Though in reality ecosystems are complex entities whose components cannot be completely separated into discrete categories, it is often easier to pick out patterns by focusing on related landscape pieces. Thus we define the ecological landscape as consisting of a mosaic of natural communities – associations of plants and animals and their related processes and interactions. In essence, a cadre of physical and cultural forces coming from the landscape help shape the locations and characteristics of the natural communities we see today. Putney's rich variety and distribution of bedrock, water, soil, topography, micro-climates, and human land use choices all combine to influence the ecological patterns that persist from one place to the next.
Furthermore, the ecological landscape is anything but static. Cycles of weather compounded with climatic changes provide endless opportunities for novel forms of expression. Some of these daily and seasonal rhythms we have come to anticipate with joy, such as the first spring wildflowers, or the vibrant colors of autumn leaves. Other longer-time alteration will bring changes and resultant consequences we cannot yet fully predict. In the sections that follow we will discuss several of the dominant vegetation and wildlife patterns that persist on the Putney landscape today.