Tagua (pronounced tog-wah) nuts, or "ivory of the rainforest," are a vegetable-based and sustainable alternative to elephant ivory. The seeds are hard and smooth, and easily carved and dyed. They were once used for military buttons, Victorian chess pieces, and dice. Today, tagua "vegetable ivory" is a popular material for jewelry and baubles.
A Cuban vine "communicates" with bat pollinators by emitting an echo through its acoustically-designed leaves. Scientists say the plant is the nocturnal analog of bright flowers that attract visually-oriented pollinators.
The Marshall strawberry: A bit of horticulture history that would make a great gift! Once abundant in the Pacific Northwest and praised as "the finest eating strawberry in America," the Marshall strawberry is today very rare. Now an artist in Indiana has begun an effort to revive the berry, offering starter plants in hand-sewn containers.
The Victorian language of flowers meant that you could express a wide range of sentiments with a simple floral nosegay. On Valentine's Day, the sweetest of holidays, we take a look at some popular flowers to include in a bouquet and how they speak the language of love.
Dorothy Biddle was a pioneer in the world of American flower arranging, traveling around the country by bus and train from the late 1940s to the late 1950s, encouraging Americans everywhere to grow and arrange their own flowers. Her legacy lives on today in her company, Dorothy Biddle Service, run by her granddaughter, which continues to sell flower arranging supplies—now on the Internet.
In our new column, we cook local bounty that's in season. Today, Katie Mendelson writes about Mark Diacono's The Food Lover's Garden, where he argues that "Life is too short to grow ordinary food," and shares the recipe for Diacono's Strawberry Scones.