Friends of Glasgow Botanic Gardens Talk, Thursday 14th March

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As part of the monthly series of meetings, this month the Friends of Glasgow Botanic Gardens play host to Dr Alan Elliott, research associate from Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.

Alan’s doctoral studies centered on the bio-geography of Meconopsis and in this talk he expands on this topic to cover the collection and propagation of this iconic genus.

Alan will outline plans to start collecting seed to grow specimens for Glasgow Botanic Gardens.

Also covered will be Alan’s recent field work, contributing to the Flora of Nepal. This work was part-funded by the Friends of Glasgow Botanic Gardens and Alan’s poster for his work on the Flora of Nepal is displayed below.(Click to enlarge)



The talk on the 14th of March will start at 7.30 and will take place in the Bower Building of the University Of Glasgow. Please enter via the main entrance from 7pm onwards. The talks are free to members of the Friends but no-members are welcome(small donation)

Come Dino With Me- A Tour of Dippy the Dinosaur’s Desirable Dinner Menu.

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We have a number of places still available for our Dino-themed tour of the plant collections at Glasgow Botanic Gardens on the 13th Feb 2019 and the 13th March 2019. Pre-booking is essential so follow the link below to reserve a space before they are all…….extinct.

If you cant make the 13thFeb or 13th March then you can meet the Glasgow Botanic Gardens Education Team at Kelvingrove Museum on the 16th February. They are taking along some plants that are similar to those that Dippy nibbled and will also have a wide range of plant artifacts as part of a show and tell session.

All events are free but tours must be booked.


Come Dino With Me!! an event linked to Dippy on Tour: Glasgow.

Index Seminum 2018-2019

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Just a quick update on the link to the Index Seminum seed exchange page, just click on the

Index Seminum Page (Re-opens 10/12/2018)

We have reused last years page hence the mention of 2017 in the web address sorry for any confusion.

This year it is online, please do fill out a contact email and postal address when completing the online form

Hello 2019, Goodbye 2018

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We are now heading towards 2019 at a rapid rate of knots but it’s worth a quick glance back at some events and developments this year at Glasgow Botanic Gardens.

It started very dramatically with the winter storms that deposited several inches of snow on the Gardens during January and February. It even led to the most serious snow construction we have ever seen on the main lawn, the snow castle. The snow castle featured in the local news and its creators used it as a hub to gather money for a homelessness charity.



We soon got round to work, once the snow had melted, and turfed the beds at the main entrance to the Gardens. These beds had problems with Phytophthora ramorum and, rather than fence them off for 5 years, we have used the turf as a barrier between the soil and people feet/ pets’ paws. This will hopefully prevent the disease spreading around the Garden.



Several larger scale engineering works saw path improvements, on the north of the River Kelvin and, of course, the Humpback Bridge improvements.



The bridge remained closed for several months, as the contractors found more decay in the central spans than expected, but the wait was worth it.





The Kibble Palace has played host to several exhibitions and events including the Kelvin Biodiversity Network’s ‘Kelvin at the Kibble’ display which saw several organisations with a common interest in the River Kelvin exhibiting and hosting engagement days. Next year the focus will be on plastics and sustainability with the ‘battle upstream’ to prevent local litter becoming marine pollution.



The thirtieth anniversary of the Glasgow Garden Festival was marked by the Glasgow Wildlife Garden Festival with exhibitions and a bio-blitz. We worked closely with RSPB and the event, plus the launch of our mini-beast trail for young children, has been a great success.




The Friends of Glasgow Botanic Gardens provided funding for several projects around the Gardens including the Habitat art exhibition. This used the plant collections to spark memories in people and ask the question ‘Which plants mean home?’. It was great to work with artist Martha Orbach, the Maryhill Integration Network and the Govan Community Project and we hope to do more with these organistaions in the future.



With the movement towards taking education into the outdoors the Friends backed the construction of the Outdoor Classroom several years ago. This year the Gardens organised a pilot outdoor teaching and engagement week.  It was funded by the Friends and delivered by Glasgow Region Outdoor and Woodland Learning Group (GROWL). We set up a campsite at the old coup in the arboretum and, with invaluable support from Kelvinside Allotment Association at the Kirklee Allotment site, the boys and girls from Maryhill Safe til 6 After School had an amazing time. There was fruit picking, jam making, pizza and fire pits. The feedback was great and we are going to be actively looking for funders in 2019.




