Gardeners at Bristol Zoo have been awarded a gold medal at the prestigious Hampton Court Palace Flower Show this week.
The Zoo’s team of green-fingered plant experts are displaying their collection of Caryopteris, more commonly known as ‘bluebeard’, at the biggest plant show in the world.
Bristol Zoo Gardens is an official national collection holder of these plants and isshowing a variety of the plants in an Oriental themed display in the Plant Heritage tent, which this year has the theme of worldwide conservation. The display includes rare species such as Caryopteris mongolicaas well as rare and unusual garden varieties.
Mike Adams, horticulture manager at Bristol Zoo, said: “We are thrilled to have won a gold medal, it is a fantastic achievement and a great honour to be exhibiting alongside some other brilliant garden designers and collection holders at this prestigious flower show.
“ExhibitingCaryopteris is challenging because the plants aren’t yet in flower so a great deal of care was taken on the construction of the red and black backdrop, screens and ornaments. These included red sandstone, a brass bowl with floating flowers, bamboo complete with a birds nest and pieces of folded paper.”
Judges were impressed with the design of the display as well as the care and precision to the detail, and commented that there was the right amount of information for visitors. The display was marked as ‘excellent’ in the categories of ‘plants’, ‘information and interpretation’, ‘overall impression’ and ‘scale of endeavor’.
Mike added: “Bristol Zoo is well known for its animal collection, but perhaps less so for its wonderful botanical gardens and amazing plant heritage, so being invited to exhibit at Hampton Court Palace Flower Show is a great opportunity to give visitors a taste of the inspiring gardens Bristol Zoo has to offer.”
This is the second time the Zoo’s gardens team has been invited to the show after first exhibiting in 2010, winning bronze medal for its display of ginger lilies (Hedychium).
Caryopterisis an Asian shrub first brought into the UK by plant huntersin the 19th century. Due to human activities many of China’s endemic plants are now under threat and in danger of becoming extinct.
Horticulture experts from Bristol Zoo are working in partnership with Plant Heritage to conserve the species and varieties of Caryopteris for the future.
Caryopterisare late-flowering, with aromatic leaves and flowers,and provide a rich nectar source for insects and bees.Their flowers range from the typically blue to the less common pink, white and yellow. Growing Caryopteris in your garden can help to conserve the UK’s native bee populations by providing a late source of nectar.
They are especially appropriate for small gardens due to their size, rarely exceeding a metre in height and spread, and are ideal for a mixed or shrub border. Some of the taller specimens are herbaceous, and their elegant flowers are suited to herbaceous borders.
As well as manning their display and meeting members of the public, gardeners from Bristol Zoo will also be giving a talk on the Zoo’s latest garden conservation project, the Bristol Community Plant Collection, on Thursday afternoon (July 5th).
This is an innovative project whereby a botanical collection of important plantsare managed centrally – by Bristol Zoo - but are grown on a number of different sites across Bristol.
To find out more about Bristol Zoo Gardens, visit the website at www.bristolzoo.org.uk/gardens or call 0117 974 7300.
To find out more about the Hampton Court Flower Show, visit the website at www.rhs.org.uk/Shows-Events/RHS-Hampton-Court-Palace-Flower-Show/2012
Notes to the Editor
Bristol Zoo Gardens
Bristol Zoo is open from 9am every day except Christmas Day.
Bristol Zoo Gardens is a conservation and education charity and relies on income from visitors and supporters to continue its important work.
Bristol Zoo is involved with more than 100 co-ordinated breeding programmes for threatened wildlife species.
Itemploys over 150 full and part-time staff to care for the animals and run a successful visitor attraction to support its conservation and education work.
Bristol Zoo supports – through finance and skill sharing - 15 projects in the UK and abroad that conserveand protectsome of the world’s most endangered species.
In 2011 Bristol Zoo celebrated its 175th birthday. Over that past 175 years, the Zoo has brought six generations of Bristolians closer to wildlife, helped save over 175 species from extinction, established over 30 field conservation and research programmes all over the world, showed 40 millionschool-aged children the wonder of nature and given more than 90 million visitors a wonderful day out.
In 2010 Bristol Zoo Gardens set up a Conservation Fund to raise vital funds to help care for threatened animals and plants – both in the Zoo and through the conservation work we do in the UK and around the world.
Bristol Zoo Gardens is a member of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums. BIAZA represents more than 90 member collections and promotes the values of good zoos and aquariums.