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To look at this flourishing mass of plant life you’d think David Latimer was a green-fingered genius. Truth be told, however, his bottle garden – now almost in its 53rd year – hasn’t taken up much of his time. In fact, on the last occasion he watered it Ted Heath was Prime Minister and Richard Nixon was in the White House.For the last 40 years it has been completely sealed from the outside world. But the indoor variety of spiderworts (or Tradescantia, to give the plant species its scientific Latin name) within has thrived, filling its globular bottle home with healthy foliage.But you must be wondering how the bottle plant grows? Here's a brief summary of this information.Bottle gardens work because their sealed space creates an entirely self-sufficient ecosystem in which plants can survive by using photosynthesis to recycle nutrients.The only external input needed to keep the plant going is light, since this provides it with the energy it needs to create its own food and continue to grow.Light shining on the leaves of the plant is absorbed by proteins containing chlorophylls (a green pigment).
Mr Latimer, 80, said: ‘It’s 6ft from a window so gets a bit of sunlight. It grows towards the light so it gets turned round every so often so it grows evenly.‘Otherwise, it’s the definition of low-maintenance. I’ve never pruned it, it just seems to have grown to the limits of the bottle.’
The bottle garden has created its own miniature ecosystem. Despite being cut off from the outside world, because it is still absorbing light it can photosynthesise, the process by which plants convert sunlight into the energy they need to grow.