Orchid discovery in Eastern Ontario

A species of orchid more commonly found on the Great Prairies, Spiranthes magnicamporum, has been discovered just 45 minutes outside of Canada's capital city of Ottawa, Ontario.

Eastern Ontario has a rich-smelling species of orchid never recognized here until now, the Great Plains ladies’-tresses which, as the name suggests, mostly grows from Manitoba down to Texas.

It's a long way from its nearest neighbour, and and has left botanists scratching their heads about why it lives here.

A likely explanation is that the orchids have been here since soon after the glaciers melted, leaving a scraped, rocky landscape 10,000 years ago. The orchids and dropseed grass may have covered a lot of the land back then, before being choked out as forests took over.

The alvars remained rocky and open, preserving isolated pockets of orchids.

Proof positive that even in 2014, there are new things to discover in the natural world right at our feet.

Source: Ottawa Citizen, “What is this rich fragrance?” Eastern Ontario’s new orchid

Gardening: More fun with guns

This has to be the ultimate expression of redneck gardening.

…there’s a new way to sow your seeds: blasting them into the soil with a 12-gauge.

Flower Shell is a shotgun shell filled with flower seeds that will produce anything from daisies to sunflowers to poppies to meadow flowers.

Yes, you too can plant a garden without shifting your backside off the rocking chair on your veranda. The developer claims the shotgun shells really work and says of his planting efforts – with pride:

This flourishing field was my creation, it was all done with 142 shotgun shells.

LINK: For extreme gardeners, shotgun shells full of seed

New orchid species discovered in volcanic ‘lost world’, very little news silliness follows

For years, there was only one formally recognized species of orchid on the Azores, a cluster of volcanic islands west of Spain, though some claimed there were two species. However, a recent, three-year study to describe these Azorean flowers found that three species of orchids exist on the islands, including two that are newly recognized. (via www.csmonitor.com)

I see that in my orchid-blogging absence, new species have continued to pop up. Sadly, this particular one hasn’t inspired much in the way of purple prose, the news articles I’ve read have all been matter-of-fact and somewhat scholarly.

The only snicker to be found is courtesy of The Daily Mail (where else); their article contains a photo of boring grocery-store variety phalaenopsis with the caption, “Each plant could be worth a substantial sum to collectors.”

Screen Shot 2014-04-24 at 1.48.20 PM

Many thanks, Daily Mail, for the smile.

Gardening as an extreme sport

Remember the orchid collectors who were kidnapped back in 2000 by Columbian guerillas? One of them, Tom Hart Dyke, is returning to the country where he was held hostage for 9 months.

Tom recalled the day his captors announced that he would be killed,

Tom spent his ‘final day’ designing a dream garden that contained plants he’d collected from across the globe.

His determination to garden against all odds drove his captors crazy:

It was perhaps Tom’s jungle antics that made his captors glad to see the back of him.

“Building gardens in the mountains was much to the annoyance of our kidnappers,” said Tom.

Now if this isn't gardening as an extreme sport, I don't know what is.

Read the article: Orchid hunter Tom Hart Dyke returns to Colombia 14 years after guerrillas kidnapped him in Darien Gap region

I prefer my bushes natural, thanks

Screen Shot 2014-04-24 at 5.12.18 PMA botanical graffiti artist continues to shock the grey-haired set at the riverfront park in Windsor, Ontario. Honestly, when I saw what he did to that shrub my first thought was “bravo”. Up with the revolution! Go natural! Shaving Trimming Shearing shrub balls is the real vandalism here.

The City of Windsor’s executive director of parks and facilities, John Miceli, said:

Well, it’s unfortunate that they don’t use their talents with our Adopt a Park program. We could really use their skills, because they’re very, very good, whoever’s doing it, at being able to, uh, shape things.

Read on: Windsor’s phallus-obsessed bushwacker strikes again: Guerrilla gardener writes ‘penis’ with shrubs

Never mind orchids… asparagus?

Cool. Now there is evidence that orchids have been in existence since dinosaurs were running around the earth.

A 15-20 million year old bee has been discovered preserved in amber, with orchid pollen on its back. Apparently this helps end a certain amount of debate over how long orchids have been around:

Proponents of an older age for orchids had cited their ubiquity around the world, their close evolutionary kinship with the ancient asparagus family, and their bewildering diversity: Some 20,000 to 30,000 species strong, the showy plants comprise some 8 percent of all flowering species worldwide.

By applying the so-called molecular clock method, the scientists also estimated the age of the major branches of the orchid family. To their surprise, they found that certain groups of modern orchids, including the highly prized genus Vanilla, evolved very early during the rise of the plant family.