The Garden Community for Garden Lovers

Ventnor Botanical Gardens - frost damage


This is a blog to follow on from the one I posted on 26th December – Boxing Day, Winter Warmer………………………….
After walking along the coast between Brook and Compton Bay we decided to visit the Botanical Gardens. I got my membership through on Friday which was great, I will be doing my stint at volunteering on a Wednesday.
The main reason for my visit today was to look at the potential damage dome by the recent frosts and chilly weather, this is not something the Island is used to.
I took nearly 200 photos today, some of the bad casualties, but some of the plants that managed to make it through the weather with great gusto.
Now this has to be in my top 5 plants – a shrub/tree depending on where you grow it, not as fast growing as some of the other varieties, it is Acacia Baileyana Purpurea. It is in full flower with the bright yellow pin-head blooms contrasting beautifully with purply blue foliage

I have 3 of these to put in my back garden when I have done the landscaping.

The next shrub we came across was a spindly, pine round shrub that smelled like a citrus pine. I couldn’t find a label so if anyone can help that would be fantastic

And then I came across this little beauty, the label near it said ‘Freylinia Lancelota’ from the family of plants known as Scrophulariaceae.

Then came some devastation – My husband called me ‘Death goes on Holiday’. If any of you have seen Gary Larson’s DVD/Video of The Far Side then it is on there, very funny
The first sorry looking specimen is Geranium Maderense

These Echium pininana are looking a bit sad as well, but there are plenty more around the gardens that are looking ok.

Like these, they seem to be planted in a spot that suits them better

The Isoplexis are ok? They certainly don’t look as bright as they did in my blog of December 26th, but they have faired better than some of my plants of that blog

The next plant looked fine on Boxing Day

But has really suffered these last few weeks

The next set of sorry looking specimens were the Aeoniums, the large ones at the front of the display have frozen through and drooped, but the ones on the hot rocks seem to have faired pretty well

There is some good news, a tree which wasn’t supposed to survive this was the Norfolk Island Pine – Araucaria heterophylla, but here it is after the awful cold spell with no damage at all

This banana hasn’t faired too well, ours neither, but it is a shame because it had some banana fruit growing on it which is now black :(

These are other plants which I love, they are so structural and prehistoric looking, I have one which is about 1 inch high in the greenhouse!

These Zantedeschias aethiopica looked perky a few weeks ago, but have flopped and are looking a little less appealing

But, I’m holding out hope for the new shoots appearing in the middle of the plants

Next are these salvias, this particular variety ‘confertiflora’ is usually grown as an annual in this country, but i think is does pretty well here usually, the flowers and foliage has frost burn and has turned brown and crusty

Actually this flower doesn’t look that bad!!

And then there was hope for the show of flowers for the Summer, the magnolia grandiflora budding

The happy feeling didn’t last for long i’m afraid, remember the Sparmannia Africana, it was looking gorgeous a couple of weeks ago

This is what it looks like now, what a shame. This is usually grown as a conservatory plant in the UK so I’m not really surprised it has suffered

It was still pretty cold today, but it was about 9 degrees so it was still bizarre that the pond was still frozen solid around the edges. There are usually Koi carp in there, so it was good news that the moving water provided by the fountain in the centre kept a gap in the ice

This was an interesting little plant, on first glimpses it looked like a type of Mimosa, but not so, there were lovely flowers hanging on the ends of the branches, one was a red, I guess Rubra and the other white Alba and the plant was ‘Sollya heterophylla’ a genus of the family Pittosporacaea.

This was a new Brugmansia shoot taken on the 26th December,

But it has been flattened by the frost. Fortunately these plants can be pretty resillient to frost, they will lose all of the top growth but will shoot again from the bottom

Now this was a surprise, I went searching for this because I had seen it on boxing day and I thought it may have been killed by the frost, but nature has again surprised me, this King Protea has a huge bud on it, I think this one will flower this year

But another casualty in the African Garden collection was the Osteospernum, this lines the walk way with huge purple daisy flowers, but it has been hit really hard, not unlike my orange ones

Fascicularia bicolour, still looking ok, mind you it is really sheltered in this spot, all the Agaves and cactus planted here look perfectly ok



Now this is something you would need a lot of room for in the garden, it has an amazing umbrella canopy, not in leaf at present but I can’t wait to see it in the Spring. The amount of time you visit somewhere and totally miss something – even something as big as this lol! It is Zelkova Serrata (Japan)

After the many photos I took of the cactus collection o the 26th December I had to go and look at the beds now. These will really suffer when you get frost, but all in all the damage was minimal, a few of the new flower spikes on the Aloes had frosted and bent over turning to mush but there were others which were doing ok

I wasn’t too concerned about the damage, but the Sparmannia Africanas and Osteospernums formed a vital part of the Africanus garden so I’m not too sure what will happen with those. Simon Goodenough who is the curator at the gardens will I’m sure have the answer. I am going to go there as my first visit as a member on Wednesday so I’ll ask a few questions and see if the staff are concerned about the damage or not.

