Latest News

Please note: New venue for talks

During the construction of the new Education Centre lecture meetings will be held in Broomhill Methodist Church Hall, Fulwood Road S10 3BD. For details of meetings and events click on the green navigation bar above.
Parking may be a problem for the daytime meetings, please use public transport wherever possible.
Download 'How to find Broomhill Methodist Church'
Please note: During the building time, FOBS plants will not be available for sale at meetings.

Update - Work to start on 11 July

Work on the demolition of the old classroom and construction of the new Education Centre will commence on Monday 11 July. Access via Thompson Road will be for pedestrians only, for volunteer information about parking see Volunteer page

Meconopsis & Lilies - Trish & Peter Kohn - 10am on Tuesday 28 June

After 29 years in Sheffield,Trish and Peter moved to a very remote location in the far NW of Scotland where they created a garden and small nursery. Since returning to Sheffield in 2010, they have been raising plants from seed for sale on behalf of FOBS, and also to be planted in the gardens. In 2015 they raised around 200 different species and took some of the rarer ones to Plant Fairs at Renishaw Hall and Felley Priory in addition to sales in the garden, they have continued these extramural activities this year.
Venue: Broomhill Methodist Church - see above

Erratum - Local Garden visit 23 July 2016

Would members please note that the Local Visit to gardens in the S10 area is on Saturday, not Sunday as listed in the leaflet mailed with the Spring Newsletter.

A tree for Avril

Tree for Avril
H. Kohler, 15 June 2016
On 25 May an Acer japonica 'Vitifolium' was planted in Avril Critchley's memory. Avril served as FOBS Deputy Chair and Programme Organiser for many years. On Wednesday, 15 July, volunteers and FOBS members joined Avril's friends on the West Lawn to formally label the tree.

FOBS Daytrip to Doddington Hall - 23 May 2016

Doddington Hall
C. Egglestone
Doddington Hall
C. Egglestone
Doddington Hall
C. Egglestone

FOBS Local Garden Visit 5 May 2016 - St Luke's Hospice, S11

Local Garden 1
J. Dignan
Local Garden 1
R. Egglestone
Local Garden 1
J. Dignan

A tree for Janet

On Wednesday 20 April, FOBS members and volunteers joined David Grahame, family and friends, to plant a tree in memory of our long serving Secretary, Janet Grahame. An Albizia julibrissin or Silk Tree was planted in the Robert Marnock Garden, a sheltered spot where it is hoped the tree will flourish and eventually produce beautiful pink flowers.

Tour Guides Briefing Day - 16 March 2016

Images Alison Hunter, 2016
Crocuses - A Hunter
Crocuses in the Rock & Water Garden (Area H)

The tour guides and assistants met over coffee in the old classroom to discuss the programme for the year with organiser, Kay Keeton. Bookings are somewhat down so far this year, even a cancellation, but this could be explained by the uncertainty of access due to the building programme, particularly for large coach tours. 9 tours have been confirmed with a total of 230 visitors expected to date. Responsibility for the individual tours was duly allocated and a training session agreed for new tour leaders and their assistant 'sheepdogs' on 16 June at 2 pm.

Curator Ian Turner, explained that the tenders for work on the new Education Centre had been sent out and were expected back soon, after assessment a decision will be made and work is expected to start on construction in late May. He was keen to stress the importance of horticultural education as a major role of a Botanical Garden, not only for schools but also for adults. His tour would concentrate on new developments that the tour guides needed to be aware of.

Nursery - A Hunter
FOBS new work area in the nursery

Trish Kohn talked about the work that had been carried out in the upper nursery after one of the University of Sheffield's trial studies on the effects of climate change had been completed. Timber had been reused to make tables for the propagation team, which made life much easier on sore backs! It also meant is was simpler to check the stock. Main problem is squirrel damage, so that certain rare plants required netting for additional protection.

Diervilla collection - A Hunter
National Collection of Diervilla

Two volunteers were hard at work pruning and clearing the Diervilla collection, which has settled in well after being planted last year. Ian Turner emphasized the importance of National Plant Collections, the Gardens are home to the Weigela, Diervilla and Sarcococca Collections. Plant Heritage's (NCCPG's) mission is to conserve, grow, propagate, document and make available the resource of cultivated plants that exists in the UK. Three specimens of each variety, acquired at the same time, are required and the Sheffield Gardens have all the diervillas available in the UK, the only one missing from the collection, at present,is a new one in the USA. The collections act to preserve the gene pool, in some cases, such as apple trees, the older varieties have become extinct.

