Ideas & Research
Did you know that around 80% of plants found in UK city-gardens originated overseas?
The ideas informing PoliNations were found in research by ecologist and entomologist Professor Jane Memmott OBE. Jane is an expert on the interactions between insect pollinators and plants, and in particular the role that cities can play as a home to pollinators. Work by author and biological scientist Jon Drori informed our 8 Iconic Plants, who’s stories were woven throughout the PoliNations programme.
*Statistic taken from a forthcoming study by Professor Jane Memmott, Professor of Ecology at Bristol University and President of the British Ecological Society, and colleagues.
Taking the form of an epic pop-up garden bursting with living plant life and sheltered by 40-foot-tall architectural trees, PoliNations uncovered the origin stories of many mainstays of traditional UK gardens:
From the ‘Hybrid Tea Rose’ (hybridised China and Asian forms), classic ‘Weeping Willows’ (introduced from China and the Middle East), lavender (brought over from countries around the Mediterranean), apple trees (imported from Kazakhstan) and tulips (Central Asia).
Together, they paint a picture of the journeys, migration, dispersal of plants we now consider to be part of our shared ecological identity. PoliNations was a vibrant reflection on the UK’s complex histories surrounding migration and diversity. Whilst celebrating our differences, our roots, and our future, the rich programme emphasised the importance of access to green spaces and a healthy planet.
Various elements of the PoliNations programme have now been developed as concept-rich standalone experiences.
Using the specially commissioned PoliNations tuk tuk, TEABREAK is a brand-new touring show that tells the story and history of tea. As you stir your cup, gently glide through the journey of tea with a transportive audio piece and live dance performance. Follow tea across continents and centuries, onto our shores and into our teapots as the great comforter of our time.
The TEABREAK Tuk Tuk was first presented in September 2023 as part of PoliNations Birmingham, originally developed to represent one of nine Iconic Plants celebrated throughout the PoliNations programme.