11th October, Ness gardens: Maria Knowles and Tim Baxter
Maria met us at the garden entrance and introduced us to Tim and then we all headed past the house, around which the garden was originally created, to the heather slope where we stopped to look at the first species, a lovely specimen of Abies procera. From then on we were expertly guided around a staggering collection of tree species. Maria has provided the annotated list below, highlighting some of the ones we were shown. As well as looking at the trees we were also shown behind the scenes where Tim told the group about Dr Raj Whitlock's long-term experiment on climatic adaptation in grassland plants and about plant propagation processes at Ness.
Abies equi-trojani Trojan Fir, from the Ida Mountains of Western Turkey.
Abies procera Glauca, Noble Fir from the Cascade Mountains of Oregon, where it was found by David Douglas in 1825. Look for the central spikes left when the huge cones disintegrate.
14 species of Alder in one bed including:
Alnus inokume from Japan.
Alnus firma and Alnus pendula also from Japan are both beautiful shrubs with attractive finely-toothed leaves and delicate flowers in spring.
Alnus sieboldiana, with large leaves, catkins and cones, was named after Von Siebold, a German botanist who worked in Japan as a doctor in the 1820s and amassed thousands of both living and preserved specimens of plants.
Alnus subcordata from Iran is a rare fast growing tree in cultivation.
Athrotaxis laxifolia, from temperate rainforests of Tasmania, used to be in Taxodiaceae now in Cupressaceae; cross between A. cupressoides Pencil Pine and A. selaginoides King Billy Pine.
Betula ashburneri the type specimen, found and named by Hugh McCallister and the late Kevin Ashburn.
Betula chichibuensis from Japan, rare in the wild, does well at Ness.
Betula dahurica var parvifolia (Japan) and var dahurica (Korea) beautiful peeling bark.
Betula lenta Cherry birch, from North America, has lovely yellow autumn colour.
Cornus kousa Strawberry Dogwood, large white petal-like bracts and edible fruits.
Corylus ferrox (fierce) purported parent of family Betulaceae.
Eucalyptus viminalis, transports huge amount of water to leaves 80-120 litres per day, tap root 6ft down, lateral roots 100ft spread, regrows when cut or burnt down, fruit is capsule.
Ilex limii from China, does not look like a holly, this specimen is the only one known in cultivation outside China.
Larix griffithii Sikkim Larch from E Himalayas and Tibet, has long drooping branchlets and downy shoots which turn reddish-brown the second year, cones long with exposed arching bracts.
Picea several unusual spruces from around the world, some brought to Ness by modern day plant collectors, others procured via the ‘Index Seminum’, a system of seed exchange by Botanical Gardens worldwide.
P. alquociana from Japan.
P. brachytyla, a Wilson introduction, this tree comes from seed collected in the wild from Emei Shan (Mt. Omei) in Sichuan Provence, China, by Keith Rushforth and bears an abundance of purple cones in spring.
P. englmanii var mexicana, from Mexico, Arizona and New Mexico is another endangered tree, rare in the wild and in cultivation. Its dense forward pointing needles are not as glaucous as those of P. chihuahuana.
Picea chihuahuana from Mexico, endangered in the wild, rare in cultivation, dense, radiating, glaucous needles, tolerant of both heat and cold.
Pinus monophylla Singleleaf pinyon or Pinyon pine from Southern California, Edinburgh Rare Conifer Project the principal source of American pinenuts. Single needles are rounded as are 2, 3 and 5 needles of other pines when put together; a few single leaves may split into pairs by 2nd year. No wing to seeds. (Ronald Lanner , Pinyon Pine).
Pinus pinea Stone pine, from Mediterranean Europe, classic umbrella shape, source of pinenuts in Europe.
Pinus sylvestris ssp mongolica collected in wild from Siberia by Hugh McCallister. Comparing this to P. sylvestris, it has smooth grey-green shoots, pale brown winter buds and longer leaves up to 12cm (Scot’s pine 4-7cms),
Platycarya strobilacea, related to walnuts (Juglans), wingnuts (Pterocaya) and hickories (Carya), all have compound leaves. Platycarya have strobiles or cones hence species name; flowers are plumes of upright catkins.
Poncirus trifoliata Japanese Bitter Orange from S Korea. Fruit is a type of berry, Hesperidum, with a leathery rind and thick pith.
Quercus robur planted in memorium for Vera Gordon.
Sorbus matsumurana from Japan has big curved buds
Sorbus olivacea from China, has pink berries and pale foliage.
Sorbus rosea was introduced into cultivation through Ness, wild sourced from Gillgit, Pakistan, berries white turning pink.