Posts Tagged ‘BGEN’

Journal articles about World War Zoo Gardens

October 2, 2017


Some lovely online journal links to the World War Zoo Gardens project at Newquay Zoo 


BGEN web article


BGCI Roots journal  


ABWAK Keepers journal March 2014 


IZE journal no. 50 2014 


World War Zoo Gardens Blog   


You’re already here! Published since 2009, including centenary posts on the centenary anniversary of each zoo staff or zoo gardener, botanic gardener, gardener, naturalist and associated trades that we are aware of as having been killed in WW1 or WW2.





The original Dig For Victory Teachers Pack from the Royal Parks / Imperial War Musuem 2008 allotment project


Posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, Monday 2nd October 2017





Remembering WW1 in zoos and gardens

August 3, 2014

Although I have spent  the last 5 years as part of the World War Zoo Gardens project at Newquay Zoo researching WW2 and how it created shortages and other challenges for zoos and botanic gardens, I have frequently been asked recently about the effects of WW1 in light of the centenary events now underway.

Here is a summary of our recent WW1 related blog posts that you might find of interest.

William Dexter, ZSL London Zoo keeper killed in WW1  (Photo: Courtesy of Nova Jones, digital clean up Adrian Taylor ZSL)

William Dexter, ZSL London Zoo keeper killed in WW1
(Photo: Courtesy of Nova Jones, digital clean up Adrian Taylor ZSL)

1. The Lost Zoo Keepers and Gardeners of London Zoo WW1

London Zoo plans a WW1 centenary exhibition

and also a Little Creatures family celebration of regimental mascot Winnipeg or the original Winnie the Pooh being deposited at London Zoo 100 years ago when its Canadian Regiment went off to France.

and material from Mary Evans picture archive:

2. Lost Zoo Keepers from Belle Vue Zoo Manchester (and London Zoo) WW1 – updated from 2010/11

3. National Allotment Week, 4- 10 August 2014 and other ww1 centenary garden links

4. Port Lympne Zoo / Reserve centenary WW1 / WW2 and other WW1 centenary garden links

5. Lost Ecologists of WW1 – Linnean Society casualties

6. Lost Ecologists of WW1 – The British Ecological Society

7. Mr. Mottershead, WW1 and WW2 at Chester Zoo – “Our Zoo”

8. Animals in wartime WW1


A small selection of WW1 items on display alongside our usual WW2 material, display case, Tropical House, Newquay Zoo.

A small selection of WW1 items on display alongside our usual WW2 material, display case, Tropical House, Newquay Zoo.

Botanic Gardens in wartime WW1

Many Botanic Gardens had a zoological section and similar challenges to zoos in wartime. I wrote a free downloadable  article about this for the BGEN gardens website:

1. The Lost Gardeners of Kew Gardens in WW1

Kew has many activities such as tours and an exhibition planned. I will be giving a talk at Kew on 20 October as part of their Kew Guild / KMIS evening talks.

2. Lost “Gardeners and Men” WW1 poem from Kew Guild Journal

3. Lost Gardeners – 1914 / 1915 Part 1

A brief  look through the garden journals of the time at the effects of war on gardens, estates and gardeners

4. Garden writer Herbert Cowley, Kew Gardens  and WW1  Dig for Victory schemes

5. Finally, a brief look at the home front, rationing, food and farming  in one Cornish village in WW1


Watch this space for further WW1  blogposts:

Several more blog posts are in preparation in my spare zoo and home time for 2014 and 2015:

  • The Whitley family in WW1 and Ww2 who set up our sister zoo Paignton Zoo
  • Gardeners in 1916 onwards using the garden journals now online
  • WW1 in adverts from original magazines
  • Energy saving and salvage initiatives in Ww1 , WW2 and the EAZA Pole to Pole “pull the plug” campaign 2014
  • London Zoo in WW1 and the ‘first Blitz’ of WW1
  • Dublin Zoo,  Irish zoos and gardens in WW1
  • Updates on the Belle Vue Zoo and London Zoo memorial casualty research.

“At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them …”, words from the 1914 poem by Lawrence Binyon familiar from many Remembrance services and written on cliffs at Polzeath (or Portreath – some controversy on this!) near Newquay Zoo, home of the World War Zoo Gardens Project:     BBC Cornwall page and plaque pictures.

