In the soil is life. In the soil there is who we will be and who we have been. In the soil there is joy and happiness, quite literally. Researchers at the University of Bristol have discovered a beneficial bacteria, Mycobacterium vaccae, that may increase levels of serotonin in the body. Serotonin is linked to easing depression, and in lab tests with mice the researchers discovered that neurons in their brains were activated by the soil bacteria and produced serotonin. If touching the dirt can be so beneficial, why scold our kids when they do so? Why wear gloves in the garden?
Monarch on milkweed -- Asclepias incarnata 'Ice Ballet'
Beautiful dragonfly when clicked on and enlarged
Through our hands we repair the disconnect of ourselves and a larger creation. When you look at the stars it is only natural to begin tracing figures, to connect the dots with your finger—to make an image that coheres logically and inscribes our interpretation and our imagination in a place. Gardening is a lot like this. But to imagine that the world we live in has an elegant coherence on multiple levels, that one can trace the past and future, seems like a hubristic idea. But it isn’t. Everything has its logical place, extended from the smallest perception to the largest.
Pale Purple Coneflower--Echinacea pallida
E. purpurea 'White Swan'
Rudbeckia hirta 'Cherry Brandy'
Scientists and mathematicians can use the principles of a fractal to project the future development of an organism. By taking the smallest organized component of a forest and studying its architecture—for example, a tree—we can predict the growth of the larger forest and figure its carbon sequestration and oxygen output. Heartbeats can be mapped as fractals, and therein lays the potential to identify impending heart attacks, while predicting blood vessel formations that sometimes lead to cancer cells may help to stop that disease from even occurring. Larger animals and plants use energy more efficiently than smaller ones, and that’s because in their genetic code the formation of cells, nerves, and veins is a fractal sequence.
Brown thrasher eggs
Long-headed coneflower -- Ratibida columnifera
In understanding the architecture of the planet, we understand the architecture of ourselves: psychologically, physically, historically, and emotionally. We are walking fractals, linked and hardwired just as the forests and perennials, elephants and birds, mountains and snowflakes.
'Netty's Pride' asiatic lily (and my entry into Gardening Gone Wild's photo contest). Click on the pic above to see how the petals almost look like a painting's canvas, raised texture and all. Who needs real paint?