Christmas time and midwinter, originally a celebration of reaching the darkest day of the year; well done everyone! After 22nd December the days slowly begin to lengthen and we start the journey towards spring; of course, the winter solstice isn’t the middle of winter in the same way that midnight isn’t really the middle of the night (unless you get up at four in the morning!), lighter days feel a long way away at the moment. I can only imagine in days gone by the huddling around fires and candles during these weeks, slowly working through food stores while the days shrunk towards the solstice. (more…)
By Susan Stephens
As autumn approaches winter, the flamboyant colours of the flowers in the garden recede and the fiery colours of the leaves together with the black, white, red, purple and yellow of berries and fruits come to the fore.
The Medlar (Mespilus germanica) is a small tree overlooking the pool below the terrace and at this time of year is covered in small golden fruits. The appearance of the fruit has led to it being likened to a dog’s bottom or the ruder French version ‘cul de chien’! Despite its name the Medlar is endemic to Persia (Iran), South East Asia and South West Europe and not Germany. The Romans and Greeks are thought to have grown Medlars and brought them to Britain and it is believed that they have been in cultivation for longer than 3,000 years. The fruit was a delicacy in Britain in Medieval times and a winter treat before sugar was discovered, as well as an important source of Vitamin C when very few other fruits would have been available. The Medlar’s popularity declined in the Victorian era as other fruits became more popular. (more…)
I love this time of year, it may be my favourite time of year although, I do say that in spring… and summer, winter would be stretching it though. Autumn is a cosy summer shutdown, the reservoirs fill up, the trees wind up for the year with fiery leaves falling with the raindrops and as other birds quieten down, robins and crows are the loudest singers in the Garden. The sun is lower in the sky, and when it does emerge it works in partnership with the plants that start to flower now. (more…)
I am a recent Maths and Physics graduate from the University of Bristol, and during my studies I volunteered once a week at the University of Bristol Botanic Garden. Whilst volunteering, I gained valuable experience working as part of a team and considerable knowledge about exotic and unusual plants; but most importantly I developed strong and valuable friendships with the team of staff and volunteers. This support network and opportunity offered the respite I needed to cope with my university studies, and ongoing problems I was facing outside of university. The University Botanic Garden is a tranquil and relaxing environment that everyone should have the chance to enjoy, as a visitor or volunteer, as a plant lover or not. (more…)