More blog posts by AndreaRichter

Previous post: Then the wind changed and it warmed up

Next post: Little Robin Friendly as can be, come and take a picture of me



~ Last Winter I had two strelitzias outside wrapped up but not as well as they should have been that looked totally dead on unwrapping~however after about 3/4 months they started to grow again and are now in my heated greenhouse!I lost quite a few outer leaves which were in brown ribbons but we held on hoping and watering and they are now producing leaves~It will need possibly having some of the cut down outer leaves removing eventually to restore the shape~not sure whether the gardens could wait that long?

11 Jan, 2009


What a great pity, Andrea. It's just amazing that some plants, especially the succulents, have survived.

I know that I shall be replacing a lot of plants in the spring. We don't get frosts here, well, not hard ones, usually. I know you told me that the IOW is normally frost-free. The gardeners at the Botanical Gardens must be tearing their hair out!

12 Jan, 2009


Interesting blog Andrea. Many things are hardier than we give them credit for especially if they have deep roots from which to regrow or very well-drained soil. One correction - what you have labelled as sollya is in fact clianthus puniceus from New Zealand. I managed to get it through one winter but lost it the following one. The new growth is beloved of snails and the watering is tricky if you try to overwinter it indoors in a pot

12 Jan, 2009


Thanks Andrew, the gardens aren't very good at labelling stuff. I'm sure there was a Sollya lurking in that bed somewhere and I searched on the plant for the label. I'll let them know on Wednesday, I hope the weather has calmed down a bit

12 Jan, 2009


Sollya heterophylla is a little climber/scrambler (to about six feet) from Australia with blue flowers (known as the bluebell climber); there are also forms with white or pink flowers. It will tolerate about -3C so not quite hardy for me (in a normal winter that is).
The normal form of the clianthus has red flowers but there are also forms with white ones (there is a good one in the gardens at Tresco). It is now extremely rare in the wild

12 Jan, 2009


There were 2 clianthus puniceus one red shown in the picture and one white. The red one was more vigorous thab the white, which looked a bit brow beaten, a lot of the leaves were missing and it certainly wasn't as lush. I am going to see if I can get some cuttings/seeds when I have spent a bit more time at the gardens as a member doing voluntary work, so one of these very rare 'Alba' clianthus puniceus may be winging its way to Devonia. The Sollya heterophylla was 'Alba' so that must be white. I'm not too sure how the gardens view members taking their own seeds, but they do have a team of seed gatherers and cleaners so I could always ask them. I will upload a picture of the white clianthus puniceus on my profile.

12 Jan, 2009


Andrea, it's too soon to tell if the Norfolk island Pine has been damaged by the recent weather. Problems do not show up immediately on most conifers, wait till the early summer when the plant tries to start growing again, then you will see for sure how well it has coped or not.

12 Jan, 2009


loved your garden has suffered the same sort of damage. we will have to wait and see what survives...

14 Jan, 2009


Great blog, my wife and i visited the gardens in August for the first time and have been wondering how it has been coping with the fierce winter this year. Your pictures are great and they coincide with quite a few I took on our Summer visit showing the previous beauty now slightly hammered. Anyway, the plant you have enquired about I think is a Grevillea 'Canberra Gem'
That's what it looks like to me although it might not be. In spring it would have lots of pinky red flowers, very pretty
however a little spikey!

Hopefully the Acacia Baileyana Purpurea in ypur photo will be ok, it looks stunning. I have a Acacia Dealbata Delois Astier (green) which has gone brown in the recent harsh frosts in Surrey, also an Acacia longifolia which has also had it. Although strangely, the Acacia pravissima doesn't look bothered at all in spite of being supposedly more tender??

We will be returning to Ventnor in the spring to see how it has progressed.

12 Feb, 2009


You will have to let me know when you are over so I can meet you there.

12 Feb, 2009


I would like to add a short blog to this subject, if we want less damage from frost we should learn a little about it, moste damage is dun through frost being traped in the garden, it moves across your garden like the tide coming in then it reaches a wall or fence and is stoped so builds up layer on layer, if there are bricks missed near the bottom of the wall or holes in the fence the worst of the frost will funel through leaveing less frost to do damage if the ground is open and there is a breeze verry little damage is dun,because the frost is not allowed to settle.

26 Jan, 2010


Cliffo, this is a Botanical Gardenin Ventnor on the Isle of Wight, it is a little bigger than your bog standard fence surrounded back garden.
Your information is useful though, perhaps you should write your own blog on it.

26 Jan, 2010


A really interesting blog Andrea, good pictures too :-)

26 Jan, 2010


many thanks for sharing this. I have just logged on for the first time!
As a published writer I appreciate your relaxed style and all the info you
have shared. Kepp going!

14 Mar, 2010

Add a comment

Featured on

Recent posts by AndreaRichter

Members who like this blog

  • Gardening with friends since
    29 Mar, 2008

  • Gardening with friends since
    10 Nov, 2008

  • Gardening with friends since
    9 Apr, 2008

  • Gardening with friends since
    12 Feb, 2009

  • Gardening with friends since
    9 Aug, 2009

  • Gardening with friends since
    20 May, 2009