Myco Experience at the U of A Botanical Gardens
Finally I had a chance to experience the Alberta Mycological Society’s annual event at the U of A Botanic Garden,
and boy was it worth it! For the regular price of admission to the gardens (located just north of Devon, just SW of Edmonton), one could peruse the fabulous display of local mushrooms foraged by volunteers of the Society, sit in on an amazing talk about medicinal and poisonous mushrooms, and sample some delicious wild mushroom cuisine provided by Sorrentino’s.
I learned so much more about the relationships fungi create with trees and the soil, and why many mushrooms have such strong anti-bacterial/anti-viral potential. Ironically that same ability is quite often what makes people sick if they eat uncooked mushrooms or an incorrectly identified species (I won’t get into the details here). The unseen mycelium highway is vast. It has so many important abilities from creating and holding soil structure, to transporting nutrients, to communication – both within its own species as well as providing a means of interspecies communication.
Mycelium is being explored as alternative packaging to plastics, and in fact some fungi can actually break down and digest plastic. For a life form without a brain, it is highly advanced. Different structures can ensnare nematodes or harpoon insects within the soil substrate to be broken down as nutrients. Symbiotic relationships can form with plant life to ensure both organisms food and protection. There are species of fungi so specialized, that they are linked only with one other species. There are diverse species of fungi that live in almost every corner of the planet!
I scored this very fitting T-shirt and a well recommended book written by one of the
founding members of the Myco Society. ‘Mushrooms of Western Canada’ has very detailed descriptions and pictures. If you ever wish to learn more about foraging for local wild mushrooms, definitely pick up this book and join the Alberta Mycological Society. They are a welcoming, passionate and knowledgeable group. Events and mushroom forays happen in different parts of the province throughout the here. Hopefully Medieval Manor Gardens can host a foray next year!
Afterwards Steve and I explored various areas within the Botanic Gardens including:
the John’s Folly tower
The geodesic dining domes
Indigenous Garden (featuring native plants of course!)
We also strolled through the Alpine Garden, and the Potager Garden next to the David Thompson House . There was still much more to see (the Kurimoto Japanese Garden and the AGA Khan Garden are definitely on my list), but it will have to wait for another day, as we ran out of time!
If you haven’t already, put the U of A Botanic Garden and the Wild Mushroom Expo on your bucket list!