As spring approaches, photosynthesis will gather pace. It is the miraculous process by which green plants weave sunlight together with water and carbon dioxide to make the carbohydrates and starches that form the basic food supply for all living things. Scientists still do not fully understand how it works. In the BBC 4 television programme, ‘Botany: a Blooming History’, Timothy Walker explained that scientists are trying to mimic photosynthesis in the lab, with the aim of creating new kinds of clean fuels. The plant world is truly amazing – so visit New Lanark Roof Garden and be inspired!
In flower in February – Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis).
Thus Robert Burns in 1785 described an autumn gale in his poem, The Cotter’s Saturday Night. In fact, November 2011 began with fine weather, but the effect of the wind is an important design consideration for any roof garden. The lovely Switch Grass (Panicum Virgatum) ‘Heavy Metal’, for example, was chosen for New Lanark Roof Garden because it can withstand windy conditions.
Another strong plant, the stately Cardoon (Cynara cardunculus) flowered late with big, purple, thistle-like blooms. Related to the artichoke, cardoon was popular as a vegetable in Victorian times. Rudbeckia’s star-shaped daisy heads add a splash of bright yellow against the muted autumn colours.
A robin has been foraging in the flowerbeds and singing his half-wistful song in the trees outside New Lanark Roof Garden. And from the valley comes the low growl of the River Clyde in spate.
In flower in November – Japanese anemones, Rudbeckia ‘Herbstonne’, cardoon.
New Lanark Roof Garden is now bursting with an amazing variety of seed pods. Waving like hair in the wind are the white seedheads of Feather Grass (Stipa tenuissima). Geranium seed cases look like tiny stork’s bills, while Clematis produces fluffy white seeds that disperse into the air like dandelion clocks.
In flower in October – Japanese anemone ‘Honorine Jobert’, penstemon ‘Amelia Jane’, liatris spicata, rudbeckia ‘Herbstonne’, purple anemones, astilbe, great burnet, heather ‘Silver Knight’.