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New Gardens in Britain & Saudi Arabia plus Rudbeckia ‘Herbstsonne’
by Art Drysdale
by Art Drysdale


Art Drysdale, a life-long resident of Toronto and a horticulturist well known all across Canada, is now a resident of Parksville, British Columbia on Vancouver Island, just north of Nanaimo. He has reno-vated an old home and has a new garden there. His radio gardening vignettes are heard in south-western Ontario over radio station Easy 101 FM out of Tillsonburg at 2 PM weekdays.

Art also has his own website at

March 16, 2014

Above, part of the Archivist’s Garden in Edinburgh, Scotland; Potters Fields Park in downtown London—a view from famous Tower Bridge; the Beijing Central Park, in China; and the plan for Berlin, Germany’s Templehof Airport which will become one of the most modern parks in the world. As it happens I well remember flying into Templehof in August 1963 Photos by Gross Max. Below, Rudbeckia ‘Herbstsonne or ‘Sun King’ growing at the Parksville Museum, photo by Louise Wall; and another shot of Rudbeckia ‘Herbstsonne’.

A New Botanic Gardens (called The Mallards) on Britain’s Isle of Man to break new ground this spring; plus another new garden in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; new pathways in parks may glow in the future without electricity; and one of my favourite perennials Rudbeckia ‘Herbstsonne’!

According to Mathew Appleby, writing in the Friday, March 7th issue of the British Horticultural trade journal Hort-Week, “work is due to start in spring on a 32 ha (79 acre) botanic gardens funded by billionaire South African philanthropist Mark Shuttleworth. The multi-million pound botanic gardens landscape development funded by an astronaut has been granted planning consent.

“The Mallards landscape development works on the Isle of Man will start this spring. The scheme will feature landscape architects and designers of international importance. Billionaire businessman and philanthropist Mark Shuttleworth, who was the first South African to go into space, is privately funding the botanic garden.

“Richmond Square Design submitted the initial plans to the Isle of Man Government but Gross Max has come up with a final-version master-plan, which has now secured consent from planners on the Isle of Man. [Gross Max is an Edinburgh-based landscape architectural firm considered to be the leaders in the field currently. I have included some photos of their work internationally.] Garden designers Sarah Price and Shunmyo Masuno are also involved in the project.

“Mark Shuttleworth's head gardener Andrew Inglis, previously head gardener at [the British Royal Family’s] Balmoral Castle, is working with the developers on the project. Features for the proposed garden include a Japanese garden, water cascade, boglands, wetlands, a lake, a Manx glen and an orchard.

“Andrew Inglis and David Mitchell from Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh hope to ‘change the face of botanic gardens in the 21st century regarding new techniques’.

“Andrew Inglis explained that the Mallards will be a garden with botanical content rather than a botanical garden. He added: ‘One aim of the project is to look at aspects of botanical gardens to see if they can be developed like interpretation and the delivery of information, wider access to data and how plant groupings are provided for education and enjoyment.’

“Plants will be sourced through other botanic gardens and from specialist nurseries. He said heavy works will take five years and ‘establishment 50 years’.

“Andrew Inglis said: ‘This will highlight the importance private funding plays. When funding is available it makes things a lot more streamlined and direct as opposed to having to raise funds in the first place. He added: ‘While the funding is private and the overall cost is considerable, I still need to acknowledge the capital and management expenditures. Conservation education has driven a lot of this and that's why access is being considered in the design.’

“Background work has already started, with civil engineering beginning in May. The garden will be open to the public by invitation, for interested parties and on set occasions each year.”

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Saudi Arabia is set to lay the foundation stone for the King Abdullah International Gardens in Riyadh this month, with plans for the facility set to include the world's largest botanical gardens. At 2.5 million square metres (617 acres), it will be five times the size of Cornwall's Eden Project [in the south of England].

* * *

Plans have been unveiled for a glow-in-the-dark path in a west London park.

Hammersmith and Fulham [Borough] Council will use a spray-on coating to light up the main route through William Parnell Park in Fulham.

The Starpath will work by absorbing UV rays during the day and releasing them at night, creating a blue glow.

The council said the changes would improve safety without the need for "costly and intrusive lighting".

Councillor Nicholas Botterill said: "As well as improving safety by lighting up one of our less well-lit parks, Starpath is environmentally sound, with no ongoing energy costs or light pollution - and it breathes new life into old pathways."

The Starpath will cost around £24,700 ($45,536 Cdn.) and is due to be installed next month.

* * *

Just to close off this week, I wanted to write a little bit about a perennial that we do not now grow, but which I intend to grow starting this year. My friend Louise Wall who grows it calls it Rudbeckia ‘Herbstsonne’ but some other growers spell it slightly differently: R. ‘Herbstonne’. It also goes by another cultivar name: R. ‘Autumn Sun’. Here is what the Valleybrook (Heritage Perennials) people have to say about it.

“An outstanding hybrid selection of Coneflower, this plant forms a tall, monstrous clump that looms perfectly at the back of a sunny border. Huge daisy flowers appear in summer, with chrome-yellow petals drooping gracefully from a long greenish central cone. Although usually self-supporting, this may require staking in especially rich garden soils. Excellent for cutting. Clumps may be easily divided in early spring. Powdery mildew will be less of a problem if plants are grown in moist soil. Flowers are attractive to butterflies.”

If you take the time to check on the Web, you’ll likely note that some people don’t like the plant because they think it is too aggressive. But if that should turn out to be the case for you I should add that several folks I know who grow this plant do agree that though it does spread through underground roots, these may quite easily be chopped out with a garden spade or shovel.

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