Saturday, August 2, 2014

Week Six

As of Thursday, I have officially been an intern at Kew for one full month.  July completely flew by!  I can't believe that Daisy and I are at the halfway point of our internship.

I can't believe I've been in England
for a full month already!  Time flies.
If you've been following this blog, then you've read that we've been doing a great deal of deadheading all over our section, including in the order beds, birch border, DNA spiral, and secluded garden.  Weeks of deadheading has promoted new flushes of flowers in some specimens.  Others are still preparing for another show later in the fall.

All this deadheading and cutting back has changed the appearance of these spots pretty dramatically.  I walked through the order beds and tried to capture images in the same spot as some from my first week.  The colors and feel have changed quite a bit!  Scroll to the bottom of this post to see what I mean.

What did I do this week?

Monday was edging day, followed by weeding and deadheading. 

I spent the entire day Tuesday deadheading Sisyrinchium striatum around the DNA spiral next to the Jodrell Laboratory.  That's an activity where I really wish I'd taken "before" and "after" photos, because the difference is pretty dramatic.  I had mixed feelings about the task because the Sisyrinchium had really interesting seed heads, but they really did look quite messy.

A week or two ago I spent a whole day deadheading the Sisyrinchium in the secluded garden too.  I've decided that this is a fiddly plant, and those who want to grow it in their home landscapes should either have enough time to tidy it, or they should be happy to let it behave as it would naturally.

To read more about how Kew handles
pruner maintenance, check
out the Thrifty Gardener
Thursday was spent maintaining the rose pillars.  I would write more about that, but I went into a great deal of detail about this activity in the first week's post.  However, India did show Daisy and I how to disassemble, clean, lubricate, sharpen, and assemble our secateurs (bypass hand pruners).  I've been in horticulture since 2006, and somehow never learned how to do this.  What a handy thing to know!  I've dedicated a whole post titled "Hand Pruner Maintenance 101" in the Thrifty Gardener to this activity.  If you want to learn how to do it, I'd recommend having a read.

Friday morning Daisy and I took turns mowing around the rose pillars with the cylinder push mower.  I also detailed this activity the first week.

On irrigation

Drought tolerant?

Quite a few "drought tolerant" plants, like Salvia, Rudbeckia, and some grasses, have been struggling over the past few weeks.  Although these species are very water wise choices in dry areas, these particular specimens have been acting a bit wimpy in London's droughty weather.  The reason for this is that these plants have been spoiled by the rainy English climate.  The normally frequent rain has caused them to develop shallow root systems.  Now that the top of the soil is dry, these plants are flagging.

Normally many Salvia are pretty drought
tolerant.  The ones at Kew have been spoiled
by the normally rainy climate.
We have been trying to water deeply so the roots will grow down, but the whole area has needed a lot of TLC.  Martin, one of the diploma students, has been spearheading the watering brigade.  If you walked through the order beds at any point last week, you probably saw Martin lugging hoses, setting up sprinklers, and making adjustments.

Shelley and the water box

Although our activities this week were somewhat routine, Shelley was working on something really interesting.  There's a water box at the corner by the lavender beds that was prone to flooding and had filled up with silt and gravel.  While I was deadheading at the birch border, she kept me updated on what she was doing to make repairs.

Photo of a different water box than the one that
Shelley was working on, but you get the idea
First, she scooped out all of the soil and gravel from inside the box, until she hit the cement bottom.  Next, she replaced all of the rubber gasket fittings in each of the connectors and caps.  When she attached a hose to water the DNA spiral, the hose was very loose on the attachment.  She determined that larger gauge hoses won't fit correctly on that heading for some reason.  She switched to a smaller gauge hose, and it seemed to fit okay.  She let the drip irrigation run overnight, and the next morning there was only four or five inches of standing water in the water box.

It was really interesting to watch this trouble shooting process!  Like I've mentioned before, the irrigation system at Kew is really quite old.  As one of the premier gardens in the world, Kew has been on the forefront of cutting edge technology in horticulture.  As a result, it seems like they get these elaborate systems before the industry has had the time to work all the bugs out.  Once something like an irrigation system is in place, they can do small scale improvements, but a total overhaul isn't really feasible.

Thanks for reading, and check back to read what happens next week in my internship with Kew.

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please feel welcome to leave a comment or send me an email.

To see more photos from this week, be sure to check out the album "Week Six" on the Plante on Plants Facebook page.  "Likes", shares and comments are appreciated. 

This week's British treat is the warm and tasty bakewell tart, served with berries and vanilla ice cream.  Mmm...

 
Last week of June

First week of August

Last week of June

First week of August

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