This blog reviews the latest products, plants and innovations in gardening. It also provides a link for my many gardening friends who are members of the GardenMessenger and Seedmessenger Yahoo groups and their sub-groups that I moderate.

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Location: Australia

I am a semi-retired UK botanical garden curator and former international horticultural consultant, who has worked extensively in Europe, the Middle East, North America and Australia. I spend part of the year in Australia and part in Europe, mainly due to family and work commitments. I earn my living from writing and editing Internet copy, articles and books. I have written over fifty books on gardening and have been translated into twenty-four different languages. I am a former UK Garden Writer of the Year and a previous Quill & Trowel Award Winner from the Garden Writer’s Association of America. I am interested in developing gardening communities on the Internet and I manage the popular GardenMessenger Yahoo group, along with its various sub-groups like PondMessenger and SeedMessenger. I also edit International Water Gardener and its associated regional web-sites.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Tree Blossoming Research

Flowering mechanisms understood

Swedish scientists at the Umeaa Plant Science Centre, working with researchers in the United States, are claiming a decisive breakthrough in understanding the mechanisms by which trees control their flowering - and also time their preparations for winter. They successfully stimulated aspen trees to flower within a few weeks instead of the normal 10-15 years. They found that trees use the same gene as annual plants to control the onset of flowering. However, the discovery that they could control the trees' preparations for winter was an unexpected revelation.

The ability of trees to cycle between dormancy and growth is a crucial strategy for their adaptation. Scientists have documented the phenomenon of crucial day lengths in some detail, since dormancy is triggered by the length of day rather than the prevailing temperature. Thus, an Aspen in central Germany will stop growing and set buds when the days are just 16 hours long. The same species of tree in northern Sweden will prepare for winter when the days are shorter than 21 hours, while further north in Norway, the equivalent day length can be 23 hours. The starting point for the Umeaa team was to speed up the rate at which plant material can be developed, with the long term aim of truncating breeding cycle times. The additional insight into the mechanism by which growth can be turned on and off is expected to be a landmark in forest tree breeding.

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Happy Gardening



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