‘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.
When I’m out and about outside work, and people ask what I do, and I tell them I work in a Botanic Garden, the most common next question is, what IS a Botanic Garden? I answer my stock response, a museum with living exhibits, but this reply just scratches the surface of what a Botanic Garden really is in the 21st century.
The more accurate answer to this question is that a Botanic Garden is many things, we are at our core a living museum, a curated collection of significant species; but surrounding this core are layers that create a life and vibrancy, each as important as each other. (more…)
May is monstrous, in a good way. An unstoppable surge of green enveloping everything, gunnera leaves fighting their way from the earth like zombies and the croziers of tree ferns unwinding like the kraken from sea water. This beast like energy is on our side, scaring away spring and winter back to the past where it now belongs, the power of nature is never felt more intensely. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “there is potent blood in modest May”. (more…)
There’s nothing like watching nature mark off the times of the year, like familiar landmarks of a train journey to a favourite place, we know we’re moving away from winter when we see magnolias flower. The last time they flowered we couldn’t have known the year we had in store until they bloomed again, but here we are a year later and there they are with a comforting familiarity that the seasons bring, but for magnolias, they’ve seen it all before. (more…)