Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Taccarum weddellianum

I've just been sorting through a couple of boxes of assorted aroid tubers - I tend to store many of them completely dry and out of their pots whilst dormant. There is less risk of rotting that way and it saves a load of space!

It was nice to see that one or two are showing signs of life, hopefully signalling a promising start to the coming growing season. I'm particularly looking forward to seeing what this large Taccarum weddellianum tuber produces. It is flowering sized, and at 11cm in diameter and weighing 280g I'm hoping for a decent display!

In common with other Taccarum species, Taccarum weddellianum is a pretty crazy plant. Both the leaf and inflorescence should be spectacular, and I'll make sure I update this blog with some shots, along with other notable aroid flowers as and when they come along.

I can't wait!
Taccarum weddellianum tuber. Just starting into life!

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: 

Canary Islands 
South Africa

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

Friday, January 18, 2013

National Botanic Gardens of Wales - Tropical House

Between Christmas and new year I was fortunate enough to make a visit to the National Botanic Garden of Wales, near Camarthen. Unfortunately it was only a fleeting call, but it gave just enough time to dash around the Tropical House and Great Glass House before the daylight gave out.

The garden is well worth a visit, and although, as expected, there wasn't a huge amount going on outside in the depths of winter, the glasshouses were both in spectacular shape. I can imagine that the grounds will look stunning later in the season. I don't tend to see too much written about the place, which is a shame really. Being only 5 minutes off the A48 it's pretty easy to get to.

I was keen to visit the Tropical House for its collection of monocot plants, as well as the chance to escape the bitterly cold wind outside. Orchids, Palms, Bromeliads, and of most interest to me, Aroids, were all on display in its warm and steamy interior.

I will admit that my knowledge of some of the tropical foliage aroids such as Philodendron and Anthurium is not that great, so any names are as shown on the ID labels (I did notice one or two mislabelled plants). If I could provide the conditions these species need (year round warmth and humidity) I would just love to grow some of these, but I guess I'll just have to stick to the tuberous aroid species instead!

As I write, it is trying to snow outside. A kind of wet slushy snow, not far off being sleet. My mornings gardening work has been delayed a little until it passes, so I figured what better way to warm up than by sorting through and sharing a few photos of warm tropical plants! Trying to take photographs on a gloomy day in the darkest month of the year was a bit of a struggle, but hopefully the shots will give a taster of the greenhouse.

The Tropical House, National Botanic Garden of Wales

Alocasia 'portodora' had reached impressive proportions! This is a hybrid between A. ordora and A. portei.

Another shot of Alocasia 'portodora' this time of an old inflorescence. A couple of new buds were also showing.

Anthurium 'Jungle King'. This plant is sometimes found as a houseplant in UK but is unlikely to do well in the average centrally heated house.
Unlabelled Anthurium species.

There were many bromeliads in flower. Sadly most were unlabelled.

Another unidentified bromeliad.

A young Dypsis lutescens growing with a Monstera and other aroids. I've been meaning to get hold of this palm - there is something about the yellow petioles that I like.

Musa velutina in flower, complete with pink bananas! This is a commonly grown species often seen in seed catalogues. I've grown it in the past. Perhaps I'll give it another try this year...

The wonderful foliage on Philodendron xanadu

Spathiphyllum wallisii

Xanthosoma sagittifolium growing part submerged.
That's about it for now. I have a load of photos of the Great Glass House to sort through too which I'll feature in my next post. This is the largest single span greenhouse in the world and is absolutely stunning, both in terms of its architecture and the plants it contains.

Hope you enjoyed the photos!