Weekend work party

As a member of the curatorial team my role includes covering the weekend rota - the duties involved are quite different to my normal job...

For me the experience is often an interesting one. Last weekend was my turn and, together with my colleague, we set about our tasks. Our first point of call is the glasshouse where we record the temperatures (minimum and maximum) of the previous day, both inside and outside the glasshouse. 

We then lift the covers up on the propagation units to allow air to circulate around the cuttings that have been taken from tender perennials for next year’s summer display such as Verbena ‘Claret’ and Salvia ‘Christine Yeo’. The covers remain open just for a couple of hours so we make a note to close them before we have our break.
Capiscum annuum var. annuum 'Prairie Fire'Currently the glasshouse is full of chilli plants grown in pots in preparation for display at our Chilli Pepper weekend on 27 and 28 September. The ripened fruits of all shapes and sizes are a colourful mixture of green, red, yellow, orange and purple. Even if chillies do not suit your palette they are brilliant ornamental plants. One of my favourites is Capsicum annuum ‘Pinocchio’s Nose’ with its long fruit that turns up at the end giving it that distinct character, and for me it is not too hot. Capsicum annuum ‘Prairie Fire’ is interesting for its growth habit where the fruit grows above the foliage.

Capsicum annuum 'Pinocchio's Nose'Well, all these wonderful chilli plants need a good dose of water so that is our next job in the glasshouse. We then walk down to the nursery area and on the way we appreciate the early morning peace and quiet. We record the temperatures in both polytunnels and another one outside plus we take a reading of any rainfall. At the nursery the polytunnel housing tender plants, and both shade tunnels, require watering by hand. Before leaving we open the gate to the vegetable plot ready for visitors.

Our next location isRHS Hyde Hall's children's play area on the other side of the garden so we load up a vehicle with brooms, bucket, dustpan and brush and head off to the children’s play area where we first have to check the play equipment including the play tower and picnic benches for any problems. This task is completed in time for the morning brief with the Deputy Manager and other staff at the Visitors’ Centre. Our brooms are put into use in the eastern and southern courtyards where we tidy up before visitors arrive.
Morning weekend tasks completed, we head back up the hill, remembering to close the propagation covers before our welcome coffee break!

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The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.