Taking a journey through the scientific life of a unique British institution, this book explores how the last 250 years have transformed our relationship with plants for good.
Kathy Willis, Kew’s Director of Science and presenter of the Radio 4 series, and Carolyn Fry, the acclaimed science writer, take the reader through 25 vivid chapters from the birth of modern botany right through to the modern day.
The sides of the Pleasaunce hedges at Wakehurst, Kew’s country garden in Ardingly, have proved invaluable to Limehurst who have been collecting yew hedge clippings around the UK since 1992. The firm, based at Hambrook near Chichester, extract taxol from the clippings - a constituent of a chemotherapy drug given to treat ovarian and breast cancers.
A multi-author study involving Kew scientists and led by Professor Angela Moles (University of New South Wales), asks the simple question ‘Which is the better predictor of plant traits: temperature or precipitation’. Published in the Journal of Vegetation Science, it is the first in an intended series of analyses of an unprecedented global dataset, including data for 21 plant traits from 447,961 species-site combinations worldwide.
Kew has won a £500,000 grant, plus technical support, in the 2014 Google Impact Challenge UK. This is a competition sponsored by Google and Nesta, which invited charities to pitch innovative ideas to make use of technology for social and environmental purposes. From an initial field of over 200 applicants, just ten charities were selected as finalists, each guaranteed to receive £200,000 and support from Google. Of these, three charities – Kew, Centrepoint and WeFarm – won the maximum grant, with a fourth, RNIB, being chosen by public vote.
A new floral project is flourishing in the warm weather and producing a riot of native colour.
In the Upper Walled Nursery at Wakehurst, the Grow Wild area is an ambitious mass-participation campaign to inspire individuals and communities to engage with the huge range and variety of UK native wild flowers.