The Giant Houseplant Takeover: A Review With Pictures

Bath and shower in a tall room hung with plants

An outdoor bathroom, but indoors

The current Giant Houseplant Takeover exhibition at RHS Garden Wisley is kooky and wry: an elaborate conceit. A Victorian house has been abandoned to the houseplants which, in the absence of humans, have made themselves at home.

Four-poster bed with colourful flowering bromeliads

Bromeliads fill the bed, trunk and leafy plants tumble down the walls

An abundance of greenery may convey a derelict feel as visitors enter, but it soon becomes clear that everything is carefully arranged and tended. We’re visiting the best-behaved invasive houseplants in the history of mankind. My own ‘triffid’ is much less mannerly. Continue reading

Assessing The Beauty Of Hellebore Hybrids

A plant breeder has the unenviable task of deciding which hybrids to keep and which to discard. The nearest a photographer comes to that experience is when we are in a garden exploring a collection of hybrid plants, deciding which forms to capture.

Pink hellebore with an attractive covering of spots

The nodding habit of most hellebore hybrids forces us to bend and balance as we make our deliberations, lifting each flower head and looking inside. As a general rule, the more regular a pattern, the more photogenic the flower if we are aiming for a fresh look rather than artistic decay, but there are exceptions. Continue reading

Flowering Orchid: Calanthe William Murray gx

Pink and white orchid: Calanthe William Murray gx

RHS Garden Wisley has a wonderful collection of deciduous Calanthe orchids in flower now in the Glasshouse. This plant was labelled Calanthe William Murray gx. Its upper petals are white with pink bottom lips and a central section shaped like a nose.

There are two subgenera of Calanthe. Preptanthe ones like this are winter-deciduous orchids that die back to peculiar structures called pseudobulbs. Hairy flowering stems appear from near their base and bear a cascade of flowers that weigh the stems down into a graceful arc. Continue reading

Square In September: ‘Wisley 2008’ Rose

Cluster of pink roses with open rosette shapes

Three, shapely, pure pink rose sisters spent their brief lives bouncing together in a pretty cluster in a rose garden. As you see, I visited them in their prime.

Unlike many of the larger, heavier, multi-petalled varieties, the flowers of Rosa ‘Wisley 2008’ face upwards and outwards to show off their rosette forms. Those who read last Sunday’s post may be disappointed that the leaves are ‘just’ mid green, more remarkable for their tendency to resist disease than for their colour, even when grown in a rose garden where the proximity of others makes it easier for rose nasties to spread and take hold.  Continue reading