Learn About Insects!
The video MicroCosmos (Miramax Films, 1996; $14.95) captures the details and awesome diversity of the spectacular hidden universe of insects. Close-up views and time-lapse photography provides you with a front-row seat to witness the amazing transformation of a caterpillar to a butterfly, the remarkable birth of a mosquito, ants drinking from dewdrops and milking aphids, and several other minute miracles of life. It's a video I use in my entomology classes to introduce students to the wonderful world of insects, and it's always well received.
Favorite or New Plant
Mahonia, A Shrub for All Seasons
In a quest to extend the season of interest in my garden, Oregon grape (Mahonia aquifolium) was quite a discovery. This native of the Pacific Northwest has large, stiff, evergreen leaves. In late winter it bears upright clusters of fragrant, lemon-yellow flowers, and in early summer its blue berries attract birds.
Oregon grape is a slow-growing shrub, adding about 3 feet to its height over five years. It can grow as large as 12 feet tall, but 6 to 8 feet is more typical. As it ages, its branches tend to sag gracefully under their own weight. It is at home in average garden soil and prefers afternoon shade.