A joyful splash of color from the purple phlox blooming right now in the Ozarks.

Enjoy Nature: Phlox and Fiddleheads

Here’s a little inspiration to get outside on this beautiful sunny day and enjoy nature.

Phlox is blooming and casting joyful purple splashes all around the Wild Ozark hills and woods, and the fiddleheads are unfurling.

Enjoy nature - take a walk in the woods and you'll find these fiddleheads of the Christmas fern unfurling in spring.
Christmas fern fiddleheads.

Watching a Ginseng Habitat Mystery Plant Unfurl

I have a mystery plant to decipher. Last year I went to the woods and took a root division of a plant I wanted to grow in the Ginseng Habitat Demonstration Garden. I put that root cutting into a pot and placed it in a sheltered spot in one of my nursery terraces.

The summer faded away and fall came around. One day I went out to the nursery spot to check on the plants I’d tucked in for the season.

That plant I’d divided and potted was on the ground.

Just the roots.

I re-potted it. Checked on it again the next afternoon.

On the ground, bare roots. Again. Something – most likely a squirrel – did not want that plant in that pot.

By now I’d forgotten which plant it was. And of course I forgot to label the pot. I can’t even remember which plants I’d taken cuttings from during the year, but I have a few possibilities to choose a “most likely” candidate from. Now it had become a mystery plant.

I know it’s not ginseng and I know it’s not bloodroot or goldenseal. Those are three I can recognize on sight, with or without leaves. It could be doll’s eyes, black cohosh, or a fern of some sort. Or some other interesting plant I found while out taking a walkabout in the woods.

Anyway, I put it into the pot again, covered it up with soil and leaves, and brought it into the house. Foiled the squirrel, finally. But I still don’t know what the plant is.

It began to unfurl the other day. Soon I’ll have the answer to my mystery – unless it’s doll’s eyes or black cohosh. I still have a hard time telling those two apart until the plants are mature. But at least the choices will be narrowed down.

Here’s how it looks today. Watch this page if you want to watch the mystery plant unfold, too.

Madison's Mystery Plant
Madison’s Mystery Plant

Three days later…

 

 

 

Still watching my mystery plant unfurl.

Now it’s beginning to look like something, but I still don’t know what!

Here it is again, now 18 days later:

I still don't know what it is, but it's beginning to look more and more like perhaps a rattlesnake fern.
I still don’t know what it is, but it’s beginning to look more and more like perhaps a rattlesnake fern.

 

 

2018 Spring Awakening Watch – First Native Flowers of the Ozarks

It’s mid-March 2018 and I’m watching for the first native flowers of the Ozarks to start blooming. I particularly love the ephemeral blooms of early spring, like the bloodroot and Dutchmen’s breeches. Scroll down to see pictures and keep up with what’s blooming at Wild Ozark. If you’re looking specifically for the ginseng unfurling/blooming, you’ll find that on the Ginseng Unfurling Watch 2018 page.

Native Flowers of the Ozarks at Wild Ozark

3-26-18 The false rue anemone is blooming along the driveway. Farther from the house, down the road heading to pavement, I saw the bloodroot finally making an appearance. It’s not up yet here, but should be soon. Toothwort is abundant, corydalis still is blooming. The only photo I was able to get so far was of the false rue anemone, with my cell phone, and it didn’t come out well enough to bother posting it on the website. Once the rain clears out I’ll try to get down the driveway with the real camera.

3-20-18 Today I spotted one of my favorite spring flowers blooming along the roadside. So, while it’s not technically ‘at’ Wild Ozark, I consider it to be ‘Wild Ozark at-Large’, since it was only down the dirt roading leading here 🙂 Everything here is a week or two behind the surrounding area. We live in a little microclimate.

One of my favorite native flowers of the Ozarks, Pale Trout Lily (Erythronium albidum)
Pale Trout Lily (Erythronium albidum)

Not much else blooming yet at Wild Ozark proper, but I did find this Cutleaf Toothwort getting close.

Cutleaf Toothwort (Cardamine concatenate)
Cutleaf Toothwort (Cardamine concatenate)

3-18-18 Not a flower yet either, but the buds of the Redbud (Cercis canadensis) tree are swelling. The flowers are edible and make a colorful addition to salads. Here’s a  pic from this morning that I took while we were bringing hay to the horses. It’s a terrible pic, but the limbs were swaying and I didn’t have the good camera with me. I pulled a muscle in my back yesterday and moving around is a bit of a problem today, so it’s not likely I’ll be going back out there to get another photo before the flowers open, so this one is the best I’ll get for now. Next pic will be of flowers, not buds.

