"There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion" Francis Bacon 1561-1626

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Leaf of the Day: Three Reluctant Flowerheads

I have been to the gardens today to look for more inspiration for flowers but got very sidetracked by some extremely interesting oranges, loofahs, more Jatrophas, spice trees, the rare Juanulloa mexicana, the Agaves and some great Ladies fingers pods. This did not help at all with today's mission to find some flowers to paint for the course. Also, having mentally earmarked some, when I go to collect a specimen I find that the Glory Lillies are no more, the Aristolochias are decimated again by caterpillars, the Coral Tree flowers are now very much past their best and even the Black Eyed Susan is flowerless. Flower wise it had been a bad day, not helped by getting soaked to the skin in my way home in the big storm that swept through Orlando at lunchtime. Also a hopeful model died on the way home even in a cool box.
But I have three possibles and made preliminary sketches but I have to say I am not much inspired.

The first and the most interesting is one of the gorgeous heliconias..the smallest I can find ..the heliconia episcopalis. It has a bright red orange inflorescence with the remnants of spent flowers peeping out of the sides.
The second is