Iraqi Kurdistan, a region in northern Mesopotamia, is home to mountains, steppes, and pastures that were part of the Fertile Crescent: the birthplace of agriculture—and, indeed, civilization. There, ancient farmers nurtured a wealth of crops that would become staples throughout the world. Today, after years of wars and sanctions, Kurdistan is reengaging its land. As it negotiates the challenges of a new era, native plants and crops remain a defining feature of the landscape and people—how long can the agricultural heritage last?
A Victorian-era menagerie still grows today, at an historic country estate in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. With its century-old living sculptures, Green Animals Garden is the oldest topiary garden in the United States.
Drielandenpunt Labyrinth, or Three-Country Labyrinth, is Europe's largest open air shrub maze, and its hilltop location in the Netherlands—the highest point in the country—offers a stunning view of Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands. Designed by landscape architect Adrian Fisher, the labyrinth pays homage to the location's infamous popularity with smugglers.
When hung over a threshold at Christmastime, a sprig of mistletoe is a matchmaker; in the wild, the plant is a parasite known as the "thief of trees." Now, thanks to a recent study in Australia, mistletoe has a new reputation: forest savior. Field research indicates it's actually a beneficial plant, critical to a healthy ecosystem.
Discovered as a witch’s broom on Cryptomeria japonica ‘Gracilis’, C. japonica ‘Little Champion’ is a dwarf form with a tidy globular shape, about 1 to 2 feet tall and 2 to 3 feet wide in 10 years. The finely textured needles, pale-green color and compact size make this a perfect container or rock-garden plant. Zones 6 to 8.