It is funny how two different random events can start you acting on a completely new idea. I was sitting in the AAS beds the other day and saw a parent pointing out some of the vegetables to their child and the child seemed totally amazed how the vegetable was growing in the ground. It dawned on me that this kid had never seen where his own food actually came from. Then the very next day I watched two adults walk by, talking about some potential protest happening at the Olympics in China. Since witnessing these two events, I have decided it is time that I make my own protest. I have now proudly planted myself on Discovery Peak in the children’s garden.
By going to Discovery Peak, I am making a statement that I am indeed an important plant that has traveled around the world. I am not a weed, but a useful plant that people wanted, just like the banana and the tomato. I will endure the narrow-minded, totalitarian gardener who tortures me with cruel gardening instruments. I deserve to have my place here and my story told.
Of course there are many interesting plants here. The idea of Discovery Peak is to see where the plants we value come from and to start people thinking how they have traveled around the world. This little hilly trail is full of stories and I would encourage any visitor to find a garden teacher in WOW to tell them something about any one of these plants.
Near the bottom are plants from different areas. The okra plant is from Africa. The gardeners planted a popular old variety called Clemson Spineless which is interesting. What is even more interesting is that the original species had many spiny thorns on it and I still wondered who had the guts to eat something like that. Another plant in flower is the Jatropha. This is an ornamental species, but another species is becoming highly valued as an ingredient in biofuels.
A little further up the path you can see a variety of plants from Asia. Here a visitor will find tea plants, a beautiful grouping of ornamental rice, ginger and even a Japanese persimmon growing. Rounding the curved path are plants from Europe. The olive tree is just starting to produce some small olives, still bright green and nut like. The grapes vines sprawl in a maze on the hillside. They have already produced tight clusters of dark purple grapes. Across the path are towers of hops vines with bright oregano at its feet. Not far away I have taken my stand.
Nearing the top of the peak are plants from the Americas. Different types of tomatoes (originally from Central America) flank the path. Nearby are stands of corn and sunflowers. The corn has flowered and just now starting to make ears. Colorful marigolds and lantana brighten the path with bold flowers reminding us that people not only collect and transport edible plants but ornamental plants as well.
Come join me in my protest and help keep the gardeners from casting me on the mulch heap of plant history. At the very least, you’ll have a good time discovering some familiar foods in a new setting.