Sex in the garden?

Tuesday 3 August 2010, 13:46

Martin Aaron Martin Aaron

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Aberglasney sure know how to attract attention. 'Sex in the garden!' they bellow, advertising their forthcoming event about plants' reproductive cycles like Carry On Up The Sporophyte.

But all this has a fascinating, and little-known, point. The way that plants reproduce is a mystery to many, and the Carmathenshire garden's director of operations Graham Rankin is keen to expose more about the secret life of plants in his care. Graham will take visitors through the mysteries of plant reproduction on 5 September, with tickets available through the garden's website.

We caught up with Graham to find out about his passion for this area of plant life and what people can expect from the event.

"The honest reason for doing this is frustration. Having spent thousands of pounds and countless hours buying the most beautiful plants available, most garden visitors appreciate the overall colour that flowers produce, but I doubt that more than 5% of visitors really take the trouble of stopping to admire their individual intricate beauty or fragrance and marvel at the fascinating ways they have evolved over millions of years to reproduce themselves. I have never been asked by a visitor how a certain plant reproduces, but I am sure if they knew they would find it fascinating.

"Many flowering plants produce highly visible inflorescences, which is one reason why we grow them, but some plants produce flowers that are highly inconspicuous or not visible at all without careful observation, but are still valuable in the garden.

"The pollination of flowers by wind, insect and bird will be covered and the evolutionary development of each, from primitive grasses and magnolias to the advanced animal-like mimicry of orchids. Other plants will include Ficus carica (the fig) and Aristolochia gigantea - the 'Duthchman's Pipe'.

aberglasney-aristolochia.jpg
Aristolochia gigantea

"I'll also be taking a look at the garden's plants in flower and discussing their reproduction methods. This will include the pollination of fruit trees and how to hybridise plants to create new cultivars. We'll also take a close look at a few plants in greater detail, two of which will be a Cypripedium (Lady Slipper Orchid) and a Phalaenopsis (Moth Orchid) both of which will be dissected to reveal their 'reproductive secrets'."

So if plant reproduction is right up your alley, you could do a lot worse than stroll through one of west Wales' most beautiful gardens in the company of Graham and some amazing species of flora.

James McLaren

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