Redbud buds. The flowers bud out and bloom on this tree before the leaves even begin to swell.
Redbud buds. The flowers bud out and bloom on this tree before the leaves even begin to swell.

 

3-17-18 Not a flower, yet, but the first leaves of one of my favorite native flowers – Yellow Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum). When it blooms it too will be yellow. I’ll post the picture of it as soon as I see it.

Yellow Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum)
Yellow Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum)

3-15-18 Noticed that the Pale Corydalis (Corydalis flavula) is blooming along our morning mile hike route. Of course I didn’t have my camera with me to capture it. Today we have appointments in town and tomorrow is the first market day of the season. So unless I can get out there this afternoon before it’s too dark for a photo, it’ll be a few days before one shows up here! (update – got a pic, see below!) The flowers are small and yellow with foliage that looks a lot like Dutchmen’s Breeches (ferny and dissected). It’s a relatively small plant and is one of the first native flowers of the Ozarks to bloom. If not for the bright yellow color of the flowers, it would be easy to miss. Corydalis grows in the shady edges of the woods.

The one pictured below is growing in a bright sunny spot that opened up when we had more of the landslide come down this past winter. It’s not happy in full sun, though. I’ll probably move the ones located here to pots for the nursery.

Corydalis belongs to the same Family as poppies. Like poppies, Corydalis is full of alkaloids, compounds which usually mark a plant as being medicinally active. It was used by native Americans and early American doctors, however, the plant is toxic and even small doses can cause tremors and convulsions. This could be caused by incorrect preparations (i.e. water extract versus alcohol or oil), but it’s not one I’m inclined to experiment with and I can’t recommend it as a native medicinal option. According to the reports I’ve read, the way native Americans used it was to burn the plant on coals and fan themselves with the smoke. It was said to “clear the head“. I haven’t found any references to explain what that means or how it worked.

Yellow Corydalis (Corydalis flavula) is one of the first of the native flowers to bloom at Wild Ozark.
Yellow Corydalis (Corydalis flavula) is one of the first of the native flowers to bloom at Wild Ozark.

3-8-18 Usually the first plants to show signs of life with blooms here are the Vernal Witch Hazel (Hamamelis vernalis). These sometimes bloom as early as January and February. This year they bloomed in March.

Vernal Witch Hazel flowers
Vernal Witch Hazel flowers

American Hazelnut(Corylus americana) is blooming right now too:

Male flowers of the American hazelnut (Corylus americana)
Male flowers of the American hazelnut (Corylus americana)

I’m watching for bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), cutleaf toothwort (Cardamine concatenata), and Dutchman’s Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria)
to show up soon. None yet when I checked yesterday, though (Mar 13). Add this page to your RSS feed or check back often to see what’s blooming next!

What’s your favorite flowers of the Ozarks?

What’s the Difference between Native and Ornamental?

Native flowers grow in the area naturally. They are plants that evolved with the local habitats. Ornamental plants are imported, hybridized or modified in some way to highlight the showy features of the plant. Unless you’re shopping specifically for a native plant, at a nursery you’ll most likely get something that originated elsewhere. Nurseries stock plants most likely to sell to the public and often that is a bright, showy flower. Some nurseries, like Wild Ozark, specializes in native plants. We specialize even further – native woodland plants of the American ginseng habitat. I’ll start bringing plants to the market in April, so keep an eye on the calendar if you want to know where to find the booth.

‘Naturalized’ plants are mostly foreign plants that found their way to new habitats here in the US a long time ago. Some were brought with the settlers, some purposefully and some accidentally. These plants adapted so well to the environment that they began out-competing the native plants. Japanese honeysuckle and Chinese privet are two examples of this type of plant. Autumn (or Russian) Olive is a third.

Ginseng Seedlings Coming Up Early in Arkansas

There are ginseng seedlings coming up early this year, at least in Yellville, Arkansas. I haven’t seen any here at Wild Ozark, yet, but a few hours to the east, my friend Suzanne is reporting that hers are all coming up already. Here’s a pic she sent this morning.

Ginseng seedlings coming up early in Yellville
Ginseng Seedling in Yellville

I’ve never had them come up before bloodroot and Suzanne reports that her bloodroot hasn’t bloomed yet, either. How about any of you out there? Have you noticed your ginseng seedlings coming up early too? Let us know and send pics if you want!

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I’ll have seedlings at the Huntsville farmer’s market and possibly the Fayetteville market beginning in May. This year I’ll also try shipping them, but if the first attempts result in damaged or unhealthy plants, only local pickup will be available. I’ll refund any damaged orders.

