Close Inspection

The first mowing of the season gave me a close look at our lawn, which any agronomer would tell you has issues. Fortunately, we live in the country where no one cares whether you are growing a monoculture of turf or a diverse mixture of grass and weeds. From a distance, it all looks green. The more I mowed the more curious I became. How many different plants could I find? Hence, this Field Guide to Things in the Lawn That Aren’t Grass.

Tips and Techniques– Follow your curiosity. You may not end up with a grand painting, but you will discover all sorts of fascinating things around you.

33 Comments on “Close Inspection

    • We are too, Brenda, but it takes time, doesn’t it. We have a section of former lawn that we are converting to meadow and another under trees that we are slowly converting to woodland plants. I’m all for “no mow” zones!

  1. I love your work. The actual articulation of the drawings, the layout of the pages and the lovely writing. Each page looks so thought out. ( I’m afraid my pages are random and unorganized!)

    • Hi Tricia- Although I don’t set out with a set design, but I do have in mind various elements that I may include. I think about text as a graphic element and often use it to fill space once the drawing is done. Thanks for your kind compliment!

  2. I love your page and the humour of things that aren’t grass. I recently painted a “big & small” prompt and actually measured the different variety of daffodils, scilla, tulips and grape hyacinths in my flower beds. Your page is so beautiful and inspiring. How do you decide where to start? Do you sketch all the plants before you commit to ink and paint? Thank you for sharing these.

    • Hi– thanks for your questions. I typically just pick one thing and begin on a page like this. I work directly in pen. In this case, I started with the dandelion and worked my way counter clockwise around the page. If you avoid starting in the middle and mentally divide your page into thirds, starting in one of the intersection points of the thirds tends to work well.

  3. I recently discovered henbit in our grass thinking it was violets. The tiny purple flowers are so similar to violets. I plucked a few before my husband took out the lawnmower and have them in a bowl of water where they are thriving nicely. In our woodsy lot, I want to replant them for love of the tiny flower. Deer overrun our property so I don’t have many flowers that last. Tiny as they are, it will delight me to see them flower. Thanks for setting me straight. Even though they are invasive, I won’t mind at all.

    • I can’t say I’m a fan of henbit since it creeps into my garden areas. I’d rather have violets. But if its providing you with a spot of purple, so be it! Enjoy!

  4. I love this page. We have had a plant-filled lawn forever, and now I know the name of some of them. Broad-leafed plantain – I never would have come close to this name. I thought a plantain was a banana-like tropical fruit! We have been happy that our “lawn” – really a yard – never gets brown in August, as purely grass lawns do. There is always a native plant happily greening things up, including our grass, which a neighbor tells me is native also. We too live in the country, so can enjoy the plants, and the sunny shower of dandelions, from early spring to fall.

    • Hi Sue- I’m glad you’ve got so many native plants in your lawn. We’re slowly reducing the amount of lawn we maintain and planting natives in its place. Glad you enjoyed this page.

  5. This is so lovely, Jean. We take many of the plants we term as weeds growing in our lawns or grass verges as weeds, and yet they are so diverse, and can be quite beautiful. Beautiful concept and beautifully illustrated.

  6. I like how you have studied your lawn in detail. I had a phase of trying to dig the dandelions out of my lawn, and it was when I was down there on my hands and knees that I got to see and appreciate all the different plants living there.. I have become accepting of the dandelions and now admire them for their beauty and toughness. Nice to see you have a good variety of plants in your lawn too, and so beautifully illustrated.

    • It would be an endless chore to dig out all the dandelions. It’s the broadleaf plantain that I dislike, but I can live with all of it. There are far better things to do than spend my time on grass.

  7. ‘A weed is a flower whose virtue has not yet been discovered.’ A quote my mother taught me as a child when I brought her a bundle of fresh picked dandelions.

  8. Spot on, Jean. The more the merrier. Dandelions are prolific and honeybees love them. Maples Millions of maple seedlings everywhere and trout lilies are blooming along the creek…

  9. Hi Jean! I really do love this! I guess we have most, if not all, of these weeds, and it’s probably a good thing. It’s all green! Thanks for showing me what they are! I love how inspired you are by all things “nature!” Beautiful!

  10. I agree with everyone. Fabulous & inspiring, as always.

  11. Love your study observing diversity in the mundane. I took a pic yesterday of my lawn just prior to mowing to compare

  12. Your lawn has beautiful little issues! I’ve seen a few of those issues on some lawns around here. Since the lockdown, I’ve been spending a lot more time walking near lawns than walking in forests or wetlands. Lawn flowers spice up my life! 😊

    • I know, staying at home produces a limited view…but some good observations too. I probably wouldn’t have done the lawn plants painting in a normal year. And I’m much more aware of what the birds on our property are doing every day. Your palm warblers are terrific!

  13. My comment was eaten by the internet gods…anyway, you had me laughing. I love this idea. The painting is fun, the title is great, and I thank you for reminding me of a yard in upstate NY where I had Scilla – that was so cool. Wonderful!

  14. I agree with everyone too. Great sketches! Wonderful post! I have the same type of “lawn”. In fact, I’m encouraging “creeping Charlie”. Lovely flowers in spring, never needs mowed, survives drought! 😀

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