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Fascination of Plants Day: 18th May 2012

Posted by on May 17, 2012

Fascination of Plants Day - celebration of plant science, blog from the Society of BiologyTwo years ago at their Annual Meeting, the European Plant Science Organisation (EPSO), muted the idea of supporting a pan European day to celebrate plants. Tomorrow, Friday 18th May, over 560 organisations in 39 countries will take part in the first ever international Fascination of Plants Day, with over 80 of those organisations in the UK!

I’m not usually keen on these ‘days’ and often wondered if they achieved anything. Having taken part in this one I can see why they keep going! I hesitated for a second before saying I would coordinate UK activities, knowing I had a great plant science network available through ArabUK to reach the academic community, and psci-comm, the science communication network to reach the practitioners, and of course the power of Twitter, how hard could it be?

As a nation of garden lovers there are also numerous horticultural networks to tap into such as the National Gardens Scheme, not to mention Natural England, The National Trust, Kew and The Eden Project. Tim Smit agreed to be national spokesperson and all was well.

Then we hit the slump. After a rush of enthusiasm we began to hit brick walls, organisations you would have thought would be keen to take part just didn’t respond. You don’t realise how many info@ emails addresses there are and how many are obviously not monitored or ignored. Frustration set in.

What was it that was so difficult? If you have an event already running around May18th, brand it FoPD and become part of an international celebration, free advertising on the web site, a free PR Toolkit to access, what could be simpler?

The electronic assault it seemed was just not enough and it was time to hit the phones, but who is the right person to talk to?

Time was against us, and even with part-time volunteer help, with the day job and our own events to organise, we feel we failed somehow. Following the initial rush new participants trickled in. Having said that, the breadth and depth of the UK are represented from Jodrell Bank to Stonehenge, what greater diversity could we ask for?

But we had FoPD fever and it wasn’t enough. Like a dog at a bone we couldn’t leave it alone, but time and resources beat us in the end. With 24 hours left to go we hope the Press engage in the Day and everyone who is taking part has a great time. To find out more and what’s going on around the UK and the world go to and follow events on @PlantDay2012 .

Would I do it again? You bet.

Dee Rawsthorne, UK National Coordinator, John Innes Centre, Norwich

One Response to Fascination of Plants Day: 18th May 2012

  1. Mary Williams

    Hi Dee,
    Here are my thoughts. First, the global nature of this day helped us get over the activation energy hurdle; we were excited to be part of an event that was bigger than our own institutions (University of Glasgow and Glasgow Botanic Gardens). Judging from the responses of the teachers and school children who came, and the staff, volunteers and post-grads who gave their time, we feel that this was a very successful day.
    We were disappointed that despite our repeated efforts, we failed to get the press out – shame on them.
    Thanks to you and everybody who worked hard to encourage and support these events and make them happen, at all of the more than 560 institutions. We may not have moved a mountain, but we moved a LOT of little pebbles.