After spending 16 years at Kew, our speaker, Mr Graham Pattison became Director of the Mexican Botanic Gardens based in Mexico City. He spent several years working and training local staff alongside visiting students on horticulture, plant conservation and botanic garden management, before returning to the UK to lecture, be involved with the National Collections Scheme and to renovate a garden to Grade I status.
The title of his talk was “Mexico – A Land of Contrasts” and he explained to us that Mexico is the largest of the Central American countries and its growing conditions can vary from arid deserts to high mountain ranges to coastal mangrove swamps to active volcanic areas. The Mexican flora includes over 23,000 species.
Using a series of slides members were shown some of the archaeological sites (many still being cleared of the undergrowth that has covered them), and the fauna and flora found in the different regions.
As an example of the diversity, he explained how the Quercus (Oak) family has altered and adapted to its environment – its height, shape of leaves and size of acorns – changing from the base of a mountain to the top.
Many of our garden and house plants eg. fuchsias, dahlias, orchids and cacti, originate from Mexico