Latest News

For meetings and speaker details see Programme 2020

News Shoots - October 2020

Download your copy of our latest edition here News Shoots October 2020
Previous issues
News Shoots September 2020
News Shoots August 2020
News Shoots July 2020
News Shoots June 2020
News Shoots May 2020

Friends to meet online via Zoom - starting 28 July

Download the latest News Shoots for details and check Programme 2020 for updates.

July updates

AGM bed - R Egglestone
Replanted last year and looking lovely
AGM Garden
©R. Egglestone 23 July 2020
South African Garden - R Egglestone
South African Bed (planted 2019)
Osborn's Field
©R. Egglestone 23 July 2020
Prairie garden - R Egglestone
Prairie Garden
After weed treatment - just starting to flower
©R. Egglestone 23 July 2020

May updates

AGM bed - R Egglestone
Replanted bed developing nicely
AGM Garden
©R. Egglestone 26 May 2020
Scree garden - R Egglestone
Scree Bed
Robert Marnock Garden
©R. Egglestone 26 May 2020
Rhododendron 'Old Port' - R Egglestone
Rhododendron 'Old Port'
Flowering wonderfully at edge of Asia Garden,
next to Evolution Garden
©R. Egglestone 26 May 2020
Cercis siliquastrum - R Egglestone
Cercis siliquastrum
Rock Garden
It's great to see this plant recovering after being chopped down following damage
©R. Egglestone 2 May 2020
South African Bed - R Egglestone
South African Bed
Developing well after only one year
©R. Egglestone 2 May 2020
Prairie Garden - R Egglestone
Prairie Garden
Starting to grow after weeds removed and burnt off earlier this year
©R. Egglestone 2 May 2020

FOBS launch News Shoots - 20 April 2020

A news sheet initiated by the Friends has been sent out to members to keep everyone informed of developments in the Gardens and to maintain contact during the Covid-19 outbreak. It includes useful tips, recommended reading, a list local nurseries who will deliver plants and some ingenious puzzles. Future editions (if required) will be sent electronically to those people with emails registered with the membership secretary.

Tour Guide Briefing - 11 March 2020

All tours - suspended until further notice
This year sees a change of leadership, Christine Rose and Jude Haslam have taken over the organisation of tours and talks from Kay Keeton. Leaders and assistants were allocated at this busy session, which took place over tea and packed lunches in the Education Centre. In the absence of the Curator, volunteers Peter and Trish Kohn offered to show some of the current activities to the group members.
Photos ©A. Hunter

New seedlings - A Hunter

New seedlings
Lower Greenhouse - A Hunter

Lower Greenhouse
South African Bed

Nursery area

Behind the scenes, Trish & Peter have already sown thousands of seeds and plan for a lot more. Once established and potted on they are moved to the greenhouse, and then to the nursery area to harden off. The plants will be used in the Gardens or offered for sale.

Base for new compost heaps - A Hunter

Laying the base for new compost heaps
Possible site for an alpine house - A Hunter

Possible site for an alpine house
Rock Garden

Rock Garden - reconstructed

In the nursery area work is in progress to concrete the base of the compost heaps, thus allowing easier processing and access. At the very top of the nursery area, there are hopes that permission may be granted for the construction of a small Alpine House to be erected on ground which hasn't been used for several years. Work in the Rock Garden continues and the rocks have been reset.

Hepatica transsilvania - A Hunter

Hepatica transsilvania, Marnock Garden
Melianthus major - A Hunter

Melianthus major, South African Bed, Osborn's Field
Corylopsis pauciflora - A Hunter

Corylopsis pauciflora, Rock Garden

It seems that spring is coming early this year, many plants are already in flower.

Adam Frost 'A Life in Gardening' - 17 February 2020

Adam Frost book signing - J. Sinclair
Adam Frost: a stunning speaker for a major first for the Friends. Last night, we opened the Dorothy Fox Education Centre for the first time for a full house talk. Logistically, all seemed to have been successful: a major relief for the organising committee. The pinnacle, though, was Adam's talk. A warm and engaging reminiscence of his difficult childhood, his massive leap when he landed a job with Geoff Hamilton at Barnsdale, his subsequent development in design via Chelsea Golds. He remains, though, a totally grounded and humble man, concerned and very personally engaged with the benefit of gardening for mental health. A completely unexpected bonus was the large number of young people (including a cheerfully chuckling baby) in the audience. A wonderfully encouraging pointer for the future. Adam Frost presentation - J. Sinclair