We would be interested to hear of other gardens and zoo related stories from WW1 – contact us via the comments page!

Mark Norris, Newquay Zoo – World War Zoo Gardens project








Bert our Gnome Guard-ener goes AWOL and turns up at Paignton Zoo’s VertiCrop – latest

February 24, 2011

LDV gnome gone AWOL ... Bert our World War Zoo Gnome Guard-ener checks out hi-tech hyrdroponic gardening at VertiCrop, Paignton Zoo. The bearded one on the right is Kevin Frediani, Paignton Zoo's Curator of Plants and Gardens. (Image: Paignton Zoo)

Received from the Press Office,  Paignton Zoo (before the gnome went AWOL):

A garden gnome in military uniform has gone missing from Newquay Zoo in Cornwall.

And now the member of the Gnome Guard has turned up 80 miles away at Paignton Zoo in Devon!

 The gnome went missing from Newquay Zoo’s World War Zoo garden exhibit, which shows the affect of war on zoos, their animals and their staff. He has now been found inspecting Paignton Zoo’s Verticrop Facility in the company of Curator of Plants and Gardens Kevin Frediani.

 Mark Norris, Newquay Zoo Education Manager, who started the World War Zoo project, said: “I think he’s gone to find out about gardening at other zoos. US troops were stationed on land at Paignton Zoo during the war. And it’s appropriate that he stopped off to look at the VertiCrop vertical growing system, as it’s said that the American army pioneered hydroponics to help feed soldiers during the war.”

“We hope he’ll be back in time for Newquay Zoo’s wartime zoo garden week during May half term. He’s also going to Chester Zoo for a conference in May, where the Newquay Zoo education team will be giving talks on zoos and wartime garding during the war.’’

For more information on the World War Zoo garden project, and education at Newquay Zoo, please visit the official website

We look forward to hearing more of Bert’s exploits and to his eventual safe return …

World War Zoo gardens project blog has passed the 5000th reader / web hit mark and is preparing for an award- can you help?

July 4, 2010

Display corner from World War Zoo gardens project June 2010 - Fox Rosehill Gardens, Falmouth, Cornwall display

Hooray! Our World War Zoo gardens project has just passed the 5000 reader mark since we started the blog in Summer 2009. 

We have also recently celebrated our first ‘podcast’ last week – have you heard this? 

We’re now putting the World War Zoo garden project, displays, launch weekend, Facebook & Twitter pages, blog and all forward for a prestigious BIAZA Education (General & Public Visitor) award.(British and Irish Association of Zoos And Aquaria)   The deadline is  July 23rd, 2010. 

We need your help! We always need feedback and comment from users, readers or visitors on such projects. 

Did it surprise you to learn about this neglected aspect of history? 

Did it surprise you to learn that a modern zoo has a wartime Dig For Victory allotment on one of its former lawns? 

Have you enjoyed looking at some of the objects in the zoo’s wartime collection, featured in photographs on the site? 

Did you get the connection? Has World War Zoo  made you think differently about the past and the resource challenges of the future? 

Has it evoked any interesting memories or family stories of the time? Would you like to share them with us? 

Some of our source material - old wartime gardening books by the fabulous Mr. Middleton, Imperial War museum seeds from their Ministry of Food exhibition online shop, 1940s varieties available from modern seed suppliers like Suttons, all in an ARP 1940s tin medical box - World War Zoo gardens display, Newquay Zoo

Many thanks to those of you who have already left comments or sent us emails about our project and its unusual way of communicating sustainability, recycling and grow your own and food miles “with a  Vera Lynn soundtrack” by looking at the experiences of zoos, aquariums and botanic gardens in the 1940s.   

We’d love you to leave us a comment.

You can browse the earlier articles back to July 2009 or look at our blogroll for useful links, including the excellent Imperial War Museum  Ministry of Food exhibition running throughout 2010.

You can comment via our blog direct to the project team.

Talk about fresh! Talk about food metres, not miles! Everyone gets conscripted or enlisted – Kat from our Cafe Lemur washing some of our surplus salad lettuce for use in the zoo cafe, once zoo keepers had used as much as they could! World War Zoo project, Newquay Zoo.

