Our summer displays in the Lower Greenhouse are now well established and a treat to visit. Whether you’re interested in flowers or fruit, want to find out about food or just want to have fun there’s something for everyone to see.
In the centre is our Edible Jungle which features food plants that originated from rainforests and jungles in the world’s tropical and sub-tropical zones. It’s a jungle – you can’t go though it, you have to walk around it. From Cocoyams to Coconuts you’ll know the foods but do you know the plants? Taros, Yams and edible Cannas are producing enormous tubers and rhizomes under the surface and will be ready to eat in October. Meanwhile the Guava is already setting fruit and edible orchid flowers abound. The Tamarillo is in flower as are some of the Yams. In July enjoy the enormous leaves of the Taros and Cocoyams. These plants aren’t known as ‘elephant ears’ for nothing. Look for the plants labels and description on either side of the jungle.
Walk round anti-clockwise and enjoy, on your right, our floral wall. This collection of climbers and flowers from all over the world already reaches up to the shade netting and is a mass of colour and different flower types. Calla lilies nestle next to African bizzie lizzies and black eyed Susan vines mix with more exotic Thunbergias. The Daturas are living up to their name of Angel’s Trumpets and the passionflowers are already producing passion fruits. Some of these plants have uses but they’ve been selected for their floral qualities. If you love flowers then this wall is for you. In the autumn we’ll be running a workshop on growing specimens for the greenhouse or conservatory and the opportunity to work on next year’s displays. Sign up for the newsletter for more details. In July look out for the glory lillies (top right in the photo) and the porcupine tomato (bottom right).
Once you’re at the back of the greenhouse you are in our Tradescantarium celebrating local rock star gardeners and plant collectors John and John Tradescant who opened their “Ark” of rarities in a Musaeum Tradescantianum just off South Lambeth Road c.1600. They are buried in the church by Lambeth Palace that is now the Garden Museum. With seven different species of these popular and easy to grow plants you can see species from the geographical range of the genus. All the trads are in flower right now with their distinctive 3 petal flowers. You can buy young plants of all these species in the top greenhouse and in no time at all you can have a specimen as magnificent as ours. These plants are undemanding and almost impossible to kill. Could this be the houseplant for you..?
On the very back wall we are cropping Charentais melons in a first here at BPCG although we did once have a greenhouse full of bottle gourds. It looks as if we’re going to ripen a great crop.
Returning to the front along the west wall you can see one cultivar of each the of the five domesticated species of Chillies. These are in groups separated by Aubergines or Tomatoes for most of the length of the wall. During July all of these will set fruit and we hope to be cropping each variety in August. One reason for doing this is so that we can offer visitors named varieties of chilli so that you can experiment with different types of chillies in your cooking. There are notes about hotness and flavour on the front wall of the greenhouse. There will be a tasting of chillies in September. The Gusto Purple is the most advanced of the species at the moment as you would expect for a variety bred to take advantage of the UK climate. Here they are.
A display like this takes a year of planning and organisation. None of this could have been done without the work of our volunteers who raised seeds and rhizomes, potted on and nurtured these plants, cleaned and maintained the greenhouse and who water and weed the displays throughout the summer. The displays continue until mid-October 2016 so there’ll be plenty to see all summer. In late October we’ll be auctioning off some of the specimens in support of our plans for a new classroom and kitchen on site. Meanwhile, enjoy the Taros – they’re wild…