An abstract evocation of warmth, from my hand/heart to yours:

This curled leaf from a Magnolia tree was a meal for a happy beetle or caterpillar, leaving its structure – the veins – for us to admire and ponder. Curled up inside a red lacquered cabinet, it caught stray glimmers of morning sunlight in January.

I found the leaf on the ground at the University of Washington Arboretum in Seattle. Their website says, “Magnolias have a long history. Fossil remains indicate that magnolias are among the most ancient angiosperms (flowering plants) and have changed very little in 100 million years.”

“Magnolias are named in honor of botanist Pierre Magnol, director of the Montpellier Botanic Gardens, the oldest university garden in France. Magnol’s major contribution to horticulture was developing the concept of plant families.”

Strangely enough, I found this leaf (and hundreds more like it) under a Magnolia tree in full bloom in mid April. Lush, graceful flowers adorned the tree above my head but the ground below was blanketed with last year’s leaves, slowly returning to the earth while mingling with freshly fallen petals.

Here are photographs of several magnolias in the UW collection, and fallen petals underneath last year’s skeletonized leaf.

I’ve strayed from the original idea of a simple abstract image for Valentine’s Day, but isn’t Valentine’s Day a bit of a conundrum? A day to celebrate warm feelings of love occurs in a season of cold. So here I’ve set out a few images to reinforce the warmth without forgetting the rest of the story.

From The Daily Post today comes a wonderful potpourri of hearts and the like:



  1. That’s an elegant gilded leaf image which in my imagination fits perfectly into an ornate and equally lovely antique frame.
    I’ve never heard of Pierre Magnol and his connection to the Magnolia.

    Wonderful holiday post. Happy Valentine’s Day to you Lynn!

    • Thank you! I hadn’t heard of him either, but apparently he developed the idea of parsing plants into families based on morphology. Aren’t magnolias wonderful? And oh, another great idea for the print/frame combo – so true, it would be perfect!

  2. Absolutely gorgeous shots. Okay, so now I need to go to the thesaurus because I seriously need a whole new collection of accolades to describe your images and words! :-)

  3. To be honest I find the Valentine connection illusive! But the selection includes two fine abstracts – the first and the last. The first is a strong, bold composition with a restricted but very effective palette. The last, in contrast, has a much gentler feel with subtle shades and delicate textures. I like them, with or without Valentine!!

    • No problem with the elusive connection – it’s surely loose! Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments – I find myself most often in the gentler camp but I like to go bold, too.

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