On Easter Sunday of 1960, David Latimer out of idle curiosity planted a seed in a glass bottle, but he had never imagined that it would thrive into a mass of greenery and beautiful example of sealed ecosystem.
Over half a century later, the closed bottle garden is still going strong and keep growing as robustly as ever, filling the big bottle with lush plant life, even though the last time Latimer watered it was in 1972.
When Latimer first planted the seed back in the 1960s, he placed a compost and a quarter pint of water into a 10-gallon globular bottle, and he used a wire to lower in a spiderworts seeding. He carefully sealed the large carboy and placed it in a sunny corner, and let the photosynthesis take care of the plant.
With the exception of that time in 1972, when Latimer opened the bottle to water it, the bottle garden has been sealed for 44 years, and completely cut off from fresh air and water. However, the garden managed to form its own self-sufficient ecosystem with the help of photosynthesis.
By absorbing sunlight, the plant acquires the energy needed to grow, and that’s the magic of photosynthesis.
‘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.
— My Modern Met (@mymodernmet) December 1, 2016
‘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.’ Mr. Latimer told the Daily Mail.
Photosynthesis creates oxygen and put moisture in the air, that moisture builds up in the sealed bottle and rains back down on the plants. The falling leaves also help in the process they fall and rot and produce the carbon dioxide need for nutrition. It’s simply astonishing how nature always finds a way.
The sealed garden stands under the stairs in the hallway of Mr.Latimer’s home in Cranleigh, Surrey, the same spot it has occupied for 27 years after Latimer and his wife moved from Lancashire.
Mr.Latimer revealed his sealed ecosystem to the world in BBC Radio 4’s Gardeners’ Question Time. Chris Beardshaw, garden designer and television presenter said:‘It’s a great example of the way in which a plant is able to recycle… It’s the perfect cycle of life.’
Beardshaw added that this process is the reason why NASA was interesting in taking plants into space.
‘Plants operate as very good scrubbers, taking out pollutants in the air, so that a space station can effectively become self-sustaining,’ he said. ‘This is a great example of just how pioneering plants are and how they will persist given the opportunity.
However, not everyone is exceptionally thrilled by this closed garden. Bob Flowerdew, organic gardener says. ‘It’s wonderful but not for me, thanks. I can’t see the point. I can’t smell it, I can’t eat it,’ he said. Surprisingly, Mr Latimer shares this opinion and agrees the bottle garden is ‘incredibly dull in that it doesn’t do anything’, but remains intrigued to see how long it will last.