Saturday, August 25, 2012

Glow Rose

For about an hour after dusk the rose glows softly like ghost flowers. A gift from Janice Washington's GMOasis to Ephemerata Gardens, we had to strategically plant it to catch the sun's last rays, and it only works in the summer and fall. You can also zap it with a blacklight any time at night to see it phosphoress.

Janice is a former Monsanto employee who lost her lab job when the Supreme Court blockbusted the corporation. She wound up teaching at UT Austin and started her own little garage lab as a hobby. Everything she modifies winds up in her garden, from aphid-resistant arugula to vine borer-immune zucchini. She also practices organic gardening and biocontrol, and insists on irrigating only with rain water. This indiscriminate melding of natural and artificial made the GMOasis one of the most befuddling gardens in this year's Austin Art Yard Tour.

The rose garden features carefully bred miniature black roses, "GM  heirlooms" with green petals, roses that smell like rotten meat, and the famous glow rose that expresses a mushroom species' phosphoresence. Turning away from instrumental modifications for insect resistance, Janice likes tinkering with plants' sensate aesthetics, their shapes, colors, and odors. Her fig has perfectly heart shaped fruit. The lemons are cubes. Purple San Pedro, magenta and albino mother-of-millions. Oak leaf lettuce that smells and tastes like marzipan.

Then there are bacteria that devour plastic. She sprays them on her fence of decaying dolls and trucks. She shows you the microphotographs of polymer chains that break down completely. Janice is most proud of this innovation and is working with her grad students to develop commercial application in ecological restoration projects. She gushes about the bacteria like they're her kids: "They're such great learners and hard workers! I'm so happy they have plastic to eat."

The neighbors are organic gardening purists. Their food patches just happen to back up against each other, divided by a chain link fence in the sunny part of the yard. When an almondy-tasting oak leaf lettuce sprouted in their garden, the neighbors lost it. They jumped the fence in the night and went at GMOasis with shovels and clippers, killing all the monsters while Janice secretly watched from her darkened window.

As far as I know our glow rose is now the only one in the world.


No comments:

Post a Comment