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Coming in 2022 The Plantman's Ice Garden at RHS Chelsea
Designed by John Warland - built and sponsored by The Plantman and Co
The clock is ticking for the Arctic.
28 trillion tonnes of ice have disappeared from the surface of the planet since 1994 and all-summer ice is scheduled to disappear within the next 20 years. Covering an area 5 times the size of the EU, this permafrost holds around 1.5 million trillion tonnes of carbon.
Forests, plants and ice currently insulate the ground below, but more frequent fires, rising temperatures and higher rainfalls are stripping this layer of protection. As the ice melts the enormous carbon bank of decomposed organic matter is released. The melting substrate often undermines tree roots giving rise to the appearance of ‘drunken forests’.
While melting permafrost offers an immediate existential threat, it also contains a historic botanical treasure chest. In 2012, Russian scientists discovered and successfully germinated a cache of Silene stenophylla seeds, thought to have been buried by an Ice Age squirrel more than 30,000 years ago. It is hoped that this dormant seedbank might indeed hold the genetic code to help develop sustainable crops, medicine and biofuel adapted to climate change.
The monolithic melting 15 tonne ice cube acts as a reminder of the climate perils facing humanity, while offering hope that the botanical bounty found within might ensure the onward survival of humankind.