Friday, 18 September 2015

Some Love for our Botanic Gardens

Botanic gardens, be they large or small, pull me towards them like a bee is drawn to nectar. These, often ancient, gardens with their collections of often rare, and always magical plants speak volumes not just about the British love of plants and gardens but also about the history of plants in the UK, the way they were collected and eventually planted out. Many a collector sent their finds back to Kew, or another of our world renowned botanic gardens, and those gardens would sow the seeds, nurture the plants and then offer out the propagation of these plants to nurserymen. The plants we take forgranted as being the backbone of our gardens began their life in the country being looked after by these incredible places.
Bristol has a wonderful botanic garden, that today sits just north of the Downs in the garden of one of the University of Bristol's Halls of Residence. It has moved here quite recently from another site and it is proof of the brilliance of the team who work there, both paid and voluntarily, that it looks as though it has been there forever. The garden has 4 core collections, Evolution, Mediterranean, Local Flora and Rare Natives and Useful Plants and these can be seen used over a selection of gardens that include a herb garden, a Chinese Medicine Garden, beautiful herbaceous borders that are set out to show which plants are pollinated by which insects, or indeed small mammals in some cases, as well as sections based on the evolutionary collection and the collection of plants native to Bristol and it's surrounding area.
It also has amazing glass houses with a National Collection of Lotus, which are beyond beautiful and offer an ethereal beauty to a glasshouse that also house the Victoria Amazonica waterlily and a huge collection of Nepenthes.
But, like every botanic garden in the UK and probably worldwide, it is being squeezed by budget cuts and constantly is having to fight to survive. It's well documented that Kew's budget is always under threat but so are the budgets of the majority of these gardens, as few universities actually use them as a resource hence their constant fight for survivial.
So what can you do to help? Well make sure you know where your local botanic garden is and use it!! So many people I speak to about the Bristol Botanic Garden are completely unaware of it's existence and I imagine the same is the case for many. Visit, become a member or a friend, go to their events or even volunteer to help in the garden or in some other way. An hour helping them once a week with marketing or admin releases someone else to raise precious funds or other do other vital roles that are less easy to find volunteers to cover.
Here are a few photos of Bristol Botanic Garden that I took at their recent Bee and Pollinators Festival.
 The Amazon waterlilies with the Lotus plants growing above them are quite beautiful in the tropical glasshouse.
 Always good to see a bee buzzing around at a Bee and Pollinator festival!!
 This is a custard apple and it was growing in the Native American Food Garden on which there will be a full post soon.
The wonderful bird of Paradise plants, which in their native countries are pollinated by sunbirds.

No comments:

Post a Comment