Latest News

New project in the Prairie Garden
See report on FOBS holiday in Scotland below
See report on FOBS visit to Sheffield-Tinsley Canal below
See report on FOBS visit to RHS Bridgewater below

Next meeting

Spring flowers, castles and palaces of the Sintra region of Portugal - Tuesday 26 November at 10.30

Speaker: Patrick Harding
Author, mycologist & botanist and polymath, Patrick is a FOBS member well known at SBG. During the 2018 Patrick continued to enjoy his role as an adult educator. In October he celebrated 30 years as a tutor for Cambridge University’s continuing education department and will be running two weekend courses at Madingley in 2019. In July he was invited to teach a week-long course as part of the Cambridge University International Summer Programme with students from some 50 different countries. It must have worked as he has been asked to do two courses this summer! Patrick continues to offer day schools each year for Oxford University and these are regularly fully booked and well received. On a local level he is offering more day schools on subjects including trees, medicinal plants and fungi at Creswell Crags, the Attenborough Nature Reserve and Sherwood Pines Forest Park.
Last summer a brand-new illustrated edition of his Christmas Book was published thanks to Pauline Climpson who, before retirement, ran the Hallamshire Press. December included Patrick on Radio 3 talking about Christmas trees in a Dobbies garden centre and discussing the effect of climate change on magic mushrooms in an article for the Guardian on line. In January this year he made a guest appearance on BBC1 Antiques Road Trip – not as an antique but collecting and cooking edible fungi in Whirlow. What was that about retirement?
Dorothy Fox Education Centre
FOBS Members free, Visitors £5, Students £2

Christmas Social - Tuesday 10 December

Powerpoint presentation of FOBS activities over the year.
Members are asked to bring seasonal treats to share. Dorothy Fox Education Centre
FOBS Members free, Visitors £5, Students £2

Progress on the Prairie Garden

Prairie Garden - R. Egglestone
Prairie Garden - 8 November 2019
Photo ©R. Egglestone

New Project starts in the Prairie Garden - October 2019

The Prairie Garden (Area U) was first seeded in 2004 by a team led by Professor James Hitchmough of the Landscape Department at the University of Sheffield. He had been inspired by a visit to the Mid-West of America and wanted to trial seed mixes to see what happened in this country. In the following years his post-graduate students carried out research in the upper nursery area with South African plants too. Part of this research contributed to the wonderful displays in the Olympic Park in 2012.
The plants in the Prairie area established very rapidly, possibly because the area had previously been used for the National Collection of Weigelas and had been significantly enriched. Another factor may be that the area is a natural catchment for the drainage downslope for a large part of the Gardens and nutrients are washed down. In the wild prairie flora has adapted to thrive in conditions of poor soils. Over the years this has affected the development of the area and some 'thuggish' plants have tended to dominate. The annual burning in early spring is intended to clear weed seedlings, whilst not affecting the established root systems of the desired plants. In March 2012 a section next to the path skirting the woodland was cleared and reseeded. Also tried was a 'Chelsea Chop' of plants bordering the winding paths through the garden in an effort to stop the very tall ones flopping over.
This year it has to be admitted that the nettles, willow herb and silphium were taking over. Prof Hitchmough and his students have made a start on renovating the site - to ‘repair and improve’ what’s there. They will be gradually digging out the invasives to make room to add back more diverse species.
Prairie Garden - M. Jullien
Prairie Garden - June 2005
Photo ©M. Jullien
Burning off Prairie Garden - S. Kohler
Burning off Prairie Garden - March 2006
Photo ©S. Kohler
Reseeding Prairie Garden - A. Hunter
Reseeding part of Prairie Garden - March 2012
Photo ©A. Hunter
Prairie Garden - A. Hunter
Prairie Garden - July 2013
Photo ©A. Hunter
Prairie Garden - A. Hunter
Prairie Garden - September 2013
Photo ©A. Hunter
Prairie Garden - A. Hunter
Prairie Garden - September 2014
Photo ©A. Hunter
South African Bed - R. Egglestone
The weeds are winning! Prairie Garden
14 October 2019
Photo ©R. Egglestone
Digging Prairie Garden - R. Egglestone
University of Sheffield team at work
23 October 2019
Photo ©R. Egglestone
Hitchmough and team - R. Egglestone
Prof Hitchmough and the team
23 October 2019
Photo ©R. Egglestone

New history book launched on 8 September 2019

Sheffield Botanical Gardens: a history. Volume 2 (1844-1858)
FOBS Historian, Alison Hunter, has just published a 270-page book continuing the story of the Gardens. This was a busy period as a new society took over the management following the financial collapse of the first company in 1844. An improving economic situation and successful business practices meant that all debts were paid off in the first decade. Funds were then available for further developments including a new house for the Curator, extensions to the conservatories and an elegant tea pavilion. This was a time of significant advances horticultural knowledge as shown by the inclusion of newly introduced species listed in the Curator's plant catalogue.
Price £15. Books available at FOBS meetings and at www.amazon.co.uk

