16 Feb 2021

Australian Annuals in The Great Glasshouse

Alex Summers

It may seem like an unusual time of year to plant annuals but in The Great Glasshouse, the annuals establish their roots in the cooler months.  

We have four apprentices working hard in the garden, three on their second year and one in their first year. Planting annual plugs was a training day for them to learn new skills, each apprentice is on rotation between The Walled Garden Placement, The Broadwalk Placement, The Estate Placement, The Nursery Placement and The Great Glasshouse placement. 

Our propagation team has grown plug plants which are ready for establishing with a little compost and loam in the glasshouse plant beds. The seeds were sown in Autumn and pricked out into plug trays when the true leaves appeared. Planting in The Great Glasshouse is not as simple as it may seem as the compost needs to be sieved before planting to remove the stones that have accumulated in the soil. Some areas of the soil are very compacted from years of watering so need to be dug over regularly as many Australian plants like to be in well-drained soils.

The temperature in the glasshouse at the moment can range from a low of 5°C, up to 15°C on most days. 

The plugs were planted across the Western Australian area of the glasshouse from the entrance along the central path and up to the highest point in the glasshouse. 

Two of the Australian plants chosen are: Schoenia filifolia ssp. subulifolia and Brachyscome iberidifolia.

Schoenia filifolia ssp. subulifolia has bright yellow daisy-like flowers which are in fact bracts (a modified leaf) and are papery to the touch. They like a sunny site, in soils that are well-drained. 

Brachyscome iberidifolia in contrast to Schoenia, range in colour from blue, purple to white. They are also from Western Australia and have daisy-like flowers.  In their native Australia, they can attract interesting pollinators including butterflies and hummingbirds. 

It will be 6-8 weeks before they flower and we have a little piece of Australian flora in Wales.  

Katie Benallick – February 2021