Sunday, 28 November 2010

Yesterday's workshop at the Zoo

We kicked off the season yesterday in sub-zero temperatures and even a sprinkling of snow at the Avon Gorge and Downs Wildlife Project at Bristol Zoo.  Mandy Leivers, the education officer, kindly hosted the greengarland workshop "Creating Christmas Wreaths", and we spent a lovely day making some really beautiful wreaths and walking on the Downs learning about the history and folklore that surrounds them.  Then we ate cake.   We even were lucky enough to get a visit from Santa's Elves on their way to the Winter Grotto at the Zoo.  They were much better looking than the greengarland Elves, and much better behaved...

This is the second year that greengarland have worked with the Project and we are very proud to be associated with them. The Avon Gorge and Downs Wildlife Project will be in its tenth year in 2011 and is a collaboration funded  by Bristol City Council, Bristol Zoo Gardens, Natural England, University of Bristol, Society of Merchant Venturers, the Downs Committee and the Bristol Conservation and Science Foundation, and work in partnership with the National Trust (phew). Their work celebrates the outstanding wildlife interests of the Avon Gorge and Downs and works to secure its future.

Mandy has inspired almost a whole generation of children (including mine who are now in their mid-teens) to appreciate and enjoy the diversity and uniqueness of the Downs.  My garden is full of insect hides and bird boxes that my boys have made on some of Mandy's courses when they were younger, and we have as a family spent many happy hours listening for birds, hugging trees, hunting for rare moths and identifying some of the unique species that grow there on the wide range of walks, talks and courses that they run all year round.  More details of their work can be found at

As last year, Mandy, Catherine and I were amazed at the standard of work produced and the variety of different wreaths created by everyone that attended. I have put photographs of their work up on Flickr for everyone to admire.
It really was a lovely day.  Thanks again to Mandy..... I even got to pay a visit to my very favourite tree. Here it is..


  1. That tree's amazing! What is it and how old is it?

  2. Its a hawthorn - not sure how old (but old..)but has a wonderful twisted trunk and is the perfect shape. It is near the herbaceous border and has a seat around it so you can admire the amazing semi-circular yew-edged border in the summer and get out of the sun. It does I think really come into its own when not in leaf...