Kew magazine blog
Kew magazine is the magazine of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Its purpose is to support and communicate the broad range of Kew’s work as it studies and saves plants, fungi and their habitats around the world. We follow intrepid botanists on expeditions around the world, unearth how Kew’s gardeners put on fantastic horticultural displays every year, and look at how staff are involved in practical conservation projects in both the UK and abroad, and much, much more.
Here you will get the latest updates from Christina Harrison, Editor of Kew magazine. Find out how the magazine is put together and what the latest feature stories are right here.
In the spring issue of Kew magazine (out in the first week of March) we'll be marking the 20th anniversary of Kew's flagship publication with a look back over 20 of the key ways Kew has made a difference in the past two decades. It was really interesting to put this list together, and very hard to limit it to just 20 in number.
It was a poignant reminder of the importance of Kew's work and just how wide-ranging it is – from saving and caring for endangered species, to dealing with Customs' seizures, to putting on fascinating exhibitions and educational programmes, to running the world's largest ex situ conservation project in the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership.
The Wellcome Trust Millennium Seed Bank building at Wakehurst (Image: RBG Kew)
Nearly all of Kew's work is done in partnership with other organisations, and with funding bodies and supporters. It is heartening to see that so many people can work together with the goal of documenting, researching and conserving plant life.
Hot onto the presses
We've literally just sent our spring issue off to press and we hope there is something for everyone in there - Richard Wilford takes a look at Kew's beautiful pasque flower (Pulsatilla) collection on the Rock Garden and revels in the glorious spring magnolias, and we take a peek behind the scenes at the (very) curious objects in the Economic Botany Collection too.
Kew has 85,000 objects in its Economic Botany Collection (Image: RBG Kew)
Thank you for your help
We've just brought our reader survey to an end as well, and there have been some very interesting and supportive comments! Thank you. We'll be taking time to look over what everyone has said, and using the results to inform our decisions over the six months about the design and content of the magazine. One lucky winner and a friend will be enjoying an orchid-inspired afternoon tea in the Orangery during Tropical Extravaganza as their prize. Do come along and see the festival in the Princess of Wales Conservatory this month – I popped in earlier today and it is truly stunning.
Kew magazine is available on subscription as a print or electronic edition.
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This is the question asked by Georgina Langdale in a feature in the latest Kew magazine. Georgina has been involved in an international study into the true value of nature, namely The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity – known as TEEB.
She makes the point that nature is often invisible to us in terms of its importance and economic value, hence its ongoing degradation around the world. The values of its benefits are often overlooked or poorly understood. But if this perception was changed, governments, businesses and individuals would save money, maintain healthy habitats and save endangered species at the same time.
This approach of valuing 'natural capital' and working with nature is already being taken up by some – you can see examples on the TEEB website and it is hoped this way of thinking will accelerate in the future as its benefits become clear.
Georgina argues that 'business as usual' is ultimately self-defeating.
Kew is involved in many international projects to ensure natural capital is not lost, including the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership, which has an international network working to save plants and habitats under threat on a daily basis.
MSBP staff on a seed collecting expedition in Malawi
TEEB has produced a series of reports – for policy makers, business and for citizens. The final report was presented at COP 10 in Nagoya, Japan in October.
Read Georgina's article in Kew magazine, and go to teebweb where all the reports are available for download.
You can subscribe to Kew magazine as a print or digital edition - find out more here.
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Carolyn Fry's articles Desperately Seeking Species (which appeared in our spring 2010 issue) and Saving a World of Diversity (from summer 2010) were both finalists in the environment category of the 2010 Garden Media Guild awards this week. The Kew magazine team were absolutely thrilled to reach the finals again, especially as two articles made it through!
Kew Publishing did really well at the awards - winning Reference Book of the Year for The Kew Plant Glossary: an illustrated dictionary of plant identification terms by Kew botanist Dr Henk Beentje. This is an immensely useful guide to all botanical terms.
Henk Beentje (left) receives his award
The judges were unanimous in voting this the winner, saying:
"A reference book that provides clear definitions, excellent line drawings and would fit into a large pocket for on-the-spot use. The cover is alluring and exciting and the contents exemplary in accuracy. Thrill to the fact that not only will technical terms from abaxial to zygomorphous be at your fingertips, but that you will understand them. The correct names for shapes, divisions and colours of leaves, flowers, seeds and fruit are all described and annotated. Impeccable and a great investment."
