‘Survival of the fittest’ is a phrase used to describe the natural world; the spoils are to be won and the strongest live on. Life is more complicated than this, and there are many lives that endure through building partnerships and being good neighbours. New discoveries are being made all the time about the adaptations that organisms make to survive. Many of these discoveries are in the plant world; our understanding of reciprocal relationships between plants, animals and fungi is growing all the time and perhaps the natural world is more companionable than we originally thought. There are brutal elements, but all the while connections are being made, trades agreed, and reciprocal back scratching develops, aka ecological mutualism.
By Helen Roberts
At the start of December, I met up with Penny Harms, Glasshouse Co-ordinator at the University of Bristol Botanic Garden, to discuss the plants that are propagated at the Garden and how this valuable work is carried out. Over the course of the year, I will be investigating the different forms of propagation techniques used in the Garden to maintain and enhance their existing stock of plants. I will cover briefly how these techniques are carried out (bearing in mind that there are a plethora of books available on plant propagation), but I’ll also examine what is happening at the cellular level and examine the ‘why’ behind certain propagating techniques. (more…)