Tuesday, November 30News That Matters

Tag: Flowers and Plants

How to Build a Terrarium, So It’s Always Gardening Season

LifeStyle
During the months when you can’t be outside working in the garden, what could be better than a miniature landscape that sits in your living room?Just remember, as you put the finishing touches on your first terrarium and celebrate by cuing the chorus of “It’s a Small World (After All)”: This is a tiny garden, not a scaled-down theme-park installation where the scene is picture-perfect, day after day.“It’s not a diorama, and these are not plastic plants,” said Patricia Buzo, a terrarium designer who owns Doodle Bird Terrariums, in the suburbs of St. Paul, Minn. Mrs. Buzo’s terrariums are living gardens that she plants with narrow tongs and then prunes with shears more appropriately sized for manicures than hedge trimming.The same rules that apply to tending your garden outside also apply he...
The Rose Queen of Texas

The Rose Queen of Texas

LifeStyle
TYLER, Texas — Early on a recent Saturday, the townspeople of Tyler staked out spots along the Texas Rose Festival parade route. Marching bands boomed, convertibles honked, and T-shirt guns fired into the cheering crowd. Fourteen floats bore coteries of young women in whimsical, garden-themed gowns that wouldn’t have been out of place on the set of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” The Apache Belles, a local dance troupe dating back to the 1940s, shouted, “Tyler, Tyler, we are the best!”But the best, in fact, was yet to come. As the penultimate float rounded the bend near the high school football stadium, there was a flurry of excited whispers. Spectators craned to see past the twirling batons and John Deere tractors. A little girl tugged on her mother’s sleeve and pointed to a pink blur in the distan...
To Learn Bees’ Secrets, Count Them One by One

To Learn Bees’ Secrets, Count Them One by One

Technology
All through late summer and early fall, Max McCarthy, a graduate student at Rutgers University, walked around wetlands in northern New Jersey with a mesh net catching bees, which he marked with tiny colored pens. Three dots, each a different color, on the bees’ minuscule thoraxes before releasing them again. He wrote this information in his notebooks, counting up the insects one by one.These are not just any bees. Mr. McCarthy is hunting a rare bee called Andrena parnassiae. The species is only found near a flowering plant called grass of Parnassus, which, in the Northeast United States, only grows in alkaline wetlands, or fens.By tagging the bees, Mr. McCarthy, along with his adviser Rachael Winfree, an ecologist at Rutgers, is trying to see how easily these insects can move between habit...
How Hungry Sea Otters Affect the Sex Lives of Sea Grass

How Hungry Sea Otters Affect the Sex Lives of Sea Grass

Technology
Jane Watson studied sea otters for decades, but it was in the 1990s that the ecologist in British Columbia observed they had a destructive habit. While conservationists were working diligently to restore damaged sea grass meadows elsewhere in the world’s oceans, it seemed ironic that in northern Vancouver Island’s sea grass habitat, which is much healthier than others in the world, the furry floaters would swoop in and dig for clams, dislodging the aquatic vegetation.As she and others examined the sandy bottoms pock marked with clam-digging pits, Dr. Watson anecdotally noted that in places with long-established otter populations, the grass, known also as eelgrass, seemed to flower more frequently.She wondered: Were these disruptive otters influencing plant reproduction? She sat on the idea...

A Designer Who Finds Beauty in Decay

Technology
ONE OF THE designer Marcin Rusak’s lasting memories from his childhood in Poland was spending time in his family’s greenhouses. His maternal great-grandfather and grandfather were flower growers in Warsaw and, although their business shuttered just before he was born, he often played in those abandoned, overgrown glass structures. “I can still feel the warmth and smell the weeds and bacteria growing there,” he says.It’s fitting, then, that the 34-year-old has built an international following for furnishings and objects that incorporate flowers and plants in unexpected ways. About a decade ago, while in his master’s program at London’s Royal College of Art, he began using discarded blooms from a flower market to create painterly textiles, pressing the petals’ natural pigments onto silk —&nb...