Variegated shrubs - A Hunter
Old planting of variegated shrubs

This old demonstration bed planted in the 1970s to show variegated shrubs is overgrown and has reverted in most cases to plain green. It also blocks the views across the lawns which was one of the features of first curator Robert Marnock's original design. The holly, Ilex 'Handsworth New Silver' will be retained, this is a variety bred by the old Sheffield company of Fisher, Son & Sibray.

A new bed for the Weigela Collection will be created to display the ten original natural varieties of the genus, these are the parents of all the horticulturally cultivated varieties. Over the next few years, the different weigelas will be transplanted and spread out, to enable people to distinguish the different types.

Philadelphus bed - A Hunter
Philadelphus bed

This area, on the Clarkehouse Road side of Birch Hill, will be the site of a new research venture with the University of Sheffield. These old shrubs will be dug up by students and new ozone-sensitive and ozone-tolerant species will be planted and monitored. This is part of a brand-new study on the effects of pollution on the environment. Sheffield will be the first site, to be followed by similar studies in Edinburgh, York and London.

Wednesday Morning Volunteers - Curator's Briefing Day 6 January 2016

All photos A. Hunter, 2016
Volunteer Briefing
The area around the old classroom
Volunteer Briefing
The area of the new building will be bigger

Curator, Ian Turner, started the meeting by congratulating the Wednesday Morning volunteers on achieving the record-breaking total of 3078 working hours this year, exceeding last year's total by 114 hours. There were now 100 registered volunteers, the average number of hours worked per week was 63 and the maximum number of volunteers attending on one day was 47. Only two working days had been lost, one in January to snow and one in October to heavy rain. He also thanked the other FOBS members who volunteer at other times in the support roles such as propagation, labelling and identification. The high standard of maintenance in the Gardens is only possible with the help of volunteers.

Health and safety issues are generally a matter of commonsense and being aware not only of hazards to yourself, but also to ensure your work area poses no danger to other volunteers or the visitors. Be careful when lifting, protect your back and assess the weight of any object before attempting to lift. Ask for help, but if in doubt do not do it. Use appropriate tools and don't overload the collection bags so that the gardens staff can transport them safely.

Volunteer Briefing
Work in the top nursery area in progress
Volunteer Briefing
Rubus cockburnianus in Marnock Garden

A walk around the old classroom demonstrated how much larger the footprint of the new Education Centre will be. Access will be straight from the main pathway, doing away with the need for a ramp. There will be three classrooms, each with ample room for 30 people, which are partitioned in such a way that a large L-shaped room can be formed to cater for larger numbers. In addition there will be office, kitchen, toilet and storage space. Invitations to tender are expected to be sent out very soon and hopefully demolition of the old classroom can start in February.

The top nursery has undergone some changes. The FOBS propagation tables and frame areas have been organised. The area used by the University of Sheffield for research on South African plants suitable for the British climate has just been cleared. It will be remembered that early results from this research were used by Profs Hitchmough and Dunnett when they designed the planting for the Olympic Park. Further cooperative ventures between the University and the Gardens are anticipated.

Volunteer Briefing
Hamamelis japonica 'Arborea'
Volunteer Briefing
Old variegated shrub bed obscures the view

One of the ongoing jobs for the volunteers this year will be helping the staff to remove the rampant growth of Rubus cockburnianus, the striking white stems are attractive in winter, but the plant is taking over the whole area.

The bright yellow flowers of Hamamelis japonica 'Arborea' at the edge of Osborn's Field attracted the group's attention. Across the path, Ian pointed out that one project for this year would be the removal of one of the old demonstration beds. Originally planted with a selection of variegated shrubs, many of these had reverted and others overgrown to the point where they obscured the view of the pavilions. A new bed for the Weigela National Collection species is proposed to show the range of original plants from which all the modern hybrids have been derived.

Volunteer Briefing
Work still available in bad weather in Pavilions
Volunteer Briefing
Treatment of couch grass Autumn beds due to be completed this year

Ian discussed the incredibly mild winter we have had so far, the grass has kept growing, but unfortunately the amount of rain since mid-December has meant that the lawns are extremely soggy and mowing impossible. However, even during bad weather, there is plenty of work which can be done by volunteers in the Pavilions. In response to queries about the glass domes, Ian said that the original glass manufacturers would be coming in spring to make repairs. Regrettably, due to new regulations, it seems that cleaning the domes would now involve scaffolding which makes the cost prohibitive.

Finally, work continues on the Autumn bed of the Four Seasons Gardens to remove couch grass. The ground has been cleared gradually, section by section, by removing desirable plants and spraying herbicide on the couch. Once cleared each area has been replanted. This approach has been successful and only one section remains to be treated this year.


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