March 2017

The presentation at our meeting on Saturday 18th March at Powick Parish Hall was titled "North American Plants in our Gardens" by Dr Keith Ferguson. Dr Ferguson, a professional botanist, spent 29 years at RBG Kew, retiring as Deputy Keeper of the Herbarium and Head of the Pollen Unit there.

He explained that many of our garden plants originate from North American wild flowers, shrubs and trees. He started by setting the whole topic within an historical background relating to the plant hunters of the 17th century who brought seeds and plants back across the Atlantic. He used a map of North America to show us the variety of zones and landscapes that result in a wealth of different climates and habitats.

He has travelled widely in America and was able to illustrate his talk with beautiful photographs taken of the landscapes and wild plants, as well as those taken in garden situations in Britain which showed the cultivars developed from those native plants. His message was that we would have more success if we grew plants in a similar situation to that they would favour in the wild. We should also put plants next to those that they might grow with in those habitats eg put dicentra between deciduous ferns so that when the dicentra has finished flowering, the ferns take over.

I think most of us were surprised by how many of our well know garden plants were developed from those wild plants of America. We all appreciated the quality of the inspirational photographs and the breadth and depth of knowledge that Dr Ferguson shared with us.

The presentation at our meeting on Saturday 15th April 2.30pm at Powick Parish Hall is "Bulbs for the unusual" by Ross Barbour. Contact Brian on 01684311297 for more information.
Lorna Winstone