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Looking under leaves. June 26, 2009

Posted by ourfriendben in gardening, wit and wisdom.
Tags: , ,

Maybe it’s just the gardener in me, but usually, if I’m looking at the underside of a plant’s leaves, I’m checking for spider mites or insect eggs or some other horror rather than simply admiring them. It might never have occurred to our friend Ben that the undersides of leaves could be beautiful if I hadn’t seen the ongoing series of backlit leaf photographs by Mr. Subjunctive on his blog, Plants Are the Strangest People (http://plantsarethestrangestpeople.blogspot.com/).

Our friend Ben can’t manage to take a photograph that captures the entire head of a family member or excludes my thumb, so I’m always impressed when someone else can take beautiful photos. But I’m even more impressed when the photos, like a poem, open our minds and imaginations to a new way of seeing something.

Anyway, I guess Mr. Subjunctive’s series must have subconsciously sensitized me, because today as I sat down at the computer, I looked towards the window and was struck by the beauty of the undersides of one of our begonia’s leaves. With the morning light from the East-facing window illuminating them, the network of prominent red veins stood out against the glittering green-red of the leaves’ under-surfaces like a river branching into a delta. It really was a beautiful sight.

Our friend Ben vows to try to take a little more time looking for beauty to balance the time spent looking for trouble. And what works for leaves works for life as well. Thanks, Mr. S., for the insight!



1. Daphne Gould - June 26, 2009

I love to look at the undersides of leaves (and petals) at least if the sun is shining through them. The sun makes everything look so much more beautiful. At least that is my thinking now since we’ve rarely seen the sun these last couple of months.

Ha! Sad but true, Daphne!

2. mr_subjunctive - June 26, 2009

Wow. Thanks. I have to say, discovering the whole transmitted-light thing has changed the way I look at plants, too. I’ve even bought one plant semi-recently because it was really pretty when backlit, not because I thought it would be easy to grow or because I was particularly taken with it otherwise.

Should take the opportunity to point to a post at Casa Coniglio (http://casaconiglio.blogspot.com/2009/06/nudenot-nude.html), where Forest took a few leaves and photographed them both by transmitted and reflected light, showing the same leaves in two different ways.

Thanks, Mr. S.! You really are an inspiration!

3. Gail - June 26, 2009

My favorites with great backsides (!) are Hardy Begonias, but, heuchera and Japanese maples…are also beauties with the sun shining through them gail

I believe it, Gail! I’ll have to check mine out.

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