Valentine’s day is around the corner, and the Kraken Rum just surprised us with a V-day card, adorably mini rum, and a black rose! For their Kraken vs Cupid campaign, the lucky folks in London have a chance to pick up a bouquet of black roses paired with a bottle of Kraken (vs champagne)! How do they do it? “The black roses for sale are created by placing dark red roses in vases filled with a Kraken’s ink in place of water. This ink is then transported up the stem, via the xylem, to the leaves and petals turning them black, a scientific process that will also be showcased in the space. For dramatic effect some of the flowers will also be turned black using special floristry dyes.” and they will be paired with “… Calendula Lily Eclips and Queen of the Night Tulips, both darkest purple in colour looking visually black to the human eye.” Take a peek at details of the gorgeously dark surprise we received on the next page! And if you’re in London, visit the Think Ink Florist on Feb 14th!
Entries tagged with: plants
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Here’s the latest from NOTCOT’s London-based editor and resident zoologist, Justine Aw.
As we move into late summer, fruits and nuts seem to be forming everywhere in all sorts of shapes and colors. While walking through London, these oddly-shaped green acorns caught my eye, with their ridges, knobs and slightly sticky appearance. On closer inspection, most of the acorns were covered with these intricate, ridged growths, called Knopper Galls. The galls result from a chemical reaction in response to the gall wasp (Andricus quercuscalicis), which lays its eggs on the developing acorns. The shapes and textures of the resulting galls are fascinating (and quite variable). The degree of ridging on the gall is thought to be related to the number of larvae competing within the gall and we found as many as three separate galls on a single developing acorn. Their name “Knopper Galls” comes is thought to be derived from the English word ‘knop’, meaning “a small rounded protuberance, boss, stud, button, tassel or the like” and German ‘knoppe’ meaning “a kind of felt cap or helmet worn during the 17th-century”.
Galls like the ones we found occur on the Pedunculate or Common Oak tree (Quercus robur), but the wasp also requires a second oak species, the Turkey Oak (Quercus cerris) in order to complete its life cycle. Like aphids, the wasp undergoes both a sexual and asexual components of its life cycle. The knopper galls we observed are part of the agamic (female only) generation. Only adult females will emerge from the Knopper galls in the spring and these females will go on to lay their eggs on the catkins of the Turkey Oak. It is from these small conical galls that a sexual generation of male and female wasps will emerge, mate and produce further knopper galls. As a result, knopper galls are only found where both Common and Turkey Oaks grow. While galls have a negative effect on the reproduction of the trees, they don’t appear to harm other aspects of the tree’s health and in a typical biological twist, the wasps themselves are also often parasitized by a number of hyperparasites! You can find out more at ARKive, The Wildlife Trusts and Hedgerow Mobile, but for now see more pics (and my dissection) on the next page!
Here’s the latest from NOTCOT’s London-based editor and resident zoologist, Justine Aw!
This morning, we got a sneak preview of the upcoming IncrEdibles: A Voyage through Surprising Edible Plants festival at Kew, celebrating the some 30,000 different edible species grown at the royal botanic gardens. The festival includes some incredible installations, including a fruit salad boating lake, Alice in Wonderland style botanical dining table, bouncing carrot tops and more. The centerpiece of the festival, was “Tutti Frutti” from Bompas & Parr. You can never be sure what to expect from duo, but when I heard that they were bringing together rowing, pineapples and fruit salad at Kew Royal Botanic Gardens, I knew it would be no ordinary installation! Take a peek at all the epic madness on the next page!
One of the most incredible aspects of flowers shows like RHS Chelsea is amazing range and breadth of both wild type and cultivated plants. Leaves and flowers come in such a wide variety of shapes, sizes, colors and textures and even closely related cultivars can look strikingly different. Yet, cultivated varieties are bred to consistency and this simultaneous diversity and uniformity are highlighted at shows like Chelsea where large stands are filled with nearly identical blooms of each variety. More photos from Chelsea on the next page.
My highlight of this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show was this incredible “Fruit of the Tree” display from Kent-based East Malling Research, who were celebrating their 100th anniversary alongside the prestigious flower show. The centrepiece of the display was a delicately extracted apple tree, showing off its incredible structure both above and below the ground. The striking display was designed in collaboration with Physical Pixels, who have been behind a few of our other favorites too (including, the Big Egg Hunt!). More photos on the next page!
Explorations in 3D printing + growing wearable = Xuedi Chen’s Invasive Growth! We’ve been curiously following along on instagram for some time now… and the project is now live! I love that it’s “…inspired by my fascination with cordyceps, a fungal parasite that attacks arthropods. Once infected, the fungus slowly takes control of the insect both mentally and physically. Before the insect dies, the fungus makes it climb high onto a branch and grip on, giving it an advantageous place to spread spores. Once the insect is dead, the cordyceps protrudes out, breaking through the exoskeleton.” And the final pieces play with moss growing on wearable neck/head pieces… imagine a day when you need to water your jewelry regularly? Take a peek at the process and details on the next page!