Poisonous Plants: A guide for parents & childcare providers by Elizabeth Dauncey, published by Kew Publishing was another finalist in this category, while Why People Need Plants - published in association with the Open University - was a finalist in the Plants and Well Being award.
To add to the excitement further, Kew's website was also a finalist in the online media website of the year award. It was quite an afternoon!
- Christina -
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It's not long now and the winter issue of Kew magazine will be out, delivered to all the Friends of Kew and available, bright and fresh, on the stands in Kew's shops. When you see the stunning cover you'll know that one of the main articles is about those little gems of the plant world – alpines.
Massonia pustulata, Image: Richard Wilford
Alpines are the plants we can rely on to brighten the winter season. Kew's manager of alpine collections, Richard Wilford, is the author of a new book from Kew publishing – Alpines, from mountain to garden, which is a treasure trove of information about alpines from all corners of the globe. In the winter issue, Richard has written a feature for us on how many of the familiar alpine species were first discovered and picks eight of his favourites, which you could try at home too. The book and the feature are packed with fab images. There's also a special offer for Kew magazine readers – so do take a look.
Dionysia aretioides, Image: Richard Wilford
Whether you get hold of the book or not – why not come and enjoy the wonderful displays in the Davies Alpine House, Rock Garden and nearby Woodland Garden at Kew this winter? Many visitors make a bee-line for this area to see the wide variety of species – from stunners such as the many snowdrops, Pulsatilla, Erythronium and saxifrages, to the truly bizarre such as the Massonia and Arum species there. Do make time to head in that direction on your next visit.
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Yes, I'm proud to admit I'm now slightly obsessed with mushrooms, toadstools and all things fungi. All life depends upon them so I think we should ALL be interested in these amazing organisms.
We've commissioned our photographer to go out hunting with Kew's mycology experts for a feature for Kew magazine's next autumn issue, and I haven't been able to resist going on my own fungal forays too. The enormous range of sizes, shapes and colours is thrilling, and when I found some pristine bracket fungi the size of dinner plates in Richmond Park at the weekend I almost jumped for joy! (almost).
Fungi at Kew Gardens (Image: Paul Little)
Unfortunately I'm hopeless at putting a name to any of these species and therein hangs the warning. There have been plenty of stories on the television recently warning people against the advice of celebrity chefs to get out there and forage. Not only do you have little chance of finding something edible (only about one per cent of the UK's fungi are worth eating), but you are taking away key elements of a natural habitat if you pick them. There is also the fact that the amount of incidents of people being poisoned by picking wild mushrooms has apparently doubled in the last year.
So, unless you're on a guided fungal foray with a true expert, leave the fungi where they are – they are a joy for fungi-spotters such as me and vital for the insects and animals that need them, not to mention the fact that the future of the fungi itself depends on its spores being released from these truly wonderful fruiting bodies.
We'll be looking at fungi at Kew in next autumn's issue of Kew magazine – I hope you enjoy these 'taster' pics. Kew Gardens and Wakehurst run fascinating fungal forays each autumn – make a note to book early for next year as places are limited.
Have you spotted any intriguing fungi this year?
- Christina -
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Keep up to date with events and news from Kew
Christina accepts a Kew Publishing award at the Garden Media Guild awards in 2012.
Christina joined Kew in 1999 after finishing a BSc. degree in Plant Ecology and an Advanced National Certificate in Horticulture. After initially working as a horticulturist in Kew’s Arboretum and the Hardy Display section (on the Grass Garden) she went on to become Festivals Interpretation Officer between 2002-2008, helping Kew’s onsite visitors understand what makes Kew tick. In the meantime she completed an MA in Garden History, a subject that continues to be one of her passions.
Christina was short-listed for a Garden Writers Guild award in 2007 for one of her articles in Kew magazine, and is the author of Kew’s Big Trees, published in 2008. She became editor of Kew magazine in September 2008. “I see Kew magazine as a window on the world of Kew,” she says. “I hope between its pages the many facets of Kew’s work and the people who make it happen are revealed for all to see and encourage readers to continue to support Kew.”
The Wallace Connection: What a great article with great links! Fascinated, I read and listened to all of them!. by: Sue Webster
Your iPad as a window on Kew: Thanks very much for your comment Louise, it's great to hear feedback. If anyone has any more feedba ... by: Christina
Your iPad as a window on Kew: The new app is brilliant. I can leave my magazine at my father in law's for him to read while I have ... by: Louise
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