By Ann Davenport
Plants never cease to amaze me. It’s unbelievable the amount of abuse they will take and the adaptations they will make to survive. Living in an urban environment, you can’t turn around without seeing a some totally inhospitable environment for plants, yet there they are, stuck in some tiny space surrounded by a sea of concrete. They spend their days baking in the hot sun with little or no water, being stepped on, or driven over, or peed on by dogs! Yet, they continue to grow, bloom, and survive.
The Seed Burying Culprit???
In a search through some recent news items, I came across this National Geographic story that shows that some plants may have that survival trait ingrained pretty deep into their genetic code! Scientists in Russia uncovered a seed bank of Silene stenophylla, a flowering plant native to Siberia, which had been buried by an ice age squirrel. (I can’t help but think the little guy looked just like Scrat.) The seeds were completed encased in ice and brought up from 124 feet below the permafrost layer. Using radiocarbon dating, the seeds were estimated to be 32,000 year old! Wow!!!! That bypasses the previous record holder for “Oldest Plant” by like 30,000 years. Now as if simply finding these seeds isn’t enough, these scientists took things a step further and extracted tissue from the frozen seeds, placed it vials and grew it. The new plants not only grew, but they also flowered, and a year later produced their own seeds. Pretty amazing stuff from a 32,000 year old seed source!
So the next time you come across that old packet of seeds that you’ve been meaning to plant for a few years now, instead of just tossing it in the garbage, why not go ahead and give it a try. You never know what those little guys are capable of!
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Big things are afoot at the Field Notes blog. We started the blog back in 2008-2009 with the intent of getting our feet wet and testing how much confidence we had in our ability to offer interesting content and reliable, consistent updates. We’ve never really publicized the blog other than in our e-mail footer and on our web-site and have soldiered along with ebbs and flows.
But we are now ready to “kick it up a notch.” We have a great new editor who will be responsible for Consistency and Reliability. And we are putting together a several month plan of updates. One thing we want to make sure is that the subject matter is pertinent and interesting. We will continue to offer seasonal “what to do in the garden” tips as well as alerts on pests and diseases. In addition, we feel it is helpful to look a little deeper at common garden approaches. There is so much bad information in the world of horticulture – we would like to help simplify it and put it in perspective (especially regarding their effect on the larger natural world).
One change that we hope causes no interruption in service is that we have changed the location of the blog from our old address of “fieldinc.net” to our new address of “fieldoutdoorspaces.com”. We are trying to phase out that old address from everything we do.
A new feature we will be adding will be called “Solutions for the Urban Yard.” This will be an on-going commentary on solutions to the common problems we all face in our urban yards.
It is also our intention to have more frequent posts of beautiful, seasonal photos capturing the sometimes fleeting moments that happen everyday in our beautiful cities and backyards.
We will also be opening up posts to comments – so let us know how we are doing. We hope you find the new and improved “Field Notes” more interesting, pertinent and entertaining.
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“How’s the economy effecting your business,” is a question I hear a lot. And I ask it alot. I ask our vendors and clients if everything is going alright and it is understood I mean “with the economy and all…” And there are varying answers. The company that supplies our dumpsters, Atomic Waste, says their core business is really down (meaning the biggie construction companies) but he’s never seen so much movement in the small markets. The owners of Ambergate Gardens in Victoria say the landscape companies they work with are down but their retail business is ahead of last year. A friend who runs a small landscape company in town says he’s never been so busy.There is no doubt things are really bad. I talked to someone yesterday who was in construction for a local firm. She said the company had 100 carpenters early last year and cut down to 30. This year they are even lower.Luckily our year is going well. We have the best group of employees we’ve ever had and have been keeping everyone busy. Sometimes we feel like the proverbial duck that is calm above the water while kicking like hell underneath… but, hey, we are keeping our employees busy and have a great set of clients.Not a day goes by that I don’t think in my head, “Wow, our clients are great” AND “Wow, our employees are great.” Our clients are giving us the opportunity to complete fulfilling projects and our employees are efficiently and conscientiously completing them. Can’t ask for more than that.
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Lawn kind of crunchy? Is your garden a bunch of saggy plants? Well, for good reason. The Twin Cities experienced the third driest May on record. We received a grand total of .47″ of rain in May. It is really critical to get some water on your plants. Put a hose set at a slow drip on your trees for 30 minutes to an hour. And hand water or put a sprinkler on your perennials and turf until they get a good soaking – dig your hand into the soil to make sure it has soaked several inches down.
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Beautiful Minnesota field stone showing its "glacial" character
One of the great things about stone is that there are such distinct regional differences. Stone one might find just laying about in a field in one region is often devalued by the local residents because they see it everywhere. In Minnesota, what we call “field stone” is a random assortment of rounded rock in all different colors and sizes. We also call it “glacial boulders”, which defines more closely the character and source of this rock.The rounded shape and colors that range from pink and white, to blue and dark red, define its geologic past. This rock we see stacked in huge suburban retaining walls and the “river rock” we see in shopping mall shrub plantings is the result of the glaciers pulling rock from a variety of northern sources, tumbling it over thousands of years and dropping it randomly on the landscape. Its kind of like “stone washed” jeans – these rocks have a lived-in look.While its ubiquitous nature leads to it feeling kind of common, it really is our “native rock” and can be used in ways to accentuate its nature rather than just to solve maintenance problems or cover space.
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