Titan arum spathe by Howard Rice
Friends’ News A titanic success people informed in real time, the webcam also provided a way for those who couldn’t get to the Garden in person to join in the spectacle. Several local schools also used the footage in the classroom to trigger debate and discussion around the wonders of the plant world.
Amorphophallus titanum The flowering of a titan arum is a rare event, last happening at the Garden over a decade ago. When the creamy nose of the flowering structure emerged on 6 July it took us by surprise as the corm from which it grows is well below the usual minimum flowering weight of 15kg. The plant was quickly dubbed ‘Tiny’ as, according to the books, it was too small to be flowering at all! Nevertheless, Tiny grew rapidly at around 10cm each day to reach 133.5cm and daily the base of the structure visibly swelled and reddened. The team was on tenterhooks watching eagle-eyed for clues as to when Tiny might begin its shortlived flowering – the flower bracts falling away, the growth rate tailing off– it was beginning to feel like a titanic wait. And we were not the only ones watching. A special Tiny titan webcam was set up to livestream the flowering. The trickle of webwatchers grew rapidly along with Tiny, until the University’s Media Streaming Service had to increase the available bandwidth to allow up to 5000 simultaneous views. As well as keeping
The local media were hugely supportive, with the Cambridge News, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, Look East and ITV Anglia all prominently covering both the build-up to and the flowering itself. Their enthusiasm helped push Tiny to national and even international stardom, with the plant’s pulling power reported in several British broadsheets and international publications ranging from the New York Times to Nepali News.
The Colbost Community 600 miles away on the Isle of Skye tune in to Tiny titan webcam! And it’s not hard to understand why. The titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum) produces one of the largest single flowering structures in the world. The dramatic structure is not actually a flower at all, but an inflorescence, comprising a central, spike-like spadix, surrounded by a frilly, funnel-shaped spathe. At its base, the spathe, really a highly modified leaf which turns blood red on full flowering, forms a protective chamber enclosing thousands of actual flowers. These are arranged in rings; the lower rings of female flowers open on the first night of full flowering and the upper rings of male flowers open on the second night.
Dr Ruth Reef
Thousands came to witness the dramatic flowering of ‘Tiny’ the titan arum in the Glasshouse Range this July. The Garden stayed open late until midnight on 18 and 19 July so that as many people as possible could come and enjoy this rainforest giant, also known as the corpse flower, at its night-time stinkiest.
Ethan Reef learns about Tiny's lifecycle When the female flowers are ready for pollination, the spadix heats up through a series of chemical reactions – a process known as thermogenesis. As night falls, temperatures in the middle of the structure can reach 40˚C, higher than human body temperature. The heat helps to distribute sulphurous compounds – the atrocious stench for which it is famous – across vast distances in its native Sumatra to lure its pollinators, thought to be carrion beetles and blow flies. Beetles and flies dusted with pollen from another titan arum plant may effect pollination as they search (in vain) for the rotting meat. Continued on page 2
Friends, please note New events booking procedure All Friends’ events are now bookable on a first-come, first-served basis via Cambridge Live and booking for the autumn calendar opens on 1 October. Please turn to the back page for full details. Christmas closing The Garden is closed for the Christmas holidays from 4pm on Wednesday 23 December 2015 and will re-open at 10am on Saturday 2 January 2016.
Friends’ News – Issue 99 – September 2015
I write at the end of the most exciting and most exhausting week I have spent at the Garden. On Monday 6 July our Glasshouse Supervisor, Alex Summers, emailed me at the European Botanic Gardens Congress in Paris with the news that one of our titan arums had unexpectedly sent up a flower shoot. There followed two weeks of intense planning and waiting, feeling a bit like expectant parents, until the bloom opened on Saturday July 18. Botanically, it’s been a thrilling week, as we have taken the opportunity to try all sorts of once-adecade experiments – we’ve monitored the temperature, we’ve sampled surface tissue from the spathe and spadix for analysis of cell size and structure, we’ve discussed the scent compounds with chemist colleagues, we’ve frozen pollen for future pollination and attempted selfpollination of this plant. But even more thrilling has been the public response – we know we’re a bit crazy about plants, but to see the visitors streaming in has been absolutely amazing! We were very sorry to say goodbye to our Administrator, Brigid Stacey, who retired on 30 June. Brigid had been with us since October 1985, and her knowledge and experience of the Garden have been an invaluable support to the staff through many changes. A post-retirement restructure has seen Wendy Godfrey step up to replace Brigid while the Visitor Services team, headed by Nicci SteeleWilliams, has become a separate department, giving the team a stronger voice at senior management. There have also been new appointments to the horticultural staff with Paul Aston taking up the position of Alpine and Woodland Supervisor following the retirement of Helen Seal, and former trainee David Austrin returns to the Garden to take up the assistant post in the Demonstration & Display team left vacant by Paul’s move. I hope that many of you were able to join us for Festival of Plants in May and for some of the wonderful Sounds Green picnic proms this July. Our next big event is of course Apple Day on October 25th. We are currently in the thick of planning, and debating whether we should expand out to include pears this year – I do hope you will be able to join us on the day. Professor Beverley Glover, Director Friends’ News – Issue 99 – September 2015
Thermal image showing the tip of the spadix beginning to heat up. When Tiny did finally begin to open late on the afternoon of Saturday 18 July, digital and social media was key to getting the message out quickly that the Garden would stay open late that night. Using #tinytitan on our @CUBotanicGarden Twitter feed, we also asked you to tweet your stink descriptions which yielded this imaginatively pongy list: mouldy cheese, dirty PE kit, poo, wet mouldy washing,
boiled cabbage, my nan’s house, wet fish, damp trainers, drains, ripe camembert, sprouts, worse than my brother, my wheelie bin the day before collection, dead mouse, armpits, sewage, opening a pot of dry fish food, rotting lettuce, cheesy socks, and – with extra points for wit – eau de colon! We were also thrilled that so many shared artwork and brilliant photos of visiting Tiny. Paul Coxon
Continued from page 1 Having seen some stunning infrared images of ‘New Reekie’, the so-named titan arum that flowered at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh in June this year, we were keen to capture the temperature data for Tiny in order to build a picture of the thermogenesis process. Volcanologist Dr Clive Oppenheimer at the University’s Department of Geography responded enthusiastically to the call for help, contributing both his expertise and a phenomenal thermal imaging camera. Whilst installing the camera, Dr Oppenheimer shared some of its adventures so far: ‘This camera has been to many volcanoes from Ethiopia to Equatorial Guinea, but it has experienced the harshest conditions on the crater rim of Erebus volcano in Antarctica where it operated unattended in temperatures down to -40°C for weeks at a time during the austral summer. The long image sequences it captured have enabled us to track the lake's surface motion and estimate its heat output over time. Analysis of these datasets revealed a remarkable 10minute pulse to the volcano, the origins of which remain enigmatic.’ The data and imagery collected by the camera on its tropical assignment in the Glasshouse Range are now being analysed, but a sequence of remarkable images clearly shows the spadix heating up from the tip downwards, rather like a Star Wars lightsaber but in reverse!
This @paulcoxon 'smellfie' made the nationals
Tiny inspires Ellis Underwood, aged 6
In the two days of full flowering when the Garden opened until midnight to accommodate all the Tiny titan fans, nearly 7000 people came. The Glasshouse Range was specially lit, creating a festival atmosphere, and volunteers and staff worked extra shifts to answer visitors’questions and keep the queues entertained and informed. Those visitors who came on the first night experienced the strongest stench, but some lucky night two visitors witnessed our attempt to self-pollinate the plant by transferring pollen from the male flowers to the female flowers at the base of the structure, a tricky operation gingerly undertaken with a paintbrush by the Director, Beverley Glover, and Simon Wallis of the horticultural staff. Thousands more continued to stream in over the next few days as Tiny defied the text books (which advise a flowering length of two to three days) and remained in flower for five days. The spadix finally collapsed in the small hours of Thursday morning, by which time Tiny had been visited by close to 12,000 people. In its native rainforest habitat on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, the titan arum is now very rare due to deforestation for logging and clearance for palm oil plantations. It is classified as ‘vulnerable’ to extinction. It was a great privilege to be able to share this wonder of the plant world with so many. To quote from @MightyMangrove on Twitter ‘Amazing to see the flower, even more so to see the crowds - botany is alive and kicking!’ Team #tinytitan standing down – until the next time!
Understanding plant diversity We are delighted to share with you the news that The Monument Trust has granted the Garden £900,000 over three years to develop an inspirational interpretation station at the Systematic Beds. The project seeks to present a ‘bird’s-eye’ overview of the Systematic Beds and introduce the concepts of plant evolution and diversity, identification and classification via interpretive walls and exhibits. Henslow and his Curator, Andrew Murray, designed the Systematic Beds, an original feature of the Garden, as an active teaching tool reflecting the most up-to-date plant taxonomic science of the time. We will be taking the opportunity to reinvigorate the research and teaching value of the Systematic Beds for both University and public learning by updating the classification system within its historic layout. This endeavour will involve some substantial replanting of the Beds so watch this space over the winter!
A new Algal Innovation Centre (AIC) is under construction on the Botanic Garden’s Research Plots. This glasshouse facility will address the need to scale-up the translation of research into sustainable energy solutions. There is increasing interest in whether microalgae could be farmed as a sustainable raw material (or ‘feedstock’) for a variety of products such as diesel, omega-3 oils, pigments and enzymes. This could reduce our dependency on energy-intensive feedstocks that are currently produced from oil, gas, crop plants and animals. The University of Cambridge has researchers across many departments and disciplines
A new Algal Innovation Centre (AIC)
working on algae. The AIC will connect the entire pipeline of algal research from strain selection and improvement through to harvesting and processing, as well as pioneering the development of key technologies and engineering solutions. We will be taking the opportunity once the AIC is complete later this autumn to redevelop the area with a stunning mixed planting of trees, shrubs and herbaceous perennials to extend the Autumn Garden. The plants will be selected both for their colour and interest, and for their wildlife value.
What are micro-algae? Micro-algae are tiny green organisms (usually called pondscum!) that can live in soil, rivers, oceans and even on ice, which makes them one of the most diverse groups of species on the planet. This diversity and ease of growth makes them ideal species for investigating ways of cleaning industrial waste water, making biofuels and ingredients for health foods and cosmetics, all with the added benefit of taking CO2 from the air and even from industrial flue gases.
For more information on the AIC follow the links from the Bioenergy Initiative website at www.bioenergy.cam.ac.uk Sally Petitt
Potentilla Rescue Mission: an update Readers may recall an article in the January edition of the Friends’ News outlining the Garden’s involvement in a project to conserve the critically endangered Potentilla porphyrantha in Armenia. Mount Amulsar, in the country’s south-east, has a diversity of alpine plant species and is the only reasonably accessible site for P. porphyrantha, although the species is also believed to occur in neighbouring Iran and the disputed territory of Nakhichevan. The presence of this rare plant was highlighted only recently following a botanical survey of the mountain undertaken by the Institute of Botany (IOB) of Yerevan, a condition of the license by which Lydian International has been granted permission to extract gold from the site. With a ‘no net loss’ policy, Lydian has a responsibility to ensure that the population of this plant is restored after the mine has closed, and has consequently undertaken an environmental and conservation assessment on this and many other biological aspects of the project including the mountain’s populations of bears, bearded vultures and rare little kestrels. As part of this, I accompanied Dr Peter Carey, an affiliated lecturer in the
Department of Plant Sciences, on a fascinating trip to Armenia to advise on the translocation of P. porphyrantha and its cultivation ‘in captivity’ so to speak, for the duration of the mining project. During our trip we visited the IOB and the Botanic Garden in Yerevan, as well as its satellite garden in Sevan, where we advised on the construction and technical detail of a new glasshouse in which to cultivate translocated plants of P. porphyrantha. The IOB itself is botanically active with approximately 80 researchers, though the extent of the impact of the collapse of the Soviet Union was very evident in the 80 hectare Garden, where glasshouses are without glass, and only eight gardeners are employed. At Amulsar we undertook botanical surveys of various sites and habitats on the mountain, worked with project colleagues to develop methodologies for wider botanical surveys, and assessed the potential for a new nature reserve. Our main focus here, however, was on understanding better the requirements of P. porphyrantha. The species is a member of the rose family, bearing single, pink flowers
This rare Potentilla grows on rocky outcrops of Mount Amulsar typical of Rosaceae. Unlike most members of the family, however, it is chasmophytic (crevice dwelling) in habit, with a cushion-like appearance and sending its roots deep down in narrow fissures to ensure anchorage and to seek out moisture and nutrients. Successful lifting and translocating is likely to be challenging, therefore, and the collection and storage of seed may prove invaluable in ensuring that a population of this rare species can be maintained into the future, both in-situ and ex-situ. Sally Petitt, Head of Horticulture
Apple Day on 25 October: get your Apple Day tickets in advance and on-line! Make sure the first half-term Sunday is in the diary for the region’s biggest Apple Day. All the old favourites are back including apple identification (bring your unknown apples along to the team, preferably with stalk and leaf attached) and apple tasting of over two dozen heritage varieties. Plus the Main Lawn Marquee continues to expand as we find ever more locally-produced, delicious edibles to share with you this harvest, from hedgerow cordials and fruit-based spirits to hand-pressed juices and artisan cheeses. The Barrow Band
will be entertaining us with their family-friendly interactive singing and music all about fruit and veg, and Totally Falconry will be bringing falcons, hawks and owls, some of which can be handled by visitors. Please remember that admission to the Garden on Apple Day
requires everyone – Friends included - to purchase an Apple Day ticket at £3. You can buy Apple Day tickets in advance from the Garden ticket offices or you can now do this on-line – just follow the links from the Garden’s homepage at www.botanic.cam.ac.uk.
Friends’ News – Issue 99 – September 2015
Exposing our Hidden Collections The Cambridge University Botanic Garden has the delicate task of balancing the claims of a well-loved landscape and exquisite horticultural displays with diverse collections assembled for the purposes of education, conservation, and research. Many of our conversations concern the reconciliation of these opposing tensions, and a common refrain is our historical legacy as ‘Henslow’s Garden’. Driven by his vision, the Garden has borne witness to over two centuries of scientific discovery, from the development of Darwin’s theory of evolution to the genetic experiments of William Bateson. The passage of creative personalities and powerful ideas has left their mark on the Garden’s landscape, on the composition of our collections, and on our books and manuscripts. Curating heritage is both a heavy responsibility and a great privilege, and this is especially true for our hidden collections – the Garden herbarium and the Cory Library – both nestled in relative obscurity within Cory Lodge. A herbarium is quite simply a collection of dried plant specimens. A 15th century innovation attributed to the Italian botanist Luca Ghini, this technique of pressing and drying specimens for storage was popularised through the teachings of Linnaeus. The procedure is remarkably successful in terms of the longevity of the samples and preservation of detail, and as a result, herbaria provide an essential foundation for current and future botanical investigation. The modern herbarium is not just a reference source for plant taxonomists, but also a data bank and research centre for such contemporary themes as genetic analysis, DNA barcoding, and climate change. Herbaria are also full of undiscovered treasures, with a recent study estimating that of the 70,000 flowering plant species yet to be described over half have already been collected and currently lie hidden in the world’s herbaria. At around 6000 sheets, our Garden herbarium is a humble collection compared to the 6.5 million specimens held at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. But it must be remembered that ours is of special value to us, as a record of the diversity that has passed through our own Garden since its original establishment in 1762 in the city-centre site through to today’s 40-acre site. With currently over 8000 species, our Garden is hugely diverse, however Cambridge is an alien environment for many of the species that we try to cultivate. Many do not survive for long. Indeed, such is the rate of attrition in our plant collection that, should our skilled horticulturalists lay down their tools, 50% of our species would disappear within Friends’ News – Issue 99 – September 2015
five years. To offset these losses we bring in over a thousand new specimens a year. It is this unique transience in the composition of our living collection that sets us apart from more permanent museum exhibits. Ours is a river of diversity that ebbs and flows with the fashions of horticulture, the demands of science, and the vagaries of personal obsession. Yet in the midst of this impermanence, the herbarium provides a tangible and enduring record of the species we have once grown, perhaps since lost. During my recent exploration of our herbarium holdings, some of the most thrilling finds have been the personal herbarium specimens of early botanical pioneers in Cambridge: John Martyn (Professor of Botany 1733-1762), his son Thomas Martyn (Professor of Botany 17621825), John Stevens Henslow (Professor of Botany 1825-1861), and Andrew Murray (Curator, 1845-1850). It is a curious sensation to handle these historical artefacts, to see the names of the specimens and their collectors carefully inked in sepia, and to imagine that these plants were once pressed by Murray, catalogued by Henslow, perhaps even observed by Darwin himself. In this sense, our herbarium archives are not just a scientific record, but also a place in which voices, personalities, and passions still linger.
beginnings of a Library collection assembled by mutual exchanges and gifts. When Cory’s magnificent bequest became available for Garden use in the 1950s, John Gilmour continued to expand the collection throughout his directorship. As a result of his post-war purchases, the Cory Library is very strong in works of practical horticulture, horticultural monographs, botanical illustration and regional floras. On a day-today basis the library supports the activities of the horticultural staff but the collection also includes beautiful early editions of botanical literature. Most notable perhaps is a complete run of Curtis’s Botanical Magazine, famed for its exquisite handcoloured plates in earlier editions, which often accompany the first description of new species. The Garden’s subscription to the Magazine was under threat of budget cuts in the early 1930s until, once again, Cory came to the rescue – see the insert box for the correspondence between Gilbert Carter and Cory, also in the archives. Another Library gem is the original watercolor map of the Garden. Over a metre long, it was hand-painted by Andrew Murray and wonderfully illustrates how well his vision has been realised. But my personal favourite is a first edition of Linnaeus’s Species Plantarum, which has been richly annotated by some unknown reader. Copious notes in Latin, accompanied by exquisite little diagrams of plants, clearly record the efforts of an early botanist to reconcile their personal knowledge with Linnaeus’s new classification system. It is a remarkable snapshot of botanical history.
One of Henslow's herbarium sheets, this one of pressed Paphiopedilum orchids We can hear these same voices whispering in the Cory Library, home to the Garden’s printed collections of over 7000 books and periodicals. The friendship between Garden Director, Humphrey Gilbert Carter, and Garden benefactor, Reginald Cory, saw the
The principal landscape elements including the Main Walk and Systematic Beds are clearly shown on Murray's 1845 plan
Exquisitely drawn notes by an unknown reader enrich this copy of Linnaeus's Species Plantarum I regard the preservation of these printed and herbarium collections as an important responsibility in my role as Curator. For the long-term research and educational value of the collections to be realised, they need to be both visible and discoverable. However, my immediate concern has been to ensure their safety and stability. Early on in my tenure I took the decision to move our herbarium as a long-term loan to the University Herbarium, housed next-door in the basement of the Sainsbury Laboratory.
Here they are now stored in world-class climate-controlled conditions under the expert care of the University Herbarium’s Chief Technician, Christine Bartram. But, it is not a case of out-of-sight out-of-mind, as in re-locating our Garden herbarium we have been able to identify the most precious heritage sheets. Over the next year we will photograph these sheets to make them available digitally, and for the first time catalogue the complete herbarium holdings. Similarly the work of cataloguing the Cory Library continues apace. When we catalogue books printed before 1850 we include a much greater level of detail because our copies often have so many unique features. So far our Library Manager, Jenny Sargent, has catalogued books belonging to nearly a hundred different owners. Entering the owner’s name in the catalogue records means that somebody searching the catalogue for a person of interest will get results that include not only books by or about a personality, but books which we have identified as owned or
Archive gems The archives contain some wonderful letters between Humphrey Gilbert Carter, the first Director of the Garden from 1921-47, and Reginald Cory, a student at Trinity College who became, through his friendship with Gilbert Carter, the Garden’s great saviour both during his lifetime and through his magnificent bequest which today contributes approximately 1/3 of the Garden’s annual running costs. The correspondence is full of jovial banter as well as more serious exchanges about how to stabilise the Garden’s parlous finances to secure its future. The two continually exchange botanical notes and remarks on the season’s weather and flowering highlights, while consignments of plants, books and shares in seed-collecting expeditions go back and forth between Cambridge and Cory’s family home at Dyffryn, Wales. RC to GC, 31 August 1927 I don’t know whether I told you that I have taken a share in the British Columbian Seed Collecting expedition that the RHS have organised, and as I shall not be able to raise any of the seeds myself, I have told Chittenden, in the hopes that they may be of use to you, to send them on. I have also promised to share these with Trotter… GC to RC, 2 December 1927 Preston came back from the RHS meeting with the doleful news that you had hurt your leg on the boat, and had been in hospital ever since your arrival in South Africa… There have been no hard frosts so far this winter. Gazania rigans and Gerbera jamesonii are still flowering happily outside the succulent house… The seeds from British Columbia are arriving regularly… I am cudgelling my brains to contrive to take some students to Madiera [sic] at Easter. It must be a wonderful place. I wonder if any of your boats travel in that direction, and whether they could take a handful of students for considerably less money than the fare charged by ordinary companies. We do not mind roughing it.
In my last letter I omitted a very important bit of news. Professor Seward [Professor of Botany at the University] was married in New York last Thursday. During the long vacation he went off on a Norwegian boat to have a look at the Pack
Ice. It was on this boat that he met the good lady. These things very often happen at sea, and we fully anticipate greeting the future Mrs Cory when you next come to see us. RC to GC, 16 Mar 1928 I have just got back from my South Africa tour…. I was astonished beyond measure about Seward’s marriage. I wonder if you have seen her and what you think of her! I am looking forward to coming up and seeing you as soon as ever I get the opportunity; but I am sorry to have to say that the future Mrs Cory has not yet materialised, and so the production of her is still in the future, if anywhere. GC to RC 10 December 1931 We are in difficulties as usual. Indeed, things are going from bad to worse. The Professor says economies must be made, and thinks we should discontinue the Botanical Magazine. I have told him that it would not be fair without letting you know, as you might be able to see your way to keeping it going for another year. I shall quite understand if you are not able to do this. The outlook here is absolutely hopeless. The Palm House has now begun to tumble down; a lot of the woodwork is a little better than old cheese. It is impossible to get money for anything, and those who have any, wisely bury it in their back Gardens.
annotated by them. Identifying the books a person owned and the comments and notes they made in them enriches our knowledge of their personality in a way that goes beyond simply reading the works they published, and allows us to form a picture of the web of historical interactions that link our Library and herbarium to the Garden. Over the coming years these hidden collections will need considerable investment, not least of an intellectual and creative variety, if we are to realise their potential - for study, to educate, to inspire, and to remember. Neither of these collections is currently openly accessible but we plan to host a number of ‘rummage in the archives’sessions over the coming year, during which small groups will be able to view archival material and explore our hidden collections and their many connections to the Garden. Our first is scheduled for November – please see the back page for details and how to book. Dr Sam Brockington, Curator
Reginald Cory at Hyeres in 1933
RC to GC, 12 December 1931 I was glad to have some news of you, but am indeed sorry to find that it is so disturbing. It seems to me that when economies are made, they always pitch on the least advisable with smallest results, and I agree with you that it would be a great pity to break the run of the Botanical Magazine, and I shall be very glad to keep it going for another year. I am very sorry to hear the bad news about the Palm House. I must say the University people are very ill-advised to let the place go as they are doing, as they cannot let everything fall down, and it is going to cost them a great deal more in the end by letting it go for the present. GC to RC, 14 Dec 1931 I want to keep things floating as long as I can, though I feel that during the next year disaster is bound to overwhelm the whole country. The last letter from RC to GC in the archive, 8 March 1933 I had seen your letter in The Times about the old Botanic Garden, and the destruction of the Sophora. It is very sad to think that the last relic and the last connecting link with the old Gardens has been destroyed. Friends’ News – Issue 99 – September 2015
Horticulture The paperbark maple: Acer griseum A member of the Sapindaceae family, the genus Acer consists of approximately 120 species occurring throughout the temperate northern hemisphere. The genus is diverse, displaying great variation in size, leaf shape, colour and habitat.
