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"Don't judge a plant by its appearance", speaker Ken Thompson - 10 am on Tuesday, 23 February

Ken is the author of many books and a regular columnist in the gardening section of the Daily Telegraph and a recently retired Honorary Senior Lecturer in the Department of Animal & Plant Sciences at Sheffield University. He is a long standing and highly valued supporter of FOBS, a Garden Tour Guide and a regular on the lecture programme. In his talk Ken will aim to give us new insight into the science of plant genetics and classification.
Visitors are welcome - £3 each.
Venue unchanged - still the old classroom in the Gardens

Please note: New venue - work on the new Education Centre is due to start in April

Demolition of the old classroom will start in April. Lecture meetings will be held in Broomhill Methodist Church Hall, Fulwood Road S10 3BD starting with the Renishaw talk on Monday 11 April. For details of meetings and events click on the green navigation bar above.
Download 'How to find Broomhill Methodist Church'

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

All photos İA. 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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