Buy your first year ginseng seedlings from Wild Ozark

Ginseng in spring, a little more unfurled by the end of the day.

When Does Ginseng Come Up? 2018 Ginseng Unfurling Watch

When does ginseng come up?

It’s always around this time of year when people start wondering. When does ginseng come up? Usually that happens here at Wild Ozark from mid- to late-April. Today is March 14, 2018. This is the page where I’ll post the photos of our wild-simulated and true wild ginseng unfurling as it begins the growing season of 2018.

I’ll have ginseng seedlings with me at the farmer’s market as soon as they’re ready to be potted. Watch the schedule calendar to know when I’ll be where and with what.

Check back here in April for the ginseng unfurling, or add this page to your feed readers. In the meantime, I’ll be posting pictures of the other native plants of Wild Ozark as they start to bloom. Those will be posted on the 2018 Spring Awakening Watch page.

Seedlings Unfurling

042218 – The first year seedlings began sporadically unfurling over the past few days. None of the older plants are up yet.

Products of Wild Ozark's nature farming.

What is Nature Farming? What does a Nature Farmer Grow?

What I mean by ‘Nature Farming’ is not the same as ‘natural farming’, ‘organic farming’, or ‘natural farming methods’. Explanations for all of these things come up when you do a search online for ‘nature farming’. But nothing turns up for true nature farming. Hopefully this post will show up in the search engine results list soon.

I am literally farming nature.

I’m not doing conventional farming using natural techniques, or practicing organic or permaculture farming (although where I do actually grow things on purpose, I do adhere to those principles).

The more people who interact with my blog, the more quickly it’ll turn up in searches online. Will you help me get it noticed by sharing this post?

Wild Ozark is a Nature Farm. They are literally farming nature. Click To Tweet

 

What I’m farming is already present there in nature.

For the most part, the plants I use in my business already grow here naturally. I encourage some of them to multiply by dividing or transplanting or seeding them in more areas, but the habitats to support them already exist here. No tilling involved, though sometimes I do make nursery beds by creating rock wall terraces on the hillsides.

The terraces are in the deep shade under trees with the kinds of leaves that make good mulch for ginseng. They keep the pots from washing away during rains and when the creek floods, provides easy access for seedlings when I need to fill orders, and is a staging/holding area for the items I bring with me to market.

Things I keep in my nature farming nursery beds. A ginseng habitat in a pot! This one includes a 3-year old American ginseng with a handful of companions for $75. Available only for local pickup at the nursery, or the Rogers Downtown Farmers Market on Saturdays or the Huntsville Farmers Market on Tuesdays. Reserve in advance to make sure I have one with me by emailing madison@wildozark.com.
A ginseng habitat in a pot! This one includes a 3-year old American ginseng with a handful of companions for $75. Available only for local pickup at the nursery, or the farmers market booth (check schedule). Reserve in advance to make sure I have one with me by emailing [email protected] Bare root collections can be shipped in fall.

American ginseng seedlings are the main things that use the terraced beds. I transplant the seedlings to the other habitats and I also put them in pots sell them at market. When it’s not growing season, I sell them as dormant, bare root plants. Wild Ozark is the only certified ginseng nursery in Arkansas. Wild ginseng lives here naturally, and I’ve purchased seeds to grow even more of it. I keep the wild populations separate from the wild-simulated.

When I say ‘wild-simulated’ that means I’m growing the ginseng in the same way it would grow in the wild. All I do is plant the seed in a space where it can flourish. I do have one small area set aside as a teaching environment. It’s my Ginseng Habitat Demonstration Garden. It’s not quite a natural area yet, because it is still recovering from being logged many years ago. As the trees get bigger it will return to a natural dense shade forested habitat.

In addition to the ginseng seedlings and habitat pots, I also keep many of the companions in propagation beds so I can easily transplant them to pots and sell them, or harvest bare root plants for dormant shipping. Those plants include goldenseal, bloodroot, black cohosh, blue cohosh, a variety of ferns, spicebush plants, pawpaw tree seedlings, and doll’s eyes. I also keep some of my other favorites like trillium, Dutchman’s breeches, and trout lilies, too.

Stewardship of Mother Nature versus Stewardship by Me

The Ginseng Habitat Demonstration Garden is not left completely to nature because I’m taking out things like honeysuckle and wild roses. I’m thinning some of the trees I don’t want there to favor some of the ones I do. The reason for that is to speed up the process that will make it a better habitat for the American ginseng and the companion plants that also grow in the same sort of environment. While the rest of Wild Ozark is pretty much left up to the stewardship of Mother Nature, this demonstration garden is being tended by me.

