Garden Photo of the Day

A tree’s root system revealed

Click here to enlarge this photo.
Photo/Illustration: Michelle Gervais

I’ve often wondered, when admiring a tree, what its root system looks like. The Morris Arboretum in Philadelphia found an interesting way to illustrate the breadth of a tree’s root system: they painted it onto the path that runs past it. I visited there early this week and found this display fascinating. More than educational, it made me more aware of the tree and its impact on the soil, and I started to imagine the root systems of all of the trees I saw afterward. We’re only seeing half of the whole picture!

Click here to enlarge this photo.
Photo/Illustration: Michelle Gervais
Click here to enlarge this photo.
Photo/Illustration: Michelle Gervais


Welcome to the Fine Gardening GARDEN PHOTO OF THE DAY blog! Every weekday we post a new photo of a great garden, a spectacular plant, a stunning plant combination, or any number of other subjects. Think of it as your morning jolt of green.

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  1. DreamGardener 05/20/2011

    "half of the whole piture" - and the "smaller half" at that! The rule of thumb that a tree's root system extends as far out as the leaf canopy is a somewhat minimalist approach - so many trees have roots that travel Yards beyond the reach of the canopy. And the 'feeder roots' - the fine, hair-like ones - are usually within a very few INCHES of the soil surface!
    Trees are such amazing people...

  2. Deanneart 05/20/2011

    This is beautiful and educational as well, Love it! Looks like a river delta. Love how the patterns in nature echo each other

  3. PaulFromAlabama 05/20/2011

    I like that, gets folks to thinking......

  4. Califus 05/20/2011

    Remember when you walk by these trees they can feel you with these nerve endings so walk softly please!

  5. arboretum 05/20/2011

    michelle, you hot ticket you! This is just the COOOLEST thing since sliced bread. LOVE it. just curious, what is the path material that these roots are painted on? Did it seem this painting would last or that it needs renewing? I can't tell from the photo. we could do something like that here; it's got me thinkin'!!

  6. sheilaschultz 05/20/2011

    How cool that the Morris Arboretum did this, education and art all rolled into one!

  7. LavenderBlueWine 05/23/2011

    Very beautiful, I love public art like this.

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