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Botanist's Lens: Nature's Tapestry

Nature's fall tapestry: Yellow Amsonia, Salvia purples, Sedum bronze and Yucca yellow-greens.

True beauty lies within. Very true when it comes to plant parts as well, especially when you look at the intensely integrated cell systems in the leaves, flower petals and much more.

Underside of Oak Leaf Hydrangea leaf showing clear leaf venation patterns.

Let's dive into the leaves with a botanist's lens. Leaf veins (lines seen mostly on the back of the leaves to the naked eye) might seem to be intertwined in a haphazard pattern, but it is quite an intense tapestry of veins with different thicknesses. This beautiful interwoven tapestry is responsible for the all the liquid and gas exchange for the whole plant as well as structural support for the leaf itself.

"Underlying their vascular diversity, angiosperm leaves share a common structural framework and developmental algorithm. Dicotyledonous plants generally possess a reticulate hierarchy based on vein diameter and branching, which evolved early in angiosperms. Typically, the 'major veins' include one or more first order (1°) veins running from the petiole towards the leaf apex, with second order (2°) veins branching off at intervals, and the third order (3°) veins and up to five additional orders of smaller 'minor veins' forming a reticulate mesh between the 1° and 2° veins.” (Source:

Underside of Southern Magnolia leaf showing leaf venation pattern when held against the sunlight.

Two leaves to use as easy examples to look at veins, even with a naked eye, are: Magnolia leaves and Oak Leaf Hydrangea leaves. With colors changing for fall, the red-orange anthocyanin pigments in the Oak Leaf Hydrangeas present quite a colorful tapestry of different degrees of veins. But it's best to catch these leaves before they drop.

On the other hand, Southern Magnolia evergreen leaves can be observed all year long. When held against bright sunlight, you can see clear venation patterns on the back side. The main veins seem to form a loop pattern attaching to other veins, a key characteristic of Magnoliaceae.

Oak Leaf Hydrangeas' leaf underside showing veins up to 4°.

Leaf venation is intricate, and so can be flower petal patterns. But as it is aptly said, beauty lies in the eyes of beholder. Even a fall canvas of various plants changing colors can look like a multi color tapestry of nature in a deciduous forest.

Nature's tapestry at London Town's Gardens: Dogwood oranges, Ginkgo yellows, Redwood bronze, Spirea chartreuse and Holly emerald greens intertwined together.

London Town's Gardens' nature’s tapestry has ample emerald green in it, with the Hollies, Conifers, Southern Magnolias, Illiciums, and several evergreen trees and shrubs intermingled with deciduous shrubs and trees showing fall colors.

Come and enjoy nature's tapestry at London Town while currently, the deep green color of evergreens is getting highlighted with fall colors, Camellias pinks and Ginkgo yellows.

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