While the garden isn’t an ideal environment yet for the ginseng, it will eventually be so and the plants are doing well enough in the meantime. My process of doing this is helpful to others who want to do the same thing on their own property. Additionally, and the main reason I chose this spot, is because it is in a location close to the front gate and I don’t mind sharing that location with visitors.

Nature Farming means Harvesting Nature

I harvest things provided by nature. Things naturally growing, dropped to the ground, or dried on the stem. Wildcrafting is the gathering of wild plants. I’ll make ointments or extracts and teas from the medicinal plants. Some of them I’ll sell, and some of them I keep for our own household use. The parts I gather include fruits (persimmons, pawpaw), flowers (echinacea and beebalm), berries (elderberries, spicebush berries, raspberry, blackberry, etc.), seeds (lobelia), nuts (hickory, acorns), stems (witch hazel) or roots (ginseng, goldenseal).

 

Using Nature Farming Products to Create Art

So here’s where my nature farm departs from what most people normally think of when they think ‘farming’. The bulk of what Wild Ozark produces is botanical items most people barely notice. Usually it’s lying on the ground in the process of decomposing so it can return to the soil. Sticks, vines, leaves, bits of bark that fell from a tree… all treasures to me.

These harvests include things I use in my arts and crafts, like mosses and lichens and bark. These are things I simply pick up and put in my bucket during my morning walks.

A bucket full of nature farming produce. Some botanicals from the last gathering foray.

I use all of these things to create my Forest Folk, Fairy Houses, and Fairy Gardens. These are very popular and I even hold workshops on how to make these things so anyone can learn how a bit of nature farming can lead to beautiful Nature Art. I sell the small ferns for fairy gardens, bags of moss and preserved leaves, too. You can see where I’ve used twigs, acorns, leaves, dried grass, moss and small ferns in the following photos.

Bark from the Shagbark Hickory

One of our Nature Farm harvests is the bark of a certain tree. Burnt Kettle, my husband’s company, uses the bark from Shagbark hickories to make a delicious syrup. These trees grown naturally all around here.

Eventually we’ll harvest the wood from certain trees for my husband’s woodworking projects. He needs a bandsaw and sawmill to make boards from the abundant cedars that grow here.

Indirect Harvests from my Nature Farm

Art, photography, stories and workshops. Being around nature all of the time inspires me to write, draw, and take photos. I love sharing what I learn and enjoy with others, so I’m always happy to be contacted about doing workshops on topics like nature journaling, ginseng growing or habitat identification, and creating nature art. I’m not an expert on photography, so I’ll leave workshops on that to the ones that are. The outstanding photos from the ones I take are available for sale but I don’t have most of them listed at the shop yet.

Thanks for visiting with Wild Ozark website and taking the time to read about what I do here. Come by and visit the Ginseng Habitat Demonstration Garden if you’re in the area during spring and summer or come by the market booth to see the Forest Folk and Fairy Gardens! The market schedule will be kept current so you’ll know where I’ll be and when, but you can always email in advance if you like. Click here to get all of my contact information.

Namesake of the Dragon – Another Green Dragon Drawing

Here’s the second of the Green Dragon drawings I’ve been working on. I posted the first part of it last week. This part is called the spathe (the hood) and the spadix (the long ‘tongue’) and it is the namesake of the dragon. This part of the plant is what becomes the cluster of red berries after fertilization occurs. You’ll see it in spring, before the plant has finished unfurling the horseshoe-shaped umbrella of its leaves.

Namesake of the Dragon - the spathe and spadix
Namesake of the Dragon – the spathe and spadix. Prints available.

If you’d like to know more about this plant, I have a few posts here on the blog about it. This is one of my favorite woodland plants.

Armadillo Dilemma: To Kill or Not to Kill

Armadillo hide-out.
Armadillo hide-out.

So last summer I noticed an armadillo had moved into one of the ginseng nursery beds. It’s been a destructive force in the area since it arrived a couple of weeks ago. I wrote this post while trying to decide what to do the situation. I thought it would be a good time now to update and let everyone know the outcome.

What would you do? Kill the armadillo or let it live?

Why a dilemma to me?

First of all, I don’t like to kill anything unless we’re going to eat it. I’m not going to eat an armadillo.

But the armadillo is causing havoc. Wild Ozark grows wild-simulated American ginseng, which is indistinguishable from wild except on a genetic level.

The critter isn’t eating the ginseng, but the earthworms that live in the ginseng patch.

If I let this go and allow Nature to determine what happens next, the armadillo will continue to tear up ginseng rootlets as it hunts earthworms at night.

