Saturday, May 29, 2010

Spring Fling

There is a day every spring when the world comes to life. On the first warm sunny day people emerge from their houses and remember that they are social creatures. We say hello to our neighbors and wave to fellow gardeners. I love this day.

But because it is early spring the shadows are still deep and cold. Clouds are lurking and evening comes early making the few sunny moments more exciting and urgent.

This painting is four feet wide and is oil on canvas.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


The birds start singing at 3:30 in the morning these days and wake me up. With a pillow over my head I managed to sleep until 5 this morning and then got up. I think I went outside to look for the cat but soon found myself digging weeds out of the garden in my pajamas and slippers. Somewhere in the jungle of lemon balm seedlings I found this gorgeous flower. It is three feet tall and seems to be an Allium nectaroscordum siculum. How did it get into my garden? Sometimes it is nice to have an appalling memory when it means nice surprises like this. I can also re-read murder mysteries with no danger of knowing who done it.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Tofino Part Two - The Plants

Tofino, on Vancouver Island, is part beach paradise and part temperate rain forest. These trees were on the ocean edge at the Botanical Garden. Everything there is so damp that soil was forming in the branches high above the ground.

This hippy van looks like it will soon rot into soil too.

The Botanical Garden is home to many sculpture installations.

The trail down to Tonquin Beach was beautiful.

Apparently our most exciting plant find was this Vancouver groundcone which grows as a parasite on the roots of Salal.

This tiny flower looked like a small violet. Mum can you remind me what it was? Or anyone?

Wild strawberries were growing in the rocks on the beach.

I can't remember what these little wild aster type flowers were. Anyone?

My mum says:
The flower that looks like a violet is Pinguicula vulgaris and is
called common butterwort although it's not really very common. It can
survive on almost bare rock by 'eating' insects that stick to its

The small aster-like flower is, I think, Erigeron peregrinus, the
subalpine daisy, and can also survive on a thin diet.

Thanks Mum!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Animals of the Pacific Coast

I just got back from a trip to Tofino on Vancouver Island. There are dramatic mountains, sandy beaches, crashing waves, and misty, cool, drippy constant moisture there making a happy home for so many plants and animals. Here we are rescuing a butterfly that had fallen into a rain puddle. It was flapping its wings by the time we left but probably didn't benefit from its swim.

And here my mother tries to rescue some tree frog tadpoles from a fresh water puddle that looked like it was drying up. We shouldn't have worried. It rained soon afterward. And rained again and again after that.

This little baby bear was beside the road.

On the beach there were orange and purple starfish

and emerald green sea anemones waiting for the tide to come in.

This sea star was huge.

And the biggest barnacles I have ever seen.

My favorite west coast beach animals - my mum and dad.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Baby Peaches

I planted a peach tree last year because I wanted some height in the garden. I never thought it would actually produce peaches. I come from a cold climate and this is so exciting to me. Aren't they cute?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Striped Tulips

A couple of months ago I made some paintings of crazy mice recklessly having adventures in magnolia trees. I was longing for adventures myself and so I made sure that I left the house more than usual and ventured out into the world. Spring is a time for breaking the cosy routines that we develop through the winter months. I have been having such fun that I haven't been blogging much, and even my painting seems to have stalled. The tulips I started to paint a month ago have almost finished flowering now! I'll have to work from photos. These are a couple of details of my still unfinished painting about springtime joi de vivre. It is four feet wide.

One of my adventures was a trip to Manhattan to meet up with some friends and see museums. I even accidentally timed the visit during the Whitney Biennial which was an adventure into conceptual and performance art. Easier to enjoy was this marvelous roller-printed wallpaper at the Metropolitan Museum. It is by Viennese artist Dagobert Peche and dates from 1921. He called it 'Summer", but I associate tulips with the craziness of spring.