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June 2005 Meeting Report

In keeping with the now established tradition, the Sawston Village History Society had their June meeting out of doors. And what better place to spend a pleasant June evening than the Cambridge University Botanic Gardens? As we only had about two hours we were not able to see everything so we concentrated on the trees, and what trees!
The first tree to which our attention was drawn was the magnificent apple tree which was the descendant of the one Newton sat under in the Trinity College garden.

Of the many wonderful trees we were shown I can only attempt to mention a few. Straddling the stream, supplied by water from the Hobson's Conduit there was the spectacular forest caused by lots of root suckers from two trees only, the Caucasian Wing - Nut. Perhaps the most well known of the gardens extensive tree collection are the huge redwoods or sequoias. We all admired the splendid Wellingtonias, which are the tallest growing trees on earth. What was once regarded as a living fossil was found in a remote part of China and the seedlings, planted out in 1949, resulted in the beautiful Dawn Redwood or Metasequoia glyptostroboides. This tree was chosen as the "Jubilee tree" for the Queen's Golden Jubilee celebrations.

No visit is complete without seeing some of the glasshouses, although only the tropical and temperate houses were presently open. But there were many exotic flowering plants to appreciate, as well as the bananas growing on the banana tree. Last but certainly not least we were able to admire one of the most ancient, and rarest of trees, the Cycads which look like enormous ferns. Also of note were the considerable collection of colourful Pelargonia, and the amazing similarity of the African succulents, found in the arid regions, to their American counterparts, the cacti, although totally unrelated.

Before leaving we also had time to admire the rock and water gardens, the umbelliferae collection, and the wide variety of foxgloves. We all resolved not to leave it too long for a return visit, perhaps even in February, when, we were assured, was probably the best time for the greenhouses.

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