Thursday, 2 August 2012

Olympic aspirations...

James inspecting germination
In November 2011 Professor James Hitchmough arrived at the Botanic Garden to conduct the first of the sowings on the new Merton Borders. This week he returned to check on the progress.

We contacted James in early 2011, hoping that he would be interested in working with the Botanic Garden to establish sustainable plantings within the framework of Kim Wilkie's master plan for the Lower Garden. Much to our excitement James was eager to be involved. The timing could not have been better, with James designing and implementing schemes to wow the global audience at the Olympic Park this summer.

James visited the Garden and discussed his ideas, a concept followed along with a design. It was all very exciting and new, a great direction for the Botanic Garden to be taking. Our aim was to communicate alternative approaches to gardening, with the emphasis on sustainable development.

Eremurus stenophyllus

James' research focuses on producing highly ornamental, yet sustainable, naturalist plantings, based on the study of natural plant communities in the wild through the direct sowing of seed.

Seasonally dry grassland communities from three bio-geographic regions of the world are represented in the planting at the Botanic Garden:
Agapanthus 'Headbourne Hybrids'
            • The Central and Southern Plains of the USA
            • High altitude areas of Eastern South Africa
            • Southern Europe to Turkey and across Asia to Southern Siberia

Once established the new borders will be transformed into a sustainable, dry (non-irrigated), highly ornamental planting. Our aim is to showcase plants that will become more important in the future if climate change models prove to be accurate. Over 100 species make up the planting palette, 85% of which are being established by the direct sowing of seed.

Oenothera macrocarpa var. incana
The seasons have been challenging, but seed has germinated well and we are now seeing the first flowering. James is confident that the display next year will be fantastic, and in a year or two can perhaps rival his plantings at the Olympic Park.

The Botanic Garden would like to thank the The Finnis Scott Foundation and The Monument Trust for making this project a possibility.

Drop by and take a look, new plants are coming into flower on a daily basis.

No comments:

Post a Comment