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Calgary Horticultural Society: Right plant, right place – Calgary Herald

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Hepatica have adapted to blooming early in the spring, making them popular with early pollinators. Courtesy, Deborah Maier


Deborah_Maier / Calgary

July is the perfect time for visiting gardens. Most are at their best — everything is up, leafed-out and summer flowers are in full bloom. On more than one occasion, I’ve thought, “I have that plant, but it’s not as vibrant as theirs.” At the last garden I visited, there was a small group of us chatting about what made the garden look so great. The gardener mentioned planting in groupings of odd numbers, repeating plant groupings and colours, using colours that are complementary or harmonious, and ended with ” … and of course, right plant, right place — don’t fight it.”

That is the key to having thriving plants. Growing the plant in conditions that are optimal for its success.

From a biological perspective, success is the ability of a plant to compete with its neighbours for nutrients, light and water and being able to reproduce. Features that helped a plant do well are carried on in the next generation, until a plant has the characteristics that make it ideally suited for a set of specific environmental conditions. Take a full sun plant and try to grow it in deep shade and it will likely perish.


Pussytoes produce a bristly seed that is easily carried on the wind but also has stolons that help it form colonies in dense mats, allowing it to incrementally expand its territory.

Deborah_Maier /

Calgary

These evolutionary characteristics are readily seen in native plants that we’ve brought into our gardens. Take pussytoes (Antennaria) as an example. They grow best in bright sun and in soil that drains well and is frequently dry. The plant produces a bristly seed that is easily carried on the wind but also has stolons (above ground runners like a strawberry plant) that help it form colonies in dense mats, allowing it to incrementally expand its territory. Like many other plants that prefer full sun and dry conditions, pussytoes have a greyish appearance due to fine hairs on their foliage. These hairs help reflect sunlight, reducing the leaf’s surface temperature, minimizing its need to transpire and helping it retain moisture. These light-reflecting properties, so beneficial in the sun, are detrimental to the plant in the shade. A popular garden perennial with similar protective hairs is lambs ears (Stachys byzantina).


Golden sedum (Sedum adolphii) changes its leaf colour from summer to winter in response to changes in the available light. for Hort society

Deborah_Maier /

Calgary

Some plants change colour over the season in response to the changed qualities of daylight and temperature. Golden sedum (Sedum adolphii) changes its leaf colour from summer to winter in response to changes in the available light. In the summer, the plant is mostly yellow with a red blush on the tips or yellow with a red inner band. In the winter, it turns greenish with distinct outer red tips. Many sedums, when grown in low light conditions, turn green as chlorophyll, which is responsible for the green colour of plants and is needed for the absorption of light for photosynthesis, becomes the dominant plant pigment. The leaves also spread out trying to capture as much light as possible. To have a nice tight sedum with vivid colours, it needs to be planted in full sun.


Examples of low-light tolerant plants include begonias, hostas, above, and astilbes. Courtesy, Deborah Maier

Deborah_Maier /

Calgary

On the other side of the light spectrum, some plants have adapted to grow best in the shade. Instead of relying on photosynthesis for energy, they get their main nutrients from the soil. These plants tend to grow broad thin leaves to capture the light. Examples of lowlight tolerant plants include begonias, hostas, astilbes, heucharas, ferns and Solomon’s seals.
There are many varieties of hostas. A general rule is the darker the leaf the more shade tolerant the plant. Most hostas will tolerate summer drought but prefer a well-drained moist soil. Lily-of-the-valley (Convallaria majalis) is one of a few plants that will tolerate dry shade.

Some plants have adapted to blooming early in the spring, making them popular with early pollinators. Hepatica will often have flowers up without any green leaves visible. They bloom before the canopy above them shows any obvious signs of spring. Other plants, such as asters and goldenrods, wait until fall to bloom.

Annual plants usually are prolific all-summer-long bloomers. The goal of an annual plant is to produce enough seeds in one season to guarantee reproduction. Some seeds may get eaten or land in an unsuitable growing environment, but if enough seeds are produced, then that plant will appear again in the spring. Especially with the aid of deadheading, annuals will continue to flower in an effort to ensure their survival.

So, if you want your garden to look amazing, choose plants that are showy in each period within the growing season — early spring, summer and fall — and grow them where they will do their best. Be sure to choose plants are suited to the light, moisture and soil conditions in your yard.

