When your plants threaten to wilt with the surging summer temperatures, you might offer them an alternative: a cool respite on an arctic slope—tell them you know of a little spot 14,780 feet (4,500 meters) above sea level, in the Swiss Alps. If your hydrangea balks ("No plant could grow there! So high, so cold!"), mention the purple saxifrage (Saxifraga oppositifolia), a plant that grows quite happily in these high snowy peaks.
Editor’s Note: When The Hunger Games sequel, Catching Fire opens this Friday, early reviews say the dramatic and subversive storyline will not disappoint its ravenous fans. In anticipation, we pulled this article from our archives as a horticultural hat tip to Suzanne Collins and The Hunger Games trilogy.
“Plants are tricky. Many are edible, but one false mouthful and your dead” —The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
Sun printing on fabric lets you use the plants in your garden to create beautiful patterns, and the resulting fabric can be made into clothing or a framed work of art.
Gene Bauer, 85, is well-known for her daffodils in the San Bernadino Mountains–a garden of close to a million yellow blooms. Until recently, she opened the garden to a curious public who would travel to see her labor of love. In the 1970s, however, one didn't need to travel to experience Bauer's passion for flowers. Instead, it would arrive by mail, as a small silk-screened booklet that depicted one of Bauer's favorite California plants.
In honor of Father's Day, here's a hirsute tree that goes by the name Old Man Palm (Coccothrinax crinita). Covered in long fibers (crinita means hairy in Latin) that resemble a tremendous beard, the rare species is a favorite among palm collectors. The tree is also known as the "Old Man from Cuba," where it is native and endemic. I know what you're thinking—a beard under the Cuban sun? Why, it's a palm for Ernest Hemingway.
I spent last weekend weeding at a community garden where my parents have a couple plots of greens and root vegetables. We were tasked with taming the common spaces: the tool shed, the wild garden, the rose trellis-covered paths that wind throughout. No one was really sure the last time a firm hand had tugged at these areas and it showed. Bindweed and Star of Bethlehem strangled the pole beans and choked the peonies. We worked for hours and filled a dozen bags with weeds.
The future of farming is now and it is in the dark: A portable garden vending machine, called the Chef's Farm, offers a harvest of up to 60 heads of lettuce a day, without a ray of sunlight. The indoor vertical garden costs $90,000, a price that Japanese designer Dentsu hopes restaurants will be willing to pay for locally grown produce without the traditional troubles of transportation, crop variability, or outdoor growing space. The machine been touted as a gardener's solution to the apocalypse.