k e w news
Seeds take centre stage at World Expo Formed from 60,000 transparent rods that quiver in the breeze, the spectacular UK Pavilion – or Seed Cathedral – is drawing in the crowds at the Shanghai World Expo. Designed by Thomas Heatherwick, the building is a striking, visual demonstration of the UK as a creative and innovative nation.
The 60,000 swaying rods, each with seeds at the tip, resemble a dandelion clock
Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank Partnership (MSBP) provides the central theme for the Pavilion and it has played a fundamental role in the project. Tens of thousands of seeds, chosen by Kew’s Wolfgang Stuppy and his collaborator Jie Cai, are encased in the ends of the acrylic rods. The Germplasm Bank of Wild Species at the Kunming Institute of Botany – a partner of the MSBP – supplied the seeds, which highlight both useful and threatened plant species, including the soya bean, sacred lotus, coffee and rubber.
Each rod acts like a fibre-optic filament, drawing in daylight to illuminate the interior. At night, light sources embedded in the rods allow the Seed Cathedral to glow.
The Expo runs until 31 October and is expected to attract 70 million visitors.
Find out much more by searching for Shanghai Expo at www.kew.org, or go to www.ukshanghaiexpo.com.
Big success with tiny waterlily
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In an important breakthrough, seeds of the world’s smallest waterlily have been germinated by Kew’s Carlos Magdalena, and successfully grown on to produce 30 thriving plants. Nymphaea thermarum, from Rwanda, is thought to be extinct in the wild, as its habitat, in the mud around hot springs, has been lost due to over-exploitation of water sources. Until now, only very few seeds had been germinated, and the plants had failed to reach maturity.
This impressive achievement highlights the importance of ex-situ conservation, as it is now likely that a viable wild population can be created from Kew’s collection. The species also has great ornamental potential – being a dwarf waterlily that doesn’t need a pond.
Find out more at www.kew.org, and read about Kew’s important ex-situ conservation work in Botanic Gardens: modern-day arks by Sara Oldfield, on sale in the Kew shop at £24.99.
Thanks to Carlos Magdalena’s work, Kew has 30 new Nymphaea thermarum www.kew.org/newswww.kew.org/news A delicious reason to visit
If you’re planning a trip to Kew in the next few months, make sure you try out the exciting new seasonal menus from Peyton and Byrne. Over the next 12 months, each of Kew’s food venues will be completely refurbished, with family-friendly dining and an ice-cream parlour at White Peaks, a new barbecue grill at the Pavilion restaurant, an enlarged café at Victoria Gate and a sophisticated waiter-service restaurant in the Orangery, as well as a kiosk by the Xstrata Treetop Walkway. A wide choice of food will be on offer, with the focus on British, seasonal and well-sourced ingredients.
Peyton and Byrne is committed to making everything from scratch – the company rears its own beef in Devon and bakes its own bread. It even produces its own range of jams and chocolate. ‘We hope to bring something quintessentially British to the catering, reflecting the Gardens’ rich 250-year-old heritage,’ explains Oliver Peyton.
None of the food is pre-prepared, so you’ll enjoy a choice of freshly made, seasonal salads and sandwiches, as well as hot dishes such as roast free-range chicken, poached organic salmon, and sautéed field mushrooms with violet artichokes, to name but a few. Peyton and Byrne has outlets in some of London’s major attractions, including the British Library and The Wellcome Collection.
Go to www.peytonandbyrne.co.uk and www.oliverpeyton.co.uk for more details.
Biodiversity spreads its wings
Walk among the exotic butterflies in the Princess of Wales Conservatory
To celebrate the International Year of Biodiversity, Kew is staging a wide range of events highlighting the importance of plants and fungi as the basis of life on Earth (see What’s On on page 60).
Don’t miss the free-flying butterflies and moths, live bug displays and sculptures of insects, birds and bats in the Princess of Wales Conservatory. Here you’ll also be able to learn about the amazing relationships between flowering plants and their pollinators.
Children will love PLANTastic Play, Kew’s new woodland adventure area near Queen Charlotte’s Cottage. Crawl-tunnel roots and a leaf-themed maze are just some of the elements that ensure they’ll have fun while learning how plants work (see p48).
Kew’s wildlife is the focus of a stunning exhibition of photographs by Heather Angel in the Nash Conservatory, near the Main Gate. Meanwhile, in the Palm House you can relax while listening to the dawn and dusk choruses from the rainforests of South America, in a wonderfully atmospheric sound installation called Whispering in the Leaves, by Chris Watson.
And if you’re in central London this summer, do visit Kew’s South Africa Landscape at the British Museum. You’ll see spectacular plants, including quiver trees, from the biodiversity hotspot of South Africa’s Cape region (see p22).
Saturday 22 May is the International Day of Biodiversity. Find out more about summer events on page 60 and at www.kew.org.
Do try out the new food menus at Kew, including the tempting cakes kew news
Two great new books from Kew
Two useful books have just been launched by Kew Publishing. The Kew Plant Glossary by Henk Beentje (priced £18) is an essential companion for anyone working with plant descriptions, plant identification keys, floras and field guides. This handy illustrated dictionary explains 4,100 botanical terms.
Another invaluable publication is Elizabeth Dauncey’s Poisonous Plants, which details more than 130 wild and cultivated plants that are poisonous if eaten or touched. Other features include an introduction to how plants cause harm and ideas for designing a safe garden. It’s out now for the great value price of just £15.
You can purchase all of Kew’s books in the Kew shop, online at shop.kew.org or from www.kewbooks.com.
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