[Plant-education] Re: Garden with an Evolution theme

David R. Hershey via plant-ed%40net.bio.net (by dh321 At excite.com)
Sat Dec 16 13:02:34 EST 2006

The Singapore Evolution Garden seems like an expansion of the popular
Jurassic gardens. A google.com search will turn up many websites about
Jurassic gardens. A Jurassic garden features nonflowering plants, such
as gymnosperms (conifers) and seedless plants such as ferns,
horsetails, lycopodium (ground pine), selaginella, psilotum, mosses and
liverworts. Students are usually not as familiar with seedless plants
and gymnosperms as they are with flowering plants.

There are many cold hardy plants that could be grown including living
fossil gymnosperm trees such as ginkgo and dawn redwood, both nearly
essential for a Jurassic garden. Cycads should be included if they are
cold hardy in your area. The Jurassic Period is often termed the Age of
Cycads. You might also maintain a potted cycad indoors. Cycas revoluta
(sago palm) is often grown as a houseplant. It is only cold hardy to
USDA Hardiness Zone 8.

Many native North American ferns are cold hardy including Christmas
fern, ostrich fern, maidenhair fern, lady fern, interrupted fern,
Goldie fern, rattlesnake fern, cinnamon fern and sensitive fern (search
term: native fern). Horsetails (aka scouring rush or Equisetum) may be
invasive once established. One strategy is to plant them in pots sunk
in the ground to restrict their spread. Mosses are easy to grow as a
ground cover (search term: moss garden). Psilotum is similar in
appearance to some of the first land plants, such as Cooksonia. It is
only cold hardy to USDA zone 8 but is often grown as a houseplant.

Other unusual, cold-hardy gymnosperm trees are bald cypress (a
deciduous conifer with cypress knees), umbrella pine (Sciadopitys
verticillata), giant sequoia (the most massive tree) and the cedar of
Lebanon. Depending on your cold hardiness zone, you might even be able
to grow coast redwood (holds the record for tallest living tree.
Norfolk Island pine is an odd gymnosperm tree that is a common
houseplant. It is not cold hardy. Another rare, living fossil
gymnosperm tree is Wollemi pine. It is now for sale at about $70 for a
40-cm tall tree. Young Wollemi pine are cold hardy to about -5 C but
older ones have survived -12 C, which would be USDA Hardiness Zone 8.

If space is limited, you could use any of the hundreds of types of
dwarf conifers (pine, spruce, fir, hemlock) and shrubby gymnosperms,
such as many yews, junipers, arborvitae and Chamaecyparis.

You can also search for Cretaceous garden. Cretaceous gardens also
include primitive flowering plants.

Sheffield Botanical Gardens included some coal in their Evolution
Garden, to remind students that coal represents the remains of seedless
plants from the Carboniferous Period. It might be possible to create a
model of part of an extinct tree lycopod, Lepidodendron. The
Smithsonian has many fossil Lepidodendron.

It is also fairly easy for adults to help children cast concrete
stepping stones that mimic fossils. They can include impressions of
primitive plant leaves, dinosaur footprints, etc.

David R. Hershey


USDA Hardiness Zone Map

Plants of Jurassic Park

Cultivation of Horsetails



Sheffield Botanical Gardens Evolution Garden

Lepidodendron images

Fossil stepping stones

Wollemi pine

james.k.miller At exxonmobil.com wrote:
> I was searching google for information on building a garden with an
> evolution theme at my children's school and found a query that you had put
> out on the subject.  Were you able to find any useful sources?  The
> Singapore botanic garden site gave me some ideas, but it would be nice to
> find a non-tropical, N. America example.  Would appreciate any leads that
> you could give me.
> Regards,
> James K. Miller
> Email: james.k.miller At exxonmobil.com

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