top stories

Meet the Plant People

My hometown has a gardening store so lavish, so over-the-top curated with weather-stained terra-cotta planters the size of vintners’ casks, crumbling concrete birdbaths rescued from Eden and a jungle’s worth of fronds and boughs and leaves that it is a destination. Out-of-towners come to gaze at its tableaux of mosses, hand-forged shears and fairy lights, to dine on seasonal produce at its in-house cafe. I think there might be an actual waterfall back by the table linens.

I love going to this store, wandering its aisles and imagining how different my life would be if I could inhabit its forever-green promise, like Keats gazing on the Grecian urn.

The dream of a life so exquisitely alive, so committed to the beau idéal of aesthetic richness, is what I imagine drives many former fashion designers and filmmakers to jobs in horticulture, as my colleague Steven Kurutz writes about in The Times today.

They’re arts majors who found their medium in flowers and ferns, corporate operatives who realized there was life beyond the laptop, even if it wasn’t all glamour. “I wanted to be the one digging the holes and carrying the soil up a four-story walk-up,” one — a tech-start-up defector turned plant coach and landscape designer — told Steven.

I’ve written about my travails in attempting to bring the jungle’s abundance to my apartment, an ongoing struggle between me and the unforgiving ravages of southern exposure and root rot. I took the counsel of Morning readers and stopped fussing so much with my charges, learning to let them be themselves. Mostly this has been successful: I have a bird of paradise that is, if not thriving, then at least alive. I’m living and letting the plants live even when living for them means petulantly throwing out vines in awkward and not-at-all-Keatsian clumps, then inexplicably lying there limply for a season, playing dead or, let’s face it, possibly actually dead.

People who work with plants for a living, who orchestrate lush and enviable displays that make me want to be a better person, know that it’s hard work to create a home garden that looks effortless. I’m still trying to balance the dream of free-range plant parenting with the fact that every leafy thing that crosses my threshold instantly becomes a hothouse flower, desirous of climate and light conditions that I can’t readily provide. I’m trying to adopt the mind-set of the floral designer Emily Thompson, who told Steven, “It’s practically a spiritual and holy experience to collaborate with the living world.” She may have been talking about her breathtaking botanical creations and not a garden-variety snake plant on a dusty sill, but the wisdom holds nonetheless.

  • “We are at war,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said after Palestinian militants launched surprise rocket and ground assaults in Israel.

  • U.S. employment grew by 336,000 jobs last month, almost double economists’ forecasts.

  • House Republicans are fighting over how to elect a successor to Representative Kevin McCarthy as speaker.

  • President Biden said he has no power to block construction of a border wall that Congress had approved during Donald Trump’s presidency.

  • “Disgust isn’t a strong enough word”: Americans of all stripes are fed up with politics.

  • The New Jersey attorney general opened an investigation into a fatal 2018 car crash involving the soon-to-be wife of Senator Robert Menendez.

  • A former U.S. Army soldier who fled to Hong Kong was charged with trying to deliver classified secrets to the Chinese government.

🎧🎬 Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour (Friday): If you, like me, failed to get tickets to Taylor Swift’s latest tour, you’re in luck, virtually. Swift, an all-American girl with big, boundary-less feelings, has made a concert film, which AMC will show at its theaters. While a movie theater can’t mimic the excitement of a stadium, Swift has encouraged attendees to make the experience feel like a live event, with costumes, friendship bracelets, singing and dancing. Can Swift dance? Not really! But why not reserve a seat near an aisle so you can stand up and shake it off?

📺 “Frasier” (Thursday): The blues, they are a-calling again. Nineteen years after walking offscreen, Frasier, the imperious psychiatrist played by Kelsey Grammer, has returned. He’s the latest marcher in the parade of reboots, revivals and reprisals. This new series finds him back in Boston — appropriate for a character who began on “Cheers.” But he has traveled light. The other characters from the original “Frasier” have not made the trip, though a few will appear in guest roles. It can be hard to love a new cast when you’ve spent so long with the old one. Maybe you can talk to your own psychiatrist about why you fear change. The show will premiere on Paramount+ and Pluto TV, then move to CBS.

It’s a long weekend for many people, which makes it a great time to bake up a cozy loaf of Erin Jeanne McDowell’s chocolate chip banana bread. Her recipe calls for more bananas than many others of its kind, which gives it a deep banana flavor and very moist crumb. Chocolate chips make this banana bread worthy of dessert, but you can substitute extra chopped nuts or a handful of dried fruit (prunes or apricots would be excellent) if you’re looking for something a little more wholesome.

Wrong house, right mistake: A couple accidentally bought a derelict home in a Scottish village. They toiled for five years to make it work.

Where the heart is: Some people are choosing to get married at home.

What you get for $640,000: A Victorian in Dorset, Vt.; a Craftsman house in Kansas City, Mo.; or a renovated 1890 home in Columbus, Ohio.

The hunt: A retired couple left their floating home of 20 years in Portland, Ore., for a place closer to their children in Los Angeles. Which house did they choose? Play our game.

A party in the U.S.A.: Children of the 2000s are returning to the tween pop of their youth.

Fall rides: Biking is an ideal way to revel in autumnal ambience. Here’s where to do it.

In-flight meltdowns: Planes have become stages for viral videos of questionable behavior.

Prevention: What to know about DoxyPEP, a new morning-after pill to protect against S.T.I.s.

My go-to-weekender bag is a surprisingly spacious backpack. On a recent three-day trip for a wedding, I fit a bridesmaid dress, several pairs of heels, every hot hair tool I own and my stash of toiletries into the Cotopaxi Allpa 35L — and had room to spare. For a frequent solo traveler like me, maneuvering through the airport with a backpack is easier than with a carry-on suitcase, especially without a companion to watch my things when I take a preflight bathroom break. Of course, not everyone wants to wear all their belongings on their back. If that’s you, Wirecutter’s experts have plenty of recommendations for durable bags that are well suited for smooth travel. — Elissa Sanci

New York Liberty vs. Las Vegas Aces, W.N.B.A. finals: These two teams have been on a collision course. After the Aces won the championship last season, the Liberty assembled a superteam to challenge them. New York tore through the regular season, and the team’s new forward, Breanna Stewart, won the league M.V.P. award. The Aces haven’t slowed down, either — their star, A’ja Wilson, is averaging 26 points and 11 rebounds per game in the playoffs. Stewart and Wilson have been the league’s best players for years; a clash in the finals takes their rivalry to the next level. 3 p.m. Eastern tomorrow on ABC.

Source link