Our Planet

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Not Your Average Backyard Gardener

Ganna Walska pursued life with a passion, from husbands to opera to plants. Her legacy is Lotusland, an exotic California garden

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Unearthing Secrets Locked Deep Inside Each Fistful of Soil

To scientists at the National Soil Tilth Lab in Ames, Iowa, it's not just dirt they are probing — it's the planet's sustaining surface

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Phenomena, Comment and Notes

Experiments at sea show we can cause phytoplankton to bloom in areas where it otherwise would not

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The Berry and the Poison

Methyl bromide makes our fields fruitful; it will soon be banned, not because it's toxic and it's very toxic but because it attacks the ozone layer

Kauai Wildlife Refuge

A Onetime Rancher Wages Lonely War to Save Rare Plants

Working alone, by hand, one man is turning 100 acres of alien trees into a refuge for Hawaii's endangered botanical treasures

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To Be a Champion, a Tree Must Measure Up to High Standards

If it is tall, wide and thick enough, it might qualify for listing on the National Register of Big Trees--but first someone has to find it

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Geologists Worry About Dangers of Living 'Under the Volcano'

The experts believe Mount Rainier will give plenty of notice before it erupts again--the problem is that it can kill in other ways

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Houses Built to Move the Spirit—and Save Trees

The innovative dwellings designed by Seattle architect James Cutler are rooted in the wooded contours of the land they complement

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Phenomena, Comment and Notes

When a drop of rain carries a particle of dirt off the land and into the sea, there are repercussions from deep within Earth to the nearer reaches of space

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The Deep-Sea Floor Rivals Rain Forests in Diversity of Life

Blue luminescence and marine snow define a world where millions of species of worms and other invertebrates live out their lives

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A Giant Shrugs Off Vandalism, Poaching, Tales of Its Demise

The Sonoran Desert's mighty saguaro cactus is the living embodiment of the Southwest, a 'charismatic megaplant' that people care about

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Climate Is Often a Matter of Inches and a Little Water

Planners ignore microclimates at their peril: mistakes can mean frozen crops, lower house values and camper vans blown off the highway

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Bringing Ancient Ways to Our Farmers' Fields

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Phenomena, Comment & Notes

Iceberg armadas and flickering climates: how one good idea led to more, and we appreciated anew the world's complexity

Chimney Sweeps Are Plunging Into Their Work Again

With more of us using fireplaces and modern high-efficiency wood stoves, the ancient profession is getting a new lease on soot

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Around the Mall & Beyond

Plant and the butterflies will come: This summer the Smithsonian's new garden welcomes its winged visitors

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For Our Nuclear Wastes, There's Gridlock on the Way to the Dump

It's not an emergency yet, but we have tons of the stuff, some of it hot, some not so hot, and nobody can agree on where to bury it

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Shhhh...Those 'Peculiar People' Are Listening

They're out there in there boondocks, doing their best to record the pure sounds of nature while there are still some quiet places left

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Smithsonian Perspectives

Our historic concern for conservation now leads us into many areas related to endangered species and biodiversity

Desert Bloom in Namaqualand, South Africa

Fickle Desert Blooms: Opulent One Year, No-shows the Next

Arid lands mean life on the edge. Adaptations serve flowers well, but deserts are always mosaics of abundance and seeming sterility

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