By Andy Winfield
So, we’re at 2024, which seems a bit weird. 2020 seemed like it would never end, and now time is swishing by. Marking duration with dates and times is now baked into our way of existing; getting somewhere by a certain hour and organising an event for a particular date is how our lives work. St Augustine wrote in 400AD “No time is wholly present, all time is forced on by the future”. That was said a long time ago, and that idea has only accelerated. Humans today, myself included, are constantly looking ahead to the next thing, squeezing ever onwards. But what about now? What about the present? In the natural world, and the Botanic Garden, there are moments that aren’t defined by our perceptions of time; these moments give us opportunities to disembark the time train for a moment, and observe what’s happening right now, in the present. (more…)
By Andy Winfield
After winter, the ground slowly wakes up in increments; snowdrops and hellebores in January, crocus in February. By March we’re looking up at magnolias and cherries, down at daffodils and forward to longer days and warmer temperatures. The old spring favourites quicken our heartbeat, but I’m going to talk about an understated gem at the Botanic Garden. This is a plant that I look forward to seeing every year; you could easily walk its path without noticing, as it produces flower low to the ground while everyone is looking elsewhere. One of those plants that when you’ve seen it one year you look out for it again, until it becomes like greeting an old friend who always seems happy to see you. (more…)
By Helen Roberts
The peony has undeniably beautiful flowers, from the perfect spherical bud giving a hint of the petal colour underneath to the rapid unfurling of immense blooms. Even the foliage is attractive, particularly towards the end of the season when they readily take on autumnal tints.
I admire them in gardens that are not my own for I have never grown peonies, the tree nor the herbaceous species. The flowers, although staggeringly large and of sublime colours and subtle scents, are too short lived for my own small garden. After all peonies need space. However, I am looking forward to the development of a new peony garden in the University of Bristol Botanic Garden. It will form part of a new ‘Culture’ display, which is being implemented this year with the help of the Chinese Garden co-ordinator, Tony Harrison, who is a traditional Chinese herbalist. (more…)