Month: July 2015

High Tea in Wonderland

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The last cake has been served and the last crumbs hoovered up. It’s been top secret, but now we can tell. Yes, we hosted a Manchester International Festival Event in the herbarium: High Tea in Wonderland. The lovely MIF staff transformed our little workspace into a world of quirk and wonder.
Before: Corridor with green boxes. An open box on the bench shows pressed plant specimens inside, in species folders

After: Queen of Hearts Garden Party, with playing card bunting. White crystallised rose petals to be painted red by the guests!

Before: plain green boxes

After: decorated with brown paper trees and leaves from old books, in the ‘Eat Me’ room


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Before: European vascular plant collection

After: 1,000 paper mushrooms, camo netting and birch fragrance

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Before: Volunteer Priscilla hard at work on a side bench

After: The same bench, piled high with MIF stuff


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Before: volunteer Paddy, remounting specimens on herbarium sheets

After: granny tat, bunting and pompoms



Before: plain green boxes

After: Chef Mary-Ellen Mc Tague serving rabbit pie (no boxes because of the blow torch)


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We had some lovely reviews:

manchester evening news

creative tourist

Did you go down the rabbit hole? What was your favourite bit?

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Graphene’s high-rise meadow

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Green roof on the roof terrace of the Graphene Institute

Back in June, perhaps some of the Graphene Week 2015 attendees spotted this little patch of wildness on the roof of the National Graphene Institute at the University of Manchester. This green roof was installed as the building was nearing completion in 2014 and is part of the commitment to improving the University’s campus as a habitat for wildlife. The University’s green roof policy can be found here, along with the other University policies about environmental sustainability.

Bee on Birdsfoot trefoil

Ahead of Graphene Week, the Biodiversity Working Group put together some information about pollinators, their requirements and the urban environment in order to have a sign in place for the delegates to read. This roof is particularly designed to attract bees, both wild bees and the honey bees from hives on roofs of the Manchester Museum and Whitworth Art Gallery.

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The roof was created with a ‘sedum and wildflower’ mat made up with 21 different species. The low-growing sedums are now most visible around the sloping edges of the meadow, and taller species seem to dominate towards the middle. However, perhaps that’s not true; the sedums may be just hidden by the taller growing plants.

Maiden pink flower

This summer, the Faculty of Life Sciences has arranged for a student to survey the roof to see how the plants are distributed.  The Biodiversity Working Group will be continuing to monitor the roof’s progress to see how the composition of plants changes from this baseline. Some plants are likely to thrive, some will struggle and other’s will arrive as seeds blow over the roof or fall off people’s clothing.

Ladybird pupa on Sedum reflexum