This post is part of the NOTlabs Laser Challenge: The ground rules are: Shawn and I are alternating days with executing and sharing a Laser Cutter involved experiment! And most importantly - we’re supposed to have fun, explore ideas, and it’s less about a fully formed product/concept at the end of the day, but more about seeing where the experiment takes us!
For #11, Shawn decided to start saving our beans in progress… that were starting to grow and flop a bit. In order to make the garden a bit more fun, he prototyped an idea for modular plant scaffolding ~ in wood, since scraps were around ~ but we were imagining doing different ones in plastic or coated wood/metal ~ and we are also imagining larger ones for our tomatoes! Basically they slot together and have zip ties to strengthen the set up… and you can build up up and away in any way you want (or in the way your plants want to go)! Take a peek at the making of and details on the next page…
p.s. If you have ideas, or want some laser cutting done, or want to play with us… feel free to use the contact form or leave a comment! And if you’re curious about the laser cutter we’re using, here’s the unboxing.
It’s that time of year already, where everyone’s designs for Milan Design Week are flooding the design world… and the latest from BD Barcelona and Jaime Hayon have made me far too giddy today! The Gardenias Garden Collection is just so playfully Hayon, and with the stunning LA weather and all the work i’ve been doing in my garden, i can’t help dreaming up where i’d put some of these! Take a peek on the next page at the outdoor furniture, watering can, pots, and more!
Rootcup - love this simple, elegant solution to growing plant cuttings! Designed by product development firm, good3studio of Michael Good in San Francisco. The root cups are molded from a flexible elastomer that’s highly UV resistant, nonporous, and water proof, and have such nice details! The flexible lid helps protect the roots from light, holds the cutting’s leaves above water, captures evaporating water, and has a slot to help easily remove cuttings when ready for planting… and it now comes in a BIGrootcup as well… or it nearly does, their kickstarter campaign just successfully completed for the big ones! See more details of both sizes on the next page!
From kickstarter to my mail box! My Seed Money by Leafcutter Designs just showed up today, and they are even cuter than expected. Lovely attention to detail with the packaging and coin faces. Basically, they had custom pressed paper filled with seeds, then letterpressed and cut out as coins! So you can tip with them, share them with friends, pop them in pots and poof! Plants!
As they describe it, “Seed Money looks like the real thing - pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters - but is far more valuable. Use it to solicit surprise and smiles from friends and strangers alike, and then tuck these paper coins in soil to grow colorful flowers and delicious vegetables. It’s tender for tending! Seed Money is hand-illustrated and letterpress printed in Nebraska on thick custom papers embedded with seeds. Available in rolls for sharing and spreading the wealth, these lightweight, whimsical - and practical - coins will slide easily into a purse or pocket.”
As for what grows from them - Pennies: Mix of wildflowers including Black-Eyed Susan, Spurred Snapdragon, Shirley Poppy, White Tarrow, and Sweet Alyssum. Nickels: Herbs including oregano, dill, parsley, basil, chive, thyme, and sage Dimes: Root crops including carrot, parsnip, and turnip. Quarters: Salad greens including bibb, Black Simpson, Salad Bowl Red, radicchio, and endive. And the special Buffalo Nickels: Bee Balm (aka Lemon Mint).
See all the fun details (including some “special” pennies) on the next page!
The latest from London-based editor and resident zoologist, Justine Aw.
While most of the rest of the country is caught up in the Apple Harvest, we have a slightly more unusual harvest at this time of year, chestnuts. Chestnuts aren’t everywhere in the city, but where they are, they can’t be missed. Native to Japan and China, some of London’s tree are over 400 years old, having been planted primarily as decorative trees. The trees are heavy with nuts, which start off in tennis ball green balls of excruciatingly sharp spikes that mature into a mellower brown and when that happens, there’s a bit of a frenzy. Not just from human collectors (of which there are a fair few!), but also from squirrels, parrots and other wildlife as the trees unleash literally tons of food!
Processing chestnuts is by far the most time-consuming, labor-intensive and absurd culinary activity we’ve ever taken on (this from a couple that make their own marshmallows and ice cream from scratch), but it’s also one of the most satisfying transformations from tree to delicacy I’ve ever attempted!
Spotted at 100% Design today, here’s the Console O, an elegant side table from London-based JiB design studio. It integrates mushroomed ceramic pots (the tops have a greater diameter than the base) sit loosely into the tray of a table with oak lids that match the structure of the table. They look adorable with plants, and are great knick-knack holders and work as a tea table with all the lids on! And you can mix and match what you use them for, and/or what you hide in them. See more photos on the next page.
