Saturday Snippet: The Scent of Extinct Flowers

Botanical print of extinct flower Leucadendron grandiflorum

Well, this is just fascinating: Guerilla Artist Daisy Ginsberg Recreates Scent of Extinct Flowers.

Where others might seek to reconstruct a woolly mammoth from centuries-old sequences, Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg is part of an interdisciplinary project to recreate the scents of plant species lost to human colonial destruction of their habitat.

But wait, it gets better! Dr. Ginsberg is also working on a plant-based art installation at The Eden Project:

I am creating an artwork not for humans, but for pollinators, whose numbers are in global jeopardy. In September 2021, we are planting a 52-meter-long garden at the Eden Project in Cornwall [UK], designed by an algorithm to optimize ‘empathy’ for other species. I’ve defined that as planting to support the maximum diversity of pollinators, using carefully developed regional planting lists that the algo selects and optimizes from. Hopefully, this garden will look strange to human tastes—with every color and size and shape of flower included, plus patterning to support different foraging strategies. It is an unnatural garden designed for nature. I want to challenge what we think of as a garden and who it’s planted for. The algorithm will be online so anyone can create their own artwork for pollinators which we invite them to plant.

You can learn more about the installation, and even use the same algorithm to create your own planting scheme (it’s designed for UK plants, pollinators, and climates), here: The Pollinator Commission.

Saturday Snapshot, May 8

My Saturday Snapshots mostly focus on the vegetable garden, which you can barely see in this photo in the back left corner, but I couldn’t resist sharing this photo of my Louisiana iris in full bloom, with the late afternoon sun lighting them up at a slant.

Saturday Snapshots

I have a new vegetable garden! Last spring, at the outset of pandemic lockdown, I planted two temporary raised beds of vegetables, partly to make sure my family had fresh produce in case of store shortages, and partly as a mindful, calm activity to soothe myself and get outside. It was very successful but it quickly overran the limited space I had and became more of a vegetable jungle than garden! It was also awkwardly positioned near the site of a huge tree stump that we hadn’t yet removed, which limited my ability to reach into the beds.

So this spring, we hired a local group that specializes in “edible landcapes”, who removed the temporary beds and the massive stump, and built two long, narrow raised beds with a path between them, and a trellis arch made from cattle fencing to support squash, melons, and maybe some runner beans. Here it is, with only a few plants in place yet:

New raised beds, April 2021

My goal is to post a snapshot weekly of the vegetable garden’s progress. Wish me luck! And please share in the comments any advice you may have, or any updates you’d like to share about your own gardening adventures!

“The Invisible Garden of Scent”

Noted gardener and garden writer Ken Druse has published a delightful piece in The New York Times this week on incorporating scent and fragrance into one’s garden. It follows the publication of his latest book, ““The Scentual Garden: Exploring the World of Botanical Fragrance,” which won the top honor of the American Horticultural Society for writing, in March. He calls the scent dimension of horticulture the “invisible garden” — not seen, but sensed as a key element of any garden’s appeal and design.

My garden holds many of the plants he mentions; right now, the most fragrant ones in bloom are the roses and gardenias. I also grow rosemary, mint, and basil — all very aromatic, and useful in the kitchen.

I have so many gardening books that I haven’t bought a new one in years, but I may have to make an exception for this one, given how much I love both gardening and fragrance!

Have you read it? Plan to read it? What are your favorite fragrant flowers, and which do you grow at home?

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