Cambridge University Botanic Garden is holding its annual Festival of Plants on Saturday 14 May 2016, offering something for everyone to enjoy: from families to photographers, gardeners to budding plant scientists or anyone looking for an interesting day out in beautiful surroundings.

May is one of the most promising and beautiful months of the year to visit British gardens – the spring tulips are still out, joined by irises and the early summer flowers, creating a crescendo of colour

Beverley Glover

Set in the Garden’s 40 acres, the Festival of Plants celebrates all things plant as it hosts a range of activities, tours and events including: hands-on plant science activities and plant-themed pop-up museum family fun; displays of carnivorous plants and orchids; free tours of the Garden and bite-size plant science talks. Horticultural experts will be on hand to answer plant queries and offer advice including tips on vegetable growing and composting and there will be specialist plant stalls, pop-up food stalls and musical entertainment on the Garden’s Main Lawn.

The aim of the Botanic Garden’s Festival of Plants is to provide visitors with an opportunity to find out more about the plants the Garden grows and the science they support as well as exciting plant and conservation projects happening in Cambridge. The day also offers a chance to interact with scientists from across the University working on plant-based solutions to global problems.

Professor Beverley Glover, Director of the Botanic Garden says: "This is the fourth year we’re holding the Festival of Plants. It’s an important day for the Garden where we bring the wonders of the plant world into focus. May is one of the most promising and beautiful months of the year to visit British gardens – the spring tulips are still out, joined by irises and the early summer flowers, creating a crescendo of colour as the days become longer and the temperatures begin to climb. The University Botanic Garden, here in the heart of Cambridge, is no exception, and in spring we particularly celebrate our flowering trees as well as our herbaceous plants.

However, the Botanic Garden is not just about the beauty of plants; it is an important focus for plant science research, particularly in Cambridge, but also around the world. The Garden’s collection of 8000 species is used by researchers investigating how plants work, how they evolved, how they are related to each other, and how they can be used to address global problems as challenging as food security and climate change. Some of the species we grow are the focus of conservation projects because they are so rare while some are the focus of projects to extend the range and yield of important crops."

Botanic gardens and plant scientists play a crucial role in addressing the global concerns the world faces today.

Beverley continues: "The first two decades of the 21st century have been marked by a growing realisation that only scientific research, and particularly research focused on the plants we depend on for food and shelter, can tackle the global problems that face mankind. These issues were brought to public attention in 2009 when Professor John Beddington, then the UK government's chief scientific advisor, talked of a "perfect storm" resulting from shortages of food, energy and water. Botanic gardens are in the unique position of being able to supply researchers with access to an enormous diversity of plant species, and it is both a privilege and a challenge to support scientific research that aims to solve these problems."

Events will include free garden tours, drop-in talk throughout the day, the Cambridge Orchid Society Annual Show, and a Pop-up Science Marquee on the Main Lawn, where groups from the University’s Plant Science department, Sainsbury Laboratory, Global Food Security, Natural Material Group and others demonstrate and explain the wonders of plants with hands on experiments and interactive games designed to highlight how world-leading research can help address global challenges.

You can find an interactive map of the Botanic Garden and the Festival of Plants events here.

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