A first ABC of wartime vegetable varieties, our ‘free gift’ to you to celebrate Plant Conservation Day 2010, 18 May 2010 from the World War Zoo gardens at Newquay Zoo

May 17, 2010

Ormskirk Late cabbages, a wartime variety which has done survived winter well here since photographed on planting last summer 2009, World War Zoo gardens project.

Still growing strong and available today: Ormskirk Late cabbages, a wartime variety which has done survived winter well here since photographed on planting last summer 2009, World War Zoo gardens project.

Get involved and ‘Do One Thing’ for wildlife this year

Tuesday May 18th 2010 is Global Plant Conservation Day, reminding us that our  vegetable and flower gardens are a strange mixture of plants and varieties from the local area and from all over the world.

 Some of these varieties are hundreds of years old and still growing strong.  Sadly others have become like the endangered zoo animals and rare breed livestock of the plant world, in need of heritage seed banks to preserve their quirkiness and unusual genes for a changing future.

Plant Conservation Day (on May 18th 2010)  has lots more information about ways of getting involved

Our contribution? Bookwork as well as spadework. 

 I have been busy reading wartime gardening books from the zoo archive over the quieter winter months, the period when these wartime gardening books suggest polishing your spade, reading seed catalogues or planning your garden as there’s nothing much doing in the garden.  What I’ve been searching for (with an A to Z notebook handy) are the names of 1940s varieties in use and recommended during wartime, so as to find authentic varieties for our own plot.

This sonorous A to Z of wartime vegetable varieties is growing but still incomplete as I’m now checking them against many of the 2010 seed catalogues to see what survives in cultivation. I’ve selected below a short ABC of wartime vegetables as a taster  and will put the whole list on the blog and as part of a new ‘dig for victory’ / ‘war on waste’ schools garden pack in future (combining the history curriculum with the science, geography, healthy eating, sustainability   and growing schools gardens elements of primary school).

A first  draft 2010 ABC of 1940s Wartime vegetable varieties

 Work in progress: these have been compiled by the World War Zoo gardens project from lists in eleven 1940s gardening books, leaflets and magazines. The right hand column lists the code for eleven source books e.g. MGG and how often they are mentioned, so you get a rough idea of how widely recommended they were at the time.  We’ll publish the bibliography when the list is complete.


  • Connover’s Colossal                                                                                                                  

Artichoke, Jerusalem 

  • New White                                                       PG

 Artichoke, Globe

  • Green Globe                                                                
  • Purple Globe                                                     PG

 Artichoke, Chinese

 Bean, French Bean

  • Bounteous                                                        
  • Canadian Wonder                                             IZ
  • Kentucky Wonder                                             (USA – Old Homestead)
  • Masterpiece                                                      
  • The Prince                                                         IZ

Bean, Broad Bean

Longpod varieties

  • Exhibition Longpod (early)                               G
  • Dwarf Early Magazan              MGG
  • Magazan or Longpod Early                                WTGHN
  • Prolific Longpod (early)                                     IZ
  • Seville Longpod                                                 PG

 Windsor varieties

  • Early Giant Windsor (broad type)                     PG
  • Early White Windsor                                        WTG
  • Great Windsor (maincrop) (broad type)          IZ
  • Green Windsor                                                 WTGHN
  • Improved Broad Windsor                                              
  • Windsor                                                             WTGHN

 Bean, Runner Bean

  •  Best of All                                                         IZ
  • Princeps                                                             VGD
  • Prizewinner                                                       MGG
  • Scarlet Emperor                                                 MGG
  • Streamline                                                          MGG
  • Sutton’s Exhibition                                             WTG
  • Rajah (white seeded)                                         UWC

 Brussels Sprouts  

  • Aigburth                                                             WTGHN
  • Clucas’ Favourite                                               PG
  • Darlington                                                          MGG
  • Evesham Special                                                 PG
  • Fillbasket                                                           
  • Harrisons XXX                                                  VGD
  • Matchless                                                           PG
  • The Wroxton                                                   


