Monthly Archives: November 2009

Behavioural Borders

As a curious coda to my previous post, in which Kew’s Plant Health and Quarantine Officer, Sara Redstone, notes the frequent mismatch between biological and political borders and discusses the role of quarantine in creating an artificial biological boundary, I was intrigued by this post on the Foreign Policy editors’ blog, Passport, reporting on political […]

Plants Without Borders: An Interview with Sara Redstone

Sara Redstone is the Plant Health and Quarantine Officer at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, home of the world’s largest collection of living plants. In addition to screening and isolating all incoming or outbound plant material, she is currently overseeing the design and construction of a new quarantine facility for the Gardens. As part of […]

Vermeer’s Kitchen Fantasies

Johannes Vermeer’s The Milkmaid is currently on display at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, on loan from the Amsterdam Rijksmuseum. The contextual exhibit explains the erotic connotations of milkmaids and kitchen items for Vermeer’s seventeenth-century contemporaries, pointing out subtle clues that today’s audience could easily miss, such as the depiction of Cupid on a tiny Delft tile near the foot warmer. Indeed, apparently the burning embers of the foot warmer itself were a symbol for female arousal.

Aerial Sandwiches

By the end of this month, Subway, the ubiquitous and mediocre American sandwich chain, will have installed a franchise on top of a crane. According to the New York Post, the shop will be “fitted into a shipping container-like structure,” which will then be attached to one of the cranes being used on the Freedom […]


Last week, the New York Post reported that “a charred bottle of beer that survived the explosion of the Hindenburg will be auctioned off this month for an estimated $7,500.”

The Fruit Standard

On this day, one year ago, the European Union ended its ban on ugly vegetables. “EU relents and lets a banana be a banana,” proclaimed the New York Times, “EU bends the rules on cucumbers,” punned the Guardian, while the Daily Mail relished the opportunity to run with, “Proof Brussels has been sprouting lies about […]

Plant Relocation Services

A fascinating recent article in the New York Times managed to combine three of my favourite plant-related ideas (seed banks, the control of invasive species, and climate change as unpredictable landscape redesign engine) and then add a fourth that was new to me: assisted migration.

Designer Family Trees

IMAGE: Queen Cox, Greensleeves, and Fiesta apples growing on the same tree, available from Blackmoor. I recently discovered the apple “family tree,” which combines up to three different varieties by grafting them onto semi-dwarf stock. The mature tree is about three metres tall, with two or three branches of each variety. They look pretty amazing, […]

Kitchen Geographies

Architect David Tajchman’s proposal for a “landscape kitchen 2.0” is mobile, environmentally conscious, and sleek, if a tiny bit similar in form to Zaha Hadid’s 2005 Aqua Table.