Latest News

Change to FOBS Programme

Monday, 7 September at 7.15pm - the speaker will be Patrick Harding.
Patrick says: "The new talk is about Spring Flowers in Southern Turkey where I have now led study tours for the last 5 years. I will also include the ancient site at Olympos and the eternal flames nearby plus some shots of the beautiful Turquoise Coast and the animal life. I have a list of 400 plants seen in flower there in April but promise not to show too many!"

Tuesday, 8 December at 10.00am - Curator Ian Turner will present a brief report on the "Latest Developments in the Gardens" before the FOBS 2015 Powerpoint show at the FOBS Christmas Social event.

Special Plant Sale

Sunday, 26 July 2015, 2.00 - 4.00 pm

This sale will concentrate on perennials with a number of rarer and more unusual plants that we haven't offered before.

Please note: All funds raised by FOBS plant sales are used to support the Botanical Gardens.

Sad news

It was with great regret that FOBS Chair had to announce the unexpected death of our long serving Secretary, Janet Grahame, on Tuesday 9 June 2015. Janet will be greatly missed by all our members, our condolences and best wishes go to her family.

New SBG website

The redesigned Sheffield Botanical Gardens website was launched on Tuesday, 19 May.

Planning permission granted

Planning permission for the new Education Centre Building was approved on April 16th, subject to conditions. Details on Sheffield City Council website Site reference: 14/04672/FUL

Progress on the new Education Centre Site

The row of conifers behind the old classroom have been cut down prior to the site clearance. What an amazing difference!
Photos: ©Peter Marsh, 2015
Conifers 1b - P Marsh
18 March 2015
Conifers 2b - P Marsh
Conifers 3b - P Marsh
Conifers 1a - P Marsh
25 February 2015
Conifers 2a - P Marsh
Conifers 3a - P Marsh

Tour Guides Briefing Day - 18 March 2015

Rock & Water Garden - A Hunter
Rock & Water Garden
The tour guides and assistants met over packed lunch in the classroom to discuss the programme for the year with organiser, Kay Keeton. Even at this early stage in the year, there was already an appreciable demand. 17 groups (a total of almost 520 visitors), some local, many from other parts of the country and even a party from Germany, had booked tours. Allocation of responsibility for the individual tours proceeded remarkably quickly.
Images ©Alison Hunter, 18 March 2015
Bird Box - A Hunter
Bird box on Magnolia acuminata "Cucumber tree"
Curator Ian Turner then led the group around the Gardens, explaining new developments and plans. The new Diervilla National Collection beds have started to be planted up just outside the Robert Marnock Garden, the plants are still dormant although a few specimens were showing signs of early leaves. Galanthus and Leucojum have been planted between the shrubs to provide winter interest.
The Rock and Water Garden is a work in progress sorting out the rockery plants. A new initiative is to encourage wildlife and bird boxes have been erected throughout the Gardens, including one of the "Cucumber Tree". A team from the University of Sheffield is monitoring the birds and a separate ringing programme has been instituted.
Strawberry tree - A Hunter
Arbutus unedo "Strawberry tree"
Next an inspection of the Strawberry Tree next to the Curator's House. As noted below (7 January) the tree was severely damaged in the December 26 snowstorm, somewhat drastic surgery was required to rebalance the tree's canopy but Ian is confident that it will recover and regain its attractiveness in a relatively short time. The tree has proved its resilience before during the Restoration programme, but a schedule of regular pruning is required to prevent the problem a heavy lateral branches, not capable of supporting a weight of snow, developing again.
Formal bedding plans - A Hunter
Plans for the formal bedding along the promenade
Following on from last year's successful bedding plan related to the 'Tour de France, the Gardens' staff have come up with a new plan for this coming summer. The theme for the promenade planting in 2015 will be international flags, depending on the nationalities chosen, this will surely be a challenge to match some of the colours!
Strelitzia nicolai - A Hunter
Strelitzia nicolai

Strelitzia reginae - A Hunter
Strelitzia reginae
Into the Southern Africa dome at the western end of the pavilions, certainly warmer than outside. As a rule our Curator does not accept donations of plants from the public, but on a recent occasion he was prepared to make an exception. It seems that the donor had purchased a plant believing it to be a Strelitzia reginae, however, when it grew to big for his conservatory he contacted the Gardens. Apparently Ian had been trying to source a specimen of Strelitzia nicolai to form the centrepiece for the African pavilion and had not been successful, so he was delighted to accept the plant. Planted less than 2 weeks ago, it already looks 'at home' and could possibly reach 6 metres in height.
The Strelitzia reginae were looking lovely and Ian demonstrated the ingenious mechanism the plant has evolved to ensure pollination by sunbirds in its native habitat.
The beautiful Protea cynaroides has several buds and is sure to be a major attraction a little later in the season.
Prunus mume - A Hunter
Prunus mume on unknown rootstock
Just outside the pavilion, on the edge of the Winter Garden, is an unusual sight. A cherry with both pink and white flowers! This is interpreted as Prunus mume which had been grown on a different rootstock (at present unknown). Efforts to eradicate stems of the rootstock were unsuccessful and now Ian has decided to leave the two trees growing together, certainly a very pretty conversation point.
Mediterranean Garden - A Hunter
Mediterranean Garden

