Anna Laurent

Anna Laurent

Articles & Photos

A room decorated with William Morris's colorful patterns offers a certain reassurance: teatime will always be sunny. The nineteenth-century designer applied his exquisite flora-based designs to textiles, tiles, and, of course, wallpaper. As if throwing open the heavy drapes, he ushered nature's forms inside the home. 
Santa Barbara's Moreton Bay fig tree is a legend. It is the largest in the country—the tree's circumference is 42 feet, its height is twice that, and the canopy spans almost 200 feet—in fact, it even has its own address.
Frank Lloyd Wright designed Hollyhock House with a stylized motif of the flower, which grow alongside the Los Angeles landmark building. The effect is a beautiful symmetry of architecture and nature, with a surprising unity of character: somehow, the concrete hollyhocks look no less elegant than the living flowers reflected beneath them.
The discovery of the world's smallest orchid is, fittingly, the story of an intrepid explorer, an enigmatic flower, and the curious luck that brought them together. All but transparent, the flower's petals are one-cell thick, and its blossom is just 2.1 mm wide from tip to tip.
Ever wish there was a Shazam for trees? LeafSnap is a new mobile app that can identify a tree's species by looking at a photograph of its leaf. It's a field guide for the twenty-first century, which uses facial recognition algorithms to analyze the leaf's contour so it can find a match from its index of species.
Keeping a close eye on her developing progeny, this Kalanchoe succulent, nicknamed "the mother-of-thousands" is as prolific as it is maternal—hundreds of tiny plants actually grow on the mother's arms. When released, each plantlet falls to the ground to take root on its own—now the next "mother" in the lineage, never too far from home.
Among the valleys and foothills in Israel's Negev desert is a plant that can water itself, in a manner of speaking. The desert rhubarb (Rheum palaestinum) is the only known desert-dwelling species to have evolved a self-irrigating mechanism.  
The first nursery catalog—in the 17th century—was a artistic masterpiece and a marketing strategy. It sold, of course, tulip bulbs, and helped contribute to the economic bubble of tulip mania. 
A fine specimen in a long line of great American roadside attractions, the Tree Circus is a curious orchard that included a birdcage, ladder, spirals, a telephone booth, and a staircase, all fashioned from the pliable branches of birch, ash, elms, and weeping willows. Started in the 1950s in California, the Tree Circus is a neat botanical version in a long history of wacky Californian attractions, including tar pits, dinosaur parks, and the mystery spot.
The loneliest tree in the world was a solitary acacia in a remote land. It was the only tree in a 400 kilometer radius. Standing alone in the vast Saharan expanse, l'Arbre du Ténéré (the Tree of Ténéré), was modest in size—three meters tall—but its mere survival was both remarkable, and invaluable to desert travelers.
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