Can’t Decide What Color to Paint Your Walls? There’s a Consultant for That.

LifeStyle
For consultations, she charges $50 to $125 per room, and $175 per hour for those with special needs.Hanging ArtOne reason art-installation firms began to rebound after the initial lockdown: Zoom meetings. “Clients were focused on their walls and what they look like and whatever was behind them in a Zoom call,” said David Kassel, the owner of I Level, which is based in Manhattan.Clients often contact I Level seeking help grouping artworks or framed photos on a wall, either in a grid or a free-form, salon-style arrangement, Mr. Kassel said. “They want all these disparate things to look good together,” he said, but they are intimidated by the idea of tackling the job themselves.There have been unusual requests, too, such as from the young couple who wanted a painting hung on the ceiling over ...
The Ephemeral Beauty of Night-Blooming Flowers

The Ephemeral Beauty of Night-Blooming Flowers

Technology
OF COURSE, IT may be this very indifference that attracts us, makes us want to reject sleep and propriety and stay up all night (when all the most interesting things happen). During the hardscrabble years of the Great Depression, people held vigils for the coming of the flowers, taking out notices in newspapers to proclaim that blooming in their backyards was imminent, should anyone care to swing by after nightfall. The Southern writer Eudora Welty, then in her 20s, attended such gatherings in Jackson, Miss., and even started the Night-Blooming Cereus Club, with the motto “Don’t take it cereus. Life’s too mysterious” — keeping in mind how quickly the voluptuous flower dwindled into “a wrung chicken’s neck,” as one Jackson local put it.Often the manifestation had the quality of a miracle: I...
This Parasite Turns Plants Into Zombies

This Parasite Turns Plants Into Zombies

Technology
A mustard plant infected with a certain parasite grows strangely, its development warped by tiny invaders. Its leaves take on odd shapes, its stems form a bushy structure called a witches’ broom and it may grow flowers that do not produce seed. Most peculiarly of all, it lives longer than its uninfected brethren, in a state of perpetual adolescence.“It looks like it stays in a juvenile phase,” said Saskia Hogenhout, a scientist at the John Innes Centre in England, who studies the life cycle of the parasite, which is called Aster Yellows phytoplasma.The plant’s neighbors grow old, reproduce and die, but the phytoplasma’s eerily youthful host persists. It becomes something like a mix between a vampire that never ages and a zombie host whose body serves the needs of its parasite, namely, temp...
At This Renowned English Garden, Getting Your Hands Dirty Is the Point

At This Renowned English Garden, Getting Your Hands Dirty Is the Point

Travel
The woodworkers gather in a thatched 15th-century barn and wield hand tools to produce ladders, garden benches and hurdles, which are barriers strewn around the garden to keep out badgers and other pests. Great Dixter has its own nursery, meadows, woodland and farmland, and composts its waste in towering stacks, later sterilized in-house to prevent weed growth. Visiting scientists conduct biodiversity audits and have counseled Mr. Garrett not to clear away some decaying tree stumps because they serve as nesting grounds for the rare solitary bee.The camaraderie was infectious, and we students often ended our long days with late-night talks over drinks, where we hashed over what we’d learned, swapped pictures of gardens as others do of children, and began plotting how to tear up and reimagin...
Growing Wildflowers Isn’t Difficult. And It’s Urgent.

Growing Wildflowers Isn’t Difficult. And It’s Urgent.

LifeStyle
The native perennial species of our meadows — milkweeds, asters, Joe Pye weed and others — will make one more offering in fall, as if they haven’t given enough already. They will offer up their seed.Gardeners can nurture the next generation by collecting some of it, and propagating more of their favorite wildflowers. But there’s a little wrinkle.“Everything about sowing native seeds is counterintuitive to what people have been taught in horticulture,” said Heather McCargo, who founded the nonprofit Wild Seed Project in Maine in 2014.Sowing wildflower seeds requires a shift in the how-to mind-set centered around the late-winter-into-spring ritual of sowing vegetables and annual flowers, she said.That’s because wildflowers are sown at a different time: from late November to early January. Th...