Currently in Venice exploring the Architecture Biennale, and on memorable projects, AL AIRE (between air) was designed by architects Jose Selgas and Lucia Cano of Selgascano (see their bio) along with biologist Joesp Selga and Agronomist Juan Laureano, in the Spain Lab definitely sticks in my mind!
The installation was designed specifically for the Spanish Pavilion’s solar conditions. It maximizes the exposure to each plant tube by taking advantage of a terraced effect. Since each tube is also on a pulley, adjustments are easy. Even the trees can move up and down to accommodate for growth, giving them a great effect of floating. Every tube has a drip irrigation system that delivers water directly to the plants root system, maximizing efficiency and preserving resources.
The perforated material isn’t just aesthetic, it is designed to get light to the roots of the plants as well as air and space to grow. When the roots grow towards the light and reach the edge of the plastic tube, the cones guide the roots through the hole. This leads to a subtle dehydration of the root system which encourages lateral root growth. Basically when the root gets to the edge of the soil it begins branching from its base. The result is a very robust, fibrous root system.
The system is so fun, i’d love to see how it handles over time ~ take a peek at all of the details on the next page!
Just back, and the project definitely worth seeing in person at Siggraph 2012 comes from Disney Research - Botanicus Interacticus turns plants into human-computer interfaces… caress, grab, approach the plant to change the visualizations! Plants as interfaces seems to be a growing trend. This reminded me of Mathieu Lehanneur’s 2010 Once Upon A Dream bed that we saw in Milan, where you barely touch the plant hanging overhead to activate the light dimmer. Also, NOTCOT.org just highlighted Viktor Kölbig’s Aura, which turns a plant in a glass of water into a light, and you touch the plant to change colors. However, Botanicus Interacticus, using Disney Research’s Touché technology takes those concepts even further, being able to sense various gestures, such as sliding of fingers on the stem, touching, grabbing, and even proximity to the plant as well as the amount of touch and more! In fact, they created an amazing tactile feedback (accidentally!) with the orchid example, where when you touched it - you’d feel tingling vibrations! (Which they said was from speakers beneath.)
Botanicus Interacticus comes from Disney Research’s Ivan Poupyrev in collaboration with Philipp Schoessler, Jonas Loh/Studio NAND, and Munehiko Sato. Can you imagine the interactive possibilities? The spaces you could create? Be it an interactive theme park space you explore… or dimming the mood lighting in your living room… controlling your music… sounding an alarm? Things you could hide in your garden? A replacement for botanical garden information cards next to plants? The options are endless, and a great example of ubiquitous computing becoming reality! However, i can’t help but wonder, how this will evolve to accommodate how careful you need to be when watering the plants, or they start to grow?
Take a look on the next page to see their display at Siggraph, the 4 examples they set up, video, and more information on Botanicus Interacticus!
Daniel Robson, who presented with Collective at New Designers 2012 Part 2. Robson’s ‘Seed Wheel’ is based on a subscription service that takes all the guesswork out of gardening. Specifically tailored to the customer’s location and season, each seed wheel is a customized, modular package of seeds with a minimum of non-recyclable waste. The seed wheel has perforated lines to allow for multiple planting. When ready to plant, the pod itself can be used as a dibber to push the seeds in, even eliminating the need for gardening tools! More photos of this clever project on the next page!
Butterflies featured prominently at this year’s RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. Two very different show gardens included butterflies in their displays, combining lepidoptera with the plants to communicate rather different messages!
Butterfly Jungles Transitions designed by Paul Allen, Lucy Hughesdon & Lydia Harvey and built by Shoots & Leaves. The beautiful garden works both as a garden and a habitat to support pollinators and which benefit both adult butterflies and their caterpillar. The garden features butterfly friendly planting such as wildflowers to prairie-style and exotic planting as well as a beautiful tropical glasshouse filled with exotic butterflies in a jungle-style habitat that is filled of nectar rich species as well as food plants.
Las Mariposas (Hopes of a Nicaraguan girl), an unusual garden designed by Robert Kennett and built by Greenhaven Landscapes focuses less on the entomology and more on the symbolism of butterflies, representing Amnesty International’s Butterflies of Hope campaign for women in Nicaragua, contrasting between the muted colors of the grasses surrounding the bright pink cube and the vibrant colors of the plants and butterflies within.
More photos of both of this year’s butterfly-featuring show gardens on the next page!