Update on the 'Early Wins' Programme - 29 August 2019

South African Bed - R. Egglestone
New South African Bed, Osborn's Field
Photo ©R. Egglestone
New planting in the AGM Border - R. Egglestone
New planting in one of the
Award of Garden Merit (AGM) beds
Photo ©R. Egglestone
New planting in the AGM Border - R. Egglestone
New planting near Victorian beds
next to Curator's House
Photo ©R. Egglestone

Update on the 'Early Wins' Programme - 6 July 2019

Rose Garden - R. Egglestone
Rose Garden
Photo ©R. Egglestone
New planting in the AGM Border - R. Egglestone
New planting in one of the
Award of Garden Merit (AGM) beds
Photo ©R. Egglestone
New planting near Victorian beds - R. Egglestone
New planting near Victorian beds
next to Curator's House
Photo ©R. Egglestone

FOBS visit to the Sheffield Tinsley Canal - Friday 16 June 2019

Members of FOBS accompanied Ken Balkow (one of our speakers in April) along the Canal to investigate the plant life. Starting in the pouring rain at Attercliffe, the group made leisurely progress to Meadowhall observing many kinds of flowers and plants. Fortunately the rain stopped at about the half-way mark. We also encountered a pair of Canada geese who were very protective of their goslings.
Valerian & Hemlock Water Dropwort - A. Hunter
Red Valerian (Centranthus ruber) and Hemlock Water Dropwort (Oenanthe crocata)
Photo ©A. Hunter
Hop Trefoil - A. Hunter
Hop Trefoil (Trifolium campestre)
Photo ©A. Hunter
Rosa multiflora - A. Hunter
Many-flowered Rose (Rosa multiflora)
Photo ©A. Hunter
Zantedeschia aethiopica - A. Hunter
Calla Lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica)
Photo ©A. Hunter
Wall barley - J. Sinclair
Wall Barley (Hordeum murinum) growing in a car park
Photo ©J. Sinclair
Canada Geese - J. Sinclair
Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) and goslings
Photo ©J. Sinclair

FOBS Scottish Holiday - 9 - 13 June

The FOBS Photo editor would like more pictures from the gardens members visited on the holiday - please go to Photos for format and contact details.
Gresgarth - B. Plant
Gresgarth
Photo ©B. Plant
Tyninghame - J. Dykes
Tyninghame
Photo ©J. Dykes
Blackdyke - B. Plant
Blackdyke
Photo ©B. Plant
Broadwoodside - B. Plant
Broadwoodside
Photo ©B. Plant
Inveresk - B. Plant
Irises, Inveresk
Photo ©B. Plant
Inveresk - J. Dykes
Green roofed potting shed, Inveresk
Photo ©J. Dykes
Amorphophallus titanum - B. Plant
Amorphophallus titanum
Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh
Photo ©B. Plant
Arisaema ringens - B. Plant
Arisaema ringens
Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh
Photo ©B. Plant
Edinburgh Glasshouse - J. Dykes
Glasshouse
Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh
Photo ©J. Dykes
Kevock - J. Dykes
Alpine Garden
Kevock Garden Plants
Photo ©J. Dykes
Meconopsis - B. Plant
Meconopsis
RHS Harlow Carr
Photo ©B. Plant
Candelbra primulas - B. Plant
Candelabra primulas
RHS Harlow Carr
Photo ©B. Plant

FOBS visit site of RHS Bridgewater - Monday 20 May 2019

FOBS visit RHS Bridgewater - J. Sinclair
Photo ©J. Sinclair
FOBS visit RHS Bridgewater - J. Sinclair
Photo ©J. Sinclair
FOBS visit RHS Bridgewater - J. Sinclair
Photo ©J. Sinclair

20 lucky FOBS members recently enjoyed a ‘sneak peek’ tour of RHS Bridgewater, the RHS garden being developed in Salford. The garden doesn’t open officially until summer 2020 but RHS Director-General Sue Biggs had suggested the visit when she gave a talk to FOBS last year.

Bridgewater is apparently the biggest garden project in Europe. Members were treated to a private tour of the vast grounds, once a stylish Victorian estate that has been derelict for many years. It is now being redeveloped in line with a masterplan by designer Tom Stuart-Smith (due to lecture for us later this year. It is still very much a building site, and we needed to don stout footwear and high-vis jackets for our tour. We saw progress on the first phase of works which include enormous walled gardens that will contain a paradise garden, and adjoining kitchen garden, orchards, a new lake and restored old lake, the site of the planned welcome centre, and old bothies and potting sheds that will become display areas.

