Sunday, May 11, 2008


Just look at this

It is of course the Titan Arum, fast approaching flowering. It currently stands at around 2 metres tall and will reach 3 metres before flowering. Then you need to batten down your nostrils because the smell it emits is obnoxious. And the female flowers are receptive for one night only, the night before the male flowers produce pollen. There's playing hard to get and there's being positively awkward. Hand pollination is difficult and involves two inflorescenses flowering in perfect sequence or the use of frozen pollen. Frozen pollen!! Ye Gods.

You'll deduce from this that Woody has been to Kew, where this is growing in the Princess of Wales Conservatory. Kew is fabulous, and I hadn't been since I was a teenager, umpty years ago. Why? Fool.

Outside Woody was pleased to spot Kew's Gingko biloba, dating from 1762.

This is one of the few trees remaining from the first botanic garden established by Princess Augusta, George III's mother, in 1759.
And just for North Atlantic balance, here's the oldest Gingko in North America, growing in Bartram's Garden, Philadelphia, and also dating from the late 1700s (1785 to be [fairly] precise). The tree was there when David Douglas visited Bartram (King's Botanist in N America) in 1823. Bartram himself wasn't there, having inconsiderately died 6 weeks earlier. The tree is still in good shape, or at least it was in 2001 when I was there, but if you look closely you can see steel cables holding it together. But at 250+ yrs old I think it deserves a bit of support.

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