Archive for ‘botanic gardens’

April 21, 2012

The Garden School in the Botanic Gardens, Dublin, April 21st 2012

by Ciaran Burke

I spent the day with students from the Royal Horticutural Society level 2 home study course in the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin in Dublin today. What a nice day! The sun shone most of the time and there were so many nice plants to see. I took some snaps with my phone of some of the interesting plants that we saw.

CAMASSIA SCILLOIDES

CAMASSIA SCILLOIDES

Camassia scilloides is commonly called wild hyacinth and is native to the eastern half of north America. It Grows to about 60cm high and will thrive in damp soil conditions.

BRUNNERA MACROPHYLLA

BRUNNERA MACROPHYLLA

Brunnera macrophylla produces masses of forget-me-not like bluse flowers over rounded leaves with heart shaped bases. An excellent species for ground cover and thrives in moist shade. Ht. 30-60cm. There are many variegated varieties and especially the silver foliages cultivars such as B. macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’ are attractive, the green leafed species has it own charm.

FOTHERGILLA MAJOR FLOWERS

FOTHERGILLA MAJOR FLOWERS

I love the shaggy white flowers of Fothergilla major. It must have acidic soil conditions in which to thrive and although the flowers are beautiful it has another season of spectacular display in autumn when the foliage turns all manner of autumnal red, orange and yellow. The foliage is similar to witch hazel to which it is related.It can reach 3-4 metres high and spread as much with time.

LATHREA CLANDESTINA

LATHREA CLANDESTINA

One of the most curious plants that you are likely to see in flower at this time of year is the leafless Lathrea clandestina. It is commonly called toothwort and it is a parasitic plant which lacks chlorophyll and therefore it does not have the ability to manufacture its own food. It grows on the roots of certain tree species; alder, poplar and willow. The flowers are pretty, lying close to the soil and intriguing as they appear without any foliage.

SYRINGA LACINIATA

SYRINGA LACINIATA

Lilac trees and shrubs are starting to flower in Dublin/ The scent from the common lilac, Syringa vulgaris is gorgeous. An interesting related species is the more compact growing S. laciniata. The foliage emerges as the airy sprays of dark lilac colour flowers are produced in panicles at the tips of the shoots. The foliage is also attractive being deeply lobed, hence the specific epithet, laciniata. It can eventually attain proportions of 2m high and wide but it will take time to do so.

TULIPS

TULIPS

The tulips were in bloom and the mixture of colours was dazzling. I particularly liked the lily-flowered Tulipa ‘Marilyn’.

TULIPA 'MARILYN'

TULIPA 'MARILYN'

PAEONIA SUFFRUTICOSA 'DUCHESSE DE MORNY'

PAEONIA SUFFRUTICOSA 'DUCHESSE DE MORNY'

The tree peonies were just starting to flower and some were astoundingly flambouyant. Paeonia suffruticosa cultivars are hugely variable, some have flowers so large that the plants seem to struggle to hold the blossoms upright. P. suffruticosa ‘Duchess de Mornay’ is large but too big and has a delightul shade of pink petals packed into a double flower.

As one of the students living in galway bit originally from Dublin said to me, the National Botanic gardens are Dublin’s best kept secret. It is certainly a treat for any gardener or for anyone who appreciates nature’s beauty.

Each month we visit the gardens as part of our course. There is an option to join the garden visits only or to combine the visits with a correspondence course based on the syllabus for the RHS Level 2 Certificate in the Principles of Horticulture. More info:www.thegardenschool.ie

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