Evolving a new garden
3 April 2007
The new Botanic Garden will provide the University and City of Bristol with a unique botanical and cultural resource for the future
It will focus on four themed plant collections, but of particular interest will be the Plant Evolution Collection, comprising Evolution of Land Plants, Flowering Plant Phylogeny, and Floral Diversity.
The Evolution of Land Plants Collection will consist of a walk through a sunken dell charting the most important stages in the evolution of plants on land, from green algae to flowering plants. This 'evolutionary walk' will take the form of a journey through geological time from the Cambrian to the Cretaceous using appropriately chosen rocks and fossils to reflect the passage of geological time. Living representatives from the various groups of modern land plants will then appear along the walk within the geological times zone when they first evolved – mosses, ferns and clubmosses in the Devonian, conifers in the late Permian and Triassic and flowering plants in the Cretaceous. The walk will reflect the ‘crescendo’ of plant evolutionary diversification, culminating in the Cretaceous with an ‘explosion’ of flowering plants centred around a spectacular display of magnolias.
The Flowering Plant Phylogeny Collection has been designed to reflect modern theories on the evolutionary relationships and classification of the many families of flowering plants inferred from comparisons of their DNA sequences. The paths within this collection will take the form of a branching family tree (phylogeny) of the flowering plants, beginning with the most primitive groups – so-called ‘basal angiosperms’ – from which the other major lineages of flowering plants diverged. The Floral Diversity Collection will reflect the extraordinary diversity of flower form that has evolved to ensure that flowers are pollinated by insects, birds, mammals, wind or water. Tropical, sub-tropical and some Mediterranean elements of these three sub-collections will be displayed within the glasshouses.
See the website for the Botanic Garden’s location and opening times: