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Showing posts from March, 2015

The Friends of the University of Bristol Botanic Garden celebrate their 40th anniversary

By Helen Roberts
It can be a little difficult to pin down one of the Friends of the University of Bristol Botanic Garden for an interview these days. Between organising the extremely popular Art and Sculpture Festival, planning for 40th anniversary celebrations - which includes a concert this coming Saturday (21st March) - and their own busy lives, the Friends are hard at work. I spoke to Pat Davie, the Chairman of the Friends, about how the Friends began, their role over the years and what they hope to achieve in future.

Pat joined the Friends group in 1995 after she attended some courses on Garden History at the Botanic Garden; it was then that she learnt about being a volunteer. Since then, she has taken on a number of roles and very much enjoyed being part of the working life of the Garden.

“I am extremely busy volunteering doing various jobs but I wouldn’t have it any other way, the Gardens are a very special place.”

The Friends are an essential part of the Botanic Garden with 1…

Plants more resilient than animals through mass extinctions

By Nicola Temple
The fossil record suggests that a diversity of land plants had evolved by about 472 million years ago (mya). There is evidence to suggest that plants made the move onto land as much as 700 mya [1], placing them in the midst of the five largest extinction events to have shaped life on our planet.

Researchers from the University of Gothenburg released a study earlier this year showing that plants have generally been more resilient to these extinction events than animals. They looked at more than 20,000 plant fossils to see how these mass extinction events affected plant diversity [2].

They found, not unexpectedly, that each group of plants fared differently through each extinction event – with some doing better than others. Though plants might experience mass extinctions, the researchers concluded that plants also began to diversify again quickly after such events, so that more new species were being generated than were being lost.

"In the plant kingdom, mass ext…

Local limestone quarry receives a special collection of plants from the University of Bristol Botanic Garden

By Helen Roberts
It’s a bitterly cold February morning and I’ve driven to the outskirts of the small village of Wick in South Gloucestershire to meet with Roland de Hauke. Roland is going to give me a tour of Wick Quarry and the local nature reserve. It is extremely claggy underfoot and parts of the road are submerged underwater, so I am extremely relieved when Roland shows me to his 4 x 4 vehicle in order to tour the vast 100-acre site.
Roland, a passionate botanist and conservationist, bought the quarry and nature reserve two years ago with the aim of restoring it with a mosaic of habitats to maximise biodiversity.
“I have always been interested in botany and conservation and I am fascinated by trees,” remarks Roland, “and I am particularly keen to introduce species of local provenance. In the past, a lot of quarry restoration has involved a broad-brush approach, with a view that what works well on one particular site will work for other sites too. This just simply isn’t the case and …