  • Calabrese                                                           WVG
  • Clucas’ June                                                       WTG
  • Eastertide (spring v.)                                          MGG              
  • Extra Early Roscoff (autumn v.)                         PG
  • Late Feltham                                                      PG
  • Leamington  (spring v.)                                     
  • Late Queen (spring v.)                                      
  • May Queen                                                       
  • Methuen’s Late June                                          MGG
  • Methuen’s  June                                                 MGG
  • Michaelmas White (autumn v.)                         MGG
  • Christmas Purple Sprouting                               HN
  • Early Purple Sprouting                                      
  • Late Purple Sprouting                                        VGD
  • Roscoff No.1 & No. 2  (winter v.)                    PG
  • Roscoff No. 3 & No. 4  (early spring  v.)          PG
  • Roscoff No. 5  (late spring  v.)                          PG
  • Snow’s Winter White  (autumn v.)
  • Veitch’s Self Protecting (autumn v.)G
  • Walcheren  (autumn v.)                           
  • Whitsuntide (spring v.)                                      MGG
  • Winter White                                                    MGG
  • Winter Queen                                                   MGG


Long-rooted varieties

  • Cheltenham Green Top                                   
  • Perfection                                                          PG
  • Sutton’s Blood-Red                                            MGG

Globe-rooted varieties

  • Crimson Globe                                                  VGD
  • Detroit                                                               IZ
  • Empire Globe                                                    MGG
  • Crimson Ball                                                    PG


  • January King (winter v.)                                     MGG
  • Baby Roundhead                                                VGD
  • Christmas Drumhead (winter v.)
  • Clucas’ Roundhead                                            WTG
  • Durham Early                                                     AGG1/1, WTG
  • Early Market                                                      WTG
  • Early Offenham                                              
  • Ellam’s Early                                                      MGG
  • Enfield Market                                                   IZ
  • Flower of Spring                                                MGG
  • Harbinger (spring v.)                                          WTG, PG, IZ, MGG
  • Imperial                                                              IZ
  • Non – Pareil                                                      WTG
  • Primo                                                                
  • Tender and True                                               IZ
  • Utility                                                                 MGG
  • Velocity (first Spring sowing)                            MGG
  • Winnigstadt                                                   MGG
  • Portugal Cabbage – Couve Tronchuda             MGG
  • Chinese Cabbage – Pe Tsai                               ?

NB Savoy cabbages such as Ormskirk Late (pictured) will be listed later.


  • Shorthorn for shallow soil,  small or stump-rooted variety.
  • Intermediate for medium depth
  • Long, long-rooted for deep soil, exhibition variety


  •  Altrincham                              (Long)              MGG
  • Chantenay                               (Intermediate)    MGG
  • Champion Scarlet Horn (early)                         IZ                    
  • Early Gem                               (Small)               
  • Early Horn                              ?                          WTG
  • Early Nantes                           (Small)                MGG
  • Early Shorthorn (forcing)        (Small)                PG
  • James Intermediate                 (Intermediate)MGG
  • James Scarlet Intermediate     (Intermediate)    PG
  • Long Surrey                             (Long)                 PG
  • Long Red Surrey                     (Long)                 MGG
  • New Red Intermediate (maincrop) (Intermed)      IZ
  • Scarlet Horn                           (Small)                MGG
  • Scarlet Intermediate (maincrop)  (Intermediate)    WTG
  • St. Valary / Valery                   (Long)                 MGG


  • All The Year Round                                        MGG
  • Autumn  
  • Early Chantenay                                                 VGD
  • Early Erfurt                                                         MGG
  • Early Giant                                                         PG
  • Early London                                                      VGD, MGG
  • Early Market                                                      VGD
  • Early Six Weeks                                                 WTGHN
  • Early Snowball                                                   VGD, PG, MGG
  • Eclipse (autumn v.)                                             MGG
  • Walcheren                                                         WTGHN



  • Moss Curled  (early)                                          WTGHN, PG, MGG
  • Green Curled                                                    WTGHN, VGD
  • Batavian (winter)                                               WTGHN, MGG
  • Batavian Broad-leaved

Initials in CAPITALS e.g. MGG, WTGHN are our codes for which book we found the reference, so ignore these.
And here my ‘vegetable love’ was exhausted for one typing session.         Look out for more of the list and updates in the next few weeks.

