My time spent in the Great Glasshouse has gone by extremely quickly. One minute it was the end of January and the next it’s March! Only two members of staff look after the whole of the Great Glasshouse, with us students helping out on a temporary basis.
Sunrises over the Great Glasshouse
Sunrise in the Great Glasshouse
View of the pond from Western Australia
It’s staggering how well maintained the place is kept, with so few pairs of hands and so many plants to look after, most of which require specialist horticultural knowledge and skill.
I’ve had the opportunity to get involved with the soil rejuvenation work which is gradually being completed on all of the beds in the entire glasshouse. Basically when the glasshouse was created the soil which was used wasn’t good quality and resembled rubble from a building site!
In the middle of soil rejuvenation
This isn’t ideal conditions for the plants to grow in by any means, so by carefully going through all of the beds this will ensure the plants root systems have a better chance of establishing, enabling them to live for longer and be less prone to pests and diseases.
The process of soil rejuvenation is very labour intensive and repetitive: the soil has to be dug out and sifted by hand, to separate the soil from the rocks and other debris. The sifted soil is then mixed with fresh compost and put back into the bed, with the stones spread over the top as a mulch.
Nearly finished. . .
I repeated this process several times on different beds throughout the glasshouse. Although it was tedious it was also incredibly satisfying to look back and see the progress being made. Knowing the difference it will make to the plants in the long term was an added bonus.
As well as working closely with soil and stones I also spent a lot of time getting down and dirty with actual plants(!). A large number of plants from the different regions in the Great Glasshouse were ready in the nursery glasshouses, waiting to be planted.
Planting in the Canary Islands
It is a hundred times easier to plant up the beds once the soil has been rejuvenated, hence why there were so many plants filling up the nursery. We needed an army of people to sift soil and another one going behind planting!
Planting in California and Western Australia
As it was I managed to plant up three big areas of the Great Glasshouse: Chile, California and the Canary Islands, as well as a small section in Western Australia. I had no idea about the heights and spreads of any of the plants I was working with as 80% of them were all new to me.
It was fun looking up the plants and helping my boss, Marilla, arrange them in the different beds. I’m looking forward to returning to the Great Glasshouse again in the summer to see how the areas I planted are establishing.
Before pruning Wisteria
Me with my finished Wisteria!
A cheery clump of daffodils
I was let outside of the Great Glasshouse for a day at the beginning of February, to help give the wisterias on the Broadwalk a winter prune. I had done this before in my previous job, it was good to be able to do it again and refresh my memory – practice makes perfect!
This was the sprinkling of snow we had in South Wales!
I’m looking forward to returning outside tomorrow at the most wonderful, positive time of year – spring! I’ll finish with an apt quote: