Gardening with Nature

I was invited by Richard V. Piacentini of the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA to present in a session at BGCI today called “When Less Bad is Not Good Enough Anymore: Lessons and Leading for a Regenerative World”. Richard has been awarded numerous environmental awards and is an honour to be…

Somewhere in the French Alps

You know when someone drives you somewhere and you realise you chatted to them rather than looking where you were going?  So today I went into the French Alps on a field trip.  Luckily my phone records where photos are taken so it seems I went to the base of Aiguille de Loriaz in the Vallorcine…

Mosses to mini-mountains

A short train ride from the centre of Berlin is the 43ha Berlin BG.  It’s main draw card is the beautiful Victorian style greenhouses.  But it has more to offer including an expansive arboretum park, meadows, alpine garden (with its own mini-mountains), and a water plant collection.  My favourite is the moss garden!   The…

Glassy

Ending up in an unknown, not on your itinerary Czech city,  Liberec, the train from Poland  only came here, not Prague) was fortunate as they have a really cool Botanic Garden.  Its central feature is a group pavilions, or glasshouses, which represent different plant biomes or themes e.g. Australia, the tropics, Asia, primitive plants etc….

An aquarium…for plants

The “Botanical Garden Of The University Of Wrocław” is a 7.4ha urban oasis in Poland’s 4th largest city.  Opening in 1811 it’s the second oldest garden in Poland (after Krakow). Like Krakow it’s set out for university teaching purposes.  The signage is wordy and probably not interesting to most visitors (even if you can speak…

The highest mountains of the Capathians

We are in the Tatras, the only alpine part of the Capathians which is in Poland (there is some snow here all year round).  There’s 12 peaks over 2000m (Mt Tongariro height). The vegetation tells the story: broadleaf forest, to conifers, shrubland then herbfield (2300m). Apparently there’s bears but thankfully/unfortunately we didn’t see them.  We…

A research garden

Botanic Gardens have a broad mandate (education, conservation, research, recreation & increasingly social and environmental purposes) and many gardens (like us) try and address the whole spectrum. Some choose to go strongly with one. If it’s a university paying the bills, like the Jagiellonian University BG of Kraków, then research is what it does.  The…

Fantasy forests

To connect people with tropical & sub-tropical forests Ukranian BG’s must grow these forest species under glass which is no mean feat if the trees are Araucaria bidwilli and A. angustifolia which get to 45m+. Here’s them pushing up a 33m greenhouse in two BG’s in Kyiv.   Their glasshouses are expensive to heat and…

Stipa Steppe

Our conference field trip was to the steppe. The Ukrainian steppe is an almost-extinct ecosystem as it’s fertile land now converted to horticulture (I saw corn, sunflower & soy beans). What is left is fragmented. We saw 3 patches in a nine hour trip. The characteristic, and beautiful, grass is Stipa pennata. It’s also the…

European Plant Conservation

Planta Europa is a European wide network of non-governmental organisations and governments working together to inspire a world where plants are valued and to avert the loss of wild plants. I am at their 8th meeting, they get together every 3 years starting in 1995. There are 23 countries represented here (but one is me…

Flowers for the founder 

Taras Shevchenko is known as the Father of Ukrainian language. Many things are named after him, and this is his image in his square, in front of the Taras Shevchenko Uni and on Taras Shevchenko Boulevard. Today they planted the annual bedding around it. People place cut flowers on the grass beside him as a tribute….