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First lecture in the new Dorothy Fox Education Centre

Horticulture and Landscape design: Education for the Future, 10.00am Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Speakers: Professors Nigel Dunnett and James Hitchmough, from the University of Sheffield, will start the FOBS 2017 programme with a stimulating lecture on the future prospects for horticulture

Nigel Dunnett is Professor in Planting Design, Urban Horticulture and Vegetation Technology Department of Landscape and Director of The Green Roof Centre at the University of Sheffield. For over twenty years, his focus has been on promoting naturalistic urban public plantings, inspired by natural vegetation systems. Nigel writes widely for horticultural and gardening publications and is active in design and consultancy, in collaboration with architects, landscape architects and artists. Recent work includes:
Design for the London 2012 Olympic Park and its transition to the Queen Elizabeth Park; Rain Garden at The London Wetland Centre; a main show gardens for The Chelsea Flower Show in 2009 and 2011; new planting schemes at London's Barbican Centre and 'Grey to Green' projects in many cities.

James Hitchmough is Professor of Horticultural Ecology in the Landscape Department, Sheffield University. He collaborates on research which is focussed on creation of native and non-native vegetation - "ecologically informed herbaceous plant communities that are highly attractive to the lay public" - for use in public urban green space in towns and cities and in many countries, most recently in China.

Visitors Welcome 3

Wednesday Morning Volunteers - Curator's Briefing Day 11 January 2017

Volunteer Briefing
Curator's Briefing, M. Thewles

Volunteer Briefing
Old toilets to be replaced, M. Thewles

On a wild and blustery day, the volunteers gathered in the large greenhouse. Curator, Ian Turner, commented that he had hoped that the briefing day could have been started in the new Education Centre, but the hand-over date had now been set for Friday 20 January. He stated that the first FOBS meeting on 24 January would definitely be held in the new building, even if chairs had to be borrowed. He congratulated the volunteers for yet again exceeding previous totals by contributing 3282 hours work in the Gardens - this in spite of all the difficulties caused by the building activities.

Although several experienced FOBS volunteers were present, it was a pleasure to welcome relatively new helpers to the group, there are now 98 people registered. Maximum number attending on one day was 44, minimum was 2 on an awful day - pouring with rain! On wet days work is available in the pavilions, but no-one would be expected to turn up in deep snow.
Health and safety issues are a matter of common sense and careful risk assessments. Make sure your working area is tidy to protect yourself and others from accidents - what Ian called "Slip, Trip and Fall" hazards. Use the correct tools, if you have to strain you are using the wrong one; for example secateurs for pencil thin twigs - loppers for larger ones - a saw for thick branches. A staff member requested that forks and spades should be pushed into the ground, not left lying around, and that other tools should be laid next to them, not on the paths. Be careful when lifting, use your leg muscles, protect your back and assess the weight of any object before attempting to lift - people have been known to hurt themselves by putting too much effort into lifting light weight objects as well as those too heavy. Ask for help, but if in doubt do not do it. Don't overload the collection bags so that the gardens staff can lift and transport them safely.
Finally, if you notice a potential hazard, please inform the staff, "See something, Say something".

The good news for this coming year is that the old toilets are to be replaced. Planning permission has been granted and work is due to start in April. The new building will be constructed in a similar style to the Education Centre. Once the builders have left the site, the first gardening priority this year will be attention to the Thompson Road Drive area, which has necessarily neglected during the construction project.

Volunteer Briefing
Prairie Garden, J. Dykes

Volunteer Briefing
Long Border, M. Thewles

Volunteer Briefing
Mediterranean Garden, M. Thewles

Volunteer Briefing
Olives in Sheffield! A. Hunter

The Prairie garden is definitely not at its best at this time of year, the process of cutting back the plants is in progress. In mid-March the area will be scorched with a weed burner, killing off early germinating weeds and allowing the established perennial plants to flourish later in the year.

The Long Border was replanted by FOBS volunteers in 2006 and, although regularly maintained at the southern end by John Potter, like elsewere there is an ongoing weed battle. The soil also needs to be improved, this year lots of mulch will be applied to ameliorate both problems.

First priority in the Mediterranean Climate Garden is to finish clearing the autumn leaves as the plants here dislike the cold wet covering. Weeding is particularly important to maintain the different collections in their respective areas. Ian was delighted to demonstrate that not only the olive tree was growing well, but it actually had olives.

Volunteer Briefing
Four Seasons Garden, M. Thewles Volunteer Briefing
East Lawn, M. Thewles

Volunteer Briefing
Ilex aquifolium 'Handsworth New Silver', A. Hunter

Volunteer Briefing
Variegated foliage bed - Same area March 2016, A. Hunter

After an overview of the progress on the Himalayan Bed and noting the swelling buds of the nearby magnolias, Ian updated the group on the pollution monitoring planting carried out in cooperation with the Engineering Department at the University of Sheffield. Results of last years growth have yet to be published and the proposed network of similar projects at York, London and Edinburgh seems to have fallen through due to lack of funding, but Ian hopes to continue the experiment in Sheffield.

Moving on to the Four Seasons Garden, it was evident that the effort to rid the Autumn Bed of couch grass, by treating smaller sections year by year, is nearing a successful completion.

Near the top of the East Lawn, the old variegated foliage bed, planted in the 1970s, had been cleared to reveal the lovely Ilex aquifolium 'Handsworth New Silver'. Ian explained the plan to create a new bed to showcase the original ten Weigela species. Comments were made on how much the clearing of the old foliage plants had opened up the vista and how that reflected Robert Marnock's (the Gardens' first curator) Gardenesque approach. Would the new planting re-obscure the view? Ian thought that the Gardenesque principle of planting each tree or shrub to show its features in an all-round way would still be followed.

The tour finished at the AGM Borders where again Ian praised the work of the volunteers, thanked everyone for attending and admitted that without this wonderful freely given help the Gardens would not be so well maintained.


Wanted someone to write articles about events in the Gardens and to liaise with the local newspapers and Radio Sheffield to publicise FOBS activities.
If you are interested and can help - please email the FOBS Committee or speak to the Chairman at any FOBS meeting.

Building Update - getting closer

steps - P Kohn
P. Kohn, 14 January 2017
cold frames - P Kohn
P. Kohn, 14 January 2017
more work - P Kohn
P. Kohn, 14 January 2017

Building Update - almost there - but more work needed at the entrance

decking - P Kohn
P. Kohn, 3 January 2017
front door - P Kohn
P. Kohn, 3 January 2017
entrance - P Kohn
P. Kohn, 3 January 2017


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