Armadillos are not native here. Neither are the earthworms. Am I native here? At least on a human-level, I think I am.

There is evidence that humans lived here many thousands of years ago. Not so for the cute little leprosy-hosting armored bandits. They migrated up from Texas, along with their road-runner friends.

At least the earthworms are beneficial and don’t harm the plant that is the  basis of our livelihood.

But the armadillo is also eating grubs, which are the larva of an insect (Japanese beetle) that also isn’t native. And the grubs do eat the roots of plants possibly including the ginseng.

So it could be doing me a service even if it is very destructive in the process.

Don’t fear the Armadillo-Leprosy connection

As a side-note, there’s no need to worry about the leprosy unless you’re cuddling armadillos. You can’t catch the disease just by inhabiting the same piece of ground. If you tend to eat armadillos, be sure to cook the meat thoroughly. There have been cases of it caught from undercooked armadillo meat.

What’s this about leprosy??

Our nine-banded Armadillos are the only mammal that can host the leprosy bacteria that has plagued humans for centuries. They’re used to study the disease in laboratories. I once turned down what might have been a very interesting lab job at Carville, Louisiana where leprosy is studied on the campus of what used to be the last remaining Leper’s Colony in the United States. The laboratory has since moved to nearby Baton Rouge.

If you do tend to play with wild animals, however, I’d leave the armadillo off of your list of critters to cuddle. Just in case. At least leprosy can be treated nowadays.

But that’s about as comforting to me as knowing that I can get rabies shots if I’m bitten by a rabid animal.  I’d just rather not.

Armadillo Decision

If I kill the armadillo, then I have interfered with Nature, right? If I don’t kill it, maybe it’ll help cut down on the Japanese beetle problem.

If I let the it live, then it will likely produce offspring, if it hasn’t already. Then those in turn will turn up even more of the nursery beds.

Even if it eats every last one of the grubs it’ll never run out of earthworms to devour. The grubs aren’t so much of an issue in our woods. The earthworms are doing a helpful job.

I feel that I myself am a natural part of Nature, and therefore have a right to defend territory I’ve marked as “mine”.

I’ll tell this to the invader later today. Then it can either leave or stay and face the consequences.

First I’ll try the live trap and relocation. If that doesn’t work, it’ll be on the hit list.

Update 2018: This past summer we had the largest invasion of japanese beetles I’ve ever seen here. I decided to leave the armadillo alone. Although many areas were uprooted and the ground was turned up, I did not notice a significant amount of loss of seedlings or mature plants. That armadillo probably ate more than its weight in japanese beetle grubs, though, and for that I am thankful. And willing to sacrifice a few plants.

A Green Dragon Drawing

I’ve been working on a Green Dragon drawing for the cover of NANPS’s summer issue of Blazing Star. There will be another of the spathe and spadix to do next. That one will be used in the article.

Here’s the photograph I worked from. I used more than one photo because I didn’t have a single capture that showed the plant and all of its leaves AND the ripe fruit cluster.  I used this one because it at least showed all of the leaves.

Green Dragon in July
Green Dragon in July

Here’s the progression of the drawing in stages:

Green Dragon Drawing
Green Dragon Drawing. Prints available from the Wild Ozark shop.

 

Click here to see my drawing of the Namesake of the Dragon. If you’d like to know more about this plant, I have a few posts here on the blog about it. This is one of my favorite woodland plants.

Wild Ginseng in August at Wild Ozark

A few days ago I took a walk out to the deep woods to see how the wild ginseng and habitat companions were doing.

The wild plants are in pretty hard to reach areas and I don’t get out there very often. When we plant seeds, we try to keep enough distance between the wild-simulated and the wild to avoid genetic pollution.


For more information on genetic pollution and diminishing variability in wild ginseng, here’s a couple of references:

  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2898772/ (this is about Russian ginseng, but the same principles most likely apply to American)
  • http://wildginsengconservation.com/GeneticPollution.html (You’ll have to copy/paste that link – can’t make a live link  because it’s not a secure site, and mine is)

The last time I took a look at this particular habitat area, it was in May, I believe. Ordinarily I can drive the 4-wheeler closer to the departure point. Not so on this trip today.

The trail ahead on my quest to find wild ginseng in august. Definitely not good ginseng habitat right here.
The trail ahead. Definitely not good ginseng habitat right here.

The trail had become overgrown with brambles. My quest to find wild ginseng in August was going to take a little longer than I expected.

I used a machete and hacked away for a while.

Bloody and sore after a few minutes, with still no progress, I called it quits and took off on foot uphill, toward the right. As soon as I got away from the trail, and started heading uphill, the going was a lot easier. No more brambles, at least.

