GWWF August 2019 - The Order Beds, with Beccy Middleton, Systematics and Display Supervisor  

Beccy explained that the St. Andrews Botanic Garden Order Beds are in their original ornamental layout from the early 1970s.   The layout is based on a taxonomic system devised by an American botanist, Arthur Cronquist.  The classification has been revised using DNA analysis.  It is likely that the St Andrews beds will be retained in their present form, for historical interest, but with updated labelling to demonstrate the new system of classification.

Order beds are traditionally used for teaching to demonstrate the relationships between families.  The Botanic Garden has 44 order beds containing 17 monocotyledon and 120 dicotyledon families.  Beccy pointed out the differences between the two groups.  Monocotyledons have long narrow leaves with parallel veins and the flower parts are usually in multiples of 3.   Dicotyledon leaves are broader with a network of veins and the flower parts are in multiples of 4 or 5's.

Beccy talked about various plant differences including grass flowers which are tiny and with pollen, which is very short-lived.  She demonstrated Echinops flowers which have many florets making up the flower head.

Beccy asked the question: Which plants do you want in an order bed to represent the family?  The answer really is to consider what you want the bed to do.  One approach to demonstrate the variety of plants within a family is to have a good selection of plants which are typical examples of the family and some plants which don't show all the characteristics.

Dr. Jean Stewart thanked Beccy for her interesting talk which was warmly appreciated by the large group of visitors attending.

Moira Coron