When David Latimer planted a seed in a glass bottle on Easter Sunday 1960, he had no idea that it would grow into a swath of greenery that would thrive untouched for decades. Despite the fact that the last time Latimer watered it was in 1972, the sealed bottle garden is still growing as vigorously as ever, filling the bottle entirely with lush plant life.
After pouring some compost into the globular bottle, Latimer carefully lowered a spiderwort seedling into the mix, followed by a pint of water. The bottle was sealed and placed in a bright spot, and the magic of photosynthesis took over. The bottle garden was completely cut off from fresh water and air except for a single watering in 1972, but it still managed to form its own self-sufficient ecosystem. Plants obtain the energy they require to grow by absorbing sunlight through photosynthesis. The process also produces oxygen and moisture in the air; the moisture accumulates inside the bottle and “rains” back down on the plants.
Leaves that rot at the bottom of the bottle produce the carbon dioxide required for photosynthesis and nutrition.
It’s incredible that with just a little bit of sunlight, the plants can thrive even in this one-of-a-kind environment, successfully creating a microcosm of the Earth in a bottle. Latimer, who is now 80 years old, hopes that when he dies, his grown children will continue the experiment.