Carlos Magdalena is on a tough mission. Dr. Suess’s Lorax was there to speak only for the trees, but Carlos is standing up for the entire natural world, beginning with the plants that sustain the entire ecological edifice – trees, shrubs, herbs, flowers, grasses and mosses, as well as fungi and his own very particular favourite, water lilies.

“Perhaps I was born a frog in a past life,” Carlos jokes, and I have a brief vision of him squatting on a gigantic three-metre-wide leaf of an Amazonian water lily in a Kew hothouse, his tongue darting out to seize passing flies. No doubt about it: water ...


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