Travels to Guangdong Province, China - Nick Wray - Lecture

21 February 2019, 7.30 PM - 21 February 2019, 9.00 PM

Nick Wray, Curator, University of Bristol Botanic Garden

The Frank Theatre, Wills Physics Laboratory, Tyndall Avenue, Bristol, BS8 1TL.

Nick Wray and Tony Harrison, co-ordinator of the Botanic Garden’s Traditional Chinese Herb Garden and former Vice President of the Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine visited Guangzhou city and the Yingde Mountains last year to meet tea growers and see first-hand the Yingde Karst stone landscape and visit its quarries.

 2018 marked the seventeenth year of the partnership between Bristol and the city of Guangzhou (formerly Canton) in Guangdong Province Southern China. Located on the Pearl River about 120km north west of Hong Kong and 145 km North of Macau, Guangzhou has a history spanning 2200 years and was a major terminus for the maritime silk road and continues to serve as a major port and transportation hub today as well as being one of China’s largest cities.

 Visitors to Bristol Botanic Garden will have already enjoyed viewing the donation of the stainless-steel kapok flower sculpture that the City of Bristol was given by the Mayor of Guangzhou that now stands proudly in the Chinese Medicinal Herb Garden

 A major aim of this trip was to make a link between the University of Bristol Botanic Garden and the South China Botanic Garden. Other objectives included sourcing new lotus Nelumbo nucifera cultivars and different species of tumeric and other members of the ginger family; investigating their medicinal herb collection to identify possible species for Bristol and visiting classical gardens of Guangdong including Qinghui Yu Jin Shan Fang and Liang Yuan gardens as models for the culture gardens at Bristol.

 In this lecture Nick will tell us more details about their travels and some of the people they met. They visited the home of Yingde tea which is famous throughout China. The tea character is Oolong and the most profitable cultivar is intriguingly called 1959, a blend developed and named in honour of our Queen Elizabeth’s state visit to China in that year. This high-profile blend which is sold in China commands a high price of £80 per kilo retail and £40 per kilo wholesale.

The trend in China is for more tea growers to grow in a sustainable way. Pesticide use became mainstream about 20 years ago in a drive to increase food production. In sustainable systems cows are frequently being introduced to tea plantations (they eat weeds, but not the tea as its tastes bitter) and also supply extra nutrients. Trees are allowed to grow at higher density and a mixture of tree species is cultivated to attract different bird species.

 Nick Wray was awarded the RHS Associate of Honour in 2016 for his distinguished service to horticulture in the course of his working life.  The award recognises his work of more than 30 years at the garden and for his role in creating the new Botanic Garden at The Holmes, which was the first new university botanic garden to be moved and redeveloped in the UK for nearly 40 years.

 He is responsible for curating the Botanic Garden’s plant collections and promoting them as an educational and conservation resource. Nick has many interests in plants particularly the flora of South Africa, where he has spent years studying plants in the wild and leading tours to this biodiverse part of the world.

 This work has led him to speak at many conferences and meetings including Leiden’s Hortus Botanicus 425th celebrations, which is the one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world.

 Nick has served as a judge at RHS shows including Chelsea, is a past Member of the RHS Tender and Ornamental Plant Committee [1998-2012] and is currently a Member of the RHS Herbal Advisory Group, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Horticulture and Fellow of the Linnean Society of London.


This lecture is organised by the Friends of the University of Bristol Botanic Garden.

This lecture will be held at the Frank Theatre, Wills Physics Laboratory, Tyndall Avenue, Bristol, BS8 1TL.

All lectures start at 7.30pm (except in March) and are free to Friends on production of their membership card.  Visitors will be asked for a donation (suggested £5).  Attendees can use any University car park: the nearest are in University Walk and The Hawthorns (no booking is necessary).
Please note that after recent changes there is now a charge of £3 for parking after 6pm on Tyndall Avenue.

Disabled access: The University will make every effort to provide disabled access where possible.  Disabled parking is available and wheelchair access is by the ramp at the side of the main steps.  If you require support due to a disability please email:

Hearing loop: A number of members have hearing problems and it has been confirmed that a hearing loop is fitted in the Frank Theatre which should automatically work when the microphone is used which we always request our speakers to do.  Individual hearing aids may need to be adjusted to a T setting.

Visit to China in 2018

Nick Wray and Tony Harrison meeting a tea grower

Visit to China in 2018

A classical garden of Guangdong by Nick Wray