An unusual title I know but hopefully what I write next will explain a little bit more! In Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, the imagination and beauty of a world turned upside down, added all the more magical charm for me as a child growing up. Now you may be wondering what has the upside down world of Alice in Wonderland got to do with gardening, maybe some of you are a bit intrigued, so here it goes…..
After having studied Geography at school and continuing my interest into adulthood, I am well aware of the position of the Northern Hemisphere, the Southern Hemisphere and the equator on the globe. I am also equally aware of the seasonal differences between the north and the south, yet in all the hustle and bustle of my daily life, I ‘selfishly’ found myself caught up in my own little gardening world. The posts I have recently been adding to my blog have been all about Autumn (Fall) because in the Northern Hemisphere, that’s the season we now find ourselves in. Yet for some of you that live below the equator, where Spring has sprung and Summer months are now not too far away, or even live on the equator where the sun shines all year round, this is not the case. I apologise in advance for posts that might not be so useful to you at this present moment of the year. Hopefully they will be more of use when the time comes.
This for me, however, is the beauty of the world we find ourselves living in. This is where I came up with the idea of ‘Topsy Turvy Gardening’ – planting above and below the equator. I love the fact that in the Northern Hemisphere as we put our perennial plants (plants that come back year after year) to ‘bed’, in the Southern Hemisphere, your flowers are starting to or are already in full bloom.
From a southerner’s perspective you may be wondering what it’s like to have Christmas with a blanket of snow in the garden and for us living in the Northern Hemisphere, we can only begin to imagine what it must be like having Christmas when there are splashes of colour and sweet perfumed aromas in the garden from plants that are flowering. Truly amazing!
This got me thinking of other ways in the gardening world in which things might be upside down, inside out or even outside in. This idea brought me to something that only recently I learnt about, despite my many years gardening. When reading around the topic of pollination for my post which you can read here, I came across the way in which a certain type of fig plant (caducous) needs a fig wasp to help with the transfer of pollen.
The reason I’m mentioning it now is because the figs are actually the flowers. Their petals are hidden inside and are not exposed outwardly to the world like you see on most other flowers. The female fig wasp has to enter the fig in order to lay her eggs on the male flower parts that are specific to her offsprings’ survival. The way in which pollination occurs is truly remarkable and could only take place thanks to fig wasps. A truly spectacular show of how evolution has occurred in two species in order for the survival of both, as well as a great example of ‘Topsy Turvy Gardening’.
Other examples of ‘Topsy Turvy Gardening’ can include upside down hanging baskets. You grow strawberries or even tomatoes, by hanging them from the bottom of your baskets, upside down, rather than from over the top. This is something I have never done before but may be something I might try next year.
On other occasions, sun loving plants positioned in a shady spot, may equally end up looking slightly topsy turvy as they naturally lean towards the light.
Another common example I’ve seen in numerous gardens more recently is growing plants which are normally suited to the tropics, such as palm trees, in temperate climates. These of course have been made to be much hardier in comparison to their tropical cousins who remain in their native environment. Can you think of any other examples of ‘Topsy Turvy Gardening’?