Getting to Know Plants: a plant social


“Getting to know plants” is about our human interaction with the botanical world. Our goal is to create a space to facilitate conversation and physical contact between humans and plants. This work challenges the conventions of interaction and the way we handle plants.

We have many friendly plants that want to meet you, talk with you, and touch you. Don’t be shy, this is a safe space for interaction.

There will be refreshments for both you and our botanical friends.

A plant social will be taking place this Friday in the Alexander Hall project space (room 365). All plant-friendly people are welcome to attend and interact with our rooted friends. We encourage discussion and a hug goodbye.

Join us in celebration of communication and friendship across all boundaries.

Find the facebook event here

How to Lucid Dream and Create a Dream Altar

Lucid dreaming has been widely practiced throughout history. In Buddhist and Hindu meditation a state similar to that experienced when lucid dreaming has been practiced since ancient times. This state is called Yoga nidra. In the western cannon the earliest reference to lucid dreaming comes from Aristotle, quoted below:

Often when one is asleep, there is something in consciousness which declares that what then presents itself is but a dream.

The term “lucid dream” was coined in the late 19th century by Dutch psychiatrist Frederick van Eeden.

Lucid dreaming was seen as something very hard to study scientifically because no reliable method had been found to prove the subject’s claims of lucidity while asleep. In the late 1970s, however, researchers discovered that during REM sleep, the subject’s eye movements correspond to actions in their dreams. With this knowledge researchers were able to accurately study lucidity by recording pre-determined eye-movements while the subject was asleep.

Current scientific exploration in lucid dreaming involves electrically stimulating the subjects brain to induce the lucid state. This research has been proposed as therapy for patients suffering from PTSD and has already proven helpful for patients with recurring nightmares.

For those of us without access to electrical stimulation, there are many ways which we can train ourselves to become regular lucid dreamers. There is no easy way to learn quickly and have a lucid dreaming experience in one night, it is a process that many people dedicate months to before experiencing any result.

Here are some tips that I found most useful and unanimous across many sources:

1 – Keep a dream journal, and write in it right when you wake up and you still remember your dream. Many times, you may half wake up and convince yourself that you don’t need to write your dream down because you’ll remember it before drifting back to sleep. Fight this urge, because you will probably forget it.

The more you write down, the more you will remember the next night. By going through your journal after many nights, you can begin to identify themes specific to your dreams that will later help you realize you are dreaming and become lucid.

2 – Perform reality checks while awake. These can be things like reading something and re-reading it to see if the text has changed, closing your mouth and nose and trying to breath, looking down at your hands or feet, or looking at your reflection in a mirror to check for distortions.

By performing these checks on a semi-regular basis while awake, the techniques will begin to enter your dreams as regular everyday activities. The hope is that while asleep you will recognize that something is off when the result of the activity doesn’t quite match reality, and in doing so realize you are dreaming and become lucid.

3 – Mugwort. Mugwort is a common plant used in cooking and traditional Chinese medicine. Its flowers can be dried and turned into a tea that is said to bring vivid dreams.


4 – Building a dream altar. A dream altar is a way to give a tangible form to ideas and feelings you want to bring into your dreams. It is a way to focus your energy on these ideas so that they easily transfer into your unconscious mind. The altar is meant to be kept in the room you sleep in, and it is interesting to note that even a messy bedside table can become an unintentional altar that may bring anxious dreams.

With those parameters you can really include anything in your dream altar. Many people choose to include tokens from past dreams and metaphorical items are encouraged.

For our class workshop, we used items from the Bovey Garden. Items were chosen based on name, smell, touch, and aesthetics.

Here are some of the classes altars (click for full images):

During the workshop, Kelly mentioned a podcast on dreams and sleep, which I’ve linked here and recommend everybody listen to!

Horticulture Club

After joining the Horticulture Club, and previously knowing very minimal about plants and how to care for them, we have learned so much. The Horticulture Club aims to bring people together to educate, learn, explore and have fun with plants.

Activity 1: Dinosaur Planters

An activity that we had the privilege of participating in was planting grass and moss into wire frames that were in the shapes of fun animals and dinosaurs! We got to work on the Brachiosaurus shaped frame. We were instructed to start by emptying the old dirt that had been unchanged for the past 20 years of use, and to pack it full with fresh new dirt.

We were then able to plant some grass seeds into the dirt, and were encouraged to make fun designs with it! We then learned how we can grow our own moss, which was very interesting. We observed as some of the executive members of the group explained that when you put equal parts of buttermilk and water into a blender, and then add a bit of existing moss (dead or alive) and blend it up, you can then pour or paint this sludge mixture onto dirt- or whatever you please! Moss grows best in areas with more shade, and misted with water.

We decided that our dinosaur would look best with a grass-y spikey Mohawk, beard and fuzzy boots, with a mossy body. It will be excited to see the outcome once the seeds start sprouting and growing! It was a great activity to get everyone’s hands dirty, and learn how to re-purpose old items into new life to decorate a space.

(long post ahead, click to read more) Continue reading “Horticulture Club”

October 5th Visit to the Insect Collection


Today we visited the insect collection on campus in the Bovey building and were toured around by Morgan (thanks Morgan!). The University of Guelph Insect Collection was established in 1863 (that’s older than Canada as a country!) and contains specimens from that same year. Insects in the collection are from all over the world with an emphasis on insects from southern Ontario.

Below are some photos from our visit and some things we learned about:

We learned that to be classified an insect, a creature generally has to have six legs, an exoskeleton, and two pairs of wings.

While all bee species are in decline, the honeybee is the poster child for bee disappearance. In reality the honeybee is an invasive species in Canada, and while useful to humans (who doesn’t love honey?) isn’t the most concerning for entomologists. The Rusty Patched Bumble Bee is a native species that was found in abundance in Ontario, but hasn’t been seen here since 2009.

We learned about some different classifications of insects, for example that “bugs” have a sucking mouth part, like a bed bug would use to suck blood. Beetles are distinguished by their front set of wings being turned into an armoured shell. Flies are of the order Diptera, meaning “two wings”. They have two sets of wings, but only one set is functional for flying. Butterflies and moths have scaled wings, the coloured areas of their wings actually being scales. The last order of insect we talked about was that of wasps ants and bees (Hymenoptera).

Then we got to see some live bugs, a tailless whip scorpion and some Madagascar hissing cockroaches.

You can find out some more info on the insect collection’s website:

A Madagascar Hissing Cockroach (its hissing tactic worked, and scared us all!)
A molted exoskeleton from the Tailless Whip Scorpion (with another, full scorpion in the back being friendly)
Tailless Whip Scorpion meeting the class
The two long antennae-like things on the top of this guy are actually a pair of legs!
Camera set up for taking super-macro photos of specimens.
Illustrated bug genitalia




Jason De Haan – 100 Ages

“…“100 Ages,” in which he placed gold rings on branches of 100 trees all over the city, de Haan suggests the impossible – a tree continuing to grow around and through a human intervention, decades before — but also makes a crystal clear point about history, knowing and forgetting. What do we really know of the past, or for that matter the future? Belief is all we’ve ever had.”

more on his website