Wednesday, February 6

Garden In A Bottle


To look at this flourishing mass of plant life you’d think David Latimer had a magical green thumb. Truth be told, his bottle garden, now almost in its 53rd year hasn’t taken up much of his time. In fact, on the last occasion he watered it Ted Heath was Prime Minister and Richard Nixon was in the White House.

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Pensioner David Latimer planted his seedlings in a 10 gallon glass container and gave it a last quarter of a pint of water in 1972 before sealing it shut as an experiment. For the last 40 years it has been completely sealed off from the outside world. But the indoor variety of spiderworts (or Latin name, Tradescantia,) within has thrived, filling its globular bottle with healthy foliage.

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Mr. Latimer now 80 said; “It’s 6ft from a window so gets a bit of sunlight. It grows towards the light so it gets turned round every so often so it grows evenly. Otherwise it’s the definition of low-maintenance. I’ve never pruned it, it just seems to have grown to the limits of the bottle.”

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It was Easter Sunday in 1960 when Mr. Latimer thought it would be fun to start a bottle garden out of idle curiosity. He said: “At the time the chemical industry had changed to transporting things in plastic bottles so there were a lot of cheap glass ones on the market.” At that time bottle gardens were a craze and Mr. Latimer wanted to see what happened if he tried growing one himself.


The bottle stands on display under the stairs in the hallway of his home in Cranleigh, Surrey. The same spot it has occupied for 27 years after he and his wife Gretchen moved from Lancashire when he retired as an electrical engineer.

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His bottle garden was revealed to the world when he took a photograph of it into BBC Radio 4’s Gardeners’ Question Time and asked the panel of experts if it is ‘of scientific or horticultural interest’.

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He hopes to pass on the experiment to his grown-up children after he is gone. If they do not want it, he will leave it to the Royal Horticultural Society.  

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How A Bottle Garden Works

Bottle gardens work because their sealed space creates an entirely self-sufficient ecosystem in which plants can survive by using photosynthesis to recycle nutrients.

The only external input needed to keep the plant going is light, since this provides it with the energy it needs to create its own food and continue to grow.

Light shining on the leaves of the plant is absorbed by proteins containing chlorophylls (a green pigment).

Some of that light energy is stored in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a molecule that stores energy. The rest is used to remove electrons from the water being absorbed from the soil through the plant's roots.

These electrons then become 'free' - and are used in chemical reactions that convert carbon dioxide into carbohydrates, releasing oxygen.

This photosynthesis process is the opposite of the cellular respiration that occurs in other organisms, including humans, where carbohydrates containing energy react with oxygen to produce carbon dioxide, water, and release chemical energy.

But the eco-system also uses cellular respiration to break down decaying material shed by the plant. In this part of the process, bacteria inside the soil of the bottle garden absorbs the plant's waste oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide which the growing plant can reuse.

And, of course, at night, when there is no sunlight to drive photosynthesis, the plant will also use cellular respiration to keep itself alive by breaking down the stored nutrients.

Because the bottle garden is a closed environment, that means its water cycle is also a self-contained process.

The water in the bottle gets taken up by plants’ roots, is released into the air during transpiration, condenses down into the potting mixture, where the cycle begins again.

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Mr. Latimer’s garden in a bottle is just another way to make a terrarium. Terrarium’s are fun to make and are very low maintenance. They don’t cost a lot to make and maintain, although it’s prudent to pick out a good container to plant it in. After all, it will be the plant’s home for a lifetime.

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Source for story quotes and story idea-Daily Mail UK

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  1. Blessings and happy new year....
    thank you for adding me to your google plus.

    Love the idea of garden in a bottle but don't know that i have the patience and or tolerance for it.

    Why aren't people following and commenting more.I too have struggled with this dilemma.

    In my experience it takes a few things to attract followers.(what i've learn & still learning)

    1. Visit blogs, read and leave comments, I tend to do this at least once a month (more if am on more).

    2. visit new blogs, comment and introduce yourself and invite them to visit. (some will come and stay, some will never come, some will come and never return... Don't take it personally)

    3. Try and keep your posts short, often times people do not want to read long posts. (this may not be true for all, it just has been my experience.) We live in a face pace world and people are often busy with daily living

    4. If you going to do long posts make it something relateable (reality of aging-how you feel about it, survival story etc,) I find that real life experiences tend to grab people's attention and they generally comment because they can relate to what's written.

    5. Accept that people are just readers, they will come by often and read but never comment. They are self-conscious about doing so. I have friends that visit and never comment including my daughter! Just recently I had a friend tell me that one of my posts (ENCOURAGEMENT) really touched her and came for her in the right time when she felt she needed it most-she never left a comment. I learnt this during our discussion and she thanked me for writing it.

    6. People pay attention to who are their regulars and are mindful of those stopped visiting. In others words, if you want people to keep coming then you have to keep visiting and investing in what they have to say.

    It takes time to generate a following and people will come back to your blog if they feel that you are invested in theirs via your comments. If they feel like you are not interested by your lack of support via your irregular/non-existant visits then they will cease visiting.

    That is what i have learnt so far, still learning and growing my blog and followers/friends.

    1. You are so right Rhapsody! Thank you for your pointers and taking the time to answer me. I have found in the past that visiting other blogs brings wonderful surprises. Sometimes I forget, although my website can run itself now, that people need that personal touch. When people get what they think they need, they will be more open to what you may need from them. I had eye surgery for the second time (in December) in a year (I'm just fine now) and it took me away from my blogging. That and Google Plus. LOL! Speaking of Google Plus, OMG is it hard to get comments there. Obviously I'm spending too much time trying to "fit in" there and ignoring the bloggers. I was thinking if I could get some of those plussers to come to my website then it would be a plus, plus. LOL! Thanks again, I know your time is precious. See you in "comment land" soon my friend.


I hope you like the geekiness and topics that I write about in Wonderland. This is an older blog so I don't write very often anymore, however, the posts from the past are still enjoyable and I wrote on a plethora of subjects so give my Wonderland a try you may like it. Big hug!

BTW I have Comment Moderation turned on for the rude ones who have to leave fake comments with poorly hidden links in them. You ruin it for everyone but you already know that.