From out in the field to the Lab to the Studio
... these images are from July when I was volunteering at the Seeds for Life project at the Mt Coo-Tha Botanical Gardens. Unfortunately funding was expiring at the time so there has been 4 months off till the Lab could be back in operation for the seed sorting and storing processes.
Below are 2 sample plants brought in from the region around Mt Isa, in Queensland. Jason Halford was person in charge of the project when I came on board, and most informative about all aspects of the venture from the Millenium Seed bank's role in setting up this Lab - one of a number in Australian Botanical Gardens - to detailed methods for collecting out in the field and things to take care of back in the lab in order to have the optimum possible results to pass on at the end of the day!
Patience is a necessary part of separating seeds from capsules - each species requiring a different approach and precise knowledge. Above is a job in several stages whilst below you can click on the sheet to enlarge it and view the details that are required to be filled out for each different species.
The pages of a book on Australian native seeds above provided excellent close ups for my drawing exercise below. After a day in the lab working with, at times, minute seeds that were quite difficult to handle and count I appreciated the work of the scientists who put this book together ...an excellent compendium for study. In the white ink drawing on dark ink background you can observe the kind of variations in shapes that made the task of sorting and observing so fascinating. What I so loved hearing about was the acutely distinguishing features of the ways the seeds are formed, come to maturity, show signs of being ready to disperse and the factors that can interfere with this life cycle of a plant. It was compelling stuff. At this layer of life in close up I am reminded of that potent sense of wonder to be found in all living things.
Jason holding a particularly spiky, troublesome seedpod to handle! No one was fighting to get onto this job! Below is the further results of time in the lab and with the library books - more native Australian seeds.