A rose by any other name is as sweet, but what about a strawberry? If its name is Marshall, it's the sweetest of them all, but chances are you've never eaten one, at least not lately. Abundant and popular in early- & mid-century, the aromatic, juicy berry has since become very rare. Now, thanks to the loving propagation of Leah Gauthier, you can plant one yourself.
What's brighter than a peacock and shinier than a butterfly? A tiny, hard, fruit that grows in the forests of Tanzania, Mozambique, Ethiopia, and other African countries. According to biologists, the tiny fruits of Pollia condensata, a meter-tall perennial herb commonly known as the marble berry, surpass anything other living organism in their capacity to dazzle with a rainbow of iridescent light.
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.
Engravings of rare orchids, paintings of fern varieties, photograveures of seeds—botanic art has long been characterized by an aesthetic that is accurate and precise. This week, Art & Botany features a modern sort of scientific illustration: the infographic.
Pale confetti blows through the sidewalks, and a riot of pink blossoms fill the streets—it's springtime, and the cherry plum (purple-leaf) trees are delighted. Here in Portland, the ornamental trees are a lovely disruption to the gray monochrome of early spring skies. They are everywhere—a pink promise of spring, one that is now blooming across Oregon, Washington, California, and New England, as well as Ireland, England, other temperate European climates, and Australia and western Asia.
Recently unveiled, the Metropolitan Museum of Art's new American Wing is a fantastic collection of work that illustrates the influence of natural subjects on American artists. It includes paintings from the Hudson River School—Albert Bierstadt’s Rocky Mountains and Frederic Edwin Church's The Heart of the Andes—a group of landscape painters whose work conveyed the nation's mid-nineteenth century optimism and abundance.
During the holiday season, food and feasting seem to be everywhere. And so it is an appropriate time to enjoy the work of Guiseppe Arcimboldo (1526-1593), a Renaissance artist who painted a surreal flavor of still-life: portraits composed of fruit, vegetables, and flowers.