Press Releases

Our subconscious Savanna – University of Reading

Release Date : 25 May 2005

the chelsea exhibitThe School of Plant Sciences' exhibit at this year's Royal Horticultural Society's Chelsea Show has won a Silver-Gilt Lindley Medal, maintaining the School's unbroken string of medal-winning successes at this premier horticultural event. Our subconscious Savanna: Asks "Do gardens reflect our African evolution and emotional needs?" This display questions whether there are links between the African savanna that man evolved in and the garden features we use today. The exhibit is divided into two to allow comparisons between the savanna landscape and a typical garden. Including features relating to rest, relaxation, shelter, security and the provision of food and water, the exhibit aims to highlight the importance of 'natural surroundings' in determining our health and well-being. The University of Reading has been involved in reviewing scientific literature for the Plant for Life Initiative – a project aimed at increasing people's awareness of how landscapes, gardening and plants can influence our physiological and psychological health. Scientists have attempted to theorise why activities involving the natural world such as gardening, seem particularly, to have such a positive effect on our psyche. One of the first of these was Edward Wilson who promoted the idea of Biophilia - "man's biological need for an emotional relationship with the rest of nature". One concept developed by Wilson was that we have a natural affinity for parks and gardens because these are reminiscent of the African savannah that Homo sapiens evolved in. The savannahs provided open space to hunt and forage in, yet also watering holes, shelter and vantage points. It is interesting to ponder, are there elements of today's gardens and landscapes that are popular precisely because they remind us of our evolutionary 'first home'? The team in Plant Sciences were Dr Ross Cameron, Mr Trevor Pitman and Mr James Wagstaffe. Students of Typography and Graphic Communication that contributed to the overall design were Claire Elliot, Caroline Blacker, Ioanna Stavridis led by Lecturer, Dr Martin Andrews. End For more information about the Plant for Life initiative and the Our subconscious Savanna exhibit, please visit: For media enquiries only, please contact Craig Hillsley, the University's press officer on Tel: 0118 378 7388 Email:


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