The thin veil of autumn

Summer is well and truly behind us, a summer unlike any that we’ve had before, and winter is ahead; we’re at the conduit between the seasons, a junction that was highly significant to our ancestors in what we now call Halloween.

Halloween hasn’t always been Halloween,  it used to be called Samhain, pronounced sow-inn, originating from Celtic Paganism. The dying of the season, trees going dormant and harvest behind them, was thought to be the time of the year when the veil between the living and dead was at its thinnest; because of this relatives and friends who had passed that year were invited to share in the festivities, food was left around in case they were passing through. It was a time of honouring the dead, a time of the celebration of life and death and the link between the two. The symbolism of the passing of summer into the darker days of winter is hard to ignore; the trees display echoes of the summer just gone which fall to the ground, you can stand looking one way and see the vibrancy and health of summer and the other to see the desolate beauty of winter ahead. Fires were lit to symbolise the warmth and light of the sun and people would take the flames of this bonfire back to their homes to light their home fires from the communal one, cementing their reliance on each other. In the homes rosemary, the herb of remembrance, would be displayed wafting its evocative scent. (more…)

Four months without you.

It’s been four months without you, the visitors, students, University staff and members of the Garden; four months maintaining a Garden without volunteers, just each other and wildlife for company. Without doubt we’ve all missed you. Missed when the sun shines and people are walking around, some pointing some ambling with their hands behind their backs (also my own chosen method of garden viewing), some sitting with eyes closed feeling the warmth and listening to the chatter of birds around them.  On days like this we feel a sense of Gardening for a purpose, when visitors have had an hour away from their usual existence in the company of plants, or taken away new facts and knowledge about the plant world that they’ll forget until that pub quiz, or time has run away from them and its suddenly four o’clock; these all make our work worthwhile. The Garden was built for people to view and without people here it feels a little eerie. (more…)

Curator’s live tour 1/7/20

Here is the latest live tour in the Garden which took place on 1st July; Nick discusses pollination including the evolutionary adaptations of flower colour and shape, the native grassland and the importance of knapweed and yellow rattle, and the plants of the Mediterranean Maquis.

We apologise for the low sound quality in this video, but there should be enough to enjoy the tour!