If I tell you evolution, what do you think? In Darwin? To his theory of evolution? Did you know that this theory applies to both animals and plants? In Nancy’s Botanical Garden, a space is entirely dedicated to the evolution of flowers.
From May 30 to June 3, an international symposium on evolution was held at the Jean-Marie Pelt Botanical Garden in Villars-les-Nancy. Passing relatively unnoticed, the event, along with the scientific profession, brings together Creme de la Creme, a botanist from around the world, to take stock of the knowledge about the evolution of the plant world. Only one conference was open to the general public.
Nancy, why choose such a conference? First, because the Botanical Garden team has made evolution its theme for years: “How to deal with evolution in the Botanical Gardens, Natural History Museums and Cultural Centers.” But and above all because the garden is proud of a huge space dedicated to the development of flowering plants.
Let’s discover this “garden of evolution” in the company of Sébastien Antoine, the scientific manager of the garden. The botanist gardener who has already shown us the way to the lilac collection swims like a fish in the water to awaken the garden of evolution. It must be said that this place is out of his mind. He claimed the title of conductor of the Evolution Garden Evolution Project. Even if he doesn’t end up highlighting the work of all his colleagues who took part in the adventure. Because it really was one.
Botanical scholars, during their inventory of plants around the world, started with the names of plants, then they tried to classify them according to their families. To do this, they relied on observations, first looking for similarities between the sampled plants, then focusing on the differences. We have thus determined families (by analogy) then lineage and species (by distinction). The first plant classification system was born in the 18th century. Three to four different types of rankings are emerging bearing the names of their prominent designers. They agree with the vast majority of plant hierarchies and differ marginally. The Botanical Garden uses this classification to promote botanical knowledge. Some gardeners use it as a base to create space.
The Montenegrin Botanical Garden, named after Jean-Marie-Pelt, has chosen its methodological classification: Arthur Cronquist’s classification, created in 1968 and revised in 1988, in light of the scientific knowledge of the time.
Besides, hmm, thanks for genetic research and DNA sequencing; We see that plants of the same family, according to the classification used, are sometimes false brothers, not even cousins. The rankings are collapsing and everything needs to be reviewed. Thus in 1998, a new and unique classification based on plant DNA appeared and was recognized by all scientists: Angiosperm phylogeny group (APG) system. The system, which is in 2022 today, is in its IV version.
If you follow me so far, congratulations!
What I find is that the Botanical Garden, like any well-respected teacher, was a place dedicated to the plant family and their evolution. But then, when the whole hierarchy is changed, their presentation in the park is distorted. It gets a little stuck in the corner, while the reference presents an incorrect system.
This is where Sébastien Antoine comes into play. He accepted without hint of recklessness to carry out the evolution project of the garden of evolution. Then he does not imagine the enormity of the work. Those who advised him to shave everything to get everything back, he opposed a great resolution and chose compromise. We don’t have to erase the earth first, we have to evolve it. Adapting to the key word. Beautiful underworld.
Thus began a project that lasted several years, taking the diligent botanist Mali and his team beyond their field of expertise. Reorganization of tree planting plans according to the new taxonomy must be reviewed, but markup, downtimes need to be reviewed, explanatory panels designed, visualized and facilities performed (in partnership with Vosges in response to AFPIA Est- Liffol-le-Grand) , Epinal’s ENSTIB, and even Cascade’s participation in the Botanical Podcast course in the photos below). All with terrain limitations and weather ambiguity.
Above all it is necessary to adapt and take into account the living. If the flowers and shrubs can be removed, it is not the same for the tree. Their presence even in the midst of the great “déjardinage” became incongruous. This was one of the many challenges that had to be overcome. As a good nature lover, there is no question of cutting off these witnesses to the history of the garden for Sébastien, even if they do not have a place in the new score of evolution. Don’t mind, he assigns them an excuse function and here they are now sitting on thrones in the four corners of the garden of evolution, identifying four thematic spaces and distributing their protective shadows to the audience.
Sébastien Antoine has two purposes: to garden the evolution A destination for the public And an offer The path of exhortation. The bet was successful: the spectators, who had previously passed the place a little without noticing it, now stood still and shook. And for those who are willing, they come to collect the right amount of information about the evolution of plants to illuminate their path without worrying.
Nancy’s residents take them to one of the most beautiful spots in their city, in the center of the park, to show their city to proud, fleeting tourists. The windows must be open from a high place in the garden.
There are also benefits to being able to catch your breath after a short climb, especially at the energetic pace of Sebastian Antoine!
A work with boundaries between playing a musical chair, directing a philharmonic orchestra, and creating a full color chart for an artist’s palette. Above all with poetry notes. No wonder Sébastien Antoine is burning in his interpretation. After remembering all the history of this influential project, he walked the path of the garden of evolution. As he shows here, the seats in the form of chromosomes are intended for the rest of the audience. There, huge poufs in the form of eiderdowns are decorated with botanical planks and kept in the shade or in the sun, for the lazy. Elsewhere, finally, the amphitheater dome, in the form of pollen grains, where exhibitions, concerts and shows are held according to the season of the garden.
Associate botanists are surprised by the project manager: “How did you do“In the face of the scope of work. Before and after A, imagining the laws of science, trying to protect nature, which has stalled more than one. Restoration and less work for gardeners. Solutions have been found thanks to the realism of a good mood and the plants, their history, their features, their aesthetics, … “I could easily speak of a quarter of each tree; There is something to be saidThe indomitable Sebastian tells Antoine.
And he doesn’t hesitate, bombarding me with explanations about the Apiales that unite the Araliaceae and Apiaceae families in history. Decaisnea fargesiif, Which bears the three names of plant discoverers and promoters; In Lauren Thaliktram, sold by the granddaughter of Nancy Genetist – and yet a botanist – Lucien Quinot, on the elaiosome of this seed, in the so-called marmicol propagation, as it is propagated by ants, deceived by the resemblance to the seeds of their larvae, or many plants. The child was led to grind these flowers to find the ink they were supposed to have.
Today, more than 1,200 species of plants have been presented in these two hectares of land dedicated to evolution. The 44 orders of plants are represented there. Perennial, but also annual, which changes the joy of the gardener.
The power of the Botanical Garden is found in the refrigerator of the seed store, in the light of contemporary knowledge everything needed to preserve and transform the plantation. Thus it arouses the interest of colleagues from other places, who come here to take up ideas for reproduction in other botanical gardens.
The circle is complete. The life cycle is renewed and adapted as it evolves.