The tour also included the wilder areas of the estate that will be tamed for future phases of work. We met the pigs who are helping clear the garden of invasive Rhododendron ponticum, saw where the Scouts had once created an open-air chapel, and glimpsed an island folly, a listed ice-house and the site of a lost fountain that had been brought to Salford from the Great Exhibition. It is a mammoth undertaking, being carried forward with great enthusiasm and expertise. We look forward to arranging another trip for members next year, to see the garden once it has officially opened.


Update on the 'Early Wins' Programme - 7 May 2019

South African Bed, Osborn's Field - R. Egglestone
New South African Bed
Photo ©R. Egglestone
New planting near Victorian beds - R. Egglestone
New planting near Victorian beds
next to Curator's House
Photo ©R. Egglestone
New planting in the AGM Border - R. Egglestone
New planting in one of the
Award of Garden Merit (AGM) beds
Photo ©R. Egglestone

Education at the Gardens

We’re embarking on a new initiative in partnership with Sheffield City Council and the Sheffield Botanical Gardens Trust. We’ll be developing and piloting a programme of events and engagement activities at the Gardens, with a particular focus on currently hard-to-reach groups. The work will be undertaken by a new paid education officer, funded for 12 months by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the Trust. More details and the full job advert are here:
sheffield.gov.uk/home/job-vacancies/Joblistings/project-officer
The closing date for applications was 15th May and we hope to have someone in post by the summer.

Update on the 'Early Wins' Programme - 2 March 2019

South African Bed, Osborn's Field - R. Egglestone
New South African Bed
Photo ©R. Egglestone
Snowdrop planting near Lucombe Oak - R. Egglestone
Snowdrop planting near Lucombe Oak
Photo ©R. Egglestone

Work on the 'Early Wins' programme continues with the erection of a supporting wall in Osborn's Field for the new South African Bed and clumps of snowdrops planted around the Lucombe Oak near the edge of the West Lawn.


Time for a change - FOBS will be updating this year

FOBS Logo 1 (1984-1995)
FOBS Logo1
FOBS Logo 2 (1996-2003)
FOBS Logo2
FOBS Logo 3 (2004-2018)
FOBS Logo3
FOBS Logo 4 - a new look coming in 2019
FOBS Logo4

Volunteer Briefing - 9 January 2019

Curator Ian Turner welcomed the group and expressed gratitude for the work done by volunteers. In the past year total hours had exceeded 4000 and the number of volunteers was over 100. There had been no days completely lost to the weather. The highest number of attendees on any one day had been 42, the lowest 11. Volunteer hours now included those working at other times, not just the Wednesday morning team. Group members were asked to contact the FOBS Chair with ideas for increasing the number of volunteers, to improve training and to help plan for additional sessions of work on other days, including weekends.

Ian then went on to review health and safety issues, which are essentially risk assessment and common sense. Always select the correct tool for the job, if any task involves strain don't do it, keep your work area tidy, be aware of other people and don't leave tools lying around. Trips and slips can cause accidents. Ask for help if something is too heavy to lift. Please don't overfill the dumpy bags - think about the safety of the staff too.

It was a lovely bright day, occasionally sunny, but cold. After pausing to admire the Acacia baileyana in bud, near the gate on the way out from the Education Centre, Ian led a tour to inspect the projects currently in progress, many of them funded and supported by FOBS. The group eventually returned to the Centre in time for a very welcome hot drink.

AGM Bed
AGM Bed - has been cleared after the plants had grown too large. Will be dug over again and replanted with perennials. It is likely that many of the beautiful allium bulbs will persist.
Marnock Garden
Newly planted scree bed in the Marnock Garden
Osborn's Field
A new project in Osborn's Field, this sheltered south-facing patch, backed by a stone wall, has a relatively warm micro-climate. A new South African Bed will be home to plants from both the Western and Eastern Cape.
Sophora microphylla
Also in Osborn's Field is the current Plant of the Month. Sophora microphylla is a member of the pea family and provides a welcome splash of colour at this time of year.
Victorian Garden
New planting next to the Curator's House cafe includes a eucalyptus tree which will provide shade in summer.
Victorian Garden
Trees and overgrown shrubs along the wall will be replaced to provide a more pleasing background to the colourful bedding plants. The bedding is planted out twice a year and is very popular with visitors.
Outside the pavilion
Outside the central pavilion Ian stopped to talk about the gardens in general. It was noted that the clock had stopped due to a power cut. Apparently there is quite a complicated procedure to restart it at the proper time!
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
Now that the thicket of shrubs around its base has been removed, the semi-evergreen hybrid Lucombe Oak can be really appreciated.

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