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Bristol's new Botanic Garden: an evolutionary garden emerges

Press release issued: 15 March 2006

A new garden revealing the mysteries of plant evolution will be open to the public from this Sunday [March 19].

A new garden revealing the mysteries of plant evolution will be open to the public from this Sunday [March 19].

The University of Bristol’s new Botanic Garden will ultimately be a unique botanical and cultural resource with plants displayed in ways that illustrate specific aspects of their evolution.

Visitors to the garden will be able to see the first phase of its ongoing development and an insight into the University’s vision of a diverse and ecologically important botanic garden for the 21st century.  This vision is of a garden of education, conveying the wonders of plant diversity and evolution, where rare and endangered local native plants can be seen and conserved.

Visitors should not expect to see a completed garden but a garden in the first stages of creation.  The new garden will focus on four core collections: Evolution, Rare and Threatened Natives, Mediterranean Plants and Useful Plants.

Although most of the plants for the new garden have been propagated over the last two years, new plant material, particularly for the Evolution Collection, will be acquired from other Botanic Gardens such as Kew and Edinburgh and in the case of the most ‘primitive’ living flowering plant, Amborella trichopoda, from New Caledonia.

Top garden designers Land Use Consultants, whose previous commissions include The Eden Project and Heligan, drew up a detailed design for the new garden in close consultation with the Academic Director, Dr Simon Hiscock; Gardens and Grounds Services Manager, Alan Stealey; the Curator, Nicholas Wray, and a team of botanical and horticultural advisors.

Central to the design of the new garden a large body of water will display a range of aquatic plants, including water lilies, as well as providing an important habitat for animal pond life.

The edge of the water will provide a habitat for native and threatened plants local to the Somerset Levels, and a rocky area set back from the water will display rare plants from the Avon Gorge such as the Bristol Onion and Spiked Speedwell.

It is expected the garden will be completed and fully open to the public by next summer, 2007, when a ‘formal opening’ will take place.

Professor Sir Peter Crane, Director of The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and a specialist botanical advisor on the project, said: “It has been wonderful to follow the process of developing the new Botanic Garden.

“This is an important investment by the University that will not only enhance teaching and research, but that will also further enrich the City of Bristol for all its citizens.”

The new Botanic Garden at The Holmes, Stoke Park Road, Stoke Bishop, Bristol, will be open to the public on a restricted basis on Sunday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, 10 am to 4.30 pm from Sunday 19 March.



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