An A-Z of the SLBI in 2016

So much has happened at the SLBI this year, where do we start? Let’s start with A…

Aromatherapy was as popular as ever and this time festive, making beautiful gifts with essential oils.

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Botany on Your Plate’ was the name of our new project funded by City Bridge Trust, bringing education about food plants to both adults and children.

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We celebrated Culpeper‘s 400th birthday in style with a fantastic talk from Dr Henry Oakeley and a 400th birthday cake.

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We were Dyeing silk scarves using plant pigments, drawing in our regular Plant Drawing evenings…

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…and Eco-printing flower cards.

The Frogs in our pond delighted visitors of all ages and our new flags outside helped new people find us.

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Our Garden was visited from far and wide, including our glittery Glowing Garden Party.

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The Heritage Lottery Fund gave us another generous grant, to bring our herbarium up-to-date and share its wonderful plant specimens more widely in a project called ‘Plant Recording for All Ages’.

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Inca berries made an appearance in our SLBI Fruit Plate, as I couldn’t think of another fruit beginning with I…

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Japanese was the theme of our Big Botanical Draw…

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…whilst our Kitchen with its lovely home made cakes, ginkgo biscuits and botanical ices was the big draw at lots of our events.

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Our Library enjoyed regular Thursday readers as well as showing off some hidden gems at the Chelsea Fringe Fete.

Morley College textiles class came to visit and Monday’s Mushroom Magic group found a fungus new to Britain.

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The National Gardens Scheme brought new people through their little yellow book, with us being one of the earlier gardens to open, in April.

Open Garden Squares Weekend in June and Open House in September were as busy as usual, showing off the hidden delights of both Institute and garden.

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Perfumery, Plant Pressing & Planting for Pollinators made popular new additions to our programme, and Joseph Paxton featured in our ‘Botanical Biography’ workshops.

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Quiet was the theme of our packed-out Christmas film, ‘In Pursuit of Silence’, held by the Herne Hill Film Festival – quite a different film from ‘Silent Running’ which they showed here in May.

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Roy remained our President, starring in our new promotional film and stunning people with facts about Botany and Bowie in his quiz at our end of year party.

We hosted a Seed Swap event run by the London Freedom Seed Bank and heard all about seaweed collecting by the Victorian, Margaret Gatty.

Our Terrariums workshops produced beautiful little glass gardens…

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…and our Tree Walks helped identify trees in at least 6 local parks.

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The U3A came to visit, as did a group of botanists all the way from China.

V has to be for our Volunteers, who help us so much, but also this year we must mention Victorian Variety Day, which was a highlight of everyone’s February, with floral posies, pies and people dressed up as everyone from Beatrix Potter to Charles Darwin (and some very beautiful Victorian maids).

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Willow weaving was a big hit, making baskets and plant obelisks, and our field trip to the Isle of Wight was much enjoyed (a new WC will feature next year…).

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X? There’s no need for an Xbox with all the fun going on here…

Y is for all the Young People! All the schools who came to visit and all the families who came for plant-based arts & crafts in the holidays – we made Easter botanical birds’ nests, Summer plant-hunters’ record books, Christmas botanical table decorations and much more in the half-terms….

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…including Zoolab! In October they brought us a ‘Halloween Habitats Half-term’ with their exotic tarantulas, snakes, cockroaches and more, to the fascination of our younger visitors – with stories of the plants they live among and a chance to hunt for similar creatures in our garden.

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Of course this is just a small taste of what we’ve done, but if you’d like to know more about our activities and see our upcoming events in 2017, just click here.

We look forward to seeing you soon for more botanical wonders.

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