Published: 16 December 2013
Sue's Views: Week 10
Sue is challenged with a new way of looking at plants this week when established concepts are challenged.
As far as experiments go, I think it’s very fortunate I was never a scientist. I partnered Jo for soil science this week and our experiments were even worse than the nail varnish debacle.

I think we were trying to find out about the properties of soil but I spent so much time clearing up broken glass and green water that I’m not quite sure. Other people seemed to be doing some very exciting stuff: Melinda was burning her soil. I really wouldn’t recommend this at home: it totally stank.
The practical afternoons have been great this week. There was some very stinky mud that we had to deal with round the pond – Tina’s gloves have still not recovered- but otherwise I just loved working with the plants. The Physalis peruviana (cape gooseberry) had been frost damaged (even in the polytunnel which I didn’t know was possible) and the leaves at the top of each stem looked sad and brown.

We took them all out and rescued the fruits. Some were still quite green but we’re hoping they’ll ripen like tomatoes as they are in the same family: Solanaceae. One cute little lantern I photographed as it looked more like a pumpkin. Jenny kindly gave us a few spare plants this week  (including winter purslane) which I need to slip quickly into the ground. I should have planted them last night but it was dark when I got home and the kids needed putting to bed. I hope they’ll be ok if they go in tomorrow.
We identified conifers at Dartington gardens: everything from cedars to juniper to leylandii. Some of these names are a nightmare. X Cuprocyparis leylandii. What a mouthful! What a difference a week had made to the autumn colour. 


Part of us

We had a complete curve ball thrown at us this week by Phillip Franses: Goethian Botany. My apologies to him in advance as I am about to try to explain what it is and my brain is struggling. It seems to me to be all about getting involved with the plants rather than just observing them or learning about them. All preconceived ideas about knowledge have to go. It is meant to be a better way of knowing.

A conversation with plants, acknowledging that we are not separate from them: we are a part of the world and it is a part of us. We learn about different forms of plants’ existence and their interwoven relationships. We also realise our own potential for growth through adapting our ways of acquiring knowledge.
All this I manifested by drawing a strawberry plant and creating a paper lantern. It made perfect sense to me at the time but it’s certainly harder to explain now. Have a look yourselves at Goethian botany and let me know what you think. 
Reported by Sustainable Suzi  

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