Skip to main content

No results found


Flower of the Month

Hot Lips


Dr Chris Thorogood, Deputy Director and Head of Science at the Oxford Botanic Garden and Arboretum, each month, shares with us a carefully selected plant, usually from the Botanic Garden’s extensive range. Not only do we have his engaging descriptions, but also examples of his work in the form of exquisite paintings and illustrations.

Meet Palicourea elata…

This extraordinary plant is native to the forests of Central and South America is sometimes called ‘hooker’s lips’, ‘hot lips’ as well as a few less flattering things. Believe it or not, it is a distant relative of coffee. It is one of the most astonishing plants I know – and when it features in my lectures, it’s sure to receive a raised eyebrow or two. I think people suspect that I invented it.

The crimson, lip-like structures are in fact a pair of bract-like structures (the calyx) from which the true flowers later emerge, which are followed by berry-like fruits. Their peculiarly accurate resemblance to a pair of luscious human lips does not serve a particular purpose. Just like people’s lips, they are variable in their shape, size and fullness, but in nature, the flowers actually serve to attract pollinating hummingbirds.

Oxford Botanic Garden doesn’t possess this plant just yet. But we have exciting plans to develop our tropical collection plants grown under glass. Maybe one for the future.

Oxford Botanic Garden & Arboretum are currently running a series of Winter Lectures online with speakers including Richard Deverell, Rosie Atkins, Andy Sturgeon and Joan Morgan. Each costs £7 to join and further details can be found in the What’s On link at


Man with plant
Mon 4 Jul 2022

The Pandemic put a spotlight on just how important green spaces are for the mental health and wellbeing of the community. For the last couple of years, I have worked with an ecologist called Matías Hernández González on a project that seeks to ‘rewild’ brownfield sites through working with the community. The project is based in the city of Arrecife, Lanzarote, but it is a template that could work anywhere – including Oxford.  

Green Garden Fence
Wed 29 Jun 2022

Even those of us who enjoy spending time outdoors often wish that garden maintenance could just magically happen. Sadly, there’s no such thing as a garden fairy. The changeable weather has left little opportunity to get outdoors and work on our gardens, meaning there’s lawns to mow, patios to clean, and fences to paint. 

Garden House
Wed 29 Jun 2022

It’s finally feeling like summer in the UK so we got in touch with our favourite outdoor living creators Custom Cabins, to talk about how their liveable garden rooms can improve our relationship with nature.

The Chelsea Flower Show 2022
Wed 29 Jun 2022

The Container Garden category at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show showcased positive green spaces for health, wellbeing and the environment. The aim was to show that any space – no matter how small –can be turned into a gardening haven.