“In these woods we spent a profitable time, collecting in all specimens of some fifty different kinds of woody plants……Maples in variety are common, but one large tree of Acer griseum, with its chestnut-red bark, exfoliating like that of the River Birch, was the gem of all.”
Our own collection of acer numbers approximately 70 species and varieties, and of these Acer griseum, the paperbark maple, stands out for its year-round interest and form. Occurring in Central China, this species was introduced into our gardens by the renowned plant collector, Ernest ‘Chinese’Wilson, for the famous Veitch nursery in 1901. Wilson was a prolific collector, introducing numerous notable species into cultivation, so perhaps it is unsurprising that his reference to A. griseum in his travelogue, A Naturalist in Western China, is fleeting. He does, however, note of one day’s collecting in north-western Hupeh that:
It is hard to dispute Wilson’s description of A. griseum as a gem, as it really does offer something for all seasons. The peeling cinnamon-orange bark is a remarkable feature, accompanied in the autumn by good fiery leaf colour. The epithet griseum refers to the grey down on the emerging leaves, petioles and branchlets in spring, adding another seasonal dimension. The Garden has two plants of this species, the first of which is in the Sapindaceae family collection on the western boundary, but it is the specimen in the Winter Garden which is most
notable. Acquired from Hillier’s Nursery in 1992, the leaves turn orange-red to scarlet in autumn, and the trunk's flaking bark is beautifully highlighted by low winter sun. Although this plant does produce seed, carried in downy nutlets and wings, it is notoriously difficult to germinate with very low viability – perhaps 10% maximum. The combination of rounded crown, autumn colour and striking bark make for a fine and distinctive tree for the garden, and one definitely worthy of a pilgrimage on any visit to the Garden at any time of year, but particularly over the coming months.
Sally Petitt, Head of Horticulture
Clippings & Cuttings
Friends’ News – Issue 99 – September 2015
I Behind the scenes we have brought in ‘foggers’ – freestanding humidifiers – into one of the reserve glasshouses in order to mimic cloud forest conditions more successfully, where daytime humidity of around 60% increases to nearly 90% overnight. This will allow us to greatly increase the range of tropical montane flora that we can cultivate including Amborella trichopoda, one of the earliest angiosperms and an essential study plant for research scientists piecing together the evolution of plant traits. The climate conditions provided by the new facility have also helped the Glasshouse team germinate a great number of Amborella from seed (supplied by Bonn Botanic Garden) - a notoriously tricky feat for which the staff are being rightly fêted by their peers. The cloud forest reserve glasshouse will also allow us to grow a greater range of orchid species like Stanhopea (above), which will be brought into the tropical rainforest displays of the Glasshouse Range when in flower.
I The Garden’s Research Plots have been near capacity over the summer, hosting a range of experimental plantings supported by the horticultural expertise of our Experimental team. One of the most intriguing-looking projects involves a line of six ply and polythene domes! These are open-top, elevated CO2 (carbon dioxide) growth chambers which house sections of salt marsh collected in Essex (below). A team of researchers from the Cambridge Coastal Research Unit at the Department of Geography are using these plots to investigate whether global climate change will affect how salt marsh dissipates wave energy and reduces erosion – a key part of coastal defence. Half the domes are receiving CO2-enriched air (from the cylinders in the wooden cages) at concentrations predicted to be experienced by UK salt marshes by the end of the century and the remainder receive ambient atmospheric conditions. A nutrient enrichment treatment has also been added to some of the salt marsh blocks to investigate what effect an increased level of nutrients in coastal waters will have on salt marsh plants now and into the future.
In the mid 17th century, they built the Hundred Foot Drain to take the flood water of the Great Ouse and drain the Fens with the slave labour of hundreds of Scottish and Dutch prisoners of war, lugging spades slick with gault clay and barrowing the spoil out. For the less daunting repair of the stream bank this year we managed with a tractor, six staff and volunteers (two of whom were Scots – but paid this time!), seven tons of gault clay and several pairs of waders. Rosemary Ley
I Trees and Shrubs section have hard pruned the Osmanthus and Phillyrea on one side of the path leading from the Fountain to trees in the Fagaceae (beech) family. This is to reduce the density of planting in order to open up views through to the Garden beyond. The team will be tackling the other side of the path over the winter.
Mud, glorious mud!
