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Plants behaving badly - 10.00am, Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Ken Thompson is a FOBS Member and Tour Guide. He is an experienced ecologist, gardener and author.
Visitors £3. Plants for sale.

Summer e-bulletin Deadline

The e-bulletin is scheduled to be released at the end of May and give all the last minute updates before the summer season. Please notify the FOBS Committee of any announcements you wish to be included by 8 May.

Garden Up - Saturday 7 - Sunday 8 June

Garden Up is a brand new Horticultural event for Sheffield, designed to showcase innovation and display an artistic approach to Landscaping, Gardening and the Home environment. Over 60 exhibitors and trade stands, showcasing new innovative products and ideas. Several Show Gardens designed by garden designers who will inspire you and your garden no matter what size space you have back home. Sheffield Schools display mini-gardens in the Glass Pavilions, and Art Installations on the woodland walk, all using plants and garden materials. Creative activities for the Kids and parents at the 'Landing Zone'.
For more information see

Important Notice about 24 June Meeting

Please note that the talk by Chris Chadwell on "Plant hunting in the Himalaya for the Sheffield Botanical Gardens" scheduled for 10am on 24 June and the subsequent FOBS 30 Birthday celebrations are by invitation only. Current FOBS members will have received their invitations with the Spring Newsletter and are urged to contact the Committee to book a place as soon as possible. There is a restriction due to the classroom size - maximum number permitted is 80 people.
Update 15 April The talk is fully booked and a reserve list is being compiled in case of cancellations. There are still places available at the Himalayan Garden opening ceremony and the lunch, please contact the committee to make a reservation.

Tour Guide's Briefing Day - Wednesday 19 March 2014

Tour guide briefing - A Hunter
Ian briefs the tour guides at the Himalayan Garden
©Alison Hunter, 19 March 2014

On a glorious sunny day it was a pleasure to just be in the Gardens. The group of tour guides assembled for lunch and Kay Keeton went through this years' programme of tours. It looks like a fairly busy year with a variety of interested visitors. Curator Ian Turner was his usual enthusiastic self as he explained that this year he was concentrating on offering a choice of short tours rather than the full-garden experience, especially with the 'Garden Up' event happening in June.

Round the World in 30 minutes
The aim is to 'visit' representatives of all the inhabited continents. Starting with the Himalayan garden as part of Asia, Ian was keen to stress the involvement of FOBS volunteers, in the creation of this authentic collection of plants grown from wild seed collected by plant hunter Chris Chadwell in the Himalaya.
Moving on to the Mediterranean Climate garden, Ian pointed out that various part of the world enjoy similar climate conditions of hot, dry summers with warm, wet winters. The Mediterranean area (Europe), coastal California and coastal Chile (North and South America), SW Australia and the Cape Province in South Africa are all represented in the separate beds.
This mini-tour is scheduled to end in the bear-pit, as Ian realises that many visitors overlook this fascinating reminder that the Gardens included a small menagerie when they first opened in 1836. This phase was short-lived being closed in 1839, but two bears were re-introduced as a gift in 1856 as exhibits not for bear-baiting. It has been a very long time since real bears inhabited the bear-pit but of course we have our lovely metal bear as part of the Riddle Trail.

Flowers and Fossils
The 1950s 'Italianate' formal beds were replaced during the Restoration Project with an intricate pattern of beds designed to imitate the original swirling Victorian layout. Older varieties of shrubby roses are set out in the centre and the newer vigorous hybrids are planted around the edges. It is a high maintenance area involving half a mile of edging alone. Issues of pruning and the methods used to overcome rose replant sickness were discussed and the history of the Pan statue was mentioned.
The Evolution Garden is set out with information boards tracing the story of plant development from algae, through mosses, ferns, conifers to flowering plants. The centre-piece is a 300 million-year old fossil of a Carboniferous lycopod root.

East Side Story
The Rock and Water Garden was originally designed by Clarence Elliot in 1929 and has been delightfully restored. The water flowing through the ponds is captured rainwater from the pavilion roof which is stored in huge tanks beneath the promenade.
Osborn's Field, donated by Sir Samuel Osborn and his brothers in 1934, although having some difficult areas - either too wet or too dry - this is being used to trial tender plants including Telopea (the emblem of New South Wales), Geranium palmatum (from the Canary Islands) and Aspidistra.
The Sheffield Botanical Gardens are home to the National Collections of Weigela, Diervilla and Sarcococca. Again FOBS volunteers have played a major role in the creation and maintenance of these collections which continue to expand as new cultivars are bred.

Curator's Briefing Day for Volunteers 2014

Volunteer day - A Hunter
Volunteers at the beech tree stump.
©Alison Hunter, 15 January 2014

Volunteer day - A Hunter
Sarcococca confusa ©Alison Hunter, 15 January 2014

A very mild day for January, if somewhat cloudy and damp, saw a record turnout of volunteers for the Curator's Briefing Day. Ian Turner went over health and safety procedures, basically a common sense approach to knowing your own limitations and being aware not only for your own safety but that of everyone else. Keep tools tidy, avoid leaving tripping hazards and remember not to overload collecting bags so that the staff can collect them without injury. Each volunteer has now been issued with a FOBS handbook describing procedures and working practices.

The tour started at the remains of an old beech tree outside the Robert Marnock Garden. The tree had become infected with Meripilus giganteus and had to be felled. A stump has been left and Ian hopes to plane down the surface so that annual growth rings can be counted and a display of local and world-wide events can be mounted to show the history of the Gardens while the tree was growing. The loss of this tree has made a huge different to the growing conditions in and around the Marnock Garden, essentially from deep shade to an open south-west aspect. New planting is being considered.

There are some exciting events happening in the Gardens this year, in June there will be a 'Garden-Up' event with show gardens, plant sales, demonstrations and equipment exhibitions. The 'Tour de France' will be celebrated in the bedding displays in the Victorian Garden and the beds immediately in front of the Pavilions.

The 'Spring' area in the Four Season's Garden has been totally replanted and we look forward to the sight of the new bulbs and plants - hopefully only a matter of weeks away! The Himalayan Bed has developed well, most plants having been grown from seed directly sourced from that region. Mulch has been ordered to improve the soil condition and discourage weeds and the area will be the 'star' attraction during FOBS 30th birthday celebrations.

As we haven't really experienced any severe 'winter weather' so far this year, the more tender plants in the Mediterranean Garden are doing surprisingly well considering they were only planted in May last year. Even the 'Money Tree' Crassula arborescens has survived outside so far. One major loss due to high winds in early December was the 'Headache Tree' Umbellularia californica, which will alter the environment in the Asia Garden. The Hamamelis Walk in the Woodland Garden is growing well - and scent of the Sarcococca perfumed the whole of the Gardens.


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FOBS News 2010