In a warmer light the callas have a maple leaf red glow. A new bloom is just unfurling. In Western Australia calla lilies have been classified as noxious invasive weeds. They are, on the other hand, the national flower of the island nation of St. Helena, where the native people are informally called Saints.
There’s a distinct lack of scale in this drawing. This begonia is well-loved for its spiraling multi-colored leaves. One garden center website even urged people to pinch off and discard the “insignificant” flowers so that all the plant’s energy could go into making leaves.
I got an inch away from the little bloom so that I could research its intricacy and mysterious architecture. I will report back when the remaining buds open. The first to open, shown here, is a female flower.
Walking along the urban trail near downtown Asheville the other day I was awed by the amount of kudzu blanketing everything. How we love to despise this invasive plant. But I kept smelling a lovely grapey scent that drew me in close to the dark green overlapping leaves. A small purple and yellow bloom hidden inside of dense foliage.
I came home to large fat Black Cherokee tomatoes so heavy that they were bending the plant and lolling on the ground. Wild turkeys had poked most of them, but I think I can salvage enough to make gazpacho tonight!
Nate and I built this mummy out of airdry clay after drawing a mummy at the Met. Yesterday we painted the mask and coffin with acrylics, and tonight the beeswax-impregnated cloth arrived that we ordered. We cut some bandages out of it. Then Nate told Alexa to play “Walk Like an Egyptian” and we made a video, which is too large to post. So here are some photos. Tell your Alexa to play the song while you watch.
I’m traveling this week, up to visit family in NJ. Above, a woman in the airport foundered by her luggage.
We all took the train into NYC yesterday to go to the Met, a regular outing for N, but A’s first time to an art museum! A and I drew on the train - the inset is the scene at the first station stop. After the long exciting day the kids were sitting on the floor in Penn ststion. When A noticed I was sketching them she started sitting still and posing (right side). Turns out Labor Day is a good, low-crowd day to visit the Met. N drew his favorite piece in the Egyptian galleries.
I’m leaving for NJ in a couple of hours. These tiny begonia blooms are the first page of my travel sketchbook. I wanted to test out the paper, and it is lovely, smooth yet lightly textured. It was made by my former student who now owns Papercraft Miracles. (www.papercraftmiracles.com). She made this paper, of her own invention, in my class as an assignment, coloring it with local reddish clay that she gathered from the site of her dormitory after the dorm had burned down. Happily she had some sheets left that I was able to buy for this book. Check out her site!
Balsam has magically reappeared in my garden. This fragile looking plant has the amazing strength needed to prevail against the solid hedge of rudbeckia and oregano. Notice the odd ovary that is attached to a tube that pierces the back of a petal. The tip of the ovary develops a clump of stamens that produce pollen. It’s easy for visiting bees, lured by the sweet smell, to transfer pollen to the tiny pistol that threads its way down to the ovary. Everything falls off once pollination had taken place, and the numerous seeds inside the ovary ripen in harmony with the outer wall of the ovary. As the capsule ripens it develops tanninous dehiscent lines, which split apart as soon as they are touched, giving rise to the descriptor explosively dehiscent as well as the nickname touch-me-not.
Balsam has many medicinal uses in the traditional medicines of China and Japan.
A few surprise larkspurs have prevailed against the rudbeckia and oregano and tomato jungle that is my front garden. My friend H gave me s little twist of paper with saved seeds from her last year’s larkspurs. I had forgotten all about them, wondered what the brave spots of violet were among all that blazing yellow and green.
These begonias think they’re back in the tropical rainforest from which they hail. Our daily warm rain and humidity is exactly what they love. And this drawing shows why they’re classified as synchronously monoecious: the same plant produces at the same time separate male and female flowers. On the left is a male bloom with its curly stamens; on the right is a female with her vase-shaped ovules. Let the party begin.
My friend K and I are sitting on a bench on Eagle Street. It is cool, slightly breezy, quiet. The sun shines lightly on us as we draw a church down the block. After an hour or so we amble around and find ourselves at the end of Chicken Alley. Tucked into a tiny collection of potted plants against an old wall, these astonishing pitcher plant blooms stir gently in the breeze. The air is quietly seething.
A week after four blooms had opened on the giant amaryllis, this small tubular bud-like thing appeared. Two days later it had grown taller and fatter. Yesterday in the sunrise rays its petals began to loosen;
and this morning petals relaxed to form a cup. After today’s heat and humidity a fifth flower is in full bloom, almost as fully open as the older blooms.