Meanwhile you can check which of  these 1940s varieties are still available by searching the seed catalogues online or request a catalogue  from  Suttons Seeds, Mr. Fothergills, D.T. Brown, Unwins, Thompson & Morgan, The Real Seed Company and many others. 

Plant Conservation Day (on May 18th 2010)  has lots more information about ways of getting involved We’ll be planting some wartime varieties, heirloom or heritage varieties of vegetables and flowers in the wartime garden and try to save the seeds. 

You can find out more about heirloom varieties and local varieties of plants and seeds for your area at: 


Happy digging! Contact us at the World War Zoo gardens project via comments on this blog …

Look out for Saturday 22nd May 2010,  Biodiversity Day with mnay events in BIAZA zoos, aquariums and other sites. We’ll be posting more on this during the week.

Wartime gardening 1940 style, Plant Conservation Day 2010 and International Year of Biodiversity in the World War Zoo gardens at Newquay Zoo

February 18, 2010

Get involved and ‘Do One Thing’ for wildlife this year

Sunflowers for wild bird seed (and feeding wartime chickens) World War Zoo garden, Newquay Zoo, 2009 (now the site of a new walkthrough Madagascan aviary)

We can all do something positive for biodiversity this year. At the World War Zoo gardens project here at Newquay Zoo, we   like many groups such as BIAZA, Wildfowl and Wetland Trust, RHS and Wildlife Trusts are supporting the UK’s 2010 International Year of Biodiversity campaign to Do One Thing.  Find out more at 

Resolve to do one thing this year  for biodiversity.  If you’re not sure what to do, we have some suggestions below. And when you do it, tell your friends and family about it to encourage them to do something too. If you have a twitter account, don’t forget to follow @iybuk too and tell others what you’re doing. 

We will be promoting 2010 International Year of Biodiversity and also Plant Conservation Day (on May 18th 2010)  our second World War Zoo wartime garden weekend at Newquay Zoo 1 to 3 May 2010. This weekend also launches our Plant Hunters trail celebrating  plant hunters like the Lobb brothers, wartime secret agent and ageing plant hunter Frank Kingdon-Ward and the exotic plants they brought back from daring exploits around the world. Our vegetable and flower gardens are a strange mixture of plants and varieties from the local area and from all over the world. 

Heirloom varieties and 'Vera Lynn' commemorative varieties of Sweet peas are one of the flowers brightening up the World War Zoo wartime garden that will be sown this year.

Plant Conservation Day (on May 18th 2010)  has lots more information about ways of getting involved We’ll be planting some wartime varieties, heirloom or heritage varieties of vegetables and flowers in the wartime garden and try to save the seeds. 

You can find out more about heirloom varieties and local varieties of plants and seeds for your area at: 

There are many suggestions of things we can all do for International Year of Biodiversity at and from the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust website and Wild about gardens website  : 

  1. plant some wildlife friendly mixtures of flowers
  2. save your seeds or plant heirloom varieties
  3. build a wildlife pond in the garden 
  4. install a water butt and connect the down pipe from the gutter to a water butt and connect the overflow of the water butt to the pond or garden
  5. become a member of conservation organisation
  6. volunteer at a conservation organisation
  7. adopt an animal (or vegetable  – see
  8. remember wildlife or conservation organisations in your will
  9. Don’t mow your lawn – an untidy garden encourages wildlife (we like this one a lot)
  10. Dig up your lawn (like we did with one at Newquay Zoo) and plant veg or apply for an allotment from your local council, or turn over some of your garden to growing your own.

Backs to the Land! Going back in school today to when wartime school children grew their own school dinners …

January 20, 2010

Backs to the Land! School children were routinely involved in growing their own school dinners in the 1940s. (They have only themselves to blame for the endless boiled cabbage then).

As well as harvest camps and salvage drives, the schoolyard or bombsite garden  was all part of ‘lend a hand on the land’ and probably a welcome break from lessons. Raising pigs and chickens weren’t unknown as a school project either. Meat to go with the two veg!

One of my proudest achievements since leaving school many years ago ... getting something to grow. Ormskirk Late Cabbages, October 2009, first autumn in plot no. 1, World War Zoo Garden, Newquay Zoo

If you were such a wartime gardening child, we’d love to hear from you at The World War Zoo project based here at Newquay Zoo.

