Plants of the week- July
Our team are always on the look out for new developments in the gardens. Each week, our Living Collections Manager, Graham, will be sharing some points of interest with us.
Within the Wee Garden at Mount Stuart is this beautiful Solanum crispum or Chilean Potato Tree which started flowering in April and is now peaking. The hanging juvenile flower buds once open will turn upwards to face the sun and display fragrant violet-blue star shaped 5-lobed flowers with prominent stamens.
As part of the Solanaceae family it’s related to potatoes, tomatoes and aubergines but also to nightshade, and thus poisonous!
This Melaleuca pallida was collected from Tasmania in 1995 and now lives happily in the Wee Garden. Also known as the lemon bottle brush – for obvious visual reasons – this scented beauty is much loved by bees. From the Myrtaceae family (myrtles) it’s related to Eucalyptus and needs full sun to thrive.
A beautiful Illicium henryi grows in the dappled shade in the Rock Garden, it’s a member of the Schisandraceae family, is native to Southern China but is happy to be so far from home. Best known for being used in Chinese medicine for many centuries for treatments such as rheumatoid arthritis, it’s now being studied by western science for its anti-inflammatory properties to help treat several conditions. Illicium henryi is related to Illicium verum, star anise, used to flavour food and wine.
Nothofagus dombeyiIn the Wee Garden we have a stunning example of Nothofagus dombeyi, Dombey's Beech, a member of the Southern Beeches, named after 18th century French botanist Joseph Dombey and introduced to the U.K. as an ornamental tree for parks and large gardens.
An evergreen native of Chile, this beech remains rare in cultivation as although easy to grow it’s difficult to propagate. Like many Southern Hemisphere plants, Scotland’s west coast is a more favoured adoptive home compared with the near continent - too cold in winter, or southern Europe - too hot in summer; our cool maritime climate is ideal.
Dombey’s Beech has layered branches to ground level displaying pretty leaves, our example features silver spots on the upper side which reflect sunlight to give a metallic or glaucus blue appearance. Being hermaphroditic the tree produces male and female flowers, requiring windborne pollination.
In its native southern hemisphere home Dombey’s Beech can grow to 45 metres in height and over 5 metres in circumference, our tree has grown from 3 metres high 30 years ago to stand majestically today at 27 metres.