Sunday, December 1, 2013

Getting closer to nature

"Isn't nature wonderful?" Pammy said as she looked at this image, below.

What is it? It's the seedpod of a native water plant, nardoo,
when viewed through the microscope she bought for me.
And she's right, viewed from far away or up close, from any
angle at all, nature is endlessly fascinating.
Pop a parsley seed under the microscope and it's very easy to
see why this tough looking customer takes three or four weeks
to soften up so it's ready to germinate.
Here's that nardoo seedpod sitting on a slide.

The microscope itself is nothing flash, just a
reasonable quality kids' beginner model. And
the camera used to snap the pix is just my
little pocket-sized Ricoh CX2 digital. 
While I was having fun yesterday afternoon looking at all sorts of seeds up close, it did occur to me that one of the best ways to get children to fall in love in nature is to show nature to them up close, via a microscope. Even a smear of water from a puddle put on a slide will reveal a new micro-world of wriggling living things it's hard to image could exist. And seeds are such hugely variable and easy-to-gather subjects for a beginner on the microscope.

Back to the original photo, of the nardoo pod, I should just fill you in on what we are looking at, close-up. Pictured below is the pond that is home to our now four-year-old goldfish, Paul, where his watery home is topped by the floating fern, nardoo, and a growing forest of Louisiana iris plants.

The nardoo is called a 'floating fern' as that is
what it does on our inland waterways.
Pammy noticed yesterday that it was setting lots of seedpods,
and brought me some to look at. (Forgive the wire cage, but
it's over part of the pond to discourage that persistent predator
of Paul, known as Pussyus cattus.)
The nardoo seedpods are quite small, and a bit hairy, too.
Split one open and it seems like you are looking at its tiny seed.
Pop the pod under the microscope and there's another layer
of activity going on. At the bottom left it looks like the mini-pod,
with the wide open mouth, has disgorged its seed, while in the
centre of the image the mini pods' mouths are still closed
tightly around what looks like the real seed. I'm just guessing
this is so, but seeing such detail reminds me that what I see
with my unaided eye might not be the whole picture at all.
This might look like a photo taken by a space explorer vehicle
of the close-up of a distant moon's frosty surface, but it is in
fact the seed of a chilli pepper.
Pammy's gift of that microscope a few years ago was an inspired choice, as she knows that the "amateur" part of my Garden Amateur name has nothing to do with commerce, and everything to do with my secret life as an amateur scientist and backyard naturalist. Thank you Pammy, and thank you Mother Nature!


Anonymous said...

wonderful pictures !and interesting !!!!

Louise Glut said...

Wow, these are beautiful! Fancy you growing nardoo. I remember getting very excited at spotting nardoo in a waterhole in the Western Mac Donald Ranges west of Alice...