University of Cambridge Museums

Projects, events and news from the University of Cambridge Museums

Festival of Plants 2016

Saturday 14 May 2016, 10am – 5pm
Cambridge University Botanic Garden

Cambridge University Botanic Garden is holding its annual Festival of Plants, on Saturday 14 May 2016, offering something for everyone to enjoy: from families to photographers, gardeners to budding plant scientists or anyone looking for an interesting day out in beautiful surroundings.

Festival of Plants 2016 promenadeSet in the Garden’s 40 acres, the Festival of Plants celebrates all things plant as it hosts a range of activities, tours and events including: hands-on plant science activities and plant-themed pop-up museum family fun; displays of carnivorous plants and orchids; free tours of the Garden and bite-size plant science talks. Horticultural experts will be on hand to answer plant queries and offer advice including tips on vegetable growing and composting and there will be specialist plant stalls, pop-up food stalls and musical entertainment on the Garden’s Main Lawn.

The aim of the Botanic Garden’s Festival of Plants is to provide visitors with an opportunity to find out more about the plants the Garden grows and the science they support as well as exciting plant and conservation projects happening in Cambridge. The day also offers a chance to interact with scientists from across the University working on plant-based solutions to global problems.

“This is the fourth year we’re holding the Festival of Plants. It’s an important day for the Garden where we bring the wonders of the plant world into focus. May is one of the most promising and beautiful months of the year to visit British gardens – the spring tulips are still out, joined by irises and the early summer flowers, creating a crescendo of colour as the days become longer and the temperatures begin to climb. The University Botanic Garden, here in the heart of Cambridge, is no exception, and in spring we particularly celebrate our flowering trees as well as our herbaceous plants.

However, the Botanic Garden is not just about the beauty of plants; it is an important focus for plant science research, particularly in Cambridge, but also around the world. The Garden’s collection of 8000 species is used by researchers investigating how plants work, how they evolved, how they are related to each other, and how they can be used to address global problems as challenging as food security and climate change. Some of the species we grow are the focus of conservation projects because they are so rare while some are the focus of projects to extend the range and yield of important crops.”

Botanic gardens and plant scientists play a crucial role in addressing the global concerns the world faces today.

“The first two decades of the 21st century have been marked by a growing realisation that only scientific research, and particularly research focused on the plants we depend on for food and shelter, can tackle the global problems that face mankind. These issues were brought to public attention in 2009 when Professor John Beddington, then the UK government’s chief scientific advisor, talked of a “perfect storm” resulting from shortages of food, energy and water. Botanic gardens are in the unique position of being able to supply researchers with access to an enormous diversity of plant species, and it is both a privilege and a challenge to support scientific research that aims to solve these problems.”
Professor Beverley Glover, Director, Botanic Garden

Festival of Plants Activities and Events

Festival of Plants 2016 marqueeScience

Pop-up Science Marquee on the Main Lawn. Groups from the University’s Plant Science department, Sainsbury Laboratory, Global Food Security, Natural Material Group and others demonstrate and explain the wonders of plants with hands on experiments and interactive games designed to highlight how world-leading research can help address global challenges.

Plant Promenade
A perfect opportunity to purchase plants from local and specialist nurseries. Includes specialist ferns (Fernatix), clematis and perennials (Adams Plants), rare and unusual trees (The Place for Plants).

Free Garden Tours
Garden Guides will be giving highlight tours showing what’s best in the Garden. Also behind-the-scenes tours with Glasshouse Supervisor Alex Summers; personal favourites with Head of Horticulture Sally Petitt and an opportunity to get botanically mathematical with a tour on phyllotaxis.

Talking Plants
10-15 minute drop in talks throughout the day in the marquee by the lake. Topics will include climate control, crop breeding, the whole world as a garden and even the science of chocolate.

Cambridge Orchid Society Annual Show
The Cambridge Orchid Society Annual Show is being held in our Glasshouse Range. Experts will be on hand to give out growing hints and tips with sales by Laurence Hobbs Orchids Ltd.

Ask the Gardener
Visitors are invited to bring along tricky garden questions, dilemmas or plants to identify and the Garden’s horticultural team will be happy to help and give advice.

Schools’ Garden
Drop-in to the Schools Garden and Garden Room and meet education teams from the University of Cambridge Museums including Kettle’s Yard, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, and the Polar Museum who are joining the Garden for plant-themed pop-up museum family fun. There will also be a display of carnivorous plants and horticultural staff will be on hand to give advice on vegetable growing and composting. Activities will run from 11am – 5pm.

Around the Fringe
Throughout the day musical entertainment on the Main Lawn will be provided by Mayflower Folk Club. The Garden Café will be providing fresh food along with several pop-up refreshments from Caffe Mobile, Jack’s Gelato and Cambridge food Park’s Wandering Yak and Churros Bar. The Autumn Garden becomes an outdoor gallery hosting the International Garden Photographer of the Year exhibition (13 April-10 June).

Festival of Plants runs from 10am – 5pm on Saturday 14 May 2016. Normal Garden admission applies: £5.00/£5.50 gift aid (£4.50/£4.95 concession) and accompanied children 16 and under are admitted free of charge.

Tickets can be bought in advance from the Garden’s ticket offices to avoid queues on the day.

A full schedule of tours and talks will be available on the Garden’s website

Talks are drop-in and tours can be booked on the day at the Tour Tent on the Main Lawn.

Festival of Plants is supported by the CambPlants and the Sainsbury Laboratory Cambridge University.

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