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Talking Tulips: A New Discovery

Posted on Apr 18

1 min read

Alumni Events & News

Last Sunday we welcomed alumni and their guests back to College in the beautiful April sun to admire the stunning tulip display recently structured in Forecourt, celebrating alumnus Brett Wilson’s (2013) wild tulip conservation project in Kyrgyzstan.

Johnians on the Garden Tour with our Head Gardener, David Austrin
Tulips grown by the St John’s Gardening Team and displayed in the displays in Chapel Court and Forecourt.

The event began with a guided tour of the display led by Head Gardener David Austrin, offering attendees an opportunity to immerse themselves in the splendor of the gardens. For those seeking a more leisurely exploration, a self-guided tour option was also available, allowing ample time to appreciate the garden’s beauty.

Johnians on the Garden Tour with our Head Gardener, David Austrin

Guests then indulged in an assortment of cakes and bubbly, perfectly complimenting the refreshing spring ambiance.

The reception in full swing, with bubbly and beautifully designed cupcakes from our Catering Team.

Finishing off the afternoon, Brett Wilson (2013), Ormon Sultangaziev and David Gill gave an enlightening talk on the conservation project. They recounted the remarkable journey undertaken by Cambridge University Botanic Gardens, Fauna & Flora International (FFI) and local tulip experts, leading to their discovery of Tulipa toktogulica.

Expanding on the significance of the project, Brett delved into the looming threats posed by climate change, livestock over-grazing, mining and urbanisation. He stressed the importance of the project’s international recognition and the necessity for native tulips to be listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Brett Wilson (2013) delivering his talk on the discovery of Tulipa toktogulica.
Left: Tulipa dasystemon growing in the Suusamyr valley of Kyrgyzstan. Right: International collaboration (From L-R) Brett with David Gill from FFI, Kew consultant Maarten Christenhusz and Ormon Sultangaziev, from FFI Kyrgyzstan. Image credits: Brett Wilson.

We are proud to support Brett and his team in the ongoing scientific research and conservation, and there is collective hope that the project will continue to flourish.

Thank you to all who joined us in marking this conservation milestone. We hope you enjoyed an unforgettable afternoon in the sun, and we look forward to welcoming you all back again soon!

The tulip display will be in College for a short while longer, so do pop in to see it if you can!

Further images of the tulips growing in College and in the display.