David Latimer is one of the world’s few proud owners of an entirely self-sustaining bottled garden. Looking at pictures of the lush green bottle, you’d think that growing it involved a lot of hard work. But the truth is that David hasn’t even watered it in over 40 years. It’s just been sitting under the hallway stairs in his home and it’s doing extremely well on its own.
The story of his this amazing experiment began in 1960, on Easter Sunday, when David decided that it would be fun to start a bottle garden. Since they were a bit of a craze back then, he wanted to see for himself what the fuss was all about. So out of idle curiosity, he got himself a 10-gallon globular bottle, poured some compost at the bottom and used a piece of wire to carefully lower a seedling in. Then he put in just about a quarter of a pint of water, and believe it or not, he only watered the plant once more in 1972. Never again after that. It has been alive and kicking for the past 54 years.
The plant that David placed in the bottle is an indoor variety of perennial spiderworts that also go by the Latin name of Tradescantia. The bottle itself is tightly sealed; David only needs to rotate it around often so it grows evenly towards the light. “Otherwise, it’s the definition of low-maintenance,” he said. “I’ve never pruned it, it just seems to have grown to the limits of the bottle.”