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Eye-catching plants in the Glasshouse at Wisley, with Cara Smith

Posted by Sara Draycott on 29 May 2013 at 04:18 PM

Spring is a lovely time in the glasshouse.  As in any other area of the garden the plants display a new vitality as they come into their new growing season and it is a good time for flowering plants. 

In the arid temperate section many cacti are exhibiting their showy blooms.  I love the way their spiky exterior gives way to the most extravagant, brightly coloured flowers – so decadent. The mammilarias (pictured above) with their pink tiaras are always fun to look at.  I am particularly excited at the moment as the Puya chilensis has a flower spike (picuted below left). This spiky plant from the Bromeliaceae family has a large rosette of spiky green, grey foliage and the flower spike is about 2m high.  When the bud opens there will be an impressive display of yellowy green flowers – I can’t wait!  In tropical display the Strongylodon macrobotrys or Jade vine as it is known (pictured below right), has been flowering its socks off this year. 


The large flower racemes are such an unusual turquoise colour and have been a real draw for visitors.  There are still a few flowers left so if you’re quick you can still catch it in flower.

If you like orchids – and let’s face it, who doesn’t – the orchid benches have a lovely display at the moment.  Particularly impressive are the disas, native to South Africa and the lycastes (pictured).

Work-wise, us horticulturists have been very busy in the Glasshouse.  A tree fern which had outgrown its position had to be moved to a new location.  This involved excavating the tree fern and lifting it (with the help of a machine – thank goodness), digging a massive hole in the new location and replanting (pictured below).  This whole task went a lot smoother than any of us imagined so, although exhausted, we were all a little smug by the end of the day.


Wisley's Glasshouse is well worth a visit at the moment, for flowers, foliage, warmth, or just to watch other people working.


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