October Glory – Acer rubrum

October Glory – Acer rubrum

The common name for this beautiful maple is apt. Acer rubrum is one of the most widespread trees in eastern North America but this particular young specimen, planted in 2011, is growing at the entrance to FOTA House. It’s living up to its name “October Glory” and stands out among the other trees there, showing off at this time of year.

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Anything Kew can do…..Ginkgo Biloba – yin xing 銀杏

Anything Kew can do…..Ginkgo Biloba – yin xing 銀杏

Our beautiful Ginkgo Biloba trees grow side by side in the centre of the Frameyard  like a pair of Chinese vases.

At this time of year the fan-shaped leaves are turning a mellow shade of yellow. How can we not admire these trees?  They survived the dropping of an atomic bomb in Hiroshima where almost all other plants were destroyed, they’ve outlived dinosaurs, they produce nutrients which are used in health supplements and they link us philosophically and botanically to both the past and the future.

We have many reasons to love our Ginkgo trees in the Frameyard. They stand elegantly tall in our walled space, provide us with beautiful colour and just last week our gardener Bernard remarked how they provide much-needed shade for our seedlings in Glasshouse No. 4.

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Celebrate Autumn’s “mists and mellow fruitfulness”!

Celebrate Autumn’s “mists and mellow fruitfulness”!

Many people find autumn a melancholy time. Maybe it’s the post-summer blues (or reds and browns).  We talk about the days shortening or the evenings closing-in. The Autumn Equinox happens when the length of day and night are roughly equal, usually around the 23rd of September. But it’s a bountiful and fertile time for nature. This late burst of production brings us a multitude of fruits, nuts and seeds.

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You say to-may-toh…                                   I say poisonous mandrake!

You say to-may-toh… I say poisonous mandrake!

In the Frameyard, in Pithouse Number 3, the tomatoes are ripening.

Among the varieties there are Sungold and Sweet Apperitivo, cherry tomatoes that can be eaten like sweets off the vine.  Standing beside these vines, the wonderful earthy, tobacco smell fills the warm air.

Some say that this smell is a natural deterrent against insects or pests. (It’s suggested that one could pick the foliage, soak it in hot water and use it as a spray). According to the University of California, glandular trichomes are responsible for secreting a yellow substance that gives off that characteristic “tomato plant” smell (see explanation below).  Whatever the scientific explanation is, some gardeners love it, some hate it. But the fruit is universally enjoyed nowadays, unlike the first reaction to tomatoes in medieval times.

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