I went out at late afternoon, so the light was already dim in the deep woods. Although I went looking for ginseng, I am always on the watch for other interesting plants.

Here’s one that caught my eye. There were only a few of them, all confined to one small area, much in the same way wild ginseng grows in small confined areas.

The photo isn’t very good because the light was very low right here. And I’m not good enough at using my camera to know how to compensate correctly for that, yet. Nothing I tried yielded a good focus.

Triphora trianthophora orchid, whole above ground plant.
Triphora trianthophora orchid, whole above ground plant.
T trianthophora, a new find for me. It's also called Three Birds Orchid and is endangered in many states but not in the Ozarks, or Arkansas. Still, I only saw a few.
T trianthophora, a new find for me. It’s also called Three Birds Orchid and is endangered in many states but not in the Ozarks, or Arkansas. Still, I only saw a few.

The place where I found the orchids looked like it should have been a good place for ginseng, too, but there were none that I could see.

I did see some ginseng companion plants, though. Here’s Doll’s Eyes:

Actaea pachypoda, also called Doll's Eyes or White Baneberry. This is one of the most reliable ginseng habitat indicators here in the Ozarks.
Actaea pachypoda, also called Doll’s Eyes or White Baneberry. This is one of the most reliable ginseng habitat indicators here in the Ozarks.

There was also maidenhair fern, blue cohosh, christmas ferns, goldenseal, and bloodroot present. I didn’t take many photos because daylight was fading fast and I still hadn’t found the ginseng.

However, a shaft of sunlight filtered between the tree canopies to fall on the nettles, and it made a beautiful photo so I had to stop for that:

Wood nettles in flower. These sting. I know this from experience.
Wood nettles in flower. These sting. I know this from experience.

Wood nettles are a great indicator of rich, moist, loamy soil – perfection for American ginseng. But there was still no ginseng in sight. I walked eastward a little longer, then downhill toward a spot I was fairly sure I could find some plants.

One of the wild ginseng plants with only green berries.
One of the wild ginseng plants with only green berries.
Mature 3-prong American ginseng with ripe berries.
Mature 3-prong American ginseng with ripe berries.

So I found a few plants and took a few pictures, and then it was time to get back to the trail before the sun went down much more and made it too difficult to find my way back!

Ginseng in May

I’m drawing a sketch of a 4-prong American ginseng from a photo I took last year in May.  The sketch will be titled “Ginseng in May”.

Limited Prints are $30. Signed & numbered, giclee print on heavy fine art paper. Finished size is 10.5 x 13". Order yours now for $30 + shipping.
Limited Prints are $30. Signed & numbered, giclee print on heavy fine art paper. Finished size is 10.5 x 13″. Order yours now for $30 + shipping.

My First Show Entry

This drawing will be displayed (and will be for sale) at the show in Kingston, AR at The Place on the Square Art Room Gallery during the month of May 2016. It’s not going to be all my art, but a collection of the artists of our area. Please come out if you’re in the area during the month!

I thought I’d record my process of this piece. The first step was to draw a light outline. It didn’t show up in the scans because it was so light, so there’s nothing for me to show you of that first step.

Step 1 Initial Outline

The initial outline is the hardest part of a sketch for me. It’s where all the proportions of the subject must be nailed down.

After the light initial outline, I use a colored pencil to make the final outline and initial shading. Usually it’s the predominant color that I use for this. I have no formal art training, so this is just my own way of making drawings.

Step 2 Final Color Outline

Here’s the final outline in green (vert olive). I am using Prismacolor Premier pencils.

“Ginseng in May”

Color outline of "Ginseng in May" sketch.
Color outline of “Ginseng in May” sketch.

Here’s the photo I’m using for the sketch. You’ll see that my sketch is not an identical copy of the photo. I had to make adjustments to compensate for mistakes I made in the original outline.

This doesn’t bother me, since the aim is not to reproduce the photo. I could just trace it if that were my intention, or use Photoshop to render an outline from the photo.

Rather, this is my artistic interpretation of a 4-prong American ginseng in May, based on a photo I took of the plant.

Photo of a 4-prong ginseng in May.
Photo of a 4-prong ginseng in May.

I’m not going to include the nursery pots in the background, but will add the rock and dried leaves. Usually I only colorize one focus in my drawings, so the ginseng will be colorized but the background will be pencil shading only.

Step 3 Adding Background

In the photo below you’ll see that I’ve added in some background shading. My intention was not to be very detailed with the background, but to give the impression of depth and show the leaves that cluttered the ground beneath the ginseng plant.