The bamboo on the south bank of the stream had been marching happily on in an ever-expanding bid for stream side domination. The decision was made to remove it but, as it had penetrated the bank, we had to dig it out, stream bank, bamboo and all before rebuilding. Although heavy work, it was secretly quite fun. Adrian, our tractor driver for the day, said it reminded him of being a kid damming local streams. The bank side was soon named Adrian’s Wall in his honour before it was back-filled with soil. We will prepare the new bed over the autumn and incorporate lots of compost for a rich deep fertile soil and then plant up with a mass of big-leaved, marginal, moisture-loving plants for a great spring show.
Paul Aston, Alpine and Woodland Supervisor
First Saturday Family Fun
No need to book, just drop-in anytime between 11am – 3pm on the first Saturday of every month for plant-inspired fun. £3 per child, plus normal Garden admission for accompanying adults.
Magic doors Captain Balkan, Mr Mouse, Vampire Black, Penny the Tooth Fairy and three other magical mini creatures have taken up residence together somewhere in the Botanic Garden. They are seldom seen but the eagle-eyed may glimpse the laundry on the line or some sacks of fairy dust. Although shy, they do like visitors: to find out where in the Garden they live though, you’ll have to solve their riddle...
We seven live at the feet of giants Gathered again in the name of science, In the sky, far overhead, Are needles that you cannot thread, And scattered sometimes on the ground Are cones where ice cream’s never found, So venture here where south turns west And bring a picnic, take a rest, But if you find our magic homes, PLEASE don’t tell the garden gnomes
Stick Art Saturday 3 October At this autumnal workshop we’ll have lots of interesting sticks and colourful paints for you to create works of art. Find out how sticks have been used by different cultures around the world. Nature Fireworks Saturday 7 November We’ll be turning fallen leaves into colourful nature fireworks to decorate your house and garden.
Careers with Plants Day 2015
60 teenagers from East Anglia came to the Sainsbury Laboratory and the Botanic Garden in July for our first ‘Careers with Plants Day’. With hands-on workshops and tours behind the scenes, students got an insight into some careers that they’ve never heard about. People working in industry and at the RHS joined Lab and Garden staff to share their experience and passion for their jobs. And every person there had a role which in some way involves working with plants.
The teenagers responded with enthusiasm: “I learnt that there are many, completely different careers to do with plants that I didn’t know existed,” said one student, while another summed up the day simply as “absolutely awesome”. The day was organised by the Gatsby Plant Science Education Programme, a collaborative programme between the Laboratory and the Garden. Ginny Page, Director of the Programme, said ‘Our message for the students was simple – find your passion and make a job out of it. What was fantastic was how many professionals they met who have done just that with plants, and who were so willing to share their enthusiasm.’
Harriet Truscott, Communications Officer
With so many jobs and careers to choose from, how can young people even begin to find out what might suit them best? It’s easy enough to know what a doctor or a teacher does, but what’s the role of a horticultural technician or an interpretation designer?
Flappy Christmas Saturday 12 December Make sure the birds in your Garden have a special Christmas this year by making outdoor tree ornaments for them to munch on.
Keep an eye out for new family activity and trails coming up soon on the website at www.botanic.cam.ac.uk and follow the education team and the adventures of Dawn Redwood and Douglas Fir on Twitter @CUBGEducation
The Max Walters Lecture: Tenerife – a botanical hotspot
Fun with fungi and the family!
This year’s Max Walters Lecture in support of Plant Heritage will be given by Dr Timothy Walker, formerly Horti Praefectus and Director of the Oxford University Botanic Garden. It takes place on Saturday 24 October 2015, 2pm for a 2.30pm start at the Old Hall, Girton College, Cambridge. Dr Walker will be presenting the botanically diverse island of Tenerife through a gardener’s eyes, an approach Max (Director of this Garden from 1973-83) would no doubt have encouraged.
There will be fungus walks around the Garden led by local recording groups, a display of wild fungi, information sheets and craft activities for children including make your favourite fungus, how the mushroom got its spots, make a mushroom mask and help to make a mushroom fairy ring on the Botanic Garden lawn! Grow your own oyster mushrooms with give away kits supplied by Ann Miller Mushrooms and sample food from a mushroom themed menu in the Botanic Garden Café. Activities are free, normal Garden admission applies.
Tickets are £10 for Plant Heritage members, £15 for non-members. Please apply for tickets enclosing a cheque payable to NCCPG Cambs Group, an SAE and a contact telephone number to Plant Heritage, 7 Old Glebe, Alconbury, Huntingdon, PE28 4EA. For further details, please telephone 07790 732747.
