What makes plants grow is a simple enough question, but the answer turns out to be one of the most complicated and fascinating stories in science and took over 300 years to unravel. Timothy Walker, director of the Oxford University Botanic Garden, reveals how the breakthroughs of Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus, Chelsea gardener Phillip Miller and English naturalist John Ray created the science of botany. Between them these quirky, temperamental characters unlocked the mysteries of the plant kingdom and they began to glimpse a world where bigger, better and stronger plants could be created. Nurseryman Thomas Fairchild created the world's first artificial hybrid flower - an entirely new plant that didn't exist in nature. Today, botanists continue the search for new flowers, better crops and improved medicines to treat life-threatening diseases.
Steve Backshall reveals the incredible influence that insects and their close relatives have on Earth's many ecosystems. In the grasslands of South America the landscape has been created almost solely by one team of insects - grass-cutter ants. Across the world's oceans one tiny creature plays such a key role that, without it, the largest animal on our planet, the blue whale, could not exist. And in East Africa the savannah would quickly be swamped in dung were it not for the activities of a certain beetle. Yet the greatest influence of all comes from a group of insects that have ultimately changed the colour and diversity of our planet.
Sail the stunning Azores as large shoals of migrating humpback whales visit its waters. A sight to behold! Plus spot the symbol of the islands, giant sperm whales. These majestic protected creatures are the biggest tourist attraction of the Azores.
This special, narrated by Andrew Scott, celebrates spring on planet Earth, and the extraordinary tricks that animals and plants find to rise to the new challenges it brings. This magical season brings a burst of new life - but as soon as the air starts to warm, it's a race to wake up and get ahead of everyone else. For many, it's the perfect time to find a mate and raise babies - but for everything, from adventurous grizzly bear cubs and amorous dancing grebes, to flowers in the desert and swifts that fly marathons, spring is about rushing to make the most of the opportunities this busy season brings.
Dr George McGavin investigates the highly varied and dramatic life of oak tree. Part science documentary, part historical investigation, this film is a celebration of one of the most iconic trees in the British countryside. It aims to give viewers a sense of what an extraordinary species the oak is and provide an insight into how this venerable tree experiences life.
2017 • Nature