Tuesday, January 22, 2013

National Botanic Gardens of Wales - Great Glasshouse

Following on from my last post about the Tropical House at the National Botanic Garden of Wales, I have added a few shots from the Great Glasshouse - the other large glass house in the gardens. 

The Great Glasshouse is well named. It is indeed 'great', both in terms of its size and by virtue of being, well, quite simply, great! This is the largest single span greenhouse in the world and stepping inside one immediately senses the large open space within. Often a glasshouse can feel confined, simply by its nature. Not so with this one. It takes the form of a vast dome 110 metres long and 60 metres wide, with the temperature inside never falling below 9 degrees.

The vast interior of the Great Glasshouse
 The planting consists of many rare and endangered plants from 6 areas of the globe: 

California
Australia
Canary Islands 
Chile 
South Africa
Mediterranean

Each of these areas have climates that generally experience hot, dry summers and cool winters (not cold and wet) along with strong sunlight and wind. Many of the Canary endemic species were familiar to me already, having enjoyed a couple of plant -spotting visits to Tenerife in the past.
Echium wildpretii. This was a familiar plant from the Teide caldera on Tenerife - and one I have grown from seed in the past.
Echium candicans. This plant appeared to have shorter flower spikes than normal.
Sonchus species (I've always struggled to tell them apart, and I didn't write down the label on this one!)
Another Sonchus. I could get to like our native Sow Thistles if they formed trunks like this!

Being interested in tuberous aroids, I had wondered whether I might see a few Arisarum or Dracuncuus species. Sadly there were none on display, although there were a few Arum concinnatum plants and a really beautiful form of Arum oriental, known as subspecies sintenisii. I have yet to add this species to my own collection.

Arum orientale ssp sintenisii





The South African zone was particularly impressive, as might be expected from this florally rich country. Numerous Aloes were in flower and many Leucadendron were looking stunning.
Leucadendron 'Safari Sunset'
Aloes in the Great Glasshouse

It's always nice when you're introduced to a new plant, and I was most taken with Barnadesia caryophylla, shown below. This was a completely new genus to me. Originating from Chilie, this is a small shrubby tree with the most amazing pink, furry flowers. I'd love to find a source for this plant or obtain seeds. If anyone reading this happens to find some please let me know!

Barnadesia caryophylla
Barnadesia caryophylla





























I could easily have spent many hours wondering around the network of paths within this spectacular greenhouse, but it began to get dark far to soon, putting an end to my visit, and this short photo tour. I guess it means I'll be back again at some point as my short visit simply did not do the place justice.

Once again, hope you enjoyed the photos. And if anyone knows a source for the Barnadesia I'd be most grateful!

Evening light in the Great Glasshouse

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