Course overview

Plants have played a dynamic and pivotal role in our lives. Their cultivation has provided innumerable rewards as well as challenges; their properties contributed to our health; their character and classification has aroused curiosity and wonder; their collection called for skill and brought pride and delight. Over the course of three sessions with guest speaker Dr Sarah Law and through stories of notable encounters between people and plants as diverse as water lilies, gingers, rhubarbs and nightshades, we will dip into this rich and diverse engagement, touching on Edwardian water gardens, nineteenth-century botanic gardens and the purgatives and plasters that once stocked British medicine chests.

Course description

This course will be offered in 3 sessions, each of them will cover the following momentous encounters between people and plants:

Waterlillies, Exploration and Edwardian Gardens

Say ‘waterlily’ and ‘garden’ and Claude Monet’s watery landscapes punctuated with yellows, pinks and reds may spring to mind. But the only Nymphaea native to Europe is white, so where did all these colours come from? In answering, we’ll trace the origins of Edwardian water gardens in England from the sensational flowering of the giant tropical waterlily, Victoria Regia, in 1849, to the pioneering work of French nurseryman Joseph Bory Latour-Marliac and designer/planter team, Edwin Lutyens and Gertrude Jekyll.

Ginger plants, William Roscoe and the birth of Liverpool botanic garden

In 1803, the city of Liverpool celebrated the opening of England’s first publicly sponsored botanic garden. In this lecture we’ll explore the origins of this memorable occasion. Central to the story will be the lawyer, historian, radical politician, banker and botanist William Roscoe (1753-1831), his commitment to the classification system of Carl Linnaeus, connections with India and, above all, fascination for plants of the ginger family.

Panaceas, poisons and purgatives

Often only a tweak in dosage turns a cure into a fatality; surprising though it may seem today, seeds of a much-prized purgative were in the past worth literally their weight in gold. Unpicking these statements will uncover the often-surprising stories behind the popularity of rhubarb, deadly nightshade and other plants in the medicine chest. Through stories of notable encounters between plants and people, participants will deepen their appreciation of the many and varied roles which plants play in our lives.

What financial support is available?

We don't want anything to stand in your way when it comes to bringing Adult learning within reach so if you need anything to support you to achieve your goals then speak to one of our education experts during your enrolment journey. Most of our courses are government funded but if you don't qualify or need alternative financial help to access them then let us know.

What other support is available?

All of our digital content, teaching and learning activities and assessments are designed to be accessible so if you need any additional support you can discuss this with the education experts during your enrolment journey and we will do all we can to make sure you have optimal access.

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