Update on new South African Bed in Osborn's Field - 8 February 2020

Developing well - and looking great even in February
South African Bed South African Bed

©R. Egglestone
South African Bed

Volunteer Briefing - 8 January 2020

Curator Ian Turner welcomed everyone to the well-attended session and expressed gratitude for the work done by volunteers. During 2019 total total hours worked were a record-breaking 4448, approximately equal to 3 FTE staff. The number of volunteers was 104, the most attending on any one day was 43 and the least 6 (in spite of awful weather - the wettest autumn in Sheffield records dating back to 1882!). Volunteer hours include those experienced volunteers working at other times, not just the Wednesday morning team.
Ian next introduced the new Head Gardener, Andrea Jones, who started work in the Gardens on 16 December. We all look forward to working with her.
Ian then went on to review health and safety issues, which are essentially risk assessment and common sense. Never struggle or strain, get help or don't do it! Remember not to overload the bags of garden waste - think about staff safety too. Always select the correct tool for the job and keep your work area tidy. Trips and slips can cause accidents, be aware not only of your own safety, but also think of other volunteers, staff and the general public. On the subject of compost, new bays with solid concrete bases will be installed by the end of the month, covers will help the garden waste to reach the required temperature to ensure weed seeds do not survive. However, there are some persistent perennial weeds such as nightshade and bindweed which should never be introduced to the waste bags. It was suggested that a list of weeds be drawn up and some extra training in recognition be available to volunteers. After all, there are many rare and unusual plants in the Gardens and it would be tragic if they were accidentally dug up in mistake for weeds.

It was a lovely bright day and surprisingly mild for the time of year. Ian led a tour to inspect the projects currently in progress. The group eventually returned to the Centre in time for a very welcome hot drink and a presentation by Peter and Trish Kohn about propagation from seed.

Prairie Garden - As reported in October last year, Prof James Hitchmough and his students are in the process sorting out this area. The intention is to remove the thuggish plants and increase diversity. As usual the ground will be treated by burning in March. Although originally seeded with North American species, the name Prairie Garden is something of a misnomer - there are no grasses!
AGM Border
AGM Border - Although totally replanted last year the this section has established well and has been much admired by visitors. It is an example of what can be achieved by the partnership between staff and the Friends.
Ian paused briefly at the top of the AGM Border and turned to the beds containing the National Collection of Weigela, he expressed appreciation for the work of John Stirling, a founder member of the Friends, who recently passed away. John was responsible for the development of all three National Collections (Diervilla & Sarcococca as well) and will be sadly missed.
South Africa Bed
South Africa Bed - Created in 2019, this bed has been designed to showcase plants from both the Western Cape and Eastern Cape. The plants have been raised from seed collected in South Africa by Peter and Trish Kohn. Again co-operation between the Friends, staff and the Sheffield Botanical Gardens Trust (who paid for the new wall) has proved a great asset in the development of the Gardens.
South Africa Bed
South Africa Bed - As can be seen, the planting in the new South Africa Bed has established quickly. It will be interesting to see how these southern hemisphere plants can cope with the climate in Sheffield.
Rock & Water Garden
Rock & Water Garden - The battle against the infestation of horsetails continues. The Gardens' staff were busy clearing the undergrowth and revealing the structure of the rock feature. The Rock Garden was originally created in about 1930 by Clarence Elliott, a famous horticulturalist and founder member of the Alpine Gardening Society and represents a significant historical feature.
Victorian Garden
Paulownia tormentosa - Ian was very proud to point out the Foxglove Tree growing in the Victorian Garden, as he had collected the seed himself in 2010 from a garden in Hull. P. tormentosa has lovely panicles of flowers which he claimed to smell of strawberry jelly. The flowering time can vary between April and June depending on temperature. The tree left to itself is slow growing, however, when coppiced it grows rapidly and forms huge leaves (but no flowers) - this phenomenon can be seen in the bed next to the Gatehouse.
Outside the pavilion
Pavilions lead theft- Ian paused briefly to point out the damage done to the pavilions by the attempted theft of lead last autumn. It will cost a huge amount of money to repair. The lead will be replaced by a plastic substitute once the weather is warm enough for the material to be moulded properly.
East Lawn
East Lawn - A view across the East Lawn reveals the trees spaced out in the "Gardenesque" style, each having suffient space to develop without tangling with its neighbours. Our original curator, Robert Marnock, was an exponent of this design.
Lucombe Oak
Lucombe Oak - The removal of the dense shrubbery around the oak reveals the beautiful tree and has opened up new vistas across from the Rose Garden


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