‘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.
It was Georgia O’Keefe who said, ‘When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for the moment’. It’s worth doing this, nature is captivating close up; perfectly packaged and clinically efficient, each flower has an adapted shape and look gleaned over hundreds of thousands of years for maximum productivity. This economy of engineering uses patterns and shapes that are repeated again and again throughout the natural world and dotted all around the Botanic Garden. (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…)
By Helen Roberts
Nothing quite captures the Christmas mood more than seeing a beautifully decorated Christmas tree. Whether you choose to adorn one yourself or not, the Christmas tree is decorated and celebrated in many different countries and different nations have their own favourite species. (more…)