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From the Bodleian’s Public Engagement Department

Roots to Seeds: The Weston Library’s exhibition based on MPLS research

The exhibition Roots to Seeds, marking the anniversary of the foundation of the Oxford Botanic Garden in 1621, is open in the ST Lee Gallery in the Weston Library until 24 October. The Public Engagement team is promoting this exhibition with various events and offerings which we hope will also increase interest in the world of plants.

Normally we would include touchscreens in an exhibition, but as they are not Covid-19 safe, we took a different approach and included instead a selection of short films created in conjunction with the Botanic Gardens with a theme of ‘Future Focus’. These films explore the following themes based on Oxford research:

  • Overlooked/ underutilised crops – focusing on Ensete and a newly discovered wild relative of sweet potato, we explore the options for feeding 11 billion.
  • Modelling plant diseases – focusing on Xylella fastidiosa, we showcase an interdisciplinary research project where mathematicians and computer modellers work with plant scientists to prevent the spread of this disease that can infect over 500 different plant species.
  • The role of forests – we explore using forests to target climate change, as well as misconceptions about tree planting.
  • Plants in space – we explore seed viability experiments and germination experiments happening on the ISS.
  • Green cities – exploring a new age of architecture where buildings and nature are designed to co-exist for numerous social, scientific and economic benefits.

As well as being aired in the transept right outside the exhibition space in Blackwell Hall, these films can be found on the exhibition webpage: Roots to Seeds.

Our next event related to this exhibition is a talk called Roots to Seeds: the evolution of plant science given on 16 September by Professor Stephen Harris, Druce Curator (Herbaria) and the curator of the exhibition, along with Dr Chris Thorogood, Deputy Director and Head of Science, Oxford Botanic Garden & Harcourt Arboretum. They will be discussing the past, present and future of botanical research and teaching: Roots to Seeds: the evolution of plant science

And finally, the ‘Into the Green’ poetry project targeted children aged 11-16 over the summer term to generate interest in the botanical sciences. This project invited pupils to write a poem inspired by plants, gardens and green spaces.  Award-winning professor of Poetry Alice Oswald will make a selection of poems for inclusion in an anthology. The entries are now in and show a great deal of variety and imagination inspired by trees and plants.

Acorns with line from poem by Isla Stock - see caption

'Outside my oak / Acorns hang amongst silk leaves / on the brawny branch / waiting soon to fall.' - Isla Stock

Giant lily pads with line from poem by Georgia Birtwhistle - see caption

'It lies tranquil / Like an angel on clouds. / Flowing in the water / not making a sound. / Carried carefully by emerald plates / drifting along / on the magic it creates.' - Georgia Birtwhistle

Library space and physical services

Opening hours

The opening hours of the Vere Harmsworth Library and the Radcliffe Science Library are now 9am-7pm Monday-Friday and 10am-2pm Saturday and the requirement to book your visit in advance has been removed. We will revert to term-time hours (9am-10pm Monday-Friday, 10am-4pm Saturday and 11-5pm Sunday) from Monday 11 October.  

Details of changes to library services.


Several recently-acquired e-resources are now available in SOLO: