What are your flowers up to?

sex-in-your-gardenSex in your Garden, by Angela Overy

“In gardens, beauty is a by-product. The main business is sex and death.” —Sam Llewelyn

With the accuracy of a botanist and the flair of a Madison Avenue advertising agency, Angela Overy (yes, that’s her real name) has produced an exceptional guide to plants and sex. Lest you think this is a dull subject, let me assure you that you will be fascinated by her lurid descriptions of the myriad ways plants manage to achieve pollination.

As living things that can’t get up and pursue a mate, you would think plants are at a disadvantage when it comes to reproduction. Reading this book will dispel any such notions. Colors and scents are just the beginning. Some plants go to great lengths to please a pollinator, others actually eat those who try to help them. Bats, beetles, birds and, amazingly, possums join the ranks of those who do the plants’ dirty work. Even people get into the act.

I particularly love the way Overy juxtaposes photographs of flowers with pictures of models, largely taken from advertising. It seems that life is largely about selling, and we’re all going about it in the same way. Tantalizing forms, bright colors, offers of rewards … isn’t that how we make things attractive?

Enjoy this book and I promise—you’ll never again consider flowers in quite the same light.

The Birds and the Bees

It’s almost Valentine’s Day, and once again the topic of love is in the air. We often mention “explaining the birds and the bees” as a euphemism for discussing… well… sex. But is this valid? Is there anything similar between the mating habits of people and birds and bees?

Bee on Anthemis tinctoria
Bee on Anthemis tinctoria

It’s almost Valentine’s Day, and once again the topic of love is in the air. We often mention “explaining the birds and the bees” as a euphemism for discussing… well… sex. But is this valid? Is there anything similar between the mating habits of people and birds and bees?

Yes, the goal is often the same—babies! However, the way members of a species choose one or more mates, and then rear their young, varies not only between birds and bees, but even among bird species within the same family.

So, how do the birds and the bees “do it”?

Continue reading “The Birds and the Bees”