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Sea Monsters in the Age of Dinosaurs being presented at Colchester Historeum – TheChronicleHerald.ca

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TRURO, N.S. —

Large creatures that once lived in the oceans and lakes will be the focus of an upcoming event at the Colchester Historeum.

‘Sea Monsters in the Age of Dinosaurs’ is an illustrated presentation by Danielle J. Serrato, curator of the Fundy Geological Museum and an educator in Earth sciences.

“I always had a love for the ocean, although I grew up landlocked in Texas,” she said. “My specialty is marine reptiles.”

Her favourite prehistoric creature is the elasmosaurus, an extremely long-necked being that lived underwater.

During the presentation, Serratos will talk about Mesozoic marine reptiles and their modern counterparts in film and folklore, including the Loch Ness Monster, and the mosasaur in Jurassic World.

“Sometimes changes are made so things will sound better in film,” she said. “In Jurassic Park there’s a lot of talk about velociraptors, but those were only about the height of turkeys. What they created for the film is deinonychus, but that name doesn’t sound as dangerous as velociraptor.”

She thinks people are drawn by the mystery and danger connected with prehistoric creatures.

“A lot of it has to do with the sense of curiosity humans have for world around them,” she said. “There’s a creative component because you have to use your imagination. You don’t have to be 100 per cent accurate because we’ve never seen these things and we never will. It’s probably a good thing we won’t see them because these were apex predators.

“We’re starting to realize how little we know about the soft tissues of these creatures, their colours and textures, whether they had fur, scales or feathers.”

Pictures of old movie posters, reconstructions and fossils will add to the presentation which will take place at the Colchester Historeum on Thursday, Nov. 21 at 7 p.m. The event is free for members, $5 for non-members.

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Sea Monsters in the Age of Dinosaurs being presented at Colchester Historeum – The Vanguard

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TRURO, N.S. —

Large creatures that once lived in the oceans and lakes will be the focus of an upcoming event at the Colchester Historeum.

‘Sea Monsters in the Age of Dinosaurs’ is an illustrated presentation by Danielle J. Serrato, curator of the Fundy Geological Museum and an educator in Earth sciences.

“I always had a love for the ocean, although I grew up landlocked in Texas,” she said. “My specialty is marine reptiles.”

Her favourite prehistoric creature is the elasmosaurus, an extremely long-necked being that lived underwater.

During the presentation, Serratos will talk about Mesozoic marine reptiles and their modern counterparts in film and folklore, including the Loch Ness Monster, and the mosasaur in Jurassic World.

“Sometimes changes are made so things will sound better in film,” she said. “In Jurassic Park there’s a lot of talk about velociraptors, but those were only about the height of turkeys. What they created for the film is deinonychus, but that name doesn’t sound as dangerous as velociraptor.”

She thinks people are drawn by the mystery and danger connected with prehistoric creatures.

“A lot of it has to do with the sense of curiosity humans have for world around them,” she said. “There’s a creative component because you have to use your imagination. You don’t have to be 100 per cent accurate because we’ve never seen these things and we never will. It’s probably a good thing we won’t see them because these were apex predators.

“We’re starting to realize how little we know about the soft tissues of these creatures, their colours and textures, whether they had fur, scales or feathers.”

Pictures of old movie posters, reconstructions and fossils will add to the presentation which will take place at the Colchester Historeum on Thursday, Nov. 21 at 7 p.m. The event is free for members, $5 for non-members.

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A dog's life: New study to investigate aging process in man's best friend – Ottawa Citizen

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Good dogs.


ipet photo / Unsplash

AUSTIN, Texas — A team of researchers is hoping old dogs can teach aging science new tricks. The scientists, with the backing of the U.S National Institute on Aging, have launched an ambitious project in which they want dog owners to enrol canines in a study of aging in man’s best friend, hoping it will help both dogs and humans live longer and better lives.

The “citizen scientists” will answer dozens of questions about their pooches over the lifetime of the animals, such as how much and how often they exercise, what they eat and how much, and their interactions with people or other pets in the household.

“These dogs will be doing what they do normally,” said Daniel Promislow, co-director of the Dog Aging Project.

Dog owners are very well-attuned to changes in their dog’s behaviour, which makes their observations valuable to science. “It’s the power of paying attention,” Promislow said.

