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 […]

Rooting out wildlife’s frenemies: How human hubris can victimize–or save–a species.

As we note the death a hundred years ago this week of Martha, the last Passenger Pigeon, I’ve been thinking about how the mindset of the time contributed to the extinction of a species that was once the most abundant in North America. Despite growing evidence to the contrary, people of the Victorian era deluded themselves with the twin fallacies that […]

Do marmots really like garlic bread?  

In Polly Horvath’s novel Mr. and Mrs. Bunny–Detectives Extraordinaire!, marmots love garlic bread. (Read that book–it’s funny!) I didn’t have garlic bread when I was hiking in the Grand Tetons and even if I did I wouldn’t have been allowed to feed them because the Grand Tetons is a national park and you’re not allowed to […]

‘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 […]

Number of air-cushion thingies to ship a wall calendar?

Sixty-one, according to Office Max. That’s 40.5 linear feet of AirSpeed “inflatable void fill packaging.” #sustainability #greenwash I opened the oversized box and long stretches of plastic-cushion chains popped out, like some giant snakes-in-a-peanut-brittle-can gag. Each cushion bears the words “Please Recycle” in large letters. The manufacturer, Pregis, prides itself on its environmentalism, using reclaimed […]