Topic: Nature

The Triumph of Burbopolis

I grew up in a pretty nice subdivision on Long Island, but try as I might to kindle some spark of nostalgia for “the Gates of Woodbury,” the gravitational pull of the place is almost nil. It has been nearly 30 years since I left, and at least until a couple of months ago, I could think of no reason to go back: no people to see (everybody I knew had also left), no curiosity to satisfy. In my imagination Juneau Boulevard is the same as it ever was, except maybe for the cars and the people, which I assume have been regularly updated. Isn’t that the way it has always been in the burbs—change without history? More of the same?

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

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


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

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

Building a Room of My Own

I NEEDED A PLACE TO WORK. THAT AT least is the explanation I prepared for anybody who asked about the little building going up, very slowly, in the woods behind my house. I was building a “home office,” an enterprise so respectable that the Government gives you a tax deduction for it. The fact that

It’s Not the End After All

No matter how many more—and better—books he may write, Bill McKibben is destined to be remembered for “The End of Nature,” his 1989 bestseller about the greenhouse effect and its effect on, well, Bill McKibben. Written on the heels of the “greenhouse summer” of 1988, when record temperatures first stoked popular concerns about global warming,

This Bud’s For You

MORE THAN A few eyebrows were raised in the world of gardening earlier this year when White Flower Farm, the tony Connecticut nursery, included a selection of annuals in its catalogue for the first time. Anywhere else, an offering of annuals—flowers that germinate, bloom, set seed and die in a single season—would be unremarkable: in