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Garden Traveling—at Home

Articles: Garden Traveling—at Home

Textural plantings include Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Marjorie Channon’, Cortaderia richardii, and Hebe. Photo: courtesy of Berger Partnership

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Imagine: your face is smeared with blue war paint made from the pollen of Fuchsia excorticata as you grapple the razor-sharp leaves of the lancewood (Pseudopanax crassifolius) to harvest its purple fruit before hungry moas, towering flightless birds, can snatch their next meal from the Dr. Seuss-like trees. Welcome to a forest on New Zealand’s South Island.

As lancewoods outgrow the understory, they shift from toothed terrors to lollypops of fluff. Their leaves lose the thorns—there’s no need for armor once they are taller than the browsers—and change shape from narrow to broad, allowing them to absorb more life-giving sunlight. This adaptation, known as heteroblasty, is a common defense strategy among New Zealand trees. But hold on, we’re not in Otaga province but Washington state, moas are extinct, ...

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