Adopt a Leaf, a Bud, or a Branch

by Elizabeth Wylde, Friends of the Fresh Pond Reservation, Cambridge, MA
Leaves and flowers have a dynamic life – if you have time to watch. Taking photographs over a period of time and making a movie is one way to begin to appreciate the stages leaves and flowers pass through.
This movie was made using QuickTime Pro, which is the $30 extended version of the freely available Applie QuickTime. New software products are being developed all of the time, and a quick web search will show what is available!


  • Put a blank, possibly white or light gray piece of cardboard, behind the leaf to make it easier to see the leaf.
  • Consider writing the date on the cardboard or adding the date to each picture using image processing software.
  • Set up a Picture Post in your garden where you can get a good view of a flower or branch.
  • Try to take pictures during the same time of day to keep the light angle as constant as possible.
  • Mark your leaf or branch with a color piece of string gently wrapped around the stem.
  • Place an object of known size in the picture to use as a scale.

Study Phenology at Home or in the Lab with Dormant Twigs

Dr. Richard Primack, a professor at Boston University, and his students, have developed a simple and fun method to study phenology using dormant twigs. It's easy to bring the twigs indoors and observe how changing the environmental conditions such as light and temperature can alter when the leaves come out.

dormant twigs View the method (PDF)

What else can I view?

  • Forsythia
  • Rose bushes
  • Hostas
  • Vegetables
  • You choose!