As part of the study, a small number of the dogs will provide DNA, blood and urine samples. A select group of middle-aged canines will also be enrolled in a double-blind, placebo-controlled study of a drug that has already been shown to increase the lifespan of mice in the hope of determining whether it will have the same effect on dogs.


A 10-year-old chihuahua participates in the Pawlooza’s dog fashion show in London, Ont., earlier this year. As small dogs, chihuahua would normally have longer live expectancy than larger breeds of dogs such as Great Danes.

Max Martin /

Postmedia

In the long run, the study, which has $22.8 million U.S. in funding from the National Institute on Aging, will help the scientists understand the factors that affect “healthspan” — the proportion of life that is spent in good health.

The project was launched last Thursday with a splashy media conference at the annual scientific meeting of the American Gerontological Society in Austin. While the official goal is to enrol 10,000 canines, the researchers aspire to follow as many as 100,000 dogs.

Within a few hours of announcing the project, 16,000 dog owners had “nominated” their pets online.

The hypothesis in gerontology circles is that, if aging can be delayed, it will also delay chronic diseases such as arthritis and Type 2 diabetes, leading to a longer and healthier life, said Dr. Marie Bernard, a geriatrician and deputy director of the National Institute on Aging.

Researchers have already shown they can increase the lifespans of yeast, fruit flies and mice through a number of measures, including caloric restriction, periodic fasting and administering a combination of metformin, which reduces blood sugar, and the immunosuppressant drug rapamycin.

Jay Olshansky, a respected expert in pushing the boundaries of longevity, has estimated that curing cancer, heart disease or both in humans would only extend life expectancy by between three and eight years. However, slowing aging could extend life expectancy by over 30 years, and it would maximize the portion of life free of chronic disease and disability.

“Those years would be spent in fairly good health,”’ said Matt Kaeberlein, co-director of the Dog Aging Project.

“It sounds like science fiction, but it’s science fact.”


A woman walks her dog on Bank Street.

Tony Caldwell /

Postmedia

Nature has figured out how to modify the rates of aging in different species, Kaeberlein said. The naked mole rat, a burrowing rodent native to East Africa, can live to be more than 30 years old, for example, while most mice and rats live only a few years.

The Dog Aging Project’s goal is to understand the genetic and environmental factors behind dog aging. Dogs age about seven times faster than humans, so data on thousands of dogs over their lifespan would yield important information about what correlates with a long and healthy life for a dog over an accelerated time frame.

In general, larger animals live longer than smaller animals, but the reverse is true in dogs. A chihuahua has a longer life expectancy than a Great Dane, for example, said Dr. Kate Creevy, a professor of veterinary medicine at Texas A&M University and a member of the research team. Mixed-breed dogs also live, on average, about a year longer than purebred counterparts.


A black Great Dane.

jsclark89 /

Getty Images/iStockphoto

The researchers will also be searching for dogs who have led exceptionally long lives: the canine equivalent of human centenarians.

The project is an open science initiative. Eventually the raw data, with confidential information scrubbed from it, will be available to any researcher who wants to use it to seek out patterns, including members of the public.

The study is open to dogs of all breeds and ages, but so far funding for the research is limited to dogs in the United States, Promislow said.

Rapamycin has been shown to restore heart function and boost immunity in middle-aged mice. It has already been used on a small number of dogs in a research study and their owners have noted no negative side effects and some positive side effects, including that the dogs were more energetic and affectionate.

“People love their dogs. Our No. 1 priority is the safety of the dogs,” Promislow said.

Rapamycin is approved for a limited number of uses in humans, including preventing rejection in organ transplantation. It appears to dampen the inflammation that comes with aging, but it’s still a long way from being approved as an aging delay drug for humans, Kaeberlein said.

This is a longitudinal study, which means it will follow the subjects over their entire lives. While researcher often have problems keeping in touch with their subjects in longitudinal studies, dog owners involved in research have been remarkably co-operative in previous long-term studies, he said.

“This is the most ambitious project on companion dogs and one of the most ambitious projects on aging,” Promislow said. “We’ll have tons of data.”

Joanne Laucius was awarded a 2019 journalism fellowship in aging by the Gerontological Society of America. The program is funded by the Silver Century Foundation, the Retirement Research Foundation, the Commonwealth Fund and the John A. Hartford Foundation.


A man walks with his dogs.

Sebastian Gollnow /

AP


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