What’s growing at the Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens: Beyond Blossoms

What’s growing at the Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens: Beyond Blossoms
By Melanie Priesnitz

The next time you visit a garden, I invite you to ignore all of the pretty flowers and try to focus on observing the diversity and beauty of plants beyond their blooms. As a beautiful human is so much more than a pretty face, plants hold great allure beyond their blossoms. If you look deeply into a garden you’ll see a myriad of interesting textures, shapes, sizes, and patterns. The plant world is a vastly diverse one, which is easy to see for yourself when you start looking closely at the different types of leaves, veins, stems, and endless shades of green.

If you’ve been stalking foliage in the Botanical Garden or in marshlands around Nova Scotia you may have noticed a striking enormous green plant with leaves the shape of arrowheads. Common Arrowhead (Sagittaria latifolia) is a beautiful leafy plant that can grow up to 6 feet tall in the right conditions. It thrives in shallow pools and muddy streams. Part of the beauty of this plant is that it has fed mammals for thousands of years. Arrowheads have edible tubers that grow underwater. They can be prepared similarly to potatoes, cooked for 30 minutes and topped with butter and a handful of spices. They don’t give up their tubers easily as they often grow a great distance from the above-water section of the plant; so a certain amount of hoeing, raking, and mucking about in the water is necessary to enjoy this tasty treat.

We’re entering September, which for many is a time to return to the classroom, so I encourage you to spend some time outside in the living classroom at the Harriet Irving Botanical gardens getting to know some of your local plants and their stories. Plants hold a great deal of mystique and are filled with lore, tales, and knowledge if you slow down enough to learn from them. If we stop paying attention to plants and learning their names and secrets there’s a good chance that future generations will no longer care about them enough to ensure plant conservation is made a priority.

Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens
Acadia University