Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Wisley 2: Glasshouse and Bonsai

Given the size of the Glasshouse at Wisley, you'll be relieved to know I'm only showing you a few of the wonders inside this massive structure (note the people at the right hand side of the GH as a size reference). 

Before I go on about the flowers inside, I must admit that I did not do a very good job of getting the specific plant information.  First, it was frequently difficult to match the label with the correct plant in what is a jungle-like collection of plants within a confined space, and second, while I enjoyed seeing these botanical curiosities, they don't captivate me.

That said, I will show you some of the water lily photographs:

I have no idea which waterlilies were which, but I love them; they are captivating.  No surprise there; they live in water!

I can't decide which I like best in this picture, the water lilies or the bronze chains of flowers dangling from the plant above.  

Another "pretty" with a decent reflection this time.

Some of these I took simply because no one would believe me if I tried to describe flowers like these.

Well, this isn't a flower, but it makes me re-think the term "tree fern".  This should be at home with the Jurassic Rhubarb from yesterday (anyone catch the second and third pictures of Gunnera manicata yesterday? The second was to the right of the Chinese mahogany tree, and the third was to the right in the waterfall photo right after the bird taking a bath.).

Another amazing flower.

Finally, what would a greenhouse be without orchids?

Now on to the bonsai collection.

This photograph explains a modest amount about bonsai, but it doesn't explain the pronunciation of the word bonsai.  To sound as though you know more than a little, it should be pronounced  bone'-zahy .  If you say it "banzai" it has an entirely different meaning.  From www.dictionary.com: 


[bahn-zahy, bahn-; Japanese bahn-dzah-ee] 
1.(used as a Japanese patriotic cry or joyous shout.)
2.(used as a Japanese battle cry.)
3.leading to likely or inevitable death; suicidal: a banzai attack by Japanese troops in the last days of World War II.

Pinus sylvestris 'Beuvronensis' 55 years in training 
The number of years does indicate how old the tree is.  It does not tell us how many years the tree has been in training (potted, wired, and pruned).

Ulmus parvifolia 85 years 
This is an elm (ulmus) and the parvifolia indicates it has small leaves (constant pinching back the leaves make them small, but this variety of elm makes succeeding with small leaves easier).

Acer palmatum 'Deshojo'  (forest) 65 years
It's not easy to see in this photograph, but there are several trees in this pot which is why it is a forest.

Larix kaemferi (forest) 40 years
Here it is much easier to see the other larch trees in the pot.

Acer palmatum 80 years
D says this tree has the shape of a "graceful lady".  While this is not a technical "bonsai" term for the style of this maple, I like it a lot.

If you are interested - when we were in the Blenheim gift shop, I saw a book called Latin for Gardeners*.  It was expensive and in hardback which made it heavy so I didn't buy it.  However, when we were back, I kept thinking about it and decided to see if I could get it on-line, second-hand.  I did; it came to day.  It is helpful with great illustrations so if the idea fascinates you as it did me, see if your library can get it.  That way you can look through it before committing any money.

*Harrison, Lorraine.  Latin for Gardeners.  Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012.


  1. I'd love to get some water lilies for our little pond out front. Suppose I should go to Eddies and get some fish while I'm there. Meanwhile, those bonsai are spectacular. I especially love the pink one and the graceful old lady. Really great photos! Thank you!!

  2. sigh...such great beauty! Making me miss time across the pond.