Tuesday 19 March 2013

A peek behind the scenes of Kew Garden

Weds 27th Feb
Weather: Sunny. More sheltered at Kew

A single leaf of Amorphophallus titanum

The Kew Diploma is one of the places I am seriously contemplating to do further training, because there is one side of me that is interested in people in almost an anthropological way, and their relationship with plants and how plants function. I am wanting to get behind the science of plants to enable to be even more creative with them. In a way I feel that Dixter is all about people. Also training at Dixter is very intense and when I move on I would like it to be something just as challenging or more.

It was an exciting visit behind the scenes, we went under the Palm House and saw the tunnels where coal was transported to the furnaces that use to heat it. The arboretum was in top form with their innovative air pots which allows plants like trees to develop good root systems and makes it easier to transplant without having to grow them on in the ground first. They are currently growing 1800 species for the Temperate House and re-propagating collections like their 130 year old Hamamelis collection. They use wax to bind their grafts, and they heat only the grafted part, keeping the roots & tops cool, the whole operation was impressively efficient.

Up on the treetop walkway

We went into the Tropical Nursery where there are 21 climatic zones, at one point we were standing in a room surrounded by 100s of rare orchids. This was the part where I forgot my camera of course. I was almost breathless when I came face to face with Amorphophallus titanum seedheads, and plants of these in different stages of growth,  - the largest single flowering plant. The corm of the plant will either produce a plant or leaf that resembles a huge cartoon like tree (see photo above). It brought me back to my college days when my tutor Jim had got us all excited about this plant, and was growing related species. He had one growing by the classroom window where it would open on the last week that the students were due to leave, with its carrion smell this was his departing present to us.

This was only but a few of the fascinating things that I experienced. The day ended literally on a high note as we soaked up the views of the garden on the treetop walkway.

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