Are you a plant person? I have something of a brown thumb—or possibly even a black thumb, since I did kill a pot of groundcover several years ago. While I can keep basil or oregano alive now, I have none of the horticultural gifts of my grandparents, who grew vegetables and roses in massive quantities.
But I do enjoy reading about plants, which is why this week’s column is all about horticulture. Learn about orchid obsessives, plant, parts, and other fascinating stories here.
On Your Kindle
Kassinger, the author of Paradise Under Glass , a memoir of learning to garden as a breast cancer survivor and novice gardener, explores the history of botany and plant cultivation in her forthcoming book, Garden of Marvels . Why do some plants thrive while others die? Kassinger tells the story of a variety of interesting flora, from “extreme pumpkins,” contest-winning giant specimens, to fungi.
On Your Smartphone
“ Nose Plugs, Please: Corpse Flower Blooms at Missouri Botanical Garden ,” by David Hunn
The corpse flower might be the oddest plant in the world. The large and rare lily has a characteristically unpleasant odor—it smells like death—but only for a specific 24-hour blooming window. Watch video footage and read about the Missouri Botanical Garden’s corpse flower here. The plant bloomed in early October, drawing curious visitors.
On a Podcast
“ The Odorous Language of Plants ,” Stuff to Blow Your Mind
Think plants can’t talk? Researchers argue that plants have their own nervous system, allowing them to “speak” via scent. Robert and Julie, the hosts of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, explore plant odors and scientific theories about how plant odors help plants communicate. For example, many plants change their odor to attract pollinators and dispel predators, with the corpse flower being one highly smelly example.
Orchid Fever: A Horticultural Tale of Love, Lust, and Lunacy , by Eric Hansen
Hansen’s exploration of the beautiful, exotic flower begins with a quote from a commercial grower: “You can get off alcohol, drugs, women, food, and cars, but once you’re hooked on orchids, you’re finished.” Orchid Fever is an account of the flower’s obsessive collectors and culture—and some collectors’ willingness to break laws to collect illegal orchids.