Here’s a little study of a beautiful wildflower of the Garry Oak Meadows — Erythranthe guttata, Yellow Monkey Flower. Phrymaceae.
The most dramatic part of this flower, (apart from the golden colour) are the deep crimson markings on the lower petals of the blossom, markings that lead an insect visitor to the nectar. Now, bees see things differently from us, so to see how a bee sees those markings would require both a UV filter and bee-vision filters. An interesting aspect to pursue!
One of the cool discoveries I made in observing the blossoms of this plant is that those markings differ from flower to flower. Here’s a small sample of some of the variations. I’ve morphed the colours in order to enhance the visibility of those markings.
I’ve dissected several blossoms, and another very cool aspect of these blossoms are the very hairy bulges on lower petals. Apparently, the hairs collect not only pollen from the flower’s own anthers — ergo, the plant can self-pollinate, but also pollen carried by incoming bees, so there’s cross-pollination too. Double reproductive security for this plant.
More surprises from this beautiful wildflower — the calyx, the little structure that holds the blossom and all its reproductive parts, inflates after the flower has finished its display, enclosing and protecting the seed pod within its papery cover. I’ve made a short animation to explore this wonderous aspect of the flower’s life cycle. It’s entitled Postcript because it’s the last part of the flower’s life cycle.
I haven’t added anything to my site since he exhibition at the High Desert Museum in Bend, Oregon, so I thought I would start with some spring wildflowers from the native Garry Oak Meadows from my neck of the woods.
The first image is a small bouquet of Camassia leichtlinii, (Great Camas), Lomatium utriculatum (Spring Gold), and Plectritis congesta (Sea Blush). These are merely 3 of the many wildflowers to be found in a Garry Oak meadow. Beautiful wildflowers much visited by a diversity of pollinators.
Thought I’d create a repeat wallpaper design from the flowers, and add to them the iconic and rare Garry Oak environment, suggested here by the acorns and leaves.
Not too long ago, I attended a wonderful and informative walk and talk at the UBC Botanical Gardens. The talk was given by the curator of the Westcoast native gardens, Ben Stormes. Ben is creating research Garry Oak Meadow so it is a work in progress, but nontheless, it is beautiful and I learned a great deal about this rare environment, which, like all things in nature, is shrinking because of habitat loss, development, pesticides, etc. A story we know all too well. I’m not going to end on a negative note because there are organizations, like the one on Vancouver Island, the Garry Oak Ecosystem Recovery Teams, which are restoring these beautiful native habitats.
Young scientists visiting Lincoln Best’s and my exhibition at the High Desert Museum in Bend, Oregon. All photos taken by Gail Langellotto-Rhodaback, and used with her gracious permission.
More of Gail’s photos:
I haven’t been able to travel to Bend because of the Covid restrictions, so I’m always excited when visitors to the exhibition post their photos on social media and share their comments. For me, bees and flowers are totally engaging, both as research and as subject matter for my art practice. It’s really exciting when visitors to the gallery are inspired by the exhibition!
Have shamelessly neglected posting things on this website, the fall has been difficult, not least because of Covid. So, finally, here are some of the images I’ve been working on. Most of the images start their lives with a seed, seed head or pod and then other parts enter into play.
I had the great honour to be on Jennifer Jewell’s wonderful Cultivating Place pod cast recently. To talk about art and what inspires the creative process is such an enriching experience. How often does one get to mine one’s past history, to consider the path, often circuitous, that leads to the present?
For those of you who follow Jennifer’s fabulous program, you will know what a masterful interviewer she is, and how she synthesizes ideas so skillfully into this wonderful exchange of words and experiences. If gardens are our repository of culture, of care for the earth and for one another, then Jennifer is that gardener, cultivating and nourishing this living substance of which we are all a part. As Robert Harrison says, the true gardener is always the “constant gardener.”
Thank you Jennifer for spending this time with me!
This episode will air again this Sunday morning, and it will become part of the Cultivating Place archive, so you can listen in at any time:
This poor Osmia is absolutely loaded with mites. I wonder if this bee will survive with so many freeloaders?
In my exploration of the life cycle of bees, I became intrigued by the process of metamorphosis that bees go through within their little cells. The period when the larva spins a silk coccoon around itself and undergoes this amazing transformation is wonderous. Here’s a short animation inspired by this magical process. The text in the video are fragments taken from the beautiful poetry of Carol Ann Duffy.
Well, sadly, the library is closed and has been for some weeks now. I understand that the show might go on if the library is permitted to open in June. So, maybe there’s a light at the end of this viral tunnel.
Covid is taking a toll on all of us. I wish for everyone to be safe and healthy despite the restrictions and closures.
Bee well until we get the OK! jasna
I’ve just installed an exhibition of my work at the Elisabeth C. Miller Horticultural Library at U.W. It’s a pleasure to be here in Seattle, but sadly with the Corona virus health situation, so many events are being cancelled. The opening of the exhibition was postponed to March 28th, but it is not at all certain if that planned event will proceed.
To mark this first day of December 2019, and this last month of the year, here’s another experiment in animation continuing with the bees and text that I posted a week or so ago.
As these are only experiments, the science parts here – the relationship of bees to flowers needs more research, but I enjoy the challenge of balancing the art with the science.
The text fragments are from the beautiful poetry of Eleanor Rand Wilner, and the incredible bees from the Rolfs/Robinson specimens which I am still working through. The plant drawings are based upon my wildflower specimens which I collected last spring and summer in a dream meadow in the Okanagan.
Some of the bees which I have used in this animation:
I’m experimenting with short animations based upon the Wenatchee bees – to see where this takes me. In this video, I drew from my specimens of Goldenrod, Solidago canadensis, and one of the beautiful Rolfs/Robinson bees, a Colletes, to create the visuals. The text fragments are from the incredible poetry of Eleanor Rand Wilner, from her book entitled “The Girl With Bees in Her Hair.”
Recently I had the pleasure of visiting a fellow bee-nerd friend in Wenatchee, WA., Lisa Robinson. As part of her extensive work on pollinators, Lisa has learned how to pin insect specimens in the ‘European’ fashion, with the wings spread out and the legs extended. An exceedingly demanding and time-consuming process, Lisa learned this skill from her mentor is Dr. Don Rolfs. I had the great pleasure of meeting him too. Don is very gracious and he generously shared some of his vast knowledge of native bees with me. I found these specimens to be exceedingly inspiring visually and I was thrilled to be permitted to photograph them. The short animation here is a first experimental tryout of using the bees in an art work.