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EXTRA!! EXTRA!! New discovery shakes the Botanical World!!

Category: The back yard | Posted: Thu Dec 16, 2010 6:38 pm

The pollution from countless sources filled the air over the city. The smoke stacks of industry and the chimneys of homes belched thick clouds of smokey soot. Horses, providing the transportation of the day, meant manure. As the manure dried it was ground into powder by the traffic. Wind lifted the powder into the air to mix with the black coal soot. The filthy cocktail of pollutants found its way into every nook and cranny of London, England in the early 1800's.

The morning light entered the study from a window overlooking the fern garden. The ferns barely eked out an existence in the smog filled air of 1829 London. The polluted air sometimes referred to as "pea soup fog" was in no small way responsible for the sickly looking ferns. Seated at his desk in the study was Dr. Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward, logging the results if his latest findings in his notebook. Dr Ward had a passion for entomology and his most recent discovery, a healthy thriving fern. Unlike its cousins in the garden, this fern was protected by a glass bell jar intended to restrain the flight of a moth he was studying. The unintended result provided Dr. Ward with an idea that would shake the botanical world to its core. The fern, though small, exhibited none of the maladies that routinely befell others not so protected. Dr. Ward experimented with self-contained enclosures for several more years. His efforts would provide enough support for a revolutionary trip to far off Australia. In the summer of 1833 he sent two of his specially designed enclosures with plantings of grass and ferns to Sydney, Australia. After a long and perilous trip they arrived safely. The subsequent return trip, several months later, bore delicate ferns on a seemingly impossible journey. One that had never been successfully completed before. A new era for Botany began as the precious cargo sailed into London harbor in February of 1835. The years subsequent found "Wardian Cases," as they were called, traveling the world with rare tropical plants destined for eagerly waiting gardens. Today, thanks to Dr. Ward's accidental discovery, the descendants of those specimens, once thought impossible to transport, add pleasure to our our gardens and homes. The cases, now called terrariums. provide enthusiasts with hours of relaxation and enjoyment. Put your ear to one, you can almost hear the exotic sounds of some far off tropical jungle. :-)

Last edited: Sat Dec 17, 2011 4:39 am

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Frank wrote on Fri Dec 17, 2010 3:17 pm:

Now the Stew is providing history lessons also. Thank you Jerry. That discovery was revolutionary.

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