Sunday, December 19, 2010

Inspired by Nature

It is a delight to find beauty in nature no matter what the season.  Of course, I suppose it depends on your perspective of beauty.  For me this time of year it can be the silhouette of a deciduous tree’s branches against a grey sky ... or the pale brown leaves of American Beech (Fagus grandifolia) that remain on the young trees in a wooded area.  
The view from my back deck today

These images and many others come back to me when I’m deciding what to plant in my own yard.  I remember the silhouette of the large tree’s branches, and I am inspired to include some trees - like oaks - that will one day be large enough to create that effect.  I remember the leaves of the young beech trees, and I promise myself to rescue a few beech trees on my next rescue so that I can add some more to my yard.  Those leaves that stay in winter provide movement when the wind blows as well as some measure of privacy.  By late winter, they have faded to the color of antique lace, gracefully enrobing the branches.

Nature has some really good ideas!  This picture helps me remember that moss glows like a jewel in the wintertime, providing color and life in an otherwise brown winter landscape.  It helps me remember that I need to let moss grow where it plants itself, and I need to move bits of it into new places so that I can have more of these cheery patches of green.  Moss is also a great “nursery” plant, allowing the seeds of other plants to stay moist and fostering germination.
Sedum ternatum in moss
This picture reminds me to leave things where they land.  This log is sporting a healthy crop of moss, allowing it to become a nursery log.  The decomposing wood will feed thousands of insects, support the growth of fungi, and might be a home for small mammals.
These two pictures show me that plants naturally spring up in the oddest of places: this is Rue Anemone (Thalictrum thalictroides) next to a moss covered root
Rue Anemone (Thalictrum thalictroides)
Trillium luteum

and Yellow trillium (Trillium luteum) sprouting up from a clutch of rocks.  If I want to recreate some of nature’s good ideas, these are the concepts to remember. 

Here is a picture that challenged my perception of color combinations.  I don’t know that I would have put these plants together on my own, but they looked fabulous together when I came across them on a field trip to the Pocket in North Georgia.  The red/yellow flower is Red Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), the purple flower is Scorpion-weed (Phacelia bipinnatifida) and there is a white flowering Sedum ternatum in there as well.
Scorpion-weed, Red Columbine and Sedum
I hope that you might consider that nature can inspire you too.  Take pictures to help you remember how a tumble of lichen-covered rocks on the trail looked so picturesque and how that sweep of ferns around the bend was just right.  Find a way to incorporate those ideas into your landscape and bring a bit of nature home with you.

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