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Painting No. 109
The spear thistle is probably the plant adopted by Scottish kings as their national emblem. The end lobe of the leaf is sharply pointed and gives this particular thistle its name. It is a tall and stately plant, not easily overlooked amid the profusion of colours and shapes in a wild flower meadow. And amid this apparent confusion of plant forms is a similar proliferation of animal life. Yet things are not as chaotic as they at first appear. Every physical habitat hosts its own community of plants, which blends and overlaps with those around it; and every plant community hosts its own interwoven animal populations - all interdependent and finely balanced. Our man-made monocultures of crops and formal gardens may be efficient or splendid and pleasing to our economy-tuned eyes, but they are deserts in terms of life-support on a wider scale. Our western materialism is a similar pervasive monoculture that threatens to stifle the variety and joy of smaller, more fragile communities. Our emphasis on increasing life’s quantity too often results in a decrease of its quality.