Twigs : Botany And Horticulture


Plants are nature’s alchemists, expert at transforming water, soil and sunlight into an array of precious substances, many of them beyond the ability of human beings to conceive, much less manufacture.

~ Michael Pollan, The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World


Plants are truly miraculous and we are only beginning to learn of their complexity and appreciate their contributions to the world - and to our very existence. In many ways, they serve as a bridge from the inanimate to the animate. As biochemical engines, they use the energy of the sun to transform inert materials (e.g., minerals and chemicals) into living bundles of nutrition that feed the animal kingdom - all while cleansing the air and the earth. Often, that nutrition is compacted into portable caloric and nutritional bundles that allow other species to survive while enganging in theor own migrations and jourenys. 

Consider the sunflower (pictured above) as one case in point. In addition to the role it serves in the general ecosystem, humans use sunflowers in numerous ways. Of course, the flowers themselves give us great emotional pleasure. But every part of the plant can be used. The seeds are a healthy source of nutrition, helping with a number of common conditions - reducing blood pressure, the risk of heart attacks and strokes, diabetes, migraines, etc.. A drink can be made out of roasted seeds. The oil is used in both salad dressings and in cooking. Sunflower buds can be cooked like artichokes. Hulls can be used to make ethyl alcohol and stems can be made into fuel. Sunflower fiber is used to make fabrics and paper, and the flowers can be used to make yellow dyes. Different parts of the plant are used in industrial processes and in cosmetics. Sunflowers have been and continue to be used for therapeutic and medicinal purposes. Most notably for pulmonary and respitory ailments, rheumatism, and snake and spider bites. 

In addition to appreciating the countless ways plants contribute our society/activities and very existence, Recent research has also provided further evidence, for those that needed it, of the complexity of plants. Evidence is growing that they communicate, have memory, and act in coordination - even across species.

Loren Eiseley understood the role of plants as much as anyone ever has. His essay "How Flowers Changed The World" from the Immense Journey is still one of the most well-written, insightful, and moving depictions of the importance of plants have played in the evolution of the world's ecosystem. It should be on everyone's required reading list. Although I highly recommend you buy The Immense Journey, "How Flowers Changed The World" is available as a free PDF.

This section is dedicated to Loren Eisley and all the gardeners in the world - no matter your skill level or degree of success. I hope that this section, in even some small way, does justice to their spirit and continues their noble work. For everytime you plant a seed, it is an expression of hope and of love.

In this section you will find:

  • Gardening tips

  • Information on specific plants

  • Gardening tips

  • Information on how horticulture, gardening, agricultire, and plants impact our lives and our world

  • Recommended readings on plants, gardening, etc. 

I was once told "Live like you will die tomorrow. Garden as if you will live forever." A good piece of advice.