Sun Flowers and Banana plants

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The Sunflowers are tall and majestic at Coombe Wood Gardens.

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The sunflower head consists of many tiny flowers called florets. The central ones resemble normal flowers, whereas the outside florets look like yellow petals to produce a “false flower”. After pollination every little flower produces a seed and there are nearly two thousand seeds on one sunflower.

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The seeds are arranged in spirals around 34 in one direction and 55 in the other. You might think that is pretty random but these numbers actually follow the Fibonacci sequence. Every number after the first two is the sum of the two preceding ones: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, etc.

Many other wildflowers can be found in the gardens.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYou will also find Banana Plants at Coombe Woods. The plants do not produce any actual fruit as the weather is still too mild despite our recent heatwaves. But they look majestic and give a tropical feel to the gardens.

A recent article by Monty Don, the TV gardener, in a weekend magazine explained how he grew his banana plants in pots but took them indoors for the winter. Terence the gardener at Coombe Woods says he likes Monty Don and that he talks a  lot of sense. Mind you he added “they have many advisers to ensure their programmes are factually correct”

Back at Coombe Woods, in the autumn the stems are cut back to stumps and wrapped in a hessian sack. A tarpaulin then covers the top to prevent the plants from succumbing to winter frosts

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These stems will be cut back to prepare the plant for the winter

The lavender bushes are also popular in the gardens and are a firm favourite with the bees.

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Easter at Coombe Wood Gardens

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATerence Meredith,  Gardener of the Year in 2013 and the team have excelled in their choice and variety of plants on display in the rockery this Easter. Primulas, Tulips, Pansies, Pink Buttons and even upside down tulips, Coombe Gardens has it all.

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If you are intrigued by the tulips that seem to have been planted upside down  I have covered these plants in a previous blog.

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upside-down tulips

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Happy Easter!

 

 

A week is a long time in the park

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a snowy coombe wood

What a difference a week makes regarding the weather, last Friday snow fell on Coombe Wood Garden. Today at waddon ponds the sun shone and the water was crystal clear.

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The swans were very inquisitive as we stood on the viewing platform. While they may appear contented, the cold snap has caused a dearth of insects and natural algae that the swans feed on.

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The adult swan was even prepared to leave the safety of the water and encroach onto the bank in case we had food to offer.

You should be careful about feeding bread to swans as mouldy bread can kill them and any processed bread is unhealthy. The council parks recommend whole wheat grain in its natural state, not processed, brown rice and  lentils.

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Banana plant in Coombe Woods

Last february when,if you remember, the weather was wet and windy and the mornings were chilly with ground frost, Terence the gardener was nurturing some tiny banana plants in a protective hessian sack.

banana sack

banana sack

Then the sun came out and the first leaves protruded and the stem grew until it became a giant banana plant as you can now see.

banana plant

banana plant

Unfortunately no actual bananas on the tree but a fine specimen .

more banana

more banana

Of course, if you have lived overseas or been on vacation you may know of other examples with actual fruit attached! Please let me know.

i'm a celebrity get me out of here

i’m a celebrity get me out of here!

 

 

Tree down at Coombe Wood gardens

Storm Katie from last night brought down a fir-tree on the edge of Coombe Wood onto conduit lane near the car park. Fortunately nobody was passing by and no cars were damaged.

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Fallen fir-tree in conduit lane

The destructive power of the storm wrenched the base of the tree from the ground, causing large splinters of wood.

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Splintered tree trunk

The storm also brought down trees in Addington Hills and Heathfield as seen below.

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tree down in Addington Hills

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Fallen tree at heathfield

The wet weather can also make walking hazardous as  a woman walking in Heathfield slipped on a grass verge. Croydon Central Parks was nearby and offered tissues and sympathy. Fortunately  the lady was not hurt, only a muddy jacket and injured pride. The skid mark was evident on the ground, so please do take care while walking over wet grass.

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slippery grass

 

Winter garden at Coombe Woods

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Bedding plants including winter pansies at the entrance to the wood

The displays of flowers are always excellent at this wood at anytime of the year. The hardy perennials on display in the beds brought a vivid color to the garden.

I asked Terence Meredith, the resident gardener how the plants would cope with hard ground frosts that had been forecast in the coming week? He reassured me that their bedding plants would be fine and that although the daffodils looked delicate they often appeared early thanks to our milder winters.

cat among dafodils

cat among daffodils

One plant that does require protection from the frosts is the banana plant. Terence has built a wooden box about four-foot tall with a tarpaulin cover to ensure the plant grows steadily, so it can appear majestic when it takes its place in the summer garden.

Banana plant

Banana plant

Exploration of the wood showed that the camellias were in bloom, the bright pink leaves brightening up the wooded path.

camellias in bloom

camellias in bloom and potential for more

Upside Down Tulip

Upside Down Tulip

Upside Down Tulip

I recently spotted this unusual tulip in Coombe Wood Garden . How did the council contract gardeners  get the tulip to grow upside down? Did they have to plant the bulb upside down or turn it around once it had started growing. It looks like it has been ” slam dunked” on the basketball court. I wonder if you have any ideas?

I will have to check with Terence , gardener of the year in 2013 for the official explanation. In the meantime I hope you enjoy the picture. Just in case you might be thinking that I manipulated the image I have included another one with their more regular cousins.

Tulips two upside down

Tulips two upside down

Vote for your favourite park

Gardener of the Year

Coombe Wood  is an ornamental park and it retained its Gold Award in small garden park category in the London in Bloom competition.

The gardens are quite spectacular and are immediately visible when you entered the park. The vibrant floral displays are regularly changed as Croydon council nurseries are located along the same lane . This means in the depths of winter there are still vibrant displays that would normally only be associated with the summer.

Terence Meredith gardener of the year 2013

Terence Meredith gardener of the year 2013

The resident gardener Terence Meredith has been voted gardener of the year in 2013 ( results for 2014 not yet available). Terence modestly told me that without his knowledge his council bosses nominated him for the award at same time as London in bloom competition. Terence always has a friendly word for the many visitors and kindly agreed to this “action photo ” while tending to the many flower beds at Coombe Woods.