Bristol’s own tropical zone – in Stoke Bishop
4 September 2007
Last month saw the official opening of the Tropical Zone at the University’s Botanic Garden in its new location at The Holmes, Stoke Bishop.
More than a hundred people attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Friends of the Garden Jazz Evening on 28 July. The honours were performed by a group of staff members’ children and followed by a fanfare by the Blue Note Jazz Band.
The event also celebrated the flowering of the Giant Amazon Water Lily, Victoria amazonica, which is growing in a large raised stone pool in the centre of the glasshouse. The huge plant, with circular leaves that can reach up to three metres in diameter with a 15-cm rim, is the largest of all members of the water lily family and was grown from seed at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Bristol’s plant was transplanted in the Tropical Zone in mid-May. Since then, the plant has grown quickly, producing up to two new leaves a week as well as a succession of sweetly scented night-blooming flowers, which are pollinated by beetles. This amazing plant is the only one of its kind on public display in the west of England. It is naturally found growing in the slow backwaters and seasonal lagoons of the Amazon region.
Other plants in the Tropical Zone include foods like Cinnamon, Sugar Cane and Custard Apple, together with medicinal plants like the Rosy Periwinkle, Cardamom and Ginger grown in a series of deep planting beds.
The new Botanic Garden opened to the public in March 2006. The garden has been designed with a strong evolutionary theme with four core collections: Evolution, Rare and Threatened Natives, Mediterranean Plants and Useful Plants. Laid out in exciting displays, the garden includes an evolutionary dell, a phylogeny display, Chinese and European herb gardens and a rock garden.
The Botanic Garden website gives details of opening times and events.