“Good afternoon Professor, Weybridge. I’m from Laboratory News. Can you tell the world and me what endangered plant species you and your team are currently trying to conserve In Kew Gardens?”Asked the reporter.
"Yes, the team and I are trying to cultivate different species of plants; one, in particular, is Dionaea Muscipula, known as The Venus Flytrap. The Venus habitat is In the wild, only in North and South Carolina."
“Hi, Professor, CNN, do you think there’s any chance of saving any of these endangered species?”Asked the reporter. “All I can say is we are doing the best we can.” Said the Professor. “Look, I’m sorry, ladies and gentlemen, only one more question please; “Yes, the lady In the blue dress.” Pointed the Professor.
“Thank you, Sue Carter, from Science magazine.”
“If the world is losing plants at the rate it is, just how long do you think it will be before It’s too late to save the planet’s endangered flora?”
“Well,” the Professor paused for a moment, stroking his grey beard. "That’s a good question; it may be as early as thirty years, could be longer, we don’t know! "
“How did the press conference go, Professor?” Said, Dr. Baxter head of Botany research at Kew Gardens.
“It was okay, doctor.” Replied Professor Weybridge.
The Professor and his team continued working on their research, trying different methods with only minor success in cultivating the Venus Flytrap.
“In this propagator, we managed to grow some seedlings using dusting pollination, the flower to flower method seems only to work, one in a thousand times, and even then they look straggly, and poor specimens.” Said Dr. Baxter.
“What about the cuttings method?” Did you do it exactly as I asked?” Well, of course, Professor. “Are you alright? You seem agitated.” Asked the doctor.
“Oh,” “I’m sorry, Doctor. I don’t mean to doubt your work; it’s been a stressful time these past few days. What with the press conference and now this problem with government funding.”Replied the Professor." I will see you tomorrow morning.”
The following morning at Kew.
“What the heck is this report?” shouted the Professor. “I said I want to be updated but only with positive news. This report just tells me that the use of cuttings is no better than flower pollination.”Moaned the Professor.
“ I’m sorry, professor, but Dr. Baxter told me to give it to you.” Said Anthea, one of the researchers.
“Where is Dr. Baxter at the moment, Anthea?”
Asked the Professor. “He isn’t in today; he had a dental appointment. Something major.” She replied.
“He didn’t mention It to me yesterday!” Shouted the Professor.
“Okay, Anthea, I want all the research team in here tomorrow at nine o’clock for an urgent meeting, and make sure you inform Dr.Baxter too.”
The following day at the meeting
" Professor Weybridge sat down at the long table, preparing to speak to his research team.
“Hello, everyone. I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news:
The government is cutting our funding by twenty-five percent; from next month. I’m sorry to say this; It will inevitably mean there will be redundancies!” Said the Professor.
“But how does the government expect us to do proper research If It reduces our money and our research staff?” Replied Dr. Baxter angrily, pulling his pipe from his mouth.
The next morning at Kew gardens
“I know Dr. Baxter was angry yesterday at the meeting, but I didn’t expect a letter of resignation on my desk the very next day.” Said the Professor. “Anthea, get me the doctor’s number, please.”
“Dam it! He doesn’t seem to be in.” Said the Professor.”Maybe the doctor is out getting interviewed for another post at some university.”
Doctor Baxter was at home In Kent, busy working in his specially built greenhouse, In his garden, oblivious to the Professor ringing him. The doctor had been doing secret research months earlier, trying out various methods of his own to cultivate and prevent not only the Venus Flytrap from extinction but another endangered plant, too.
He went over to his secret, especially, adapted propagator. Sliding open the roof, the doctor checked for any progress in the plant’s growth. The doctor put on his glasses for a closer look at the hybrid plant, a mixture of the Venus Flytrap and another carnivorous plant, a Nepenthes Rajah species - the largest carnivorous plant in the world. The doctor began grinning like a Cheshire cat as he saw the plant had grown another few inches. Visible to him was a couple of the Venus Flytrap’s distinguishing features; a few traps with their burgundy pigment had developed with their row of teeth. The doctor also saw hanging farther down from the stem a Nepenthes water pitcher structure, a few inches long.
Doctor Baxter continued his work for the next few weeks, nurturing the plant like a mother to her newborn baby.
With his pipe In his mouth, the doctor made his way to his greenhouse in the garden. Suddenly he heard the sound of smashing glass. He rushed over to see what had happened. Opening the greenhouse door, he saw In all its splendor the hybrid plant now some ten-foot-tall, with four VenusFly trap traps, two on either side of its stem, the size of dinner plates. Hanging lower down from the stem was a Nepenthes pitcher, some four foot in diameter and just as deep.
The doctor wondered how it could have grown so big from when he last checked it; it was only a couple of feet tall a week ago! The doctor moved up close to the plant to examine it; he touched one of the traps.
“What the … "
Back at Kew
“Anthea, phone Dr. Baxter and make an appointment for us to see him today, please.”
“It’s on message, Professor. Shall I leave a message?”Said Anthea.
“No,” “It’s time we went and checked on Doctor Baxter. Let’s go and surprise him If he is in!” We’ll take my car.” Said the Professor.
“Well, It seems he Isn’t In; wait a minute. “Oh, It’s you, Professor.”Said the Doctor’s housekeeper, Mrs. Cooper, as she opened the door. “Is the doctor In?” Asked the Professor.
“I have only just arrived; he is usually In the garden at this time.”Replied the housekeeper, letting the Professor and Anthea In.
“What a beautiful garden!” Said Anthea. “Yes and big too.”There’s the greenhouse over there.”The Professor said. As they walked closer Anthea noticed something wrong.
“Someone has smashed the glasshouse, Professor!” Shouted Anthea. “ Where’s the doctor?” Said the Professor.
“Look, there’s blood on the floor!" Shouted the Professor, bending down. “What the devil Is that? It Can’t be!” Said the Professor as he and Anthea both turned, staring up at the monster hybrid, a few feet away. “But, what Is It, professor?”
Screamed Anthea, grabbing the Professor’s arm.
“My God!" "The doctor has achieved what no one else could have done!” shouted The Professor.
“We’ve got to find the doctor; where can he be?”The Professor said looking worried.
“What’s the doctor’s pipe and glasses doing In that plant’s trap? What's that gurgling sound?" Asked Anthea. They paused for a moment, then the Professor squirmed as he turned and stared at Anthea, then they looked back up at the monstrous plant, now twice as large as before...