The Garden Blog

Magical plants of the Summer Solstice

By Susan Stephens

Summer is officially here! The first day of summer in the UK was on 21st June, the summer solstice, which is when the sun reaches its highest point in the sky and it is also the longest day. Summer solstice has always been linked with plants and flowers as it is a time of fertility, abundance and growth.


Seasonal succession.

By Andy Winfield

There’s something about May. It’s an incredibly uplifting month, particularly when there’s been a longer than usual winter; a very wet march and an icy easterly wind has kept the dregs of winter sloshing around up until the end of April. The sun’s position in the sky meant that the usual spring triggers applied for the likes of primroses, daffodils and tulips, but the temperature and wet weather meant that pollinators were out in dribs and drabs, a day on and a day off. Even my usually optimistic approach wavered and my bottom lip stuck out. But now the temperature is higher, Bristol is bright green again and plants are assertively growing from everywhere. (more…)

The unstoppable flowers of Spring

Small white tree blossom of Prunus incisa, with small water droplets.
Prunus incisa, the Fuji cherry

By Andy Winfield

Winter has had its grip on us for a what seems like ten months here in Bristol. The temperature has stayed low for the West Country and we’re all looking forward to those early Spring sunshine days and the first warmth on our faces; winter dissolves into the past when that happens. Winter is not without its beauty, but leaving the thermals at home is a marker for warm days ahead. In the Garden plants are keeping to the spring timetable, the light levels prompting early flower. (more…)

Altered carbon: the catastrophe of coal

Old black and white image of a coal miner in shorts and vest drilling a seam of black coal.
Coal mining in the UK in 1942.

By Andy Winfield

In early November this year, myself and my wife went to the Welsh National Coal Museum also known as the Big Pit. It’s a great visit, looking at the working practices over the years of digging up this material that’s been locked underground since the Carboniferous period. Part of the experience is to go down into the mines, down in the lift, and look at the coal seams. The walls of glittery blackness were shimmering under the light of our head torches. We learned how coal is hard to get to, it requires a lot of ingenuity and effort to get it back to the surface; a surface that it hasn’t seen for many millions of years. Due to its importance in feeding the insatiable monster called progress, coal was a huge industry for many years; an industry we now know with certainty was a driver in changing the planet’s climate. But what is coal, and why is it so bad? (more…)