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.
Hot plus cool equals a jazzy ornamental pepper that’s not pungent, so it’s safe to grow around kids. Indoors it makes a wild “hairdo,” spring through Christmas, of twisty narrow peppers in ivory, yellow, orange and red. Also look for child-friendly ‘Chilly Chili’.
Ornamental peppers have become popular summer annuals, and surprise, surprise, they're happy indoors as well. 'Sangria' is a new introduction from PanAmerican Seed with a continuous full complement of red and purple peppers that are not hot (so they're child-friendly).
Bees in Turkey and Iran layer flower petals to create a brightly colored nest. Inside, a mother bee will lay an egg, and when the baby bee hatches, it stays inside the nest, where it feeds itself on nectar and is protected by its petal home.
In our latest column from Marigold and Mint, she takes us to the peony farms of Washington State, highlighting these majestic blooms and pairs the flowers with garden roses for arrangements and bouquets that are the delight of every summer bride.