The past couple weeks, corpse flowers have been blooming at gardens across the country. Amorphophallus titanum, or titan arum, flowers with the odor of a thousand toxic fumes, the height of two men, and draws crowds as large as any circus. The corpse flower may be most famous in the genus, but more than 170 species of Amorphophallus have been indentified, including a new one earlier this year, found in Madagascar's dry rocky soil.
A flower's demise is a slow process—unless you're photographer Jon Shireman, in which case it happens with a quick pivot and a smash. He immerses his flowers to stiffen them, then flings them against a hard surface. The shattered remains are beautiful.
A dwarf form of Taiwan-native Cunninghamia lanceolata, ‘Little Leo’ forms a globe of soft, densely packed needles, looking like a pincushion. After 10 years, this rare conifer will still be less than 3 feet tall. Leaves are dark green during the growing season, taking on a bronzy, purplish cast in winter. Zones 7 to 9.