To us, autumn is leaf-color season. But to the trees and other plants, it is a moment far more significant. It’s the finish line. They have been racing since spring to flower, reproduce, nurture and ripen the seeds of the next generation. In their seasonal decline, they hold up to the world not the reddening leaf but the seed heads, fruits and pods that will ensure their survival.

We tend to ignore seeds, or curse them, but we rarely see them. Not in the way that photographer Robert Llewellyn has by unlocking their secrets using software technology called image stacking. From many photos comes one complete image in perfect macro focus. The project, captured in the book “Seeing Seeds” (Timber Press, 2015), also involved more prosaic manipulation. “Sometimes he had to soak, dry, coax, pry, or pin plant bits to expose seeds,” wrote co-author, Teri Dunn Chace.

The images reveal the seeds of great hardwoods and cunning weeds, of fruit and nut trees, herbs, vegetables, garden flowers and more. Llewellyn, who works from his home studio in Charlottesville, examined 100 botanical subjects. This proved more than enough to reveal the extraordinary diversity in the design and packaging of these genetic treasures, whose production allows the parent plants to hibernate or die. As Chace writes: “A seed is both the beginning and the end of a plant’s life.”

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