This step is the most precarious to me. By this time I’ve invested a good bit of effort and time and shading the wrong spot can ruin the whole sketch. It’s also a bit difficult to get the right effect, or the effect I intend.

background shading of Ginseng in May
background shading of “Ginseng in May”.

Step 4 – Adding Light Tones

Around the edges of the leaves and along all of the veins of each leaflet there is a light color that looks sort of like the bloom on a wild grape. I’ve added a light green shade for this now, because I’ve found it impossible to do once the darker shades are in place.

Adding the light tones to "Ginseng in May" sketch.
Adding the light tones to “Ginseng in May” sketch.

Step 5 – Choosing the Greens

In this step, and before I chose the pencils for the shading or any of the colors, I used a scratch sheet of the same paper the drawing is on.

After the colors are put down and the blending is done, it’s very hard to add another shade. Some of the greens have blue tints to them and I wanted to make sure I had the colors that gave me the look I wanted.

I’m not convinced that everyone sees the same colors in the same way, though. To me, these are the ones that look closest to the plant’s true colors. It also helps to have a large palatte of colors to choose from. Before I got the set of pencils I have now (a large tin of 150 Prismacolor Premier), I only had a set of twelve colors and it was difficult to get the exact shades of colors I wanted in the final sketch.

Here’s my practice sketch on the scratch paper to show how the colors look when blended:

Practicing with blending the greens for "Ginseng in May".
Practicing with blending the greens for “Ginseng in May”.

 

The next step will be to add the greens to the leaves. Then I’ll blend the colors using a pencil with no color made just for that purpose. I may blend the background too, but I haven’t decided about that yet.

Step 6 – Applying Color

Just beginning to apply the color on "Ginseng in May".
Just beginning to apply the color.
Color applied, blending started on the left upper prong.
Color applied, blending started on the left upper prong.

Finally Finished!

I usually do quick sketches. This is the first one I’ve done that took more than one full day to complete. Whew! Come out and see it during the month of May (2016) at The Place on the Square & Art Gallery in Kingston, AR.

Limited Prints are $30. Signed & numbered, giclee print on heavy fine art paper. Finished size is 10.5 x 13". Order yours now for $30 + shipping.
All Done!

Thanks for Following Along

If you do come out to see the art show, let me know and if I’m able maybe we can meet for coffee at the show. I’m listed as “Wild Ozark” in everything, so do a search and follow or friend me. Let me know you saw this post and I’ll be sure to follow/friend you back!

Finished Size

The framed original is on display at The Place on the Square in Kingston, AR. Prints are available.
The framed original is on display at The Place on the Square in Kingston, AR. Prints are available.

For the original, the paper is 8.5 x 11, charcoal mat with a framed size of 13 x 17.

Giclee Prints

Prints are the same size image, but there is a 1″ white space surrounding the 8.5 x 11 drawing. These are high quality prints made at a professional printer, packaged in clear cellophane with a backer board, unframed. They’re $30. You can get them from The Place on the Square, or email me and I’ll send you a PayPal invoice. There will be shipping charges added to mail-ordered prints. You can also order from my online shop.

smallMake your own Nature Sketch

If you’d like to make your own nature sketch but want a head start, order the color page . You’ll get downloadable files of the guide and a .jpg high res file to print the outline.

Nature Art treasure trove in Kingston, AR

Update: The Place on the Square and Art Room Gallery closed in early 2018. Now new owners have reopened the building as Kingston Square Arts. There is still a large contingency of nature art on display and for sale, but it’s not a vintage shop. Look for lots of pottery!

Here’s the old/original post: I’m going to tell you about a sensory feast for nature art lovers in northwest Arkansas …

There is an art gallery in Kingston, Arkansas called The Artroom Gallery. It’s nestled deep within the Ozark Mountains and is a hidden treasure trove of local craftsmen and artists.

If you’re going to Ponca or Boxley by way of Highway 21 from 412, you’ll pass right by it. If you came to Ponca from Jasper or Clarksville, or from any other route, it’s not far to take a scenic drive north to Kingston.

The Artroom Gallery is inside of Tina’s Place on the Square. Stop in at the big white antique/vintage store on the square in Kingston and mosey on back to the far end of the store. That’s where you’ll have your breath taken away by the works you’ll find within.

Kingston, Arkansas. If you find yourself there, stop in at Tina's Place on the Square. Lots of nature art here.
Kingston, Arkansas. If you find yourself in the area, stop in at Tina’s Place on the Square and the Artroom Gallery. Nature art galore!

If you live anywhere near northwest Arkansas and you enjoy nature art,  see this gallery. Lots of talented artists here in these hills! Not all of the works are nature art, but many are of plants, landscapes, and nature.