Now 70 years later, children are being encouraged to do the same again. I’ve seen some great schools gardens and met many impressive and proud school gardeners recently including the team up at Okehampton Community College in Devon and St. Mawgan-in-Pydar Community Primary School in Cornwall.

If you’re enjoying your school garden now, let us know. We’ll be posting more wartime sourced garden tips from our wartime archive collection soon. January is a pretty quiet month. Polish your tools, plan your garden, buy your seeds …

A very useful website of resources to inspire teachers, parents and others:

 Growing Schools ,   a DCSF government intitiative since 2001 “aiming to give all children the opportunity to connect with the living environment”,

worth downloading their vegetables in hanging baskets pdf resources and many other fabulous small scale and easy ideas

 “whether it is an inner city window box or a vast country estate, a school veg plot or a natural woodland. Interacting with living plants and animals provides a very rich, hands-on learning experience in which both formal and informal education can flourish” .

Newquay Zoo’s World War Zoo gardens team applauds this idea as we’re also part of the same Learning  Outside the Classroom manifesto, which Newquay Zoo and many of our zoo and botanic garden collegues are signed up to and quality badged.  We all share its conviction that “every young person should experience the world beyond the classroom as an essential part of learning and personal development, whatever their age, ability or circumstance”. A school garden or allotment is a good place to start.

 Growing Schools focuses particularly on three areas that are accessible to all, at some level, as a context for learning:

  • Food and farming, including the managed countryside
  • Gardens, gardening and green spaces
  • Wildlife and the natural environment

Growing Schools also works with the Sustainable Schools agenda. Growing your own food, saving those food miles, using recycled planters, composting that waste. It’s all part of a sustainable garden.  It provides a “practical approach to its core theme of care – for oneself, for each other and for the environment.”

Our colleagues at Botanic Gardens Education Network   also have some ideas on how to support growing in schools. Our wartime garden is listed there in their informal learning section.

Only three to four weeks left until the launch of the fabulous Ministry of Food exhibition opening Febraury 2010 at the Imperial War Museum (see previous blog entries) and their previous fabulous dig for victory blogspot 

Only three to four months until our second World War Zoo wartime garden weekend 1-3 May 2010 at Newquay Zoo, one of the many garden events at    (see previous blog entries)

Off to go and plant more seeds.

Lend a hand with the sand(bags) …

December 20, 2009

Not a bomb site but redeveloping the old parrot aviary, coati house and tortoise summer enclosure ; old sand for a new use, Richard the Newquay zoo gardener and Robyn from the zoo education team filling sandbags for the zoo keeper's wartime garden. Rubble from the old enclosures forms the base of the new ones in some neat wartime recycling.

Newquay Zoo Director Stewart Muir, being a respected wildlife artist, has an eye for things around the zoo. Sandbags, he declared! Sandbags are what we need to add atmosphere to the wartime garden especially in its winter plumage. 

So at risk of being mistaken for a flood prevention scheme, sandbags were bought and are now being filled using the sand from the surrounds of old parrot, tortoise and coati enclosures being taken down for rebuilding into a larger aviary and home to some rare Madagascan mongoose. So this corner of the zoo might appropriately look like a bomb site but it’s all in a good cause of conservation at

Also in a good cause: waylaying passing members of staff from all walks of zoo life from gardeners to admin staff, education staff and keepers, even the operations manager being asked to lend a hand with the sand(bags) re-enacting on a dark wet afternoon what happened in zoos, gardens and aquaria  all over Britain and elsewhere as vital sections of the zoo such as glasshouses and shelter tunnels were sandbagged for safety. 

A fine album of photographs of zoo staff digging in (or filling sandbags) can be found on the wartime garden’s own Facebook page worldwarzoo worldwarzoogardener, established last week http:// Join up (enlist today!) to see more of our developments. We will also establish a Flickr site for photos of the wartime garden in the next few weeks.   

It’s the perfect sort of gardening job for when the weather is frosty or wet at this time of the year. Our salad crops are still hanging on. The leeks have not needed ‘heeling in’ (laying down slightly with a covering of earth) yet to avoid frost damage. Thankfully no snow or frost has further damaged any more trial plantings in the wartime zoo garden, although it might also help kill off a few more slugs! 

