A castle in the forest

Ksiaz Castle (Zamek Ksiaz in Polish) is set in the Sudetan mountain beech forest. The dominant trees I saw were Quercus robur & Fagus sylvatica. Apparently there are yew trees too but I didn’t find them.  The outlook from the castle windows for 360 degrees is forest which must have been very nice for the…

She wanted flowers all year round!

In Poland you can stay in a castle – so we are! It’s got a pretty gritty WWII history just like every part of Poland (it was being prepared for Hitler to live in after he won, thankfully he didn’t). The Ksiaz (pronounced ‘Shoungsh’, not kidding) castle is 700 years old but as with all…

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…

Sharing a passion for plant conservation

Conferences are not just about sharing ideas but meeting people you will stay in touch with and that you might be able to connect others to. Now I have friends from Lithuania, Hungary, Belarus, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Poland, Ukraine (our hosts), Turkey, Bulgaria, Germany and a Ukrainian now based in Canada.  [Even though…

The two BG’s of Kyiv

The conference I’ve just attended in Kyiv was a Botanic Garden (BG) for University teaching. Much of it is not publically accessible.  The part of it that captivated me the most were the glasshouses and I’ve mentioned the tropical forest glasshouse already, the others are mostly filled with succulents. Many of the students studying here…

Green Urban Ukraine

Ukrainians value greenery and flowers in their cities. Flowers are sold at almost every corner and instead of window washers dodging rush hour traffic it’s flower sellers. Most cafes have planter boxes and most streets have concrete planter boxes in the centre or edge of paths. 

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…

Getting around Ukraine

I have seen as many new and flash cars here in Ukraine as we do at home but for the record there’s also some relics of the soviet era that need to be recorded! Some of these I traveled in.

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…

Plant Conservation in Aotearoa NZ

I presented at Planta Europa today in Kiev, Ukraine.  Because most other people at this conference are unfamiliar with the NZ flora I focused some issues that unite us (in threatened plant management) and some (hopefully) memorable examples so they want to find out more! We’re not the only country with weed issues and I…