Since 1890, Harvard's glass flowers have fascinated both academics and the general public. Made in Dresden, Germany, these full-size specimens are meticulously detailed, existing as both scientifically accurate models and unusual pieces of art.
Despite its efforts to keep a low profile—lurking, as it tends to do, deep in Southeast Asia's undisturbed rainforests—the Rafflesia arnoldii has international notoriety. Its detractors might call it a hulking, smelly parasite, and they would not be wrong. It's the world's largest flower, and it smells like rotting meat.
It takes a village to grow a picture in a rice field: Since 1993, a small Japanese village has been creating rice paddy art, in an effort to increase tourism. It's a hybrid of traditional illustration and crop circles, with canvases that are as large as football fields.
An aspen forest in Utah could be awarded 47,000 blue ribbons that read "World's Largest Tree." That's the number of discrete tree stems that constitute Pando (Latin for "I spread"), a colony of genetically identical aspens that converge underground in a single sprawling root system. Also known as The Trembling Giant, the trees' fluttering leaves are a soft soundtrack in the forest.
Inspired by the natural world, artist Sasha Prood has illustrated an alphabet by drawing plants that naturally fall into the shapes of the letters. Garden Design interviews Prood about her work and her plant muses.
You probably won't find these flowers at any summer weddings, but the water-dwelling plant would be a perfect accent at the world's tiniest garden party. Sparking like tiny green jewels, each less than a millimeter in diameter, the Wolffia globosa is the smallest flowering plant in the world.
Victorian horticulturalists were quite interested in scrapbooking and gardening and their two interests were combined in the ephemera of seed company trading cards, some of which can still be found (and collected) today. With funny illustrations and silly advertising mottoes, these seed company trading cards are a peek into the gardens of the past.