For centuries flowers have inspired people, not just your household gardener, but also poets, artists, architects and even outrageous fashion designers! We have all been inspired by the magnificent blooms of peonies in summer and have been cheered up by the first sight of a snowdrop peeking through the snow on a gloomy day in Spring. Without these plants and flowers, bees couldn’t go about their daily business of making honey, moths and butterflies would have nothing to eat to keep their energy going and we would not have the benefit of the wonderful, perfumed whiff of floweriness during a warm, summer day. Plants play a vital role in the garden as they produce food for other animals and provide them with a home to live in, even if they do get nibbled from time to time!
What is horticulture?
From the beginning of civilisations, people have grown and cultivated alluring flowers and plants for food and pleasure. The roses we get in our garden have been bred for centuries by gardeners wanting to produce the loveliest, longest lived and smelliest flowers possible! This is called horticulture and scientists have spent centuries studying the biology and chemistry of our most appealing blooms, to make them bigger and better than ever before.
How do plants reproduce?
Plants are all very fancy when it comes to producing their next generation, with lots of mind-boggling gadgets and gismos to aid the dispersal of pollen and seeds. Pretty flowers are actually a clever way of attracting our native insects to come and gorge themselves silly on pollen rich nectar and as the insect is busy minding its own business, sneaky male parts of the flower covers them with pollen. As our unsuspecting insect then sets off to find another moorish nectar-laden plant, once found, lands and starts to tuck in again. The pollen is then dropped off on to the female part of this new flower and the seed are germinated.
What uses do we have for plants & flowers?
Not only does a sweetly scented flower attract bees and butterflies, it attracts us too! We plant our boarders with a vast selection of delightful flowering plants for our visual enjoyment, to cut and make flower arrangements in our homes and pick plants and their juicy fruits to use in our cooking. But best of all, when we want to smell nice, we put oils which have come from these charming biennials into soaps and perfumes and when we feel ill can buy medicine, from the local shop, which has been made from plants too.
Did You Know…?
- American celebrities such as Barbara Streisand, Whoopi Goldberg, and Rosie O’Donnell all have roses named after them
- Amazingly, tulips can continue to grow as much as an inch per day after being cut
- You may think that roses come from a family full of flowering-only plants? Well it turns out that, in addition to flowers, the rose family is a bit fruity. It also gives us apples, pears, plums, cherries, almonds, peaches and apricots.
- We all think of saffron as a spice we use in the kitchen, well, it is but it starts out life as a crocus
- Wolffia is a type of waterweed that comes all the way from Asia and Australia. It might not be one of our native plants but it has the world’s smallest flowers and 12 of them can apparently fit on the head of a pin!