Botanic Garden talk for Lunar New Year Festival of the Ox

By Alice Maltby

Join the Botanic Garden and Bristol Museum and Art Gallery in an Online Festival of music, dance, talks, craft activities, storytelling, meditation, yoga and more. Events will take place during 16 – 23 February 2021.

According to the Chinese Zodiac people born in a year of the Ox are honest, trustworthy, diligent, dependable, strong and determined.

The Festival is in partnership with Avon Chinese School, BESEA TV, Bristol & Avon Chinese Women’s Group, Bristol & West of England China Bureau, Bristol Shaolin Wushu Academy, Bristol Wutan, North Somerset Inter-Cultural Dance Association, South Gloucestershire Chinese Association and University of Bristol Botanic Garden. (more…)

Come back pine needles …….

By Alice Maltby

“Joyful Christmas” by Viggo Johansen (1891)
A tree in the house is a highlight of childhood.

I adore real Christmas trees. I fully understood people’s need for bringing out their decorations early last year but we maintained our tradition of having a real tree in mid December even though they seem to be more expensive every year. The scent of pine needles is an integral part of Christmas but this year, instead of our preferred pine tree, we had to buy a ‘no-drop’ Nordman as that was all that was left. (more…)


Usually after a year in the Garden, in the period of the shortest day, we take stock of the year gone, the successes and the things that didn’t work so well; then we plan for the year ahead, events and courses that we can put on, what projects will be undertaken and completed in the year to come. Midwinter is a steppingstone that we use to elegantly hop from one year to the next, but this year it seems more significant. None of us have experienced a year like this before, everyone has been affected in some way and the Botanic Garden is no different. (more…)

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…)