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Showing posts from March, 2013

The benefits of flowering early

Bristol was a swirl of snowflakes and blossoms earlier this week. Monday on my walk the cutting wind was relentless. Yet, despite my frozen nose and numb fingertips, I stopped to admire the many splashes of colour along my route – a street lined with blossom-laden plum trees, front gardens lined with daffodils, heather and crocuses, splashes of primulas and even some snow drops in the local woods. As my teeth chattered despite my thick down coat, I did marvel at these early spring bloomers that have clearly found it to their advantage to flower despite cold temperatures, relatively short days, and a paucity of pollinators. So, what exactly are the advantages of being the first blossoms of spring?

Early woodland blossoms have access to more light The first and perhaps most obvious advantage is that these early blossoms appear before the deciduous trees come into leaf, which gives them more access to light. Many of these early blossoms are naturally woodland flowers and so as soon as co…

Students set to tell the story behind the ballast seed collection

Guest post by Rhiannon Williams & Alex LearmontThe seeds of some plants can survive for many years lying dormant, waiting for improved environmental conditions to germinate. Seeds can withstand extreme drought or cold; some dry seeds can be stored at -150 degrees Celsius without harm, and still be induced to germinate!  Some seeds can be transported around the globe in the hulls of ships, immune to the storms and scurvy, only to one day be dumped on the banks of a foreign river, which may or may not provide the conditions it needs to grow and flourish.
We are biology students at the University of Bristol and for our dissertation we are creating interpretation boards for one of the Botanic Garden’s newer collections – the ballast seed collection. Our boards will be displayed at the Botanic Garden next to the ballast seed flower bed, which can be found near the glasshouses. This summer, once the flower bed has been planted up, it will be a joy to come and visit.
Our aim is to provid…

Re-potting lotus ready for the new growing season

The lotus plant is a symbol of friendship, family, rejuvenation, hope, rebirth, fortune, purification and positivity. The rhizomes of the plant lie buried in the sludgy, smelly mud on the bottom of lakes and ponds. Rising up from the mud are the leaves and the strong stems, which come up through the water to support the heavily scented, beautiful flowers. This pattern of growth makes the lotus a very important and powerful symbol in Buddhism. It signifies the progress of the soul as the flower rises from the primeval mud of materialism, through the waters of experience, and into the bright sunshine of enlightenment (source). Though most water plants send blooms to the surface in this way, only the lotus flower sits up to one metre above the water’s surface, truly rising above it all (source).
Lotus are a primitive plant. The fossil record shows that 15 million years ago there were eight different species of lotus, which were later reduced to only two species – the Asian lotus (Nelumbo …

An update on Victoria!

So much can change within a week at the Botanic Garden it can make your head spin. When I spoke to Penny about the giant water lily, she informed me that she wasn't going to be trying to germinate Victoria seeds yet as they didn't have the facilities. However, within a week, that has all changed. Penny received some seeds from Oxford and is currently putting together the pot and water heater she will need to keep the seeds at a balmy 30oC to germinate. Along with that, the Paignton Zoo has managed to overwinter a small plant, which is a Victoria Longwood hybrid that they are giving to the Botanic Garden along with some young germinated Victoria cruziana. Suddenly, Penny has gone from having no seeds to having seeds, young plants and old’s lily overload!