EPS Kew meet

Posted: 17 May 2010

Saturday 15th May saw our annual society meet with some of the guys from Kew and good weather thrown in with which to explore the garden.

Despite the attempts of Transport for London to thwart us getting there by closing the tube line to Kew for engineering work and then on the day we had someone jumping under a train on the only line that was running to that area, as well as crowds on the road heading for the FA Cup final we managed a good turnout. Even the weather was great this year!!!

As ever it was nice to catch up again with regulars as well as meet some new faces. We had some long distance travellers too, from Belfast, Northern Scotland and the furthest from Holland!
David Cooke, Wesley Shaw and Felix, all from the Kew staff, joined us and gave up their time to talk to us, give a tour of the Temperate and Palm Houses and provided some welcome tea, coffee and cake in the staff area under the Temperate House, thanks guys!

I hadn't realised that the winter had hit the garden hard in some areas with a number of the more exotic palms that have been tried outdoors taking a severe bashing, though thankfully the two Jubaea planted outside the Southern end of the Temperate House were looking good.

Inside that house temperatures had fallen to 3c in winter, struggling to maintain a frost free environment. In the main this was a result of trying to reduce heating bills but who could have foreseen that we would have such a long and hard winter. Damage inside the house was shown to us by David and this included severe burning of foliage on cycads such as Encephalartos woodii and longifolius. Sadly many stems on the giant plants of Strelitzia nicolai were damaged too and they have been dieing back which is a great shame. Some other plants, such as Leucodendron and Protea have been killed too. Hopefully next year they can aim to try and keep a higher winter minimum to avoid such damage and further losses. The cycads should recover and I guess the Strelitzia will re-shoot but that is many years of growth that have been lost.

David also mentioned that parts of the house are now closed for safety reasons as a much needed restoration has still not been agreed or the budget found. It would be a great shame if the house was forced to close totally and we can only hope that money can be found to enable the phases of work to start. Plants are being propagated and palms trenched ready for a future move. The big Jubaea though looks destined to reach an end to its days as it is just too big and heavy to move, plus it would cost a large amount to do.

After touring the glasshouses some people headed to the Palm Centre while a large number stayed to soak up the sunshine and enjoy a walk around outdoor areas we don't tend to get time to see on our normal visits. Especially nice were the Azaleas & Magnolias which were in full bloom, the woodland and rock gardens which were arguably at their best at this time of year. More so because the hard winter and cold spring had held back the flowering to a big burst now the weather had improved. The bamboo garden was looking good too.

All in all a great day and a wonderful chance to meet and talk plants!!! Thank you to everyone who came!!

Some of the Group rounded up for a photo!
Some of the Group rounded up for a photo!

Discussions in the Temperate House
Discussions in the Temperate House

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