…Paula ventures to take you on a plant adventure…

Farewell visit to Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

My project at the James Hutton Institute has officially ended with the last working day in April 2017. I shared farewell cake and best wishes with the people I met during my two years stay at the institute, but the real farewell from my closes collaborators took place two weeks later, when we visited Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh. I’m so sad to leave the group, although I’m also looking forward to new adventures in Slovenia.

The team (from left to right): Paula, Jean, Jackie, Philip, Konrad, Gladys

The Botanic garden really is amazing and it reminded me again of the wonderful plant diversity. Here are some photos from the day, although I don’t think I can do justice to the plants or the day with my photos…

The day was warm and we were all keen on exploring the Garden
The amazing shapes of flowers amaze me every time
These leaves remind me of chubby hands clasped in prayer
The oldest plant in the garden: stone gate palm
The cross-section of the palm tree trunk (note: this is not wood)
Meshy-purple orchid
Stripy-pink orchid
Doesn’t this look like a snake?
Not all flowers have flower stems
The team minus I at the pond
Gladys challenged me to make a good photo of a drop – with good zoom, the camera is seen in it
These were, I think, seeds, not fern spores underneath the leaves
The pattern on this flower is awesome
Yellow water lily
I’ll scare you away by just staring at you!

Opening of the exhibition

As a student I worked in a gallery for 5 years and have been to many openings of exhibitions, but I have never been on the other side, setting one up. Therefore, last Friday was the first time for me to be an active part of an exhibition, which aimed to increase appreciation of the beauty and complexity of roots and to portray the essential roles of roots in environmental sustainability and food security. It is my please to say that it was great!

This was a collaborative approach of course, as anything in science is, and was supported by The Centre of the Knowledge Exchange and Impact of the Scottish Government. The force behind it all was Jean Duncan, a CECHR artist in residence, who is not only great artist but also an amazing person and I’m very grateful I could work with her. She created a beautiful set of root images using different artistic techniques (etching and printing, mainly) and produced paper form different plant fibres. Not much could be done without Prof. Philip White, my supervisor, but also the main actor in acquiring the funding and in writing the text accompanying the scientific images of roots exhibited and presented in the booklet we created for the occasion. Other collaborators comprised Dr Lionel Dupuy (The James Hutton Institute), Prof. Glyn Bengough (The James Hutton Institute and University of Dundee), Prof. Ian Bingham (Scotland’s Rural College) and Prof. Jane Wishart (University of St Andrews). Last but not least was excellent technical support, particularly from Gladys Wright, my second hand when it came down to designing the hydroponic system and all other small bits and pieces that needed to be worked out, Lloyd Crichton and David Laird from the institute’s workshops, who actually built the equipment for the hydroponic system, and Ralph Wilson and Jackie Thompson, who helped set the exhibition up. Thanks to Tracy for the time lapses of swede seed germination!

Here are some photos from the opening.

The venue and me explaining the roots to the youngest visitors.
Lionel (on the right) giving the welcome speech and introducing Jean. In the background: the hydroponic system (left) and the root cross sections printed on the plant paper made by Jean (right).
Glyn introducing the work on roots and their importance in environmental sustainability and food security.
Jean’s work on the wall – etchings of roots (whole root systems and root cross sections), printed on paper made from different plant fibres. Scientific images are on the right.
Selected scientific images representing the importance of roots.
Beetroot, swede and carrot in transparent, custom-made hydroponic system.
Handmade paper from kozo (paper mulberry tree) with seedling of swede incorporated.




The Beauty of Roots

It has been busy few weeks preparing the arts/science exhibition with Jean Duncan (Cechr artist in residence) and collaborators from The James Hutton Institute, Scotland’s Rural College and University of St Andrews. The opening event will take place on 17th of March and the exhibition will be staged until 30th March. This exhibition will comprise of photographs, plants and prints with the aim to increase appreciation of the beauty and complexity of roots and portray the essential roles of roots in environmental sustainability and food security. All are welcome to some along to see it (no entrance fee). I’m excited but also worried how it will go, especially as we are planning to exhibit plants with roots exposed…

Creativity plan(t)

Gladys, my co-worker, planned for a perfect Christmas gift for me and my family. As a former (semi)professional flower arranger, her every year’s gift are handmade wreaths. Last year she made one for us and at first, although I loved it, I thought it was a strange gift. In Slovenia, we make or buy wreaths 4 weeks before Christmas (this is our Advent time), we attach 4 candles (each candle represents one Sunday before Christmas) and we lit one candle every Sunday up to Christmas. Here in Scotland, it appears there is a different tradition. They have wreaths for time closer to Christmas and I assume this is more for decoration than for “anticipation” of Christmas.

To cut the long story short, this past week Gladys had a plan for us. The plan involved a lot of plant material, of course J. She brought all raw material needed for wreath making and invited us to make our own wreaths. Here is when 6-year-old’s creativity goes wild (and parents manage not to interfere too much):

This is were it all begins.
First, uncertain moves…
Not a wreath, but a tree.
Getting in shape – the colour selected: red.
Wealth of choice of greenery to feed the imagination.
Hard working for best outcome.
Choosing the decorations that fit best.
Going for too much?
The second wreath is colour coded mainly in white and blue.
Getting in shape to compete with any Christmas tree.
The person behind it all: Gladys.
Proud of our achievements!

It still amazes me what a bunch of twigs, some flowers, well-placed decorations and creativity can do. We had a great time and continue to enjoy our gifts. Thank you Gladys!

One year in 12 seconds

There is a beautiful (barley) field in front of my institute and a year ago, I decided to take one photo of it each month (from October 2015 to September 2016, early morning on the day). Although now I regret I did not take photos more frequently and that the shots do not overlay perfectly, I’m glad I managed to capture the changes in the field in this short time lapse.



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