The Friends of Glasgow Botanic Gardens are also funding the creation of a digital inventory for books held in the Botanics’ library. We aim to have this project completed in 2019, and we will attach a link to this website so a wider audience can search through the resources. This project is ably led by Librarian Rob Westwood.


Another cultural use of the collections was as a backdrop to the Chinese Community Development Partnership exhibition. Based on stories of the older Glasgow Chinese community, their experiences of life in Glasgow was recorded and displayed alongside pictures of those interviewed. We were delighted to welcome the Lord Provost, the Chinese Counsel General and many members of the Glasgow Chinese community to the exhibition launch.





The RBGE Certificate of Practical Horticulture, delivered onsite and administered by the Friends, is now in its 6th year. Former Curator Paul Matthews (far right) is pictured below with another successful group of students at the Certificate presentation ceremony in September. We wish all this year’s students well and hope they enjoying putting what they have learned into practice. Many CPH students now go on to study on the Scottish Rural Colleges (SRUC) HNC Horticulture course, now in its second year at Glasgow Botanic Gardens.




Knowledge sharing of another sort was underway recently as our Orchid Propagator, Christine delivered a lecture (pictured below at RBGE) as part of Plant Heritage Collection Holders’ Conference. The Friends have been supporting the enhancement of the Dendrobium collection at Glasgow. Christine’s walks and talks on the orchid collection at Glasgow are always very well attended and it is good to see her taking her enthusiasm further afield.




Plant Heritage are the co-ordinating body for the National Plant Collections in the UK. Glasgow has three National Collections (as you will all know by now theses are Begonia, Dendrobium Orchids and Arborescent Ferns) and Plant Heritage have awarded a grant to enable GBG to update the interpretation on the Begonia Collection. The Begonia genera is a focus of taxonomic and bio-geographical study at Edinburgh and the number of species recognised has jumped to around 2000, so we are keen that our interpretation reflects current thinking.

Our Begonia collection information was reviewed this year as part of our annual Macintyre Begonia Trust funded collection management programme and Dr Alan Elliott was tasked with carrying out the work. The Friends also provided Dr Elliott with funds for his recent trip to Nepal where he assisted Nepalese scientists with research into invasive species as part of the Flora of Nepal Project. Alan will also be assisting Glasgow Botanic Gardens with a series of interpretation panels for the main range of glasshouses in 2019. In the picture below he ‘models’ the 1817-2017 Glasgow Botanic Gardens Bi-Centenary t-shirt in front of a Nepalese mountain backdrop.



We also work closely with the RBGE based International Conifer Conservation Project (ICCP) and regular visitors will have noticed some new plantings, and interpretation signs for older plantings appear round the Garden. We are very keen that the story of the plant collections within Glasgow Botanic Gardens is shared with as many visitors and students alike and the ICCP is a worthy conservation project. Glasgow Botanic Gardens propagator and general mr-fix-it Stevie is pictured below in front of new interpretation panel for the conifer, Fitzroya cupressioides. This is endangered in its native range in Chile and Glasgow provides not only a good site to grow the tree (Yes, it likes wet and boggy conditions!!) and it is a good engagement site for the Project due to our large visitor numbers. Watch out for more ICCP plantings and interpretation in 2019. The interpretation was jointly funded by Glasgow Tree Lovers Society, Glasgow City Council and the Friends group.



On the subject of conservation, the Millennium Seed Bank at Kew have been exploring new ways of improving the viability of plant material stored for future conservation programmes. Researchers are looking at cryogenic storage matched with invitro germination methods for some target species and Glasgow was able to supply plant material from the fern family, Hymenophyllaceae. The minute spore-producing structures are just visible on the picture below, if you follow the vein on the ‘leaf’ to the end. Filmy ferns like cool, damp conditions without strong sunlight so it’s not really a surprise Glasgow growing conditions suit these particular plants.



We moved from damp to scorching and dry during the summer. Our summer was long and hot but the brief period of Autumn this year provided some striking colours around the Gardens.






As well as our own team of horticulturalists we are assisted in keeping the Gardens maintained by several sets of much appreciated volunteers.



Our own regular Tuesday and Thursday volunteer group (above) are sometimes joined by occasional groups, like the one pictured below from Scottish Water, who help with rhododendron removal along the walkways.


Storm Ali brought strong winds that gusted around the Garden and caused considerable damage, especially to some of the more mature trees that were still in full leaf. Glasgow City Council arboriculture team were very busy but found time to make several damaged trees safe again so we could fully reopen the path network. We thank all the arbor and Gardens team for their hard work and also Garden visitors for their understanding when we had numerous path closed signs in place.