Sunday 11 October 2015, 11 am – 3 pm
Last chance to catch…. Watercolour: Elements of nature at the Fitzwilliam Museum Don’t delay! The exhibition closes this weekend, Sunday 27 September. Rarely exhibited and in superb condition, the works on show highlight the extraordinary versatility of the medium, showing how watercolour has been used from the Middle Ages onwards to record botanical detail and capture fleeting moments of nature. For more information including opening times, please visit www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk Friends’ News – Issue 99 – September 2015
Dear Friend I hope you have enjoyed visiting the Garden during this extraordinary summer! At 1 Brookside, we have been busily reviewing some of the systems within the Friends administration and I’d like to tell you about some changes you will see in the coming months. We understand that the event booking ballot system we have operated in recent years has proved frustrating. As a result, we will now be using Cambridge Live Trust for event bookings. The huge benefit is that you can book online, over the phone or in person. Booking opens on 1 October and is
operated on a first-come, first-served basis so you will also know immediately whether you have been successful. We have a very tempting autumn events programme lined up for you (details below), plus we are offering a wonderful trip to the French Riviera next spring, details for which are on the enclosed form. Another forthcoming change is the introduction of barcodes to our new-look membership cards which will be issued from October. There will also be a single card design for both single and joint memberships. The barcodes won’t be needed immediately so this is just a future-proofing initiative.
Finally, from 1 November until Christmas, the Botanic Garden shop will be offering Friends 10% off. So do, please, come and visit our lovely shop for some of your annual Christmas shopping and don’t forget to bring your Friends’ membership card to claim your discount! I look forward to meeting many of you at the Annual Lecture in November – please do come and say hello!
Sacha Watson, Friends’ Administrator email@example.com 01223 336275
Friends’ Events Booking for our autumn/winter programme of events opens on 1 October 2015 and is operated on a first-come, first-served basis. Booking is essential for all outings and events. You can book through Cambridge Live by any of the following means: • Online at www.botanic.cam.ac.uk via the Friends of CUBG ‘Friends Events’ page. Please ensure you enter ‘botanicsept15’ in the promotional code box to confirm that you are a Friend. • By phoning Cambridge Live: 01223 357851 • In person at: Cambridge Live, 2 Wheeler Street, Cambridge CB2 3QB The Botanic Garden Annual Lecture The Fairest Cape: travels through South Africa's botanical hotspot Monday 9 November 2015, 7.30pm in the Fitzpatrick Lecture Hall, Queens’ College. Friend £9.50; guest £14.50 Professor John Parker, former Director of the Garden, focuses on the Western Cape of South Africa, one of the world's six Botanical Realms. John will share some of its beautiful flowers and discuss how the Cape has become one of the most evolutionarily dynamic places on earth. Closing date for tickets is Wednesday 4 November 2015.
University Herbarium Tours Thursday 12 November at 11am; Monday 16 November at 6.30pm; Monday 11 January 2016 at 11am; Thursday 21 January 2016 at 6.30pm. Friends only, £10. Entrance is via 47 Bateman Street Join Christine Bartram, Chief Technician at the University Herbarium based in the Sainsbury Laboratory, for a tour of this treasure trove of pressed and dried plants spanning three centuries. The collection includes specimens that Darwin gathered while on the Voyage of the Beagle. Friends’ News – Issue 99 – September 2015
• By post to: Cambridge Live, 2 Wheeler Street, Cambridge CB2 3QB providing your name, address, contact number, event title, number & type of tickets required, together with your payment – cheques made payable to Cambridge Live
Behind the Scenes Tour Friday 13 November 2015, 10.30am. Friends only £10. Meet at the western entrance to the Glasshouse Range Step into areas of the Garden usually closed to the visiting public. See where the Glasshouse plants are propagated and grown, where the orchids 'holiday' when they’re not in bloom and where our titan arum sulks when it’s not in growth, with Alex Summers, Glasshouse Supervisor. Mark Crouch, Deputy Head of Horticulture and Arborist, will discuss management of the Botanic Garden’s trees and Adrian Holmes, the Landscape and Machinery Supervisor, will open up our machinery barn and talk about turf management. A Garden’s Tales of the Unexpected – a rummage in the archives Monday 23 November, 6.30pm. Friends £10; guests £15. Entrance via the bike park on Bateman Street Meet Dr Sam Brockington at this talk about the more unexpected finds he has made in his first months as Curator. He will be joined by Christine Bartram who’ll reveal her more unusual finds within the Herbarium collection and Jenny Sargent, Cory Library Manager, who’ll present some of the more unusual books and finds from our library and archives. Traditional wreath-making workshop Monday 30 November 2015, 10am. Friends £40; guests £45. Entrance via the bike park on Bateman Street Get in the mood for Christmas with a wreath-making workshop with the very
talented florist, Sam Cotterell. Using the traditional moss and wire method, decoration will use unusual foliage, seedheads, fresh fruit and some sparkle (with mince pies)!
Sainsbury Laboratory Tour Wednesday 27 January 2015, 11am. Friends £3; guests £8. Entrance via 47 Bateman Street Take a tour of this award-winning building and state-of-the-art plant sciences research centre, where world leading scientists research and collaborate to elucidate the regulatory systems underlying plant growth and development.
If you would like to go on to a waiting list for an event, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or the Friends’ office on 01223 336271. Tickets cannot be exchanged or money refunded except when an event is cancelled.