Longwood Gardens in Bloom

On a sunny morning in late April, we headed down to Longwood Gardens to look at some plants. You probably don’t remember, but we had actually been to Longwood during Freshman year before all the leaves were on the trees because it was still winter. Anyway, this time, there were actual flowers and things blooming and it was so lovely! If you live in the area and have never been, I would definitely recommend it, even if you are not a plant fanatic because it is beautiful and the amount of maintenance required to keep this place perfect will blow your mind.

We were supposed to be taking notes on different spaces and plants for class but I mostly just looked at all the plants and wandered around.

One of the cool things we go to do was go behind the scenes of some of the plant growing operations. We walked through green houses with rows and rows of different plant species.

There was also this tree called a Mardarinquat (I think) which looked awesome but we weren’t allowed to pick any.

They also showed us these crazy flowers they were propagating that only bloom every 7 years and cost upwards of $600 dollars if I’m not mistaken! So I think this picture should be worth at least $50 haha.

Anyway. After getting a tour, we were able to walk around on our own! Yay! I definitely could’ve stayed longer but I still got to see plenty of foliage and flora.

First we took a stroll down the Flower Garden Walk which was planted with over 250,000 bulbs! That’s crazy! Here are some pics:

Pictures of columbine flowers (I think) planted around the fountain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These pictures don’t really do it justice but you can still see all the pretty flowers 🙂

The formal Italian Water Garden is lined with pollarded trees which I personally am not a fan of but they do look rather sculptural in this setting

The meadow. A perscribed burn had just been done to part of the meadow which was pretty cool. These burns are important and mimic natural meadow ecosystem processes that promote seed germination, ecological health, and the suppression of weeds among other things.

We also got to walk around the indoor greenhouses which are always blooming with beautiful flowers!

 

 

And no trip to Longwood would be complete without using the famous greenwall bathrooms!

Can Someone Find My Motivation? I Think I Lost It

Finals week is upon us, and the students are reacting in the that only students would. We are being proactive and getting a lot of work done in a super relaxed manner… HAHAHAAHAHAHAHAAH. Let’s be realistic here. As one would expect, finals are being met with panic and procrastination. Luckily for me, I got all my final stuff out of the way (I had an 2 essay-type things and a studio final)! I still have to study though. Blaaah.

Anyhoo. [Insert transitional sentence here]

Our final project for studio was to create a design ‘board’ that showcased some of the work that we did over the semester. But the photos we used had to be tied together by some common ‘theme.’ My idea was to use photos that showed how to get to my final product, I had to go though the process of drawing things over and over and over and over again (That is called iterations). I titled my board, “I Use So Much Trace” because it’s probably the truest thing to be said about first year studio.The professors seemed to think it was funny which made me happy 🙂 So here it is:

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TA-DA!

Also, just because of why not, I’m posting excerpts from my two essays I had to write 🙂 I read to Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan for this essay, and I definitely recommend reading it if you’re interested in the state of modern agriculture or are looking for a book to read that makes it sound like you read books for your edification (Ironically, I leaned the word ‘edification’ on an episode of Phineas and Ferb). But seriously, this book will make you completely rethink the ethics (or lack there of) involved in the production of food. However, if you don’t want to feel sort of guilty about eating meat for the rest of your life, don’t read it.

Fixing Our Problems with Duct Tape: The Unsustainable Nature of Modern Agriculture

…The mass-production of livestock is, within its own system, unsustainable. The increasing push for meat has resulted in the creation of over-crowded warehouses full of animals lying in their own poop. Conditions this insufferable will, undoubtedly, lead to diseases that must be treated with antibiotics and other chemicals. The animal feed is, of course, made with cheap, federally subsidized corn. This feed turns out to be a problem for a multitude of reasons. Ruminant animals like cattle are built to digest grasses – not corn – and this diet change causes health issues (Pollan 77). The additives in chicken feed cause the poor birds to grow faster than their little legs can handle, so most of them can’t even support their own weight. As Pollan observes, “most of the problems that afflict feedlot cattle can be traced either directly or indirectly to their diet” (77). But of course, corporations rationalize that they are making money, and corn is cheap so it works. Here is a clear example of the second contradiction of capitalism. By shoving all the animals into dark warehouses to maximize space and profit, they are degrading the quality and health of the animals they are selling (Robbins et. al. 106). The way I see it, these corporations are trying to fix their crumbling foundation with duct tape. Duct tape is a good temporary fix for a lot of things, but it won’t last for the long haul; in other words, it’s not sustainable.

Ooooo. Chills.

And then there’s my experimental design project for plant biology. We had to ask a scientific question to research and then make up an experiment for it. Here is a bit of my ‘background research’ that I did. Please don’t feel obligated to read it because it’s boring. I was checking the paper for spelling a grammar errors and all I could hear was the voice of any of the adults that talk in Charlie Brown.

Scientific Question:

How does exposure to a static, electro-magnetic field affect germination of pea seeds?

By Zoe Roane-Hopkins

Many scientists have begun experiments testing the specific effects of electromagnetic forces, with magnetic fields that are stronger and weaker than that of the Earth. There are also a large number of studies testing the germination and growth of different plants using variables including the strength of the magnetic field, frequency, length of exposure, and direction of the field in relation to the seeds. Over all of my research, it appears that scientists attribute changes in germination, inhibition, root growth, water uptake, and nutrient uptake to plant exposure to electromagnetic fields of various strengths (Selim et. al, 2011).These changes were positive or negative, depending on the variable being tested. Martínez et. al. say that the effects of electromagnetic forces are difficult to test because there are so many processes that are influenced, and there are many variables within the question that can be tested (Martínez et. al., 2009).

Riveting.

So that’s fun.

Also, in lab a while back, we propagated plants from stem cuttings and mine lived! It’s so cute!

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[said in a very sarcastic voice] As you can see in the background, I keep a very neat desk.

Side note: In the featured image at the top of this post, my computer screen is displaying a draft of this very post that I am writing right now! ooh. Blogception.

References:

Pollan, Michael. The Omnivore’s Dilemma. New York: Penguin Books, 2006. Print.

Martínez, E., Carbonell, M.V., Flórez, M., Amaya, J.M., and Maqueda, R. (2009). Germination of Tomato Seeds (Lycopersicon esculentum L.) Under a Magnetic Field. International Agrophysics 23, 45-49.

Selim, A. H., El-Nady, M. F. (2011). Physio-anatomical responses of drought stressed tomato plants to magnetic field. Acta Astronautica 69, 387-396.

What I Learn In Plant Biology: I Have Been Lied to My Whole Life

ATTENTION! I am taking a break in your irregularly scheduled programming to bring you this urgent news:

So we’re finishing up our unit on plant structures and their functions (like leaves, roots, that sort of thing)

Here is what I have learned:

First of all, who ever told you that ginger is a root, is tragically misinformed. In fact, ginger is a stem. I’m not even kidding. Ginger is a “modified stem” called a rhizome that grows horizontally in the ground. I just blew your mind!

But wait! There’s more!

That whole debate over whether a tomato is a fruit or a vegetable? Well, according to my textbook (and my professor and probably the internet), a tomato is not only-botanically speaking-a fruit, it is a berry. What? Yes! It is true! A berry has a thin skin and usually contains many seeds and has a soft inside at maturity. And do you know what else is considered a berry? GRAPES! Boom.

And one last thing. While acorns are nuts, walnuts and pecans are not! I’m actually no sure why that is. Also peanuts are actually legumes, not nuts.

So anyway, enjoy the rest of your day, with this new information about food that will probably change your life forever.

If you are having a rough time digesting this information, you can fin the authors of this book and have a chat with them.

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