Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Pensive Tuesday: Why Do We Do It?

Here's our beach. See the hint of rainbow and those nice, blooming yuccas? Great stuff for Pensive Tuesday! My question today is, "Why do you grow them?" Why do you collect, grow, and nurture the group of plants that particularly charm and fascinate you, whether it's mesembs, epiphytes, succulents or cacti, etc.? Why not just have a picture book, or one small pot growing on a windowsill? What are your motives?

One of my big motives is that I see the climate and natural landscape changing very dramatically and very fast, everywhere I live in the world. With my own eyes I saw the Alpine and Alaskan glaciers and permafrost melting away. I've seen various native species disappear without a trace within just a few seasons. I've seen massive bird populations shrinking to remnants in just a couple of decades. It's frightening.

I know that mesembs' natural habitats (mostly in S. Africa) are tiny and fragile patches of gorgeous land. I've read and heard from people who see them that those patches are changing; some are losing what little rainfall they have, others are under siege from invasives and land loss. Those of us who grow special plants can feel good, I think, in that we're caretaking species that are in danger, and that someday, somewhere, even if their native habitat is no longer habitable, these amazing plants can find homes and continue their life cycles.


12 comments:

  1. I collect and grow plants, in particular Lithops because it's rewarding to take care of something, especially living, and to see them grow, happy and healthy. As a result, I'm rewarded by plants', in particular Lithops' beauty, colours, patterns, designs, ohh and flowers, but none of mine have done that yet, which are inspiring to me. I also just think they're adorable and peculiar, in a good way. I like the second image, what is it Mara?

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  2. What you say is true for every thing every where, be it rain forest or desert. So from a conservationist point of view, yeah we keep them from getting lost, but I think this may apply more to big botanical gardens or people like S. Hammer, we kill too many anyway. LOL! For me it a fascination with their environment (Karoo, Namaqualand) and the amazing ability of these plants to survive there, but also in our backyards. It is growing these little buggers from seed and seeing them flower and in some cases having plants from parts of the world I will never see. It does give a sense of accomplishment & pride in a hobby with many pitfalls. Its all that and more for me! LT

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  3. gaianursery,
    It is so rewarding on a personal level isn't it? I didn't mean to sound totally altruistic, I certainly am not! ;-) But it's great when a hobby that brings such personal rewards is also potentially helpful to the planet at large.
    The second image is my photograph of the beach at night, radically altered and repainted. One of my favorite ways to combine photography and painting/mixed media. Thanks!

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  4. LE,
    The large botanical gardens/collections are a planetary treasure, that is for sure. We're not them, but I think we do add our little bit, in growing the plants and sharing with others how we do it, so they may try it, too!

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    1. For sure - cannot be addicts alone! What's the fun in that! LOL!

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  5. Even take them to another planet! Guess who c love, Dad XOX

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    1. It could happen. I can see Lithops on Mars....

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  6. That's as good a reason as any. There are quite a few people who grow certain plants because of the idea that cultivation is a good form of ex-situ conservation, including myself. Too many native habitats being destroyed or plants that have been over collected before us. It doesn't feel good knowing you're growing something that may be extinct in the wild, but at least it still is around at all.

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  7. Melody,
    Exactly. Some of my sisters grow heirloom varieties of tomatoes, potatoes, corn, and so on for the same reasons. I'm absolutely dreadful with those plants, sadly, but I'm glad there are people out there growing them for the future!

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  8. I grow and propagate orchid species partly out of pure fascination with their amazing variety and partly for conservation of species whose habitat has been destroyed to make way for shopping malls. It would be sad if the whole world were taken over by white hybrid Phalaenopsis. I actually partner with Meyers Conservatory, a private organization near here dedicated to preserving orchid species. One of the goals is to maintain as much genetic diversity as possible through outcrosses within a species. My succulent collection is just fun, but I could see getting into it on a larger scale for the same reasons I grow orchids.

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  9. Doc Elly,
    I just read a few sobering scientific articles on "Changed Climates" in 2050, and I'm going to redouble my efforts to grow some of our most threatened cacti and succulents! I'd do the same with orchids, but the only epiphytes I can grow are Tillandsias. I love those guys. (I do have a solitary phal, but it doesn't like me much....)

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