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All the Beauty!

All the Beauty!


Every season of the year provides its share of interest for young adventurers, or the young at heart. In winter, for example, have you considered how beautiful the silhouettes of the trees are against the snowy background? The deciduous (without leaves) trees look particularly artistic because we can see the branching pattern. Every tree has a characteristic canopy shape as a result of the way that the branches grow. This shape enables the tree in summer to display its leaves to best advantage so that the maximum possible sunshine is intercepted and the minimum number of leaves remains in the shade.

Isn’t it interesting? Even plant shapes are important. The leaf shapes and sizes, and arrangement on the branches, mean that different canopy designs are required. Of course, in winter, there are buds along the bare branches (arranged at angles which will produce the canopy shape as well as the new leaves). These buds provide the promise of fresh growth in the spring. Moreover the buds must protect the tender growing shoot against the extreme cold of winter.

The evergreen trees are interesting too. These have narrow needles so that the plants won’t lose too much water during those drying winds of winter. We have all heard of freeze dried products in the grocery store. It is not good for trees to have their leaves freeze dried. So we see arrangements of branches and of needles on the branches, which are designed to conserve maximum water in winter and to display the needles to maximum sunlight in summer. Thus we see the cone shape of so many evergreen trees!

Even weeds are fun to examine. Did you ever notice the design features with which they are provided for obtaining needed resources? Weeds often have a low rosette (circle) of leaves which covers the ground and which prevents other plants from developing in the vicinity. Imagine a lawn full of dandelions. Their rosettes cover the grass and it does not have a chance to grow. Moreover weeds often have deep roots which hog the water in the soil. With ample resources, weeds grow quickly. All too soon they are in flower, and shortly thereafter, there are weed seeds everywhere! Weeds are certainly beautifully designed to out compete the plants we might prefer to see in the garden.

So, if you are artistic, why not draw or take photos of beautiful living things. Everyone, artistic or not, can write down observations (with date and place) and collect more information once your interest has been kindled.

April 2009

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