Wisley's Alpine Log
By Paul Cumbleton
Log 11 20th Dec 2007
Being the final log for 2007 I thought I would look back over one or two of the highlights and events of the past year, especially some from earlier in the year before I started writing the logs.
Back in early March we put on an exhibit at the AGS show at Harlow. None of the current staff had any experience of putting together exhibits so it was a great learning experience. The idea we came up with was to try and re-create a section of the kind of display we have in our Display House at Wisley, accompanied by a couple of troughs, many of which surround the house back at the garden. A great deal of time and effort went into it but we were very happy with the final result.
Exhibit at Harlow 1
Exhibit at Harlow 2
The troughs were done by our trainee Daniel who did a really excellent job:
By the way - please excuse me everyone else - HAPPY CHRISTMAS to Daniel (who is now at home in Germany) AND ALSO TO GILL our lovely volunteer spending Christmas in warmer climes in Tasmania! Now, back to the story. We were thrilled to get awarded a Gold Award for the display - a fantastic result for our first attempt at such a display.
Daniel and Lucie collect the award
Thanks to Kathryn, Meg & Lucie in particular for their efforts and everyone else who helped - including friends from Kew who helped us carry the whole thing in and out of the hall!
A great highlight at any time is when things you have grown from seed flower for the first time and we had many such this year. Just one example was Fritillaria assyriaca ssp. melanthera, sown in the autumn of 2003 and flowering in March 2007.
Fritillaria assyriaca ssp. melanthera
We occasionally get to visit other gardens or nurseries to benefit from their experience and be inspired by what they do. In March, Lucie and I visited John Massey at Ashwood Nursery and were treated to a tour of the nursery and John's own garden. One great memory from that visit is seeing the Hellebores, for which Ashwood is renowned, flowering at their best. The range of colours and forms is just marvellous - here are just a few examples:
Hellebores at Ashwoods
Also in early Spring we made a new sand bed out of an old raised bed outside our Landscaped House. This was the second sand bed we have done - I will write a lot more about these in a log sometime next year
New Sand Bed
Of course the really big highlight this year was the construction and opening of the new Alitex Alpine Display House. This was covered in my early logs, so here just a reminder of the finished product:
New Display House
Moving on to Summer, another visit took me to our sister garden at Harlow Carr at Harrogate in Yorkshire. I was delivering some trays of alpines that we had grown from seed at Wisley - that's one of the great things about growing from seed, you often end up with far more plants than you need so you have spares you can give away or swop. My colleague Kaye Griffiths is doing a fantastic job with the alpine section at Harlow Carr. They are planning a new display house up there too, but meanwhile here is a view in the current house there:
Harlow Carr alpine house
Kaye is well known for imaginatively using all kinds of containers…including old boots!:
Alpines in Boots
Elsewhere at Harlow their meadow of direct-sown annual plants was simply stunning. I absolutely loved it
Meadow at Harlow Carr 1
Meadow at Harlow Carr 2
The most loved member of the Department kept up her good work this year, guarding our glasshouses against unwanted visitors or simply posing out on the Rock Garden…..
Sunny guards against mice. (Would you enter given that look on her face??)
How many of you also spotted Sunny in the photo of the new Display House above?
To bring us full circle, I will close with a couple of plants looking good right now out in the Display House. HAPPY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE FROM ALL OF US HERE AT WISLEY!
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