I try to keep my voice down when I speak of my love for winter. I’ve learned that almost no one wants to hear it. Yet at Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum, I fall in love with this stark but lovely season once again. It’s November on my first visit — everything is shades of brown and the sky is nearly entirely gray. Standing halfway up Peters Hill, the only sound is a nearby rustling in the bushes, then silence, then cawing overhead, then silence.
This spring, the greenhouses in the Weld Hill Research Building at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University will be overflowing with Phlox, fragrant flowers bursting with hues of violet, pink, red, and magenta. But it’s not their floral beauty or aroma that captivates Robin Hopkins, assistant professor of organismic and evolutionary biology at Harvard. Hopkins, who is head of the Hopkins Lab and a Faculty Fellow at the Arboretum, recently received a four-year, $700,000 grant from the National Science Foundation Panel of Plant Biotic Interactions to study how a native Texas phlox species selects its mates. That is, she will work to identify which molecular signals are being stimulated by pollination, and see if the identity of the pollen changes the types of signals being triggered for reproduction. “The incredible diversity of floral color, shape, smell, and size evolved to entice pollinators to move pollen between plants,” Hopkins said.
As part of a city electric vehicle program, some municipal parking lots, including one on Centre Street, will have four to six parking spaces made into electric car charging stations. Boston has a stated goal of being carbon neutral by 2050, and transportation accounts for nearly a third of Boston's total carbon emissions, according to Boston.gov. Sixty-five percent of carbon emissions in Boston come from personal vehicles. As part of the Transportation Department's Recharge Boston program to support electric vehicles the city is encouraging drivers to use electric or zero emission vehicles. And most electric car owners charge their vehicles at home, but a city survey part of Boston's 2019 Climate Action Plan Update revealed that 45 percent of Bostonians would purchase an electric vehicle if they had access to a charger. But there aren't enough public electric car charging stations, so starting this winter and into the spring, the city will be installing four to six electric car charging stations in six lots.
When botanist Asa Gray hiked his way through Tennessee in 1843 searching for seeds of the rare piratebush to plant in the Harvard Botanic Garden, he could not have known that nearly 180 years later plant scientists from the other side of the world would retrace his steps. But this fall, in a historic collaboration, The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University welcomed Chinese botanists from the North America-China Plant Exploration Consortium (NACPEC) on a joint expedition to the Appalachian Mountains to collect seed from North American plants to grow in scientific plant collections in China. Since NACPEC was founded in 1991, plant explorers from the Arboretum and other member institutions have traveled to China 18 times to collect seed, herbarium specimens, and plant DNA samples for study and conservation in North American collections. The Appalachian expedition in September, coordinated by Andrew Gapinski, head of horticulture at the Arboretum and chair of NACPEC, and Kang Wang, research horticulturist and director of education at the Beijing Botanical Garden, furthered the group’s mission of building international partnerships in support of the study and conversation of the world’s temperate flora. Focusing on Appalachian flora, Wang and his colleagues Tao Deng of the Kunming Institute of Botany and Xinfen Gao of the Chengdu Institute of Biology created a list of target species to collect for their research and collections in China, including magnolias, ashes, and maples.
You're invited to the next JP Fixit Clinic on Dec. 14 to bring broken household items and learn how to assess, disassemble, and repair them instead of sending them to landfill. Just bring your broken household items, any manuals (if available), and a willingness to learn. Tools will be provided and volunteer coaches with expertise fixing a wide variety of things will help to fix items including:
Bikes and skateboards
Clothing and fabric items
Computers and phones
Toys and wooden items
Small kitchen appliances
Small electrical devices
Lamps and anything else
Please do not bring firearms, gasoline engines, or other dangerous items.
The clinic is scheduled for Dec. 14 from 10 am to 12:45 pm at the Jamaica Plain Library (30 South St.).