Gardens Wild and Planted

It’s hard to imagine a lovelier “garden” in May than the meadow I stumbled upon while hiking at the Martin Van Buren Nature Trail in Kinderhook, New York. The preserve is mostly woodland, with stately oaks and maples that Van Buren himself would have seen more than 150 years ago. But a small clearing in the forest was gloriously golden this week, with masses of yellow flowers that any gardener would be hard pressed to recreate.  

My own gardening efforts began in earnest several weeks ago. Unfortunately, I think I jumped the gun in a restless attempt to get things growing. Either from planting when it was still too cold or lack of regular watering, few of my seeds sprouted. So, I replanted last week and recruited my husband to do the watering. Fingers crossed, you’ll be seeing scenes from the Art Garden in the weeks and months to come.

Tips and Techniques– Gardens offer so much to artists! While flowers in full bloom are favorite subjects for many, consider the possibilities of sketching in the garden throughout the season. From seeds to seedlings to blossoms to faded foliage—challenge yourself to come up with creative ways to showcase what’s happening each month. This year especially, when so many of us are staying home instead of heading out to favored vacation spots, having a garden—or a few pots of flowers—may prove to be just the subject matter you need.

15 thoughts on “Gardens Wild and Planted

  1. How wonderful!! I will be looking forward to all your renditions of the plants as they grow. It looks as if you have a very interesting combination. I grew the purple hyacinth and it was a real show off. Also I learned long ago not to plant until the end of May but of course one can never wait. Wishing you much success, Jean. We could use some rain. ;D

    • Still learning, Dawn. I figured that if I planted early I might take advantage of more rainfall. Alas, we could use some rain now too. It’s my first time growing purple hyacinth– I saw some last summer along a fence line and saved a few seed pods. Only one seed germinated, so I’ll nurture it along and hope it makes it. Stay tuned!

    • Hi Alison– I use a Stillman and Birn “Zeta” sketchbook, size 5.5×8.5″. The paper is heavyweight and smooth– sort of like hot pressed paper. I also like the Stillman and Birn “Beta” which is less smooth. I like these for their durable cover, vertical format, ease of taking in the field, and quality paper. I’ve tried a lot of sketchbooks, too– I think finding one that suits you take some trial and error. Thanks for all your comments!

      • Thank you Jean for the quick reply. I’m using a S&B Beta book right now, but have trouble with the almost hot press surface.
        I will try Zeta. I liked the Alpha sketchbook but not for heavy washes.
        I have to tear myself away now from your wonderful blog and get drawing!
        Cheers!

      • If you think Beta is too much like hot press, you won’t like Zeta– it’s even more so. It’s kind of tricky with watercolor. You might ask for paper samples and test it out.

  2. Your work and words are like light in the darkness for me. thank you so much for sharing. I must wait for garden not only til frost and freezing pass, but also until the farmer next door sprays and plants. So life is layered and treasured

  3. Art Garden! What a wonderful idea! If you could pick some for late summer bloom, what would be your choices? Thanks.

    • I have a few choices for late summer– purple coneflower and rudbeckia are long lasting and have interesting seed heads. I like bee balm for July and August since it attracts hummingbirds (I found a nest over the winter high up in an overhanging oak!). And this year, I planted Mexican sunflowers, which I haven’t grown in years, and zinnias for late season blooms. Scarlet runner beans and, hopefully, purple hyacinth bean vines will be interesting right through the fall. BUT, if you asked me to pick one plant that I must have, my favorite, even though it is a June bloomer and not very long lived, I would have to choose baptisia (blue false indigo). How about you?

      • Thanks for your thoughtful reply. I’m usually gone from Mt. Vernon, WA to New Hampshire in July & August, so don’t have a flower garden. This year I’m (still!) planning on heading east at the end of July into early September. Of course, those plans may change if there’s an upsurge in the plague numbers – either here or there. But I’d love to have some flowers waiting for me when I get home. My husband & dog will hold down the fort here & do whatever watering is needed.

        Now I’m going to google some of the flowers you mentioned that I’ve never heard of. All my best wishes for you & yours.

  4. “Gardens Wild and Planted” is such an inspired title, and perfect for the images, which are as always, a delight to look at.
    I happened to read the comment above and was pleasantly surprised to see Melissa lives just a few miles from me! Small world.
    Good luck with the second round, Jean. 🙂

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