubs and small trees. They are commonly known as Bottlebrushes or the Bottlebrush plant because of the striking appearance of the flower spike. The flowers on the ends of branches are available in numerous colours including yellow, purple, pink and occasionally white.

Cultivation Tips
Callistemon are members of the Myrtaceae family and similar to Calothamnus, Kunzea and Melaleuca.
Callistemons can be propagated either by cuttings (some species more easily than others), or from the rounded seeds.
Callistemon ‘Splendens’ is not the hardiest of the genus and needs a warm, sunny wall to do really well.
Plants can be lightly pruned after flowering to keep them in shape.
A low-phosphor fertiliser should be applied in spring and autumn.
Mulching will help retain soil moisture and reduce weed growth.

Bottle Brush
Varieties of Bottlebrush
Callistemon pallidus or the Lemon bottlebrush has flowers of pale yellow with cream stamens. There are many cultivars including Austraflora Candle Glow, a low growing spreading plant. Suitable for the coast they are hardy down to 20º F. Callistemon citrinus has been grown at Kew since the 18th Century.

Callistemon viminalis or Weeping bottlebrush has silky hairs on the branches and bright red flowers. The best forms commercially available are Hen Camp Creek and Luster Creek implying a need for summer watering.

Callistemon pityoides – Alpine Bottlebrush is a hardy and attractive bottlebrush is available in alpine form that grows as a compact bush to about 3 feet tall.

Kunzea Baxteri has dark greyish green leaves and bright scarlet bottlebush like flower spikes. It is less frost hardy than C. Pallidus

Choosing Bold Colours in the Garden

Choosing Bold Colours in the Garden

One of the most interesting aspects of gardening is the combination of colours that can be achieved by accident or design.
Leaves and bark can play their part but it is the bold colours of some of our favourite flowers that take centre stage.


Sometimes, we like the delicate, soothing pastel shades or the zen of a ‘White Garden‘ but, this doesn’t mean we always have to follow decorum and good taste. Sometimes its nice to just choose great impact colours which add life, zest and sparkle to the garden. The kind of colour combination that makes a passerby think – ‘hmm that’s interesting’


Deep Purple Delphiniums and bright red poppies

Read More Read More

Parrot Flower or Bird of Paradise Flower Photos

Parrot Flower or Bird of Paradise Flower Photos

I was convinced my latest photos were of Strelitzia or Bird of Paradise flowers – that was until the horticulturalists at Kew Gardens made me rethink.
I had never come across the Parrot flower until I saw the Kew photo below and now I realise how ornithologically challenged I am.

Parrot’s flower in the Palm House
I love going to the Palm house at Kew where this photo was taken by their staff.
The variety of plant life hints at what you could discover in better weather conditions than we experience in the UK.

Eden Project Strelitzia

These Cornish flowers were also under glass in the tropical dome at the Eden project.

Eden Project Strelitzia

Strelitzia – Bird of Paradise Species

Strelitzia alba White bird of paradise
Strelitzia caudata Mountain Strelitzia
Strelitzia nicolai White or Giant bird of paradise;
Wild banana or Blue and white Strelitzia
Strelitzia reginae Bird of paradise, or Crane lily
Strelitzia juncea African desert banana
S. × kewensis hybrid between S. reginae and S. augusta (alba)

Checking my old holiday photos I found this Strelitzia which threw my identification skills into question.

Eden Project Strelitzia
These leaves look like banana leaves but the flowers fall short of Paradise.

Eden Project Strelitzia
Insects are having a good lunch on this flower photo.

Photo Credits.
Parrot’s flower in the Palm House by Kew on Flickr CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 ‘This parrot’s flower, Heliconia psittacorum, was collected in Brazil in 1974. Find its striking orange flowers in the Palm House.’
Heliconia platystachys (multiple flowers) CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Our photos from the Eden Project Cornwall

Heliconia platystachys (multiple flowers)
When you start looking there are Parrots everywhere!
There are over 100 species of Heliconia found in rainforests or tropical wet forests where they are sometimes referred too as False Bird of Paradise flowers.

