Herein, Princeton Nature Notes travels down the long sweep of the piedmont to Durham, North Carolina, to visit past discoveries and persistent miracles.
The evolution of a plant lover can lead in unexpected directions. In my case, my fascination with plants first evolved from vegetables (loved for their utility and productivity) to roadside weeds (loved for their beauty amidst neglect, blooming unnoticed as the world speeds by). When we bought a little house with a beautiful backyard garden, my love shifted to perennial borders, with their showy poppies, irises, and delphiniums. But beauty for beauty's sake lost its meaning after awhile. My love shifted to native plants that had evolved within a community of plants, all deeply connected and intertwined back through time. Some of these could be showy, like a forest glade full of trillium and dogwoods. But this love extended to other congregations of native plants whose beauty was not in overt display but in their diversity and uniqueness. Some of these remarkable congregations--I discovered a few while living in Durham--were so subtle as to appear barren from a distance.