Memories of a ginkgo

© Google Street View image

The Friends of Sydney Gardens have launched a tree trail which you can download and learn more about the specimens gracing these former pleasure gardens.

There is a story about it elsewhere on this page and already the project has prompted the Natural Theatre Company’s former Artistic Director, Ralph Oswick, to put fingers to type keys. He said:

“The link to the Sydney Gardens tree trail was fascinating. Really interesting and so detailed. Re the Ginkgo tree, known as a living fossil, there’s a rather fine one in the hidden garden of the White Hart in Widcombe.

When it was a wee treelet Nick Steel and I accidentally snapped it off while erecting a gazebo for one of our events. I’m ashamed to say (and we have admitted it since) we didn’t tell Sue the landlady at the time but just propped it up and hoped for the best. As can be seen today, it survived, though we know where to spot a mysterious kink in its trunk.

The Natural Theatre Company was resident at the British Pavilion at Shanghai World expo a few years ago. The pavilion, which was designed by Thomas Heatherwick (new Routemaster bus, the London Olympic flame etc) won loads of awards and consisted of thousands of transparent ‘wands’. One end of each rod contained an LED so the interior glowed. The other end had a Ginkgo seed embedded in it. Or it might have been the other way round.

When the Expo closed, the ‘wands’ were distributed to schools across China so the children could plant the seeds. The Naturals were also presented with one of the ‘wands’ , complete with seed and I presume it’s in their trophy cabinet at Widcombe Institute.

Thomas Heatherwick wrote to say that the daily presence of the theatre company over several months played a major part in the exhibit being declared Best Pavilion. “

Lovely stories. Thanks Ralph.