Plantsman’s Ice Garden
The garden, designed by John Warland, highlights the threats of global warming with particular emphasis on melting permafrost and the perils our climate is facing.
Since 1994, trillions of tons of ice have disappeared from the surface of the planet and all-summer ice is scheduled to disappear within the next 20 years. This permafrost holds around 1.5 trillion tons of carbon but as ice melts the carbon bank of decomposed organic matter insulating the ground below is released.
Forests, plants and ice currently insulate the ground below the permafrost but more frequent fires, rising temperatures and higher rainfalls are stripping this layer of protection. The melting permafrost and substrate undermines tree roots giving rise to the appearance of ‘drunken forests’.
The melting permafrost, however, also contains a historic botanic treasure chest – scientists have discovered and successfully germinated a cache of Silene stenophylla seeds, thought to have been buried more than 30,000 years ago. It is hoped this dormant seedbank might hold the genetic code to help develop sustainable crops, medicine and biofuel adapted to climate change.
The monolithic ice cube also serves as a reminder not only of the perils to our planet but also hope that the botanical bounty found within might ensure mankind’s onward survival.
Photo credits: Banner image ©John Warland