Blooming Magnolia

March 26, 2013

“Nature is infinitely patient, one thing lives after another has given way; the magnolia’s blossoms die just as the cherry’s come to life.”
— Teju Cole, Open City

Magnolia in full blossom

Magnolia in full blossom

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The artist Ellsworth Kelly has captured the essence of the magnolia blossom in just a few clear lines.  The simplicity of his drawing is beguiling.

From Plant Drawings by Ellsworth Kelly

From Plant Drawings by Ellsworth Kelly

I was also inspired to try my hand at painting magnolia blossoms after seeing some botanical prints in Treasures of Botanical Art by Shirley Sherwood and Martyn Rix.

Magnolia painting by Siriol Sherlock

Magnolia painting by Siriol Sherlock

Magnolia painting by Barbara Oozeerall

Magnolia painting by Barbara Oozeerall

My watercolor sketch of magnolia blossoms

My watercolor sketch of magnolia blossoms

Another watercolor sketch of magnolia blossoms

Another watercolor sketch of magnolia blossoms

 

 

 

 

First Camellia

March 5, 2013

“Rain-washed
camellia — as it
falls, showers.”
from On Love and Barley: Haiku of Basho, translated by Lucien Stryk

First camellia

First camellia

Watercolor sketch of camellia inspired by this botanical print by an anonymous Chinese painter, from Treasures of The Royal Horticultural Society

Watercolor sketch of camellia inspired by this botanical print by an anonymous Chinese painter, from Treasures of The Royal Horticultural Society

My watercolor sketch of a camellia and bud

My watercolor sketch of a camellia and bud

 

 

 

First Crocuses

February 22, 2012

I’ve been watching for the first crocuses of the year, and I finally found them — no farther away than my next-door neighbor’s parking strip!  Then I found another cluster on a walk around Green Lake.  They always signal to me the end of Winter and the coming of Spring.

First golden crocuses in my neighbor's parking strip

A patch of pastel purple crocuses at Green Lake

Botanical print of crocuses from Kohler's Mediznal-Pflanzen

(The source of good botanical prints is Botanicus.org.)

Snowdrops, Candlemas Bells

February 2, 2012

Snowdrops almost ready to bloom

First snowdrops

“Chaste snowdrop, venturous harbinger of Spring,
And pensive monitor of fleeting years.”
— William Wordsworth, from “To a Snowdrop”

Today is Candlemas Day, and snowdrops are sometimes called Candlemas Bells because they commonly bloom around this time.  Sure enough.  I saw the first blooms of the year bordering the sidewalk on my walk around the block.  The buds are just beginning to open.

Botanical print of snowdrops by Otto Wilhelm Thome, from Flora von Deutschland, 1885

Horse Chestnuts

September 20, 2010

The road through Volunteer Park is lined with horse chestnut trees.  I gathered a few of the shiny brown chestnuts to display in a bowl on my dining room table.  I love their smooth round shapes. . . very soothing to caress in my palms.

Horse chestnut tree

Leaves of the horse chestnut tree fan out like miniature palm trees

Some of the leaves were beginning to change color.

Bowl of gathered horse chestnuts

Shiny brown horse chestnuts

Botanical print of horse chestnut from botanical.org

Watercolor sketch of horse chestnuts

Winged Sweet Peas

June 25, 2010

Purple sweet peas growing in a parking strip

“Here are sweet-peas, on tip-toe for flight:
With wings of gentle flush o’er delicate white,
And taper fingers catching at all things,
To bind them all about with tiny rings.”
     — John Keats, from “I Stood Tiptoe Upon a Little Hill”

These purple sweet peas grow wild around here.  We even have some in our bushes.  They aren’t fragrant though.  The pink and white ones at the vendors’ stalls in the Pike Place Market perfume the air with their fragrance.

I found a lovely botanical print of sweet peas at http://www.botanicus.org/page/1267992.  Here it is:

Lathyrus odoratus

Snowberries

December 28, 2009

Clusters of white snowberries

Snowberries

This year on my winter walks I’ve begun to notice snowberries.  They look a bit like popcorn growing on bushes.

As you can tell from several of my posts this month, I have been seeking out old botanical prints.  Here is one of the snowberry plant, that I found at http://botanicus.org/page/274631.

Symphoricarpos albus, common snowberry