Thursday, 29 May 2014

Exotic Garden

Taking Tradescantia cuttings

This week we have begun sorting through plants in the hot house, getting some things (i.e. Begonias) moved out into cold frames, where they will still have protection, while freeing up necessary space in the greenhouse. This has allowed us to move plants that have spent the winter under the bench, up on top of the bench, where they will get proper light as they begin to emerge. One such plant that is beginning to emerge quickly is Colocasia. These were repotted into fresh soil, and some into larger pots, and were placed on the heat bench to encourage growth. These are important pieces to the Exotic Garden composition. 

Repotted Colocasias on the heat bench

We are hoping to plant up the Exotic Garden in the next two weeks. "Exciting, isn't it?" (as Fergus would say) We have spent a couple of days now carefully unwrapping the Bananas (Musa basjoo) and the Tree Fern (Dicksonia antarctica), as well as weeding, tidying, and forking the soil. This is usually done around the 2nd week of June, as we're out of frost threat and the plants are far enough along to use. 

Banana after straw removed

Unwrapping the Tree Fern

Monday, 19 May 2014

Turkey Trip

I just had the privilege of spending a week in Turkey as part of my scholarship. Being my first trip to Turkey, I didn't really know what to expect, but it ended up being one of the best travel experiences. 

Old Istanbul

Part of the trip was spent in Istanbul and part in the eastern town of Erzincan--what a contrast! In Istanbul I experienced a bit of sensory overload with so much going on. This was a horticulture-based trip, but it was also very much a cultural experience. We worked in the botanic garden one day, laying out and planting part of a border.  It's always fun to meet other horticulturalists and see the work that they're doing and share plants and ideas. 

Border before

Border after

I also enjoyed seeing the city. Situated on the Bosphorus and the Sea of Marmara, the city slopes up away from the water, creating a wonderful tiered effect. I especially appreciated all the old architecture and the traditional markets. 

Istanbul is a beautiful city

It was nice to leave the hustle and bustle of Istanbul and head east for a few days. We stayed in the town of Erzincan. It felt small after being in Istanbul, but it still had lot going on in its own right. There was a busy main street with numerous shops and restaurants, and then, as if you had pulled back the curtain to a different scene, one block over in the shadows of the main street there was a fabulous old market. Everyday they had farmers selling fresh fruit and veg and seeds, as well as the permanent shops of the local artisans-- it was great. 

Probably wouldn't see this in Istanbul! 

Old mountain village

From Erzincan, we were able to do day trips out into the surrounding mountains and countryside looking at plants in the wild. Turkey has a wonderful range of endemic plants, and although we were a little early for some things, we still saw quite a bit.  It's great to see these plants growing in their natural habitats.  We become so accustomed to the plants we buy in our local garden centers and nurseries, that we often forget where they come from.  By seeing them growing naturally, it not only gives me a greater appreciation for the plant in a cultivated setting, but it gives greater insight into the specific requirements of that plant. 

 Pelargonium endlicherianum
Ferula orientalis

Tchihatchewia isatidea

This was a special trip and a wonderful experience, from the people, to the food, and obviously the plants--I hope to be back one day!