Plant-based Extract gives Disease Hope

by Bethany Day on March 4, 2014

A chemical found in several plants could help babies who are born with a rare and debilitating muscle disease, a study suggests.

Quercetin, a naturally occurring extract which is present in some herbs, grains, fruits and vegetables, could help prevent damage to nerves linked to spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), scientists believe.

SMA is often known as floppy baby syndrome because it leaves children with little or no control of their movements.

The disease, a leading genetic cause of death among infants and toddlers, affects one in 6,000 babies and around 50% of those with the severest form will die before they are two.



Yorkshire Dales celebrated in Festival

by Bethany Day on March 3, 2014

An annual festival based around the floral features of the Yorkshire Dales will run from March to October.

The Flower of the Dales Festival boasts more than 100 events including guided walks, art shows, “grow wild” activities supervised by experts, and children’s craft activities.

It celebrates aspects of the region such as its famous hay meadows and pastures, moorland and limestone pavements and wildlife including rare wildflowers, insects, birds, small mammals and grasses.



New Festival replaces Flower Parade

by Bethany Day on February 28, 2014

Spalding Flower FestivalA new festival of flowers has been announced to replace an annual flower parade which lasted for 50 years.

Springfields Horticultural Society in Lincolnshire has announced the new Springfields Festival and Tulipmania, which is due to take place in May at Springfields Festival Garden – also featuring a craft fair, classic car show, children’s fun fair, music and dance.

The society said the festival is being established to keep up Spalding and South Holland’s tulip-growing heritage and other produce, as well as its engagement with the community.



BBC Commissions New Gardening Show

by Bethany Day on February 27, 2014

A new four-part gardening show is set to hit TV screens across Britain this spring, with a focus on heritage gardens, bees, soil and mushrooms.

British Gardens in Time will be presented by Chris Beardshaw, Andrea Wulf and National Trust head gardener Alan Power and will feature Great Dixter, Stowe, Biddulph, Grange and Nyman’s heritage gardens as part of series which will be shown on BBC4.



Hot Summer Prompts Butterfly Boom

by Bethany Day on February 19, 2014

butterflyButterfly numbers have boomed in the UK thanks to a hot summer in 2013, experts have revealed.

Species such as the brimstone, common blue and small tortoiseshell all bounced back on farmland after their numbers nosedived the previous year, according to Butterfly Conservation, the British Trust for Ornithology and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.

Their joint “wider countryside butterfly survey” showed there was also a resurgence in the small copper, small skipper and large skipper varieties – as last year’s bright and sunny weather triggered a colourful outbreak of butterflies across the countryside.


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Spring Flowers Battling the Elements

by Bethany Day on February 14, 2014

flowers-in-snowThe wet and windy weather blighting much of Britain is proving good news for spring flowers, gardeners claim.

Despite the lack of light and heavily sodden ground some flowers have begun to bloom, helped by the milder temperatures and fewer ground frosts over the winter months.

The most surprising appearance perhaps comes from the extremely rare rhododendron magnificum, which has reemerged in Cornwall – marked as only the second time the plant has flowered in 30 years.



Scots celebrate Snowdrop Festival

by Bethany Day on February 11, 2014

SnowdropsScotland is optimistically looking ahead to the start of spring as the country celebrates its annual Snowdrop Festival.

The distinctive white flowers are one of the year’s earliest blooms as they start to appear in woodlands, parks and gardens. Tourists are being given the chance to see hundreds of varieties on display at the festival, which runs through February until March 16.

Attractions taking part include Logan Botanic Gardens in Galloway, where other flowers such as miniature daffodils are also beginning to blossom.



Blossoming Future for 3D Printing

by Bethany Day on February 4, 2014

A university design graduate is demonstrating the enormous potential of 3D printing by using the technique to create inflatable rubber-like flowers.

The vast majority of products created by 3D printers are rigid in form but designers like Richard Clarkson, from Victoria University in the New Zealand capital of Wellington, are using new materials to produce morphing 3D shapes.

His ‘seamless blossom project’ includes flowers that open up when air is pumped into them to provide a flash of colour. He believes they are the first ever 3D-printed inflatable products.



Garden City Competition Springs into Life

by Bethany Day on January 31, 2014

Further details have been revealed about the assessment criteria of a competition to find the best idea for a garden city.

Prize money of £250,000 is on offer to the entrant who submits the most “visionary, economically viable and popular” idea for a garden city that could help ease the current housing crisis.

The competition was launched in November by Tory peer, Lord Wolfson. Speaking at a conference on garden cities this week, he gave more insight into how competition entries would be judged.



Health Warning over Green Spaces

by Bethany Day on January 30, 2014

A lack of green space in major English cities has been linked to high obesity and diabetes rates among their inhabitants, a new report says.

High percentages of housing and a lack of parkland mean people in London, Liverpool, Birmingham, Newcastle and other big cities are much more likely to suffer from ill health.

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has called for more green spaces and areas for people to walk in to help save the UK an estimated £1 billion lost through poor health.