Plant a Geiger counter in your garden.

Nature has always served as Mankind’s early warning system — the canary in the coal mine, and possibly, the spiderwort in the nuclear plower plant. You may not think of garden plants as particularly active, but many have unique “behaviors” that are somewhat entertaining, and at times even useful. The ephemeral blooms of Tradescantia, also known as spiderwort, among other […]

My kids isolated the hemochromatosis genes.

Narcissism runs strong in most kids, so to teach them science, it helps to make it all about them. On a recent trip to The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, kids of all ages were excited to make a robot read their names, design their own roller coasters, create sound circles with their fingers, and see infrared shadow images of […]

‘Darwin’s Beard’ and Other Notable Plant Names

Folks have a penchant for bestowing colorful names on the plants around them. Sometimes these monikers travel with people and are applied to similar but distinct species in other parts of the world. This, of course, is the kind of confusion Linnaeus and his taxonomist cohorts try to avoid, but employing the vernacular can be […]

The Virgin and the Whore: Horticultural Morality

In late August, when the heat and humidity in my Mid Atlantic Zone 7 neighborhood have done in most of summer’s beauties, I’m on the look out for plants just coming into their own — like the sweet-scented, white flowers of a clematis vine popping up all over the alley fences in the neighborhood. When […]