The Human Habitat: The Real World of Interiors

The twilight struggle between Life and Design surely counts as one of the great long-running stories of the century now ending. This clash of terms has given us battles drenched in both tragedy and farce, on fronts as different as the Iron Curtain and the curtain wall, Soviet collective farms and Corbusian villas, American urban-renewal

Breaking Ground: The Call of the Wild Apple

ALL the way in the back of the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station’s orchard here stand several jumbled rows of the oddest apple trees you’ve ever seen. No two are alike, not in form or leaf or fruit: this one could pass for a linden tree, that one for a demented forsythia. Maybe a

Playing God in the Garden

Planting Today I planted something new in my vegetable garden — something very new, as a matter of fact. It’s a potato called the New Leaf Superior, which has been genetically engineered — by Monsanto, the chemical giant recently turned ”life sciences” giant — to produce its own insecticide. This it can do in every

Breaking Ground; Seed. Reseed. Secede.

WHERE do you go to shoot a movie about a perfectly ordinary American whose whole life, unbeknownst to him, is a scripted show for television? Ideally, you’d find a place that looked so stereotypically small-town America, so thoroughly front-porched and picket-fenced, that it could pass for a movie set. This is what the producers of

Gardening

Reading along in THE INVITING GARDEN: Gardening for the Senses, Mind, and Spirit (Holt, $40), I suddenly came upon this provocative sentence: “Gardening is not a hobby, and only nongardeners would describe it as such.” For a writer as genial as Allen Lacy, this qualifies as a shot across the wheelbarrow. “There is nothing wrong

Breaking Ground; The Chain Saws of Salvation

ON a bright, chilly morning last month, I joined a small group of my neighbors who had gathered just south of Kent, Conn., chain saws and loppers in hand, to face down a threat to one of the prettiest landscapes in New England. Known locally as the “southern gateway” to the Berkshires, this particular stretch

Dream Pond: Just Add Water. Then Add More.

NOT long ago, I found myself in a crowded lecture hall surrounded by grim men and women sitting before specimen jars brimming with an alarming assortment of scums and growths in brodo. We had come to this annual Pond Management workshop at the Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, N.Y., because we all had ponds

Town-Building Is No Mickey Mouse Operation

The sun was barely up over the brand-new town of Celebration, Fla., and the Rotarians had gathered in the clubhouse at the golf course for their weekly breakfast meeting. I’d come fully expecting to meet a bunch of white guys in polo shirts who’d remind me of my father, and there were quite enough of

Gardening

What is a garden for? “Pleasure” is the obvious answer, though you’d never know it from reading Americans on the subject. We have an old habit in this country of weighing down our gardening—indeed, all our commerce with nature—with barrowfuls of moral and political significance, an inheritance, no doubt, from the Puritans and probably also

Breaking Ground; So Beautiful This Ghastly Flower

STRUGGLING the other evening to stake a particularly menacing Scotch thistle without incurring too great a loss of blood, I suddenly realized that Morticia Addams has become an important influence in my garden. I haven’t quite reached the point where I snip the blooms off my roses in order to showcase their thorns, but the