About alex101weather

My work background is in operational meteorology and in my career I have been involved in forecasting for everything from bananas to jumbo jets.I joined the Met Office 1974 as an observer at Glasgow Airport. After training as a forecaster, I worked as an Operational aviation forecaster at various defence sites and airports. In 1982, I moved to Glasgow Weather Centre as a forecaster and STV broadcaster till 1988. He then took up a post as Senior Forecaster London Weather Centre, then Senior Forecaster ITV where I qualified as a trainer in presentation techniques for the ITV Association. After being diagnosed with MS, he moved into management and became Head of London Weather Centre in 1997 followed by a period of front-line management for Southern England and Europe covering London and Cardiff Weather Centres and the Met Offices on defence stations from Akrotiri in Cyprus to St Mawgan in Cornwall. He took up the post of Met Office Chief Advisor for Scotland & Northern Ireland in March 2008 and moved to Edinburgh. I retired in September 2014. My one claim to fame is once performed a comedy sketch on TV with Manuel (Andrew Sachs) from Fawlty Towers in support of Comic Relief.

Fabulous New Flowering in the Garden!

As April drew to a close several of the Friends noticed a strange new flowering in the Garden. The rhubarb plant, which was planted as a gift over 15 years ago, had begun to flower for the first time. Pictures were sent to the staff at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh who responded with some interesting information.

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Information from Dr. Greg Kenicer Botanist at the RBGE

“The plant looks like Rheum palmatum – Chinese ornamental rhubarb, with the cut leaves and that deep purple flush. That makes the flowerhead that lovely vivid red.

I think because they produce such a big flowerhead, that a lot of rhubarbs take quite a time to mature (several years). Other things that do that are often biennial – they just flower once then run out of food reserves. Rhubarbs as perennials probably need to build up reserves under the ground so they don’t burn themselves out. Following this, they can flower year on year. 20 years is a long maturation period, but you can think of it as a literal late bloomer!

Lots of factors can affect the flowering, so it may not flower again for a bit, but it depends.

It may be the nice warm spell we’ve just had that triggered it to flower for the first time.

Sometimes if they have a shock it makes them flower, and conversely, if they’re very content, with loads of organic matter and a good bit of mulch, they’ll flower. A tad unpredictable, but now it has the hang of it, it should do so again.

You can dead-head them, or leave it on for a bit of architectural stuff through the winter”.

Before lockdown started the Friends were working with RBGE to install a plaque explaining the relevance of this plant to the site. Obviously the plaque has been delayed but will read as follows:

Rhubarb on Prescription

ln the 18th century rhubarb was highly valued for its medicinal qualities, when it was used as a purgative. lmported from central Asia at great cost, there was a desire to find a high quality variety which could be grown in Britain and would have the same properties. John Hope, Regius Keeper of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh from 1761 untll 1786, was determined to cultivate a suitable alternative to the expensive foreign plants. Through a contact who worked at the St Petersburg Physic Garden in Russia, Hope was sent the seed of Rheum palmatum. Soon he had it growing in Edinburgh, with 3,OOO plants in a field next to the Botanic Garden. He showed that the roots of the plant had the same medicinal effects as the imported variety. In 1782 he proclaimed that ‘now scarcely a garden in Scotland is without a rhubarb plant in it, the consumption of foreign rhubarb is considerably less, and annually a small quantity is sent to London’. The rhubarb that we grow domestically today is of uncertain hybrid origin and is cultivated for culinary rather than medicinal use.


Do have a look next time you are in the Garden; it might be a while before it flowers again!