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Perhaps one of the fun parts about plants is you can grow them just about anywhere (given a reasonable amount of space/etc) ~ whether you toss seeds into the ground (or seed bomb!) or your growing things on your balcony, in your apartment, or landscaping your estate… just about anything is possible if you get creative! Lately i’ve been debating doing a larger container garden, perhaps a raised bed even… thinking vegetables and berries might be fun. There are tons of options, and i just got lost wandering the images Bing found me - how awesome are these strawberries in the half wine barrel?!?! Well from various raised beds, wooden structures, huge sacks and felt bags, wooden wine boxes, balcony options, upside down planters and more… see some of our favorites on the next page!
The latest from our friend, Joey Roth, is the Self-Watering Planter he just debuted at Dwell On Design! Naturally, as yard space increased, and gardening began and quickly turned into an obsession, leave it to designers to start problem solving with new products! In this case, this is a self-watering planter for use indoors or out which is made from naturally porous unglazed earthenware ~ much like those tea pots i’m sure you’re picturing right about now! Like many other reservoir/clay based planters ~ you simply fill the reserve, and the plant/soil will naturally pull the water out as needed, so you simply have to check and refill the center! See more pictures on the next page!
Jon C Flint’s Bank of Morals (Moral Wealth vessel number: bk001) caught my eye with its beautiful glass containers filled with different colored fluids and all focused on a single succulent. In addition to being visually stunning, the piece illustrates proverbial banking solutions. Jon’s moral wealth vessel is designed for the money or jade plant, whose growth is a reflection of your morals. The three vessels feed the plant different types of water depending on your spending and an imbalance between them will cause your money plant to suffer (too much spending on luxuuries and yourself, water containing toxins will flow into the vessel, but spending on hope and charity cause mineral rich water to flow into the vessel.) See lots of pictures on the next page!
The exhibition consists of two rooms, Jette and Fabrik. Jette suspends a catcus in a terrarium in the room with the help of a freely drifting helium-inflated weather balloon. In Fabrik, stalactite like structures descend from the ceiling as if they are dripping the hand blown glass terrariums from the ceiling to the floor below. See more pictures of this stunning exhibition (that i wish i could see in person!) on the next page!
We love succulents here at NOTCOT ~ remember the amazing patterns and incredibly gummy looking ones? The geometry of the patterns they create and emerge in are just mesmerizing… not to mention the colors and flowers and how tiny they start out and how adorably they evolve! Anyhow… while driving back down the 1 from Monterey to LA, we got curious and started pulling off to see the main streets of the towns along the way, including Cambria! And my eyes did a double take when i saw a bright, playful sign reading “Rare and Unusual Succulents” ~ we HAD to stop! And it is amazing. First you go through a house of garden goods… through their large patio… then you see it. Another house! With another “Rare and Unusual Succulents” sign on top… and within the Grow Nursery is loads of air plants (even in bubble gum machines!)… and out to ANOTHER patio FILLED with truly rare & unusual specimens. It was like a succulent wonderland, and we met the lovely Jan Moon, who blew our mind with her knowledge of them, rattling off scientific names and families and lots of information on which were new hybrids, what to expect, how to water, and more!
So check out the adorable and amazing space of Grow Nursery’s Rare & Unusual Succulents as well as the assortment we gave in to on the next page!
The “Environment” section at RHS Chelsea was one of my favorite corners of The Great Pavilion. The section is new to the show and housed some of the most interesting displays that seemed so relevant to urban London, exploring how we can find green spaces in the city and manage to fit plants into our busy metropolis. From hydroponic air-lifted green soilless bottle walls to cress growing in a grid of bottle caps and even plants growing in old sneakers! See it all on the next page…
As you know, here at NOTCOT, we adore our carnivorous plants (remember our own cape sundew? and trips up to California Carnivores?). Well, the carnivorous plants on display at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show did not disappoint. Although I only spotted two stands of carnivores on display, they were both stunning with some remarkable specimens from glistening sundews, to delicately drooping pitcher plants. Enjoy more photos of carnivorous plants at Chelsea on the next page!
My highlight of this year’s show was almost certainly The Westland Magical Garden designed by Diarmuid Gavin. The enormous structure is over seven stories high and home to over 3,000 plants. From the ground, it simply looks like an overwhelming fortress, a tangle of greenery and scaffolding from below, but is home to so many treasures and makes stunning use of the space and views! It is seven stories of surprises! Above all, it remains playful with swings, ludic furniture and an incredible slide all the way to the ground from the fifth floor!
Remember a few years back when i visited California Carnivores? Well my carnivorous plants that came home with me from that trip are still doing their thing happily… and the other day NOTCOT.org editor, Justine Aw, came by and noticed that this sundew (most likely the cape sundew, Drosera capensis) caught its own prey! Fascinating to see it in action up close as its little tendrils wrapped tighter and tighter… see her close ups on the next page as well as the BBC’s time lapse footage of the a sundew at work!