Botanical Themes

At the Huntington Gardens, in an exhibition of wildflower paintings and drawings titled “When They Were Wild: Recapturing California’s Wildflower Heritage,” I saw rooms full of flowers – from fairy orchids to countless depictions of California poppies.

It struck me how many images, both botanical drawings and flower portraits, had flowers painted over background landscapes, or field notes written right on the page, or included accession stamps (because they are from a library’s collection). Those thoughts were in my mind when I got home and received an invitation to participate in “A Drawing Invitational Exhibition Exploring the Botanical Theme of Plant Life.”

And so was my slightly overgrown garden (now in its eighth summer and much in need of attention after so much gardener-away time). In truth there are only stalwarts in my garden, anything delicate has been engulfed, or harassed by slugs or, if outside the fence, devoured by deer. I love the stalwarts – nepeta, lavender, rosemary, a giant sage – so do the bees.

My gardening nowadays is pulling out, weed whacking the grass growing in gravel, and reclaiming edges. The garden is mostly textures of Washington green, all winter boney trees and ferns, the varied leaves of hellebore and pulmonaria, a one or two pleasures at time sort of place, daffodils and tulips in their season, ripe fruit in the autumn. When I belatedly bought some rudbeckia, cosmos, and a new geranium,the clerk at the garden center said: “Ah, color!”

It was a pleasure to think about making drawings, and I carved a stamp to be a border for text, thinking I’d like to make garden notes inside it. I knew that I’d like to draw what survives here – one for the invitational and all to post here for the next few weeks!

garden notes to follow

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