This year will see the West Lawn of the British Museum transformed by an array of stunning trees, flowers and grasses from Canada and the USA. Steve Ruddy and Tony Hall have been busy getting things ready.
From Australia to North America
Once again we have taken to our conceptual aeroplane and this year flown across the world from Australia to North America. As usual we have set ourselves a daunting task, representing the flora and landscape of the United States and Canada in one of our favourite places: the West Lawn of the British Museum. This will be no mean feat!
Last year's Australia Landscape at the British Museum
Getting hold of the plants
Obtaining the plants for this new landscape has been a little less of a challenge than usual as most of those we have chosen are hardy in the UK. Having said that, getting hold of some of them isn’t quite as easy as you may think! For instance where do you find 1000 insect eating monsters (Sarracenia) that live in a wetland?
Pitcher plant (Sarracenia purpurea) at Kew Gardens
And where do you get 6 m tall trees that can breathe underwater (Taxodium)?
Bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) at Kew Gardens
Luckily at Kew we know a few people who grow these fantastic plants here in the UK and we managed to order them early on in our planning stages. Many of our plants have been specially grown for us, such as those that will feature in the 'prairie' section of our Landscape: sweet grass (Hierochloe), coneflower (Echinacea) and the New England aster.
Some of the Canadian plants were tricky to find, such as the paper birch (Betula papyrifera).
Discovering the beauty of ‘fall’ colour
In November last year, Tony and I travelled to Boston, Massachusetts, to meet with the Arnold Arboretum staff and visit the ‘Garden in the Woods’, a native garden run by the New England Wildflower Society.
View of Boston from the top of St Peters hill, the highest point in the arboretum
Whilst we were there we took some time to experience the autumn or ‘fall’ colour. The trees in Boston change from greens to vibrant colours throughout the yellow and red spectrum creating a stunning visual feast.
Taking a cue from this landscape we have chosen, to name but a few, maples (Acers), tulip trees (Liriodendron), and ash (Fraxinus) to recreate our own ‘fall’ at the British Museum. We have agreed to leave the landscape in for a little longer than usual as the colours can be best enjoyed from mid-October to early November.
White ash (Fraxinus americana) at Kew Gardens showing 'fall' colour
Our next blog will be direct from the forecourt, as we greet the plants on their arrival. Fingers crossed for their safe delivery – and some good weather too!
- Steve and Tony -
- Visit the North America Landscape at the British Museum
- Find out more about the carnivorous pitcher plant (Sarracenia purpurea)
- About the 2011 Australia Landscape at the British Museum
About Steve, Tony and Richard
Steve Ruddy is Manager of the Garden Development Unit, and is responsible for concept design, planning and delivery of a diverse range of projects, services and activities at Kew.
Tony Hall is responsible for Kew’s Arboretum, managing the globally important plant collections and heritage landscape. Expert in all aspects of plant growth and care, Tony manages the Arboretum Nursery ensuring the collections are safe guarded for the future. You can find out more about his work by following the Arboretum team blog.
Richard Wilford is the Collections Manager in the Hardy Display Section at Kew. His responsibilities include both nursery collections and collections on public display such as the Alpine plants, Grass Garden, Woodland and Rock Garden, and Order Beds at Kew. Richard also frequently contributes to the Alpine and Rock Garden team blog.
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