A stock of sandbags still features in many zoo storerooms to prevent flooding, this zoo being built around a stream valley. Zoos still have crisis or disaster plans for fire, flood etc. but thankfully not as worrying as those for wartime zoos on what to do in an air raid! 

Our colleagues in botanic gardens often had the same problems, sandbags and sticky paper to protect their delicate glasshouses. James Wheeler the director of Birmingham Botanic Gardens sent me some pages from Oasis of Delight, the biography of the gardens by Phyllida Barnard. The same preparations had to be made in gardens as in zoos.  Just as many zoos still maintain a botanic garden function, Birmingham Botanic Gardens was not alone in having an animal collection. Both young keepers and gardeners were called up for military service. Dangerous snakes which could not be rehomed were euthanased and the bear enclosures reinforced to avoid animal escapes during air raids. (Ballard, P. (1983) An Oasis of Delight: The History of the Birmingham Botanical Gardens).   

'Sandbags and sticky paper', sign from the wartime garden launch weekend trail in August 2009, Newquay Zoo

 An original November 1939 copy of Animal and Zoo Magazine produced by Julian Huxley at London Zoo shows the preparations there. 

Not just managers and keepers, London Zoo had real team work for their sandbagging; both human and non-human primates doing ARP duties, September 1939

Further research for the World War Zoo project should reveal more about wartime life in zoos, aquaria and botanic gardens, not just in Britain but across Europe and further afield.

Keep following the blog for more stories and news of this garden.
Any comments, relevant links or historical snippets that you know of please send us these via the comments feed.

Feel free to post a link to our site to your own networks – even leeks and salad crops like having friends and getting emails.
Have a happy and peaceful sandbag free Christmas – see our previous Christmas blog for wartime Christmas ideas!
The World War Zoo project team at Newquay Zoo 

Biggles does Double Trench Digging, Biggles Does Gardening … and other strange discoveries.

October 29, 2009

We’ve picked the first leaves of Pak Choi from the Wartime Garden at Newquay Zoo, ready and fresh for our Junior Keeper today to scatter feed as enrichment for our very rare Sulawesi Macaque monkeys.

You can read more about our award-winning Junior Keeper and adult Keeper for a Day scheme on the Newquay Zoo website

World War Zoo garden items Oct 09 026

W.E.Johns garden article "The Passing Show" January 1940 issue Our Garden magazine

We’ve had some good comments on the World War Zoo project blog and emails from fellow zoo gardeners, so please pass on our garden blog address. The more people read it, the more strange things we will uncover.

Discoveries such as this wartime gardening magazine, with features on gardening in the early months of the war (probably hastily rewritten as most magazines have several months in hand as we found out today). The gardening article is written by no less than Captain W.E. Johns, author of the famous Biggles flying stories (recently reissued) with such daring-do titles as Biggles Defies the Swastika. These would wile away the long hours in the Anderson Shelter or for keepers on night-time  fire watch.

Maybe Biggles does Double Trench Digging never made it further than the waste bin of history.   W.E. Johns (a former pilot) also wrote Worrals of the WAAF to inspire girls with air stories. But I never knew about his other life as a gardener …

We have acquired steadily at Newquay Zoo a small archive of wartime gardening and cookery books to help us with our modern recreation of a wartime zoo keepers’ garden, so we will share with you some of the tips and recipes over the next few months. You can buy powdered eggs still from the 1940s Society website, to attain that truly authentic (and revolting) flavour! (Revolting, according to our visitors at the garden launch weekend in August). Home cooking and ‘grow your own’ food together, history you can eat!

World War Zoo Pak Choi and  garden archive items Oct 09 016

Our first Pak Choi fresh picked at Newquay Zoo for endangered macaque monkeys alongside a wartime gardening magazine from our Newquay Zoo archive

Excitingly we have had our first article about the wartime garden accepted in the BGEN Botanic Gardens Education Network and Botanic Gardens Conservation International BGCI magazine Roots for 2010, so we have a few weeks to get this together for a January copy deadline and then wait a few months for this to appear.

Maybe some exciting Biggles style passages would be welcome?