More from Eden

First written and posted on 5th February, 2013. Please click here if you would like to read the original post on This and That.

It’s been several weeks since my last post, partly because I am still without a computer and also because since I went back to work I have been immersed In all things Eden again – not that that’s a problem, seeing as I love my job! Pruning apple trees!
I have spent a week on Eden’s nursery which, conveniently, is on the same site where I live – it’s the easiest commute I’ve ever had to work! It was nice settling myself back into the routine of working after having a fortnight off for Christmas and New Year.

One of the main jobs I helped with that week was collecting all the Christmas trees which were dotted around the main site of Eden and bringing them back to the nursery, where they will be looked after until next year. I even had a go driving the huge transit lorry and tractor and trailer around the fields – I didn’t crash into anything which I was happy about!
Pruning grasses

I’ve just started my final week with the Outdoor Biome team, which has been brilliant, despite the weather at times! There are two teams outside who look after the Outdoor Biome section, Kevin and Darren’s teams – you may remember I was with Kevin for my first week, so to be outside again when I pretty much know everyone on the Green team has been great.
I’ve learnt how to prune apple trees in the 2 acre orchard, burn vegetation to mimic what would happen in a real prairie in America and use the big industrial plant chipper, which shreds all the plant debris that is too woody or tough to be composted. I’ve really enjoyed my time outside especially as we are now into February, when spring feels like it is just around the corner. . . Burning the Prairie

I know I’ve only been at Eden for 4 months but I have already been thinking about what I would like to do once my apprenticeship has finished. I spent some time in the Christmas holidays looking into what learning schemes other botanic gardens have, and decided that Oxford’s and Cambridge’s traineeships and Kew’s diploma were the courses which suited me best.
What made me panic slightly was realising that the deadline for nearly all of them is the 31st January – hence most of my evenings have been spent frantically writing out applications! Nev with his Calliandra haematocephala
One of my colleagues at Eden, the amazing Neville Evans, helped me enormously with the form filling, and made everything much easier than if I had been doing it on my own – I think I would have given up if I had! So fingers crossed I get a reply, I would be over the moon if I managed to get an interview for just one of them – you will be the first to know about it if I do!! My flatmates!
Another bit of good news is I have managed to get even more of what I do at Eden included in my QCF Horticulture Diploma course at college – one is the weekly plant identification tests, where I and the other apprentice, Tom, and a trainee who is also on a year’s placement, Lucie, have to learn ten plants and their genus, species, cultivar/variety, family name and common name. Cistus albidus

We have a walk-around of whichever area the plants have come from, for example this week’s ident was of tropical plants from the Med biome – one of my favourite areas in case you had forgotten! I hope to share each week’s ident on my blog, if nothing else it will be an excuse for me to write and update my posts!

This week has been:

1. Brahea armata, in the Arecaceae (Palm) family – also known as Blue Hesper Palm.
2. Cistus salvifolius, in the Cistaceae (Rock Rose) family – also known as Sage-leaved cistus.
3. Cytisus multiflorus, in the Fabaceae (Pea) family – also known as White Spanish Broom
4. Citrus unshiu ‘Okitsu’ in the Rutaceae (Citrus) family – also known as Satsuma!
5. Agave sisalana, in the Asparagaceae family – also known as Sisal.
6. Cupressus sempervirens ‘var. sempervirens’ in the Cupressaceae (Cypress) family – also known as Italian Cypress.
7. Protea subvestita, in the Proteaceae (Protea) family – also known as Waterlily Sugarbush.
8. Erica caffra, in the Ericaceae (Heather) family – also known as Water Heath.
9. Acacia karroo, in the Fabaceae (Pea) family – also known as Sweet Thorn.
10. Wachendorfia thyrsiflora, in the Haemodoraceae (Bloodwort) family – also known as Blood Root.
11. Cistus albidus, in the Cistaceae (Rock Rose) family – also known as Grey-leaved Cistus.

We have the weekly walk-around on a Monday morning, where the supervisor of the area tells us about each plant, and collects samples (leaves and flowers usually), and puts them in vases for us to research and learn, then we are tested on them on the Thursday afternoon.
I am happy to say so far I get 100% for the idents, a result which I am very happy about!
That’s all for now in the world of Eden, watch this space for the next update!

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