“Dances with the Daffodils”

On a visit to the New York Botanical Garden a couple weeks ago, I managed to hit the peak of daffodil bloom. The garden has one of the biggest collections of daffodils in the country. They are tucked in borders, line walkways narrow and wide, and most impressively form an explosive sea of white and […]

W11May2018

w22Apri2018

Orchid Art

Today is Earth Day, and it is also the last day of the 16th annual orchid show at the New York Botanical Garden, a stunning celebration of some of earth’s most magical flowers. The show takes a full year to design, with plans for the next starting the moment each current show ends. This year’s […]


Hawksbill Haven

Hawksbills live in tropical seas around the world, using their sharp beaks to feed on sponges and other animals in the crevices of rocks and coral reefs. Barely ten years ago they were thought extinct in El Salvador and neighboring countries, but intensive research has revealed a remnant population of turtles from Mexico south to […]

W21Mar2018

W13Mar2018

Marvelous Monkeys

  I was a primatologist for many years, which is a fancy way of saying I never got over my childhood infatuation with monkeys. Whenever I get back to the tropics, it’s always a thrill to see them. I’m tempted to whip out a notebook and start recording data, but instead these days I tend […]


A tale of two seasons

Winter has waged war in my yard this year, alternating between bitter cold and unseasonable warmth. Advancing and retreating, often in the same week, bitter cold days of single digits give way to days in the fifties and even sixties. Ground that was frozen and buckled with ice crystals for days suddenly turns to mud. […]

w8Feb2018

W01Dec2017

Night Lights

The North Carolina Arboretum continues the tradition started in 2014 of winter lights. These turn the garden into a winter wonderland. Every year new displays are added, and there are now half a million lights. These are efficient LED lights, using 80% less energy than ordinary lights. So even though they are spread over three […]


Thanksgiving

I like the idea of a day dedicated to giving thanks. The only thing better would be to focus on things we appreciate every day. But at least there is one day each year devoted to being grateful. Most of us are thankful for friends and family, for work and play, and for the many […]

R22Nov2017

W03Nov2017

Float Boat

  On a trip last week I managed to see the New York Botanical Garden both by day and at night. This garden is special to me since I took a course on tropical ecology there between college and graduate school, taught by Ghillean Prance who became the director of Kew Gardens. I try when […]


Autumn Goldenrod

Goldenrod has finished blooming in my yard for over a week, so I was surprised to find a few plants blooming as I hiked up the slopes of Roan Mountain, at nearly 6000 feet. Though I went in search of fall colors, I was happy to find these unexpected fall flowers. The warm autumn has […]

W23Oct2017

W09Oct2017

Flying Dragon

Dragonflies are creatures of superlatives. They have the ability to fly in any direction, with their four wings rotating and moving independently. The largest known insect was a fossil dragonfly with a 30-inch wingspan. It would be amazing to see them, though if they got angry they could be intimidating. They are fierce predators, both […]