The gallery is curated by Kate Nessler, a world-renowned botanical artist.

I only have one print in the gallery. It’s my “American Ginseng in May” drawing. But in the corner near the entryway to the gallery, you’ll find my corner of other works.

Some Wild Ozark Forest Folk are there, my books, and a few other nature-art-type items.

Going forward, I’ll be focusing on sketching the companion plants of a ginseng habitat. I already have wild ginger sketched and will be adding blue and black cohosh, bloodroot, goldenseal, jack-in-the-pulpit, spikenard, mayapple, rattlesnake fern and maybe some others.

In addition, I’ll continue creating more varities of nature art. My favorite are the Forest Folk, and I’ve started working with the native clay from our land to make a variety of things to go on them. Instead of acorns for heads, some will now have wood-fired clay. One will have sculpted arms in the natural terra-cotta color of the fired clay.

 

Oct 18, 2015 – Old Rock Wall and Dead Leaves

Nature Journal Entry Oct 18, 2015 - Old Rock Wall and Dead Leaves

I made a mistake on this one.  This is an old rock wall and it continues in both directions for some length but in the sketch I didn’t give that appearance. What I should have done was draw some lines to outline the continuing rocks if nothing else.

Instead, what it appears to be is a stack of a few rocks rather than the line of rocks the wall makes.

Getting the color on the single leaf near the center was difficult because I didn’t have a red pencil. But using purple and orange came close to the deep maroon it actually was.

Large Bellwort (Uvularia grandiflora)

Sleuthing the Bellwort. Sessilifolia or Perfoliata?

Sessilifolia or Perfoliata?

Three species of bellwort are found in Arkansas: Uvularia grandiflora, U. sessilifolia, and U. perfoliata. The one I see most often around here is the grandiflora, or Large-flowered bellwort as it’s commonly called.

Bellwort in the Ginseng Habitat

Bellwort often grows in the ginseng habitat, which makes it one of the ginseng companion plants, but it can tolerate more sun and is sometimes found in places ginseng won’t grow. It likes at least light shade and rich, moist soil with lots of rotted leaf debris. It is the combination of deep shade, moist soil, and nice layer of rotted leaf debris that gives the ginseng habitat its unique characteristics.

Large bellwort (Uvularia grandiflora)
Large bellwort (Uvularia grandiflora)

There’s a spot along our county road that is sometimes sprayed with herbicides. The first time this happened, I mourned the loss of a large wild raspberry bramble I used to visit often when it fruited. Had I known it would get sprayed, I would have transplanted many of the plants that live there, including the raspberries. That raspberry is the only red raspberry bramble I know of in our area, although the plant itself is supposed to be fairly common in the Ozarks.

The entire 500 yard stretch is home to so many of the various woodland plants I love to watch. The little ecosystem is regaining health now and even some of the raspberries have returned, but soon it’ll be in danger of elimination again because of that robust growth.

Relocating

This year I noticed a colony of small bellworts blooming and decided I’d move some of them in case the spray happened again this year. I knew they were bellworts, but wasn’t sure of the species. I’d never seen these kinds before. They weren’t the usual yellow bellworts I normally see.

When I got back to the house I potted some of them up for the nursery and planted some in the habitat near the nursery. Then I set about making a proper identification. According to my copy of the Atlas of Vascular Plants of Arkansas, it would probably be Uvularia sessilifolia, since the perfoliata isn’t known to be in our county. However, I’ve found other plants not known to be in our county, so that didn’t necessarily help.

What’s in a Name?

Hmmm. With no pictures in the book to give a clue, I wondered about those last names. What did they mean? The latin words used in scientific names are usually full of visual clues if you know what they mean. Time to pull out the dictionary to see what sessile meant. I already knew perfoliata.

“Sessile” means the leaf is directly connected to the stem without a little stem of its own. “Perfoliata” means the stem runs through the leaf, making it appear to be perforated by the stem. Now that I had these meanings to go on, I couldn’t remember whether the leaves were attached or whether the stem ran through. So I had to go take a look. They weren’t right outside the back door so that meant taking the 4-wheeler and the camera and heading back down the driveway.

Sessile Bellwort (Uvularia sessilfolia)
Sessile Bellwort (Uvularia sessilifolia). This is a smaller and more dainty variety than the yellow Large-flower Bellwort I usually see.

Turns out it is Sessile. I had hoped it was U. perfoliata, because that one is endangered and rare to find. But this one is beautiful, too. One of the common names for it is “Fairy Bells”, which I like.

I may have a few of these at market, but they might be finished blooming by then.