Bromeliads and the Pineapple Family

Bromeliads and the Pineapple Family

Kew 092

Members of the Pineapple family Bromeliads grow in the tropical and sub-tropical forests of the Americas. There are also hot desert and cool mountain varieties amongst this large family.

What Are Bromeliads

  • All 3000 + varieties of Bromeliads are composed of a spiral arrangement of leaves sometimes called a rosette.
  • There are Terrestrial (soil grown plants) and Epiphytic species growing on other plants and trees.
  • They are slow and hard to bring into flower generally only flowering once. After flowering they produce offsets called ‘Pups’ from which new plants will grow.
  • The green, leafy top of a pineapple is a pup that may be removed and planted to start a new plant.
  • Flowers are generally central spikes held away from the plants or short with the flower nestled in the centre.


Popular Groups of Bromeliads

  • Guzmania have long lasting red bracts and like humid conditions
  • Vreiesea are probably the most freely available plants with over-lapping bracts producing a sword shape.
  • Tillandsia and air plants are epiphytic Bromeliands.
  • Read More Read More

Banana Growing in England (no seriously)

Banana Growing in England (no seriously)

Kew 276
The cultivated banana comes from the genus Musa. Musa acuminata is the dessert banana and Musa balbisiana is the plantain that generally needs to be cooked. There are about 300 varieties, many of the edible varieties of which, do not produce seeds. Bananas are vegetatively propagated by means of ‘suckers’ which develop from buds on the underground rhizome.

Banana hand

Cultivation Under Glass.

  • Good drainage is crucial since saturated roots will kill and bananas will not tolerate water-logging.
  • The banana plant is a very heavy feeder. Soil should be nutrient rich, slightly acidic, and loamy enough to retain moisture and keep nutrients from leaching below the shallow roots of the plant.
  • Good organic compost and seaweed will help maintain the banana plant’s high mineral requirements.
  • A fairly well-drained soil with a high organic matter content is ideal, and plenty of water should be provided throughout the growing season.
  • Banana plants grown under glass in this country will bear fruit, particularly under warm humid conditions. Fruit should be left on the plant until fully developed and then removed for ripening.
  • Cutting the plant back to soil level after fruiting will encourage suckering.
  • Bananas can also be grown successfully as foliage pot plants if the temperature and humidity are high enough.
  • Dry air in houses is one of the main causes of leaf getting brown tips and edges.

Kew 272
Edible bananas, such as the cultivar ‘Dwarf Cavendish’ can be grown under glass although they require a large area and plenty of height. High atmospheric humidity is essential and temperatures of at least 18°C during winter nights and 24°C during summer days are required. The plants also need full sun, possibly with some shading in the summer to maintain the requisite high levels of humidity.
Musa Williams Hybrid is a banana plant grown for the large banana heads with sweet, delicious bananas from a plant only growing 6-8 feet tall.

If growing for foliage it is   important to shelter the banana plant from heavy winds that can tatter the foliage.

Read More Read More

Plant Label for Madagascar Periwinkle

Plant Label for Madagascar Periwinkle

Kew Lable Catharanthus roseus

If you want an informative label on your plant you can do a lot worse than go to Kew gardens. This fulsome label informs and educates the visitor about the periwinkle or dogbane that is currently in flower. Catheransus roseus or Madagascar Periwinkle’s alkaloids have contributed to 70 different drug formulations from this one plant species.

Catheransus roseus

Below is the more normal horticultural label for the same plant. The family name is top right – Apocynaceae or dogbane is a family of flowering plants that includes trees, shrubs, herbs, and lianas. often found in tropical rainforests, and most are from the tropics and subtropics. Some are perennial herbs from temperate zones and many have milky sap that make them poisonous if ingested. Vinca major and minor are part of this family.