A Field Guide to Rectangle Designs

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Every Rectangle product comes with a hangtag bearing field notes about the plant motif. Each motif is a real plant in print form. Check your hangtag for the name of your motif, then look it up here to explore its theme further.

Motif Field Guide (text)

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APPLE BRANCH growing in Oregon's Willamette Valley. This apple and branch are one of six varieties that were grafted to the same rootstock. My grandfather had this tree made so he would have apples all season right out his front door.

Learn more about how people are growing their own food at home in the permaculture movement.

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ASH branch buds found in the urban forest of Minneapolis. Just like the elms, ash trees in the upper midwest are facing an epidemic that will cause many to perish. The emerald ash borer is the villain. Simple steps like not transporting firewood can help stem the spread of this bug.

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BABY'S BREATH growing alongside a roadside in Central Iowa near Lake Red Rock. Its Latin name Gypsophila means lover of chalk, referring to the calcium-rich soil it prefers. Still a favorite garden plant, it is better to plant a native alternative because baby's breath can become invasive. Learn more about native plant alternatives to standard garden varieties at beplantwise.org.

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BERGAMOT seedheads found in a restored prairie in Afton State Park, Minnesota. Tallgrass prairie was once the largest ecosytem in North America, covering 140 million acres. Only 4% remains today. Prairie restoration projects are underway in many places, and it is as fascinating to learn about the native prairie as it is about how we can bring it back. Elsewhere the sky is the roof of the world; but here the earth was the floor of the sky. ~Willa Cather~

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BOUQUET is a sampling of garden plants: rose, fennel and dahlia. Flavor and beauty are essential to a good meal. The slow food movement encourages a more thoughtful way of eating, preserving food traditions and connecting people with food producers.

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COSMOS SEEDS from an heirloom seed exchange. Seed Savers Exchange, in NE Iowa, maintains a farm full of heritage garden plants from flowers to vegetables. You can find, buy, plant and grow varieties your great-grandparents would have known and loved. Not only is this fun for you, it's important that the genetic biodiversity of these old-fashioned seeds be preserved for future generations.

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GINKGO leaves found in the urban forest of Des Moines, Iowa. Considered a living fossil, Gingko biloba is the only living member of its plant family. Frank Lloyd Wright was a particular fan of this tree and its distinctive leaves.

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FOREST FLOOR mosses, spring leaves and Douglas-fir cones in North Cascades National Park, Washington state. Photographed while I stayed at North Cascades Institute, an beautiful retreat from city life and first-rate environmental education institution.

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HAWKWEED flowering in Superior National Forest, Minnesota. Commonly known as orange hawkweed, this bright flower, like the dandelion, invades disturbed areas and is a sign of disturbance in northern Minnesota. This one was found in a moist meadow. Hieracium aurantiacum

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JUNEBERRY branches bearing fruits in Chicago¬íˆÑˆ¥s Wicker Park. Not commonly regarded as a food source, the urban environment harbors many secret morsels that have been rediscovered by the urban foraging movement.

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OAK leaves from a 100-year old tree in Northeast Iowa. Bur oaks, Quercus macrocarpa are among the slowest growing oaks, and the leaves may be a wide variety of multi-lobed shapes.

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QUEEN ANNE'S LACE flower head found in Central Iowa near Lake Red Rock. The first plant I ever learned stayed with me because of its enchanting story.

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QUEEN ANNE'S LACE FIELD wildflowers found in Central Iowa near Lake Red Rock. Despite its loveliness, Queen Anne's lace is really an outlaw. It is in a class of plants considered a noxious or invasive weeds because of its tendency to out-compete native vegetation. Snipping off the flowers before seed set will help prevent its spread.

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TEASEL seedhead from the outskirts of Portland, Oregon. The large bristles of the teasel are a natural brush and were employed in cloth making for centuries. Fullers teasel is a real outlaw plant in the US as it aggressively invades native plant communities. Similar to the dandelion, it must be removed by the root before it goes to seed to control its spread.

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THISTLE seedheads on the Mississippi River bluffs in Northeast Iowa at Guttenberg. Nodding thistle is widespread in the U.S. and considered an invasive species.

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WILD INDIGO at Afton State Park in Minnesota. Known as wild white indigo, this species produces huge seed pods. Its relative wild blue indigo was used traditionally to make blue dye, but white indigo was used medicinally.

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WINTER BRANCHES along the Mississippi River in Northeast Iowa at Guttenberg. NE Iowa is part of the Driftless Area, a beautiful region the last ice age missed, leaving its rolling hills and valleys intact.

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YARROW, orange hawkweed and reed canary grass take advantage of disturbed areas along the Gunflint Trail in Superior National Forest near Grand Marais, MN.

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ZINNIA of a vintage variety grown from seed in an original victory garden. Dowling Community Garden was established in 1943 and has been gardened continuously for nearly 70 years.