In the 1960s, a potted plant began appearing as a backdrop for television holiday specials. Very leafy and very red, it was the poinsettia, of course. With prime screen real estate behind Johnny Carson and Bob Hope, the conspicuous plants were an unmistakable message: poinsettias are the Christmas flower.
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
This oak bears truly unique bark for interest at eye level that's even better at night when uplighting creates shadows that bring out all the furrows and textures.
A new species of monkey flower has been found growing on the banks of a stream in Scotland. But it is no ordinary discovery—the flower is a rare hybrid of two foreign species, and a glimpse into evolution in action. While just about all hybrids of different species are sterile—think of the mule, a sterile hybrid of donkeys & horses—this monkey flower is fertile, thanks to an unusual genetic duplication.
Lady Gaga is a pop star, cultural icon, provocateur and now, a genus of ferns—at least by name. Last week, botanists at Duke University named a newly identified genus, including 19 species of ferns, after the singer.
The wonders of Alaska's Mendenhall Valley include a rainforest, a glacier, and an alleé of upside-down trees. The glacier is a wonder in itself—one of the world's few accessible glaciers—and its unique landscaping feature, the 'Flower Towers,' are a quirky addition by Steve and Cindy Bowhay, owners of Glacier Garden Rainforest in southeast Alaska.
Last year I met a woman who had just moved into a house with an extraordinary tree, she said—one that grew lemons, limes, and oranges. On the same tree? A backyard citrus bounty is standard practice in Southern California, but generally a yard might have one or two trees with different fruits. You have grapefruits, but no lemons, so you meet your neighbor by asking to pluck some of his. This woman's fruit claim was incredibly exciting, but then she seemed to disappear, and with it my chance to see her tree.
I love everything about figs. They are the fruit of the season, the fruit about which I am always happy to expound. The tree's life cycle is one of my favorites—a thrilling tale of life, death, sex, and captivity—and they're impossible to avoid in Southern California, particularly now. Ficus trees are a leitmotif in the landscape, and their fruits have been ripening in the late summer heat.
While the Curiousity rover explores its landscape, research is underway on the first garden on Mars. After all, if we intend to spend more time away from Earth, we'll need our plants. Roses and tulips, perhaps, and especially edible vegetables, grains, and leaves.