PHOTO: Student on an Arboretum school field trip, with a skeletonized magnolia leaf (courtesy UW Botanic Gardens).

The season of the dead is upon us, and in the latest issue of the Arboretum Bulletin, the Miller Library’s Rebecca Alexander answers a ghoulish assortment of plant and garden questions.

She explores the science behind how some decaying tree foliage, such as that of certain magnolias, yield such impressive “skeletons” and how other rotting leaves create ghostly prints on the sidewalk. She even answers a macabre question about using a compost bin to retrieve the skeleton of a beloved but deceased pet cockatiel.