The book of the mimicry of the living

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Nepenthes Bottle Greenhouse

I love plants. Both as inspiration for biomimicry and in their own right. Sometimes though, I hate them. Really hate them.


While it is a simple process (usually) to grow a cactus in a pot, or put an orchid on a coffee table, some things hate being inside, and pine away for the outdoors. They leaf drop and crisp up and are generally whiny, thankless room-mates.

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An Idiots Guide to Bonsai Shows – Dyffryn Gardens Bonsai Show 2014 Picture Diary


The mystique of Bonsai is very difficult to dispel. Having been involved in bonsai as a hobbyist and professionally since 2011, I’ve regularly been called upon to try and crack through the public perception as a mystic, secretive and sometimes even cruel practice.Dyffryn Gardens 2014 - Table full

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This gallery contains 27 photos

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Bottle tower gardening: how to start ? (Willem Van Cotthem)

This is really neat. Practical, well designed planters out of reused plastic containers.


Together with my friend Gilbert VAN DAMME (Zaffelare, Belgium) I have set up some successful experiments with vertical gardening in “container towers”.

We are using all kinds of recycled containers, e.g. plastic bottles, pots, buckets.  The containers are stacked into “towers”.

Today, I will describe the way how to start a “bottle tower”, illustrating the different steps with some photos:

2011-09-07 – Step 13 : A bottle No. 6 will be used as a watertank on top of the funnel (Bottle No. 5). Therefore, a small (1 mm) perforation of the lid is made (here with a drill) (Photo WVC)
2011-09-07 – Step 14 : Bottle no. 6 is the top bottle, used as a watertank, water running slowly through this small hole (Photo WVC)
2011-09-07 – Step 15 : Watertank bottle No. 6 is pushed into bottle No. 5, the funnel (Photo WVC)

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The 5 Great Biomimicry Applications Series – Plants 5

Last one folks! Same as the last 4. Have a look at the organism below and make any suggestions that come to your mind about how it could be used in a useful human product in the comments section. For the final time there are NO WRONG answers. I have a stats page which shows that each of the last 4 pages has had between 30-60 views,but gets approximately 3 comments so I WANNA SEE YOUR GUTS MAN!

Inspiring Organism – Maple Seed

Maple Tree seeds have one thin wing attached to each seed pod

Maple seeds are another attempt for parent plants to scatter the new generation, but this time airborne! Recently researchers at Caltech discovered the swirling motion of a falling seed creates a tornado like vortex that ensures a slow descent to enable the seed to travel as far as possible on the wind.

Click below for the answers…

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The 5 Great Biomimicry Applications Series – Plants 4

Day 4! – Submit biomimicry ideas though the comments section, I’ll provide information on it’s previous use in biomimicry tonight. For once in your you life there is really no such thing as a wrong answer, so hit me with your best shot! (<- p.s. I know they’re supposed to be SUPER SECRET but I swear that’s Michael Moore on lead guitar)

Inspiring Organism – Lily Pads

Underside of Giant Lily Pad from Danger Garden’s Blog

Lily pads are very thin but massive structures, and contain few to no buoyant air sacs. Instead they have a long, detailed network of ribs which very efficiently spread the weight of the structure and ensure that the leaf doesn’t buckle. If it did it would lose the surface tension which keeps it from sinking. They also have a spikey underside which can curl up.

Cick more for the my answer…

click for the answer


The 5 Great Biomimicry Applications Series – Plants 3

Just like yesterday, have a look at my clue below, and suggest any biomimicry applications you can think of in the comments section. I’ll keep all answers private until after I post the answer this evening!

Tumble weed

Many families are having trouble getting their kids outta the family place, but imagine how much more difficult it would be if they were physically rooted to the spot? Well, to help to get their kids on the road, tumble weeds detach from the root base on maturity and head off with the wind, depositing the kids on the way.

Leave your answers in the comments! The prepared answers I have are pretty cutting edge, but lets see what you come up with…

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The 5 Great Biomimicry Applications Series – Plants 1

I’m starting a new little semi-regular feature. Each morning, around now for you to muse over your coffee break or catch up on over lunch, I’ll post a paragraph about an organisim that has inspired someone to create something from it.


See if you can guess what product or development the organisim has inspired! Don’t worry if you’re not sure, new ideas are almost more interesting thn the right answer! Just post your answer in the comment section or tweet it at me (@biomimicron)

Then, either that evening or the next morning, I’ll post the answer, along with who got it right and maybe a few who got it wrong but in an intersting way! GET COMMENTING!


It often feels like the animals get all the attention. The ants, termites, and various burrowing rodents who build such elaborate, passive structures, the sharks with the ‘rough but smooth’ skin and all the skeletal soft kill designs. Therefore I’m starting my 5 Great Applications series where life (probably) started).

Inspiring organism 1 – Brambles

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