Mention the word “Jurassic” and our minds conjure up images of blood-thirsty hunters and plodding giants roaming dense lush forests and vast grassy plains.
This is a world-away from the busy hustle and bustle of today’s’ big cities and towns. Although their are no dinosaurs walking around the earth today (with the exception of a few surviving species but who wants a croc lurking in their back garden!) we can bring the ‘Jurassic’ into our gardens by planting today’s’ ‘living fossils’.
When the dinosaurs disappeared so did many of the plants, but a few incredibly resilient species clung on and are still around today. Many of these plants have remained unchanged and so give a tiny glimpse into a long distant past.
Cycads are one of the rarest plants in the world today and are mistaken for ferns but infact they are conifers that bear cones. They grow best in tropical climates but they are available in this country and are happy to be outside during our summer months and then bought inside during our winter months. With a little care and attention cycads will thrive and are very easy to look after.
During 1994 in a remote region of the Wollemi Naional Park, Australia, a plant, thought to be extinct, was found, who’s fossils date back 200 million years. The plant is known worldwide as the Wollemi Pine. The wollemii is not actually a pine but a member of the Araucariaceae family. As with the cycads, the wollemii produces both male and female cones on the same plant. Unlike the cycads, this is fully winter hardy and again, very easy to look after,a bit of semi shade and plenty of water is all they require. For both the cycad and wollemii their is a worldwide conservation plan in action to ensure that these plants flourish in the long-term.
Love them or hate them, conifers were also around millions of years ago, Douglas firs, cypressus and junipers. Although they weren’t growing in abundance, fossils have been found that again date 200 million years ago.
Ghingko Biloba is seen by many as a living fossil and fossils have been dated back 199 million years ago and although today their are a few species, they all originate from the one remaining species that survived. And how can we forget the ferns, in particular the tree fern.
So why not bring a little prehistoric into your back garden and have peace of mind knowing that you are ensuring the survival of some truly incredible plants.