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Amateur Botanist Grows Explosive Cucumbers In Urban Garden In Yorkshire

Sarah Rose Collings successfully nurtures toxic and non-toxic species of cucumbers that burst when touched.

Explosive cucumbers native to the Mediterranean and South America have been successfully grown in an urban garden in Yorkshire, England.

Video shows the fruit bursting when touched at a major flower show.

Sarah Rose Collings grew 28 of the exploding cucumbers in the garden of her Sheffield houseshare, in preparation for her display exploring plants’ ability to sense.

With the help of her housemates, her mom, and neighbors, the amateur botanist nurtured toxic and non-toxic species of exploding cucumbers that squirt out their seed when ripe or touched.

The unusual plants are a challenge to find, and designer Sarah had to source their seeds via websites ‘Plant World Seeds’ and ‘Real Seeds,’ rather than plant them once they’d grown.

Alongside the small and edible cyclanthera explodens, and poisonous ecballium elaterium, she sewed plants that can “hear.”

The evening primrose she picked is shaped like a saucer which lets it pick up sound like an ear – when a pollinator nears, the vibrations prompt the plant to produce sweeter, more enticing, nectar.

Sarah has picked out hydrangeas that change color in different PH soils too, and geraniums that, in the cold, pump more sugar in their cells to make them hardier.

Explosive cucumbers native to the Mediterranean and South America have been successfully grown in an urban garden in Yorkshire, England. PHOTO BY SARAH COLLINGS/SWNS  

She learned about evening primrose’s sonic capabilities in an article by Tel Aviv University, Israel, and went down a rabbit hole that turned into her competition garden titled ‘Plants That Sense: A Living Laboratory.’

Flora’s touch was particularly interesting to Sarah, and she was originally interested in Himalayan Balsam.

However, the plant is an invasive species and so was not qualified to be entered in competitions at the Royal Horticultural Society show at Tatton Park, Cheshire.

Unlike many RHS competitors, Sarah has not been working with top-tier gardening conditions and equipment and has had to navigate living in a shared house.

She said: “It’s a shady garden, and I didn’t really have the equipment. I didn’t really have a greenhouse or a polytunnel.

“I didn’t have any tools, I didn’t have a hose, so in a way, it was gardening but starting from scratch, I didn’t have a basis to start from.

“Moving around my housemates’ needs and negotiating them, and also getting their help, and help from my neighbors as well.”

Her interest in the flora and fauna world began when she felt isolated living in London.

She said: “I started gardening when I was living in London about five years ago.

“I was renting a place that happened to have a garden.

“I actually started doing it because I found London quite an isolating place to live, and it was a hobby I can do at home, and it was something I could do when I wasn’t able to meet up with other people.

“It was a rewarding way to spend time with myself.

“Ironically, it led me into a community because gardeners are very supportive and they love talking to each other and helping each other, and I became really interested in community gardening, just learning from other people, going on garden visits.”

Her evening primroses bloomed two or three weeks too early, and the 15 plants had to go to waste.

She suspects it was because they were in a polytunnel, but neighbors and the social media-based gardening community pitched in to help out.

She said: “I did have 15 and then had to replace them, people have dug up about 20 to give me, but they didn’t all survived that process because they’re a bit sensitive.

“My mom brought some up from Wolverhampton, from some friends and neighbors, and somebody dropped some around in a car in Sheffield, in some plastic bags outside the house.

“I’d never met them before. It was from a shoutout from the Botanical Gardens in Sheffield, who promoted it for me.

“They’re kind of a wildflower, I think that’s why it’s hard to find them in nurseries, because people often only sell these ornamentals, not just common wildflowers.

“They grow on allotments, they grow in a lot of people’s gardens and they self-seed. It’s harder to buy them funnily enough.”

She entered the Tatton Park exhibition’s debut ‘Long Boarders’ category, where gardening students, budding lockdown planters, and established designers compete by packing an 11-meter-squared raised bed.

This year’s Long Border group was prompted by the theme ‘sensory.’

Produced in association with SWNS Talker

Edited by and

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