Friends' appeal


The Friends hold a wide variety of events to raise funds for the Botanic Garden. In the past these have included art exhibitions, music concerts and wine-tasting evenings, adopt-a-plant programmes, barbeques and visits to magnificent public gardens e.g. Kew and Wisley.  Friends have also opened their own private gardens with plant sales and refreshments provided by volunteers.  Some recipes for cakes made by volunteers for these open gardens together with others which were taken into the Garden for the hard-working staff and garden volunteers were compiled into a very successful cookbook.

Over the years we have made appeals for larger amounts of money for specific purposes as shown below.




The Botanic Garden has been enriched, rejuvenated and enlivened by the trainee horticulturalists it has hosted and mentored over the last few years. Two national schemes in particular have helped to fund them: the Historic and Botanic Gardens Bursary Scheme (HBGBS) and the Work and Retrain as a Gardener Scheme (WRAGS). They have different origins and requirements, but they share a common purpose; to offer a thorough, practical grounding in a working garden that can serve as a springboard for the trainee into permanent employment and career development. The HBGBS is partly funded by the National Lottery, enabling it to offer bursaries that, when topped up by the host Garden, provide a trainee with funding that is more or less equivalent to the minimum wage. The WRAGS scheme acts as an organiser and coordinator, matching individuals with a suitable ‘host’ garden and training environment. It is the garden itself that provides a small bursary for the trainee.

Zoe Parfitt was the successful candidate. She already knew the Garden as part of the Writhlington School Orchid Project and was very appreciative of the chance the Friends have given her to further her career.
Claire Cope, our current trainee horticulturist, was given a very special task this year, to grow the seeds of Eruca sativa, rocket, which were brought back from space by British astronaut, Tim Peake.
The Garden has recently welcomed Patrick Paul, the latest recruit to the Garden, who is being funded by the Friends from the Education and Training Fund as a Horticultural Apprentice.

In the words of a recent trainee: ‘Nick Wray and the Garden team are all incredibly knowledgeable ...and it is one of the friendliest places I have worked at where everyone is made welcome.’

The Friends’ committee supports the Botanic Garden in its commitment to develop the next generation of horticulturalists. The Garden would like to host at least one horticultural trainee annually that may be funded in part but not completely by external bursary schemes. To help meet the cost, in 2014 we launched an appeal for donations towards a Friends’ Education and Training Fund which we hope will grow steadily over the years.Our original aim was to raise £4000 to enable the Friends to fund a trainee for a year.

We were overwhelmed by the response to the Appeal. It was intended that there would be trainees from both the WRAGS and HBGBS but we were made aware that in 2014 a HBGBS bursary was not available. They decided to introduce a two-year as well as a one-year traineeship and to limit the number of gardens included in the scheme and this time Bristol was not chosen as a host garden.

The Curator therefore proposed a very exciting scheme and asked if the Friends would support a trainee under the auspices of the University of Bristol Botanic Garden which would bear the total cost.

With close liaison between the Curator and the Friends we agreed to support a trainee for a full year, to include day release for the RHS Level 2 Certificate of Horticulture which is run at the Botanic Garden. The total cost is in the region of £10,800 and will provide the trainee with a superb basis for a career in horticulture.

Our members’ amazing response to the appeal achieved a figure of some £5,800 (which includes Gift Aid where appropriate) plus a very generous donation from an individual of £5000 (including Gift Aid). Zoe Parfitt was the successful candidate who started work at the Garden in November. Zoe already knew the Garden as part of the Writhlington School Orchid Project and is enjoying being a full part of the team. She is very appreciative of the chance the Friends have given her to further her career. 


The Education and Training Fund remains open and any further donations will be most welcome. Thery will be added to the subscriptions of our Benefactor and Corporate members.

Thank you again for your continued generosity.

Donations can be made by cash, cheque or credit/debit card and sent to John Leach, 17 Ashton Crescent, Nailsea BS48 2JR. Tel: 01275 854992


 FRIENDS' APPEAL 2012/2013

In the previous few years over £12000 has been raised for special projects in the garden. In 2013 the focus was on increasing our Friends’ membership, and members were asked to help by:

Our membership continues to grow and we thank all of you who have spread the word.


Thanks to the generosity of all of our members who helped the Friends exceed their target. We have given the garden a total of £4000 to develop this collection. This display focuses on plants from the seasonally dry parts of Australia, particularly the west coast, and the forest of South East Australia. Species include shrubby Acacia, Eucalyptus, Grevillea, Banksia, Hakia and Lomatia. The planting is augmented at one end with a seasonal display of annuals. This complements the Namaqualand annuals in the adjoining South African display.




The Friends accepted the challenge to raise £3,000 to replace plants lost in the severe winter of 2009, and also to purchase new species of ferns for the Evolutionary dell and provide additional plants for the Angiosperm Phylogeny Display.





 FRIENDS’ APPEAL 2007-2009

The Abominable Mystery Seat

This appeal was launched in 2007 reaching its target in 2009. It included a number of donations from individual families in memory of loved ones and friends who have volunteered at the Garden. The total sum raised of £5500 enabled the commission of a very special semi-circular seat, which should last for many years, overlooking the main pool in front of the Floral Diversity (pollination) display. The wood is entirely recycled Burmese teak, which had originally formed the floorboards of a warehouse in Delhi.

The inscription on the top rails reads: ‘The Abominable Mystery Seat.’

‘In a letter to Joseph D Hooker dated July 22nd 1879, Charles Darwin famously described the origin of flowering plants, the angiosperms, as an ‘abominable mystery.’


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