Photographer Diana Scherer's 'Nurture Studies' is beautiful evidence of the strength of a plant's root system. She looks beyond the flower to what happens below ground. Inspired by 17th century botanical encyclopedias whose plant profiles included detailed illustrations of the plant's various parts, Scherer's work similarly studies a plant as an entire entity, roots and all. Her plant portraits reveal the will of these roots—to expand their network and seek new sources of nutrients.
See also: Supporting Your Roots
All gardeners set out to grow healthy plants, but they also face a stubborn barrier, a curtain beyond which eyesight ends and mystery begins: the surface of the soil. Below, plants root in darkness, and our ministrations above ground only sometimes seem to determine whether our charges will go belly up or thrive.
See also: All About Roots
1. Forget the chemicals. Organic soils encourage a greater balance and diversity of microbes to serve plants and better control pathogens.
2. Add organic matter. Compost, cover crops, manure, and mulches offer a habitat beneficial to soil creatures. The microbes that specialize in decomposing organic matter will unlock the nutrients in these materials to fertilize your plants.
Pinning a first-place ribbon on a plant can be difficult and an exercise in semantics. In today's case: What constitutes a single tree?