Maths in the Garden

 Pecking at a Statistics book.
Mathematics and Roosters

Mathematics and Music and Gardening - these are my three great passions. There's a well known link between the first two disciplines, but what about Mathematics and Gardening? Where's the connection?


For example, where's the Algebra in the garden? Algebra is when you first meet the letter x, and are expected to want to know what it's equal to. Then, just when you get that sorted, x changes on you...

I thought it would be hard to find any Algebra in gardening (apart from the x-factor - e.g. what colour will my new seedlings be?) - then I thought of the Hazelnut Tree Orchard. Of course - obviously algebraic - x normal trees, y pollinators, the total of x and y can be no bigger than 858, every third tree in every third row of the x's must be a y...

Have I scared you by now?


Examples of Geometry are far easier to find and to cope with. Recently when on a short photography tour of Autumn leaves in the Moosey garden, I started noticing leaf geometry. I'd never really appreciated the shapes and symmetries before. Imagine trying to design a leaf shape using pencil and compass only!

 Oak leaves in early Autumn.
Geometry in the Garden

My picture-taking degenerated into leaning and wobbling, while pulling and pushing the branches trying to get that perfect reflection, that exact rotation captured on camera. Leaves are a transformation geometer's dream come true. Gardeners with a geometric bent must read the book Foliage by David Joyce. Even if your high school maths is better left undisturbed, you'll enjoy its mathematical descriptions.


Anyone who likes the sun and needs to grows trees for shelter will know all about Trigonometry. This is the mathematics of angles. It's the theory which explains why you won't get the mid-day sun in the house in mid-winter. Unless those jolly shelter trees are trimmed in height - which costs MONEY which has already been spent on the Hazelnut Tree Orchard (see Algebra).

Basic Measurement (Involving Roosters, Gumboots and Dogs)

Measurement - well of course - there are important gardening measurement questions when you have animals (and water) in the garden. For example:

 Taj-dog's not so favourite dog biscuits.
Mathematics and Dogs

(required when reading the small-print feeding instructions on the Poultry Pellets packet)

(ditto, Senior Dog Biscuits packet)

(required for obvious reasons)

 Fluid dynamics?
A Deep Mathematical Problem

Higher Mathematics?

For anyone who's had a sniff of university mathematics, I can really show off. I'm sure I could find some Field Theory (e.g. the sowing of the Lucerne paddock) or some Complex Variable (e.g. frost, wind, rain). And, obviously, there's a lot of Functional Analysis - why on earth are these secateurs not cutting properly?

And what about Calculus? - for example, Differentiation (e.g. Did you know that White Agastache has a slightly different stem colour to Blue Agastache? This way you can weed out the self-sown seedlings you don't want...)

The Mathematics Gardening connection is proved beyond reasonable doubt.