Inside the Glasshouses the main improvement programme was centered on the Arid houses and these were replanted to represent African arid regions and American arid regions. This necessitated a review of our plantings and a lot of work was done by the indoor team. The resulting planting scheme has been very well received by the public and has featured in several magazine articles, with CactusWorld featuring two articles in their 4th edition this year and listing the house as a must visit for their readers. Thanks are due to Louise and the two Stevens for driving this project forward. The picture below is of the newly identified Agave nickelsiae sending up its extraordinarily tall flower spike in the American Arid house.



There is much more to show, and more to share but much of it is better experienced with an actual visit. So why not make your 2019 new year resolution to visit Glasgow Botanic Gardens more often and get involved with our plant collections, our volunteers, our events…..our community.


We wish you a Merry Christmas and a  Happy New Year from all the Glasgow Botanic Gardens Team.




Index Seminum 2018/19 open 10th December

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We will be putting up our Index Seminum Seed Exchange List on the 10rd December 2018.

The form will be available for completion online only this year and we hope to have orders processed by early 2019.

The exchange is open only to those with an IPEN registration


Botanic Gardens Opening Hours Changes

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Due to the event taking place at the Botanic Gardens please note the following changes to opening hours.

From Friday 26th October till Sunday 11th November the Glasshouses will shut at 4.00pm

The Gardens’ gates will shut at 5.00pm on Friday 26th October and Saturday 26th October.

From Sunday 27th October until Sunday 11th November the Gardens’ gates will close at 4.00pm

Sorry for any inconvenience caused.


HABITAT-an exhibition. What plants remind you of home?

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With the help from local artist Martha Orbach we are running a couple of drawing sessions and screen-printing workshops culminating in an exhibition in the Kibble Palace in December.



The classes are free as they are funded by the Friends of Glasgow Botanic Gardens but you must book via eventbrite-search Habitat or email

The Friends are working with Maryhill Integration Network, Govan Community Projects to deliver this project with the opening day on Human Rights Day, 10th December.

October Update

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The Humpbacked Bridge that joins the Gardens to the Kelvin Walkway was reopened in mid-September.


September didn’t leave without a violent goodbye, in the shape of Storm Ali.

The Gardens had to close completely; which is a rare event. The amount of branches and trees coming down on paths made this a necessity and, one day later, the Gardens team aided by the City Arbor Team started to clean up trees and reopen paths.

A large beech failed beside the Queen Margaret Bridge and fell safely into the River Kelvin.

On a brighter note we saw the Lord Provost and the Chinese Consul General open an exhibition in the Kibble Palace. This was about the Chinese Community’s experiences of Glasgow life from the 1950s onward. Its based on the personal tales of elder community members who have been interviewed as part of a project co-ordinated by the Chinese Community Development Partnership.

Further afield.

As part of our review of the National Collection of Begonias held at Glasgow Botanic Gardens we have managed to fund the services of horticultural taxonomist Dr Alan Elliott. In his spare time working at Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Alan has been contributing to the Flora of Nepal.

The Friends of Glasgow Botanic Gardens have helped Alan with funds to cover accommodation for his latest expedition to Nepal. In the latest photo update Alan can be found pressing plant specimens at Jajarikot Khalanga, in this case a species of endemic Himalayan Clematis. (Clematis gouriana).

Maybe we could start to gather pictures of Glasgow Botanic Gardens t shirts in exotic places?

Finally, its back to October in Glasgow, and bright Acer colours down by the main gate.

Spring CPH Students receive their awards

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On Saturday, the students who completed the 2018 Spring course of the Certificate of Practical Horticulture were awarded their certificates in the South Wing of the Kibble Palace. A special award was also made by the Baldernock Gardening Club to the ‘most improved’ student. The recipient was Karen, a student who traveled down every day from Aberdeen to attend the course and is determined to pursue a career in horticulture. Well done to everyone, and thanks to lead tutor Paul (far right) and assistant tutor Lisa (far left) for making the course as successful and friendly as usual.

Holy Smoke Robin!! It’s the Bat and Moth Night!!

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On the 31st of August, as we slowly slip into Autumn, why not come along to the Bat and Moth Night at Glasgow Botanic Gardens.

Meet near the Kibble Palace after 7.00pm for a 7.30 pm start.

Please contact Scott Donaldson at to book your place.