Palms in the Mediterranean Garden - A Hunter
Palms in the Mediterranean Garden
The benefits of the sheltered microclimate of the Mediterranean Garden itself, are accentuated even more in the corners of the Chilean section close to trees. Plants in this protected place have survived unscathed, whilst those of the same species a few feet away have been damaged by frost. On the whole the planting in this area has done very well considering the 'normal' winter we have come through, although 'that wet, sticky snow' on Boxing Day flattened many specimens. The topgrowth has been left for now in order to protect the delicate shoots at the base of the plants from late frosts.
Our Curator has a passion for palms dating back to his days in Torquay and is experimenting in the Mediterranean climate section with Phoenix canariensis, the Canary Island Date Palm, and Chamaerops humilis, the European Fan Palm. He demonstrated that the juvenile leaves of the latter look totally different to the adult 'fans'.
Prairie Garden - A Hunter
Prairie Garden
A brisk walk down the Long Border, noting the spreading of a thick mulch of compost by the team of our youth helpers to suppress weeds and improve the soil, lead to the Prairie garden. Nothing much to see here as the Gardens' staff had almost completed the annual 'burn', designed to kill off germinating weed seedlings. Although some early shoots of the desired perennials may be singed in the process, the rootstocks are well established and the plants will be growing well within a few weeks. Apart from cutting back the dead topgrowth in January, the only other maintenance required in the area is to cut back the plants along the path in early July to act as support for the taller ones behind. Thia also has the effect of prolonging the flowering season, as the ones next to the path come into bloom later.

Little Nature Shop closed

The giftshop in the Gatehouse on Clarkehouse Road is now closed. FOBS merchandise is available in the Reception Office on the other side of the Gatehouse during normal office hours only.

Curator's Briefing Day for Volunteers - 7 January 2015

Curators Briefing Day - A Hunter
Proposed new site for Diervilla Collection
©Alison Hunter, 7 January 2015

Damage to Arbutus - A Hunter
Snow damage to Arbutus unedo
©Alison Hunter, 7 January 2015

Curator, Ian Turner, started the meeting by congratulating the Wednesday Morning volunteers on achieving the record-breaking total of 2964 working hours this year. Over 49 working weeks this meant that the average volunteer attendance was 30 people. In addition, he thanked the other FOBS members who volunteer their time to propagation, labelling, identification and other support roles outside the regular Wednesday morning session. It is the commitment of volunteers, working alongside the Gardens' staff, which makes a huge difference in continuing the high standard of maintenance in the Gardens.

Ian next explained that no major gardening initiatives were scheduled this year because of the Education Centre Building Project. The present cold-frame area would become a building supply depot and cold-frames for propagation would be relocated to the part of the uphill nursery, recently used by postgraduate students from the University of Sheffield. He expressed confidence that by this time next year we would be meeting in a new building.

He reminded the group of health and safety issues, risk assessment being essentially commonsense. Manage tools with care: forks are more dangerous than spades for instance. Musculo-skeletal injuries are the most common reason for lost time (and a lot of pain) - so take care especially when digging or lifting. If you have any doubts - DON'T DO IT. Be aware of trip hazards, keep your work space tidy not only for yourself but for the Gardens' many visitors. If you see anything your think is a hazard - such as overhanging loose branches - please notify him or the staff. Always use appropriate tools - if a branch is too large to prune with secateurs use loppers or a saw. Please don't overload the collection bags, so that the staff can pick them up safely.

It was cold, damp day but a brisk tour of the Gardens then took place. The plan to cut down vegetation in the Prairie Garden early whilst the plants were still relatively upright had been foiled by the heavy snow fall (December 26/27), so the task of removing the old top-growth will be difficult but will be completed before March so that the area can be burnt-off as usual. The beech hedge around the top nursery (planted by Curator Andrew Snoddy in about 1949) has been clipped for years without much attention being paid to other plants, such as elder & holly, which had taken root. These invaders have now either been removed or cut to the ground so that the hedge can be maintained properly.

Since the felling of the old beech tree last year, plans have been made to relocate the Diervilla National Collection the the beds just outside the Marnock Garden, instead of being scattered around the Weigela beds. Some replanting of the Weigela Collection is also necessary as the number of varieties is ever increasing. The National Collection of Sarcococca is to be concentrated in the Marnock Garden or the adjoining Osborn's Field, in addition to the older specimens scattered througout the Gardens.

Currently the pools of the Rock & Water Gardens are being drained so that the sediment can be cleared and the filtration system cleaned. The heavy weight of the Boxing Day snow brought down branches of many trees, particularly the Cedrus atlantica, opposite the Victorian Garden, and the Arbutus unedo next to the Curator's House cafe. Although weight of the snow had squashed many of the plants in the Mediterranean area, it had also provided a layer of insulation against the frost so many of the border-line plants were still doing well. Three Polygala specimens had been planted when the Garden had been revamped in 2013, but two had been killed in April frosts last year. Ian thought that late spring frosts were more damaging than mid-winter ones, because the plants were emerging from dormancy. Finally, another sad casualty was inspected, a very old specimen of Crataegus, between the Evolution and Asia Gardens, had been completely uprooted by the weight of snow.

Education Centre Building Project

The request for planning permission was submitted on 24 December and we are in a consultation period of about 12 weeks. Further announcements will be made when additional information is available.


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