Many thanks to our super colleague Martine Borge, the Scottish Native Plant Horticulturist here at the Botanics, for hosting a group of residents from Wardie Bay Resident Association today. We had a really interesting visit to the Nursery and learned about collecting and growing Scottish Native wildflowers from seed.
First off, we had a special behind-the-scenes tour of the polytunnels at the nursery, and heard about Martine’s work to protect and conserve rare Scottish plants. We particularly enjoyed hearing about RBGEs work growing and researching alpine blue sow thistle, cicerbita aplina. You can read more here. The group were also interested to see some Arran whitebeams, sorbus arranensis, grown at RBGE which are soon to be planted at Wardie Bay along the new cycle path installed by the City of Edinburgh Council.
Then, we had a lesson in growing native plants from seed. Martine had collected some plants which had gone to seed such as Scots lovage, black knapweed, water avens and meadow cranesbill. We learned how best to collect the seed from the plant (and also wasted lots of time having a look at how intricate the seeds are under a hand lens!), the rules for collecting responsibly, how to make our own paper envelopes for storing seed (as this is better for the seed than using plastic), how to prepare compost, fill up seed trays, sow our seeds, top with grit to protect from frost and even how best to water our seeds once sown – who knew we’d been using watering cans wrong all these years?!
We wish the Wardie Bay Residents Association well in going on to grown their own wildflowers! There are lots of interesting plants at the beach at Wardie (as discovered on our wildflower walk in the summer) from which they can collect seed. We’ll be keeping in touch with them over the coming months and look forward to working with them again to introduce some of their seedlings to their local area.