Of Dahlias, Devoted Growers, and their High-Stakes Competitions
While many gardeners take their flowers seriously, few devote almost all of their time to growing one breed—the dahlia—then drive hundreds of miles to go mano a mano against other fanatical growers, for nothing more than a blue ribbon. But that’s exactly what Deborah Dietz does.
Written by THOMAS COOPER
Photography by JAK WONDERLY
The Play Gap
In Providence, Rhode Island, Janice McDonnell started one of the unlikeliest of revolutions. On seven empty lots in the inner city, she set up a new kind of playground—places where kids could build anything they want, break anything they want. Her larger goals? To fight the disappearance of free play brought on by the relentless testing that’s become the norm in today’s schools—and to spread playful opportunities to all children, not just those from wealthy white families.
Written by TODD OPPENHEIMER
Listen to “The California Mirage”
The blind spots in the American West’s approach to managing water are on full display in Ventura County, a coastal region of Central California that holds the most lucrative farmland in the state.
Listen to “Mezcal’s Dance with Extinction”
Now that the tequila craze has crested, the latest Latin liquor to capture the world’s alcoholic imagination is tequila’s grandfather: mezcal. But an explosion of authentic mezcal is impossible—for reasons our correspondent discovers when she goes to Oaxaca to learn how this hyper-local spirit can be sustained.
When Indigenous Women Win
In a small, Indigenous community in the mountains of Michoacán, Mexico, a band of determined women led the overthrow of a criminal cartel. Their victory gave the town a new sense of purpose by reviving its traditional livelihood, its capacity for self-government, and its communal spirit.
Story and photography by ANDREW SULLIVAN
The Vegetable Detective
A molecular biologist is finding what could be dangerous levels of heavy metals in plants like kale, often called the “queen” of the vegetable kingdom. And they’ve shown up the most in organic varieties.
Story by TODD OPPENHEIMER
Photography by CLAIRE BLOOMBERG
Listen to “The Vegetable Detective”
It’s 2015, and in the health and wellness world, the Kale Craze is in full swing — people are eating, roasting, blending, and juicing it. But one molecular biologist in Marin County stumbles upon evidence that this queen of greens might be hiding toxic levels of certain heavy metals. And it’s even worse in organic…
How to Garden the Great Dixter Way
Great Dixter offers a mixture of courses for gardeners of all levels who want to learn the concepts of Dixter-style gardening, and how to put them into action in their own gardens. Dominique Browning, ex-editor of House and Garden magazine, wrote of her 2011 symposium at Great Dixter, “To spend a week gardening there is…
Tips and Inspiration from England’s Great Dixter Gardens
Fergus Garrett, one of the world’s preeminent gardening experts, talks about the art of making fine gardens, and fine gardeners. His tips are drawn from his years managing Great Dixter House & Gardens, the famously gorgeous and uncommonly diverse set of gardens that lie just outside London.
By THOMAS C. COOPER