Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Horticulture of Sorts

I have two examples of horticulture, one is "natural" or organic, the other is not.

For the first time in several years, our peonies survived the frost this spring. Every year, they would start budding, then there would come that fateful frosty night in early May that would give them an abortion. This year, I was on the look out, keeping track of weather forecasts. Sure enough, the frost came, but I covered them up overnight in plastic bags. It looked silly, and it caused me to think of what "natural" really means, since they too are engineered products. In any case, the plastic cover worked, and we enjoyed the results very much.

Peonies attract ants to help open up their curtains and release a sweet fragrance into the world

Now, to the world of nano-horticulture. Last spring, I posted about the Birth of The Albino Tarantula. This year, Da Boyz in the lab decided to go botanical and imitate the form of cattails, which are plants that often grow in wetlands and on the edges of ponds, lakes, etc.

Real cattails vs. our first nano-crop (imaged in an electron microscope.) If one million of the synthetic stems were bundled together like firewood, the bundle would be the size of a human hair.

I showed the pictures to a colleague of mine who is a bit of a naturalist. He quickly pointed out that "natural" cattails have a tiny stem on top of the fluffy brown part, making them look like a hot dog on a skewer. We promised to give it a try.

Left: Probably our best result to date. Right: Sometimes Da Boyz get less than they wish for! lol lol lol

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