A tree from across the sea

Four men are holding a cross pole; the pole is attached to a large tree which is being lowered into a planting hole.

This month an extraordinary thing happened; a man called Joerma Biernath and his team sailed a World War 2 training boat containing a tree (and a barrel of gin, naturally) 600 miles from Hannover in Saxony to the UK. This tree now has pride of place here in the Botanic Garden, planted by the sailors themselves, North Sea salt in their hair and now Bristol soil under their fingernails.

The tree is Cornus mas or Cornelian Cherry, a rare plant in Lower Saxony; the sailors have planted it outside our Welcome Lodge where it will live as a symbol of the bond between cities. In early spring it produces small bright yellow flowers at a time when flashes of brightness are such a welcome sight after a long dark winter. (more…)

Birds of the Botanic Garden

Long tailed tit taking off from a branch; its wings are open and its looking directly at the camera.
Long tailed tit.

As long as there have been gardens there have been birds in gardens; as gardeners we’re continuing the long relationship that will ever end. There may be some ups and downs, pigeons pecking seedlings or fruit bushes stripped; but on the whole gardeners and garden birds have a bond that goes deep. Here’s how I see some of the birds that visit the Botanic Garden. (more…)

We are wildlife.

Did you know that most birds stop singing in August and into September? They’ve done all their brooding and nesting and concentrate on building up strength for any future journey, no territory to mark. This month has always felt different, but I’ve never put my finger on why exactly; it can be as warm as any summer month, but the absence of that excited chatter and bustle of birds give it an atmosphere of its own. I think we’re all effected by the ebb and flow of the seasons, consciously or subconsciously the natural background ambience has an impact, from high summer to the darkest winter day. It’s taken a few hundred years for Western society to push nature to the boundaries, convincing ourselves we’re an exceptional species that is no longer part of natural systems, but the inescapable truth is that we are very much part of nature as much as the birds and the plants.
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