Cacti are interesting plants and a bit strange; some look like they could hoik themselves out of the ground and lumber around with spiny arms flailing, and others like they’ve just landed, and a door will slowly hiss open unleashing a thousand tiny aliens. They used to be something we only saw in Western movies, an indication of an arid landscape, usually accompanied by a lone rider with chapped lips shielding eyes from the sun. There’s been a resurgence in recent times, a lot of care and love is being heaped on these fascinating and unusual plants in houses around the country. It’s about time they received the attention they deserve; they’re one of the plant world’s many success stories, settling comfortably in the harshest environments with ingenious adaptations. (more…)
When we think of conifers many things spring to mind. The tall straight evergreen woodlands, North American giants, a festive winter addition to the house or Cypress punctuating Mediterranean skies; pinecones sitting in the crook of a tree or resinous smells drifting in a cool still air. These are all true of conifers, but let’s give some love to deciduous conifers, some of the shining stars of autumn. (more…)
‘Survival of the fittest’ is a phrase used to describe the natural world; the spoils are to be won and the strongest live on. Life is more complicated than this, and there are many lives that endure through building partnerships and being good neighbours. New discoveries are being made all the time about the adaptations that organisms make to survive. Many of these discoveries are in the plant world; our understanding of reciprocal relationships between plants, animals and fungi is growing all the time and perhaps the natural world is more companionable than we originally thought. There are brutal elements, but all the while connections are being made, trades agreed, and reciprocal back scratching develops, aka ecological mutualism.
The Garden is open again and we’re all looking forward to seeing visitors back, and they’ll be back in time to catch the optimism of spring throughout the displays. Tulips in the Mediterranean, magnolias in the family beds and ruffled new leaves clambering out of buds and stretching into action. They’ll also see carpets of flowers that we didn’t plant, they were here before the Botanic Garden and maybe before whatever was before the Botanic Garden; they’re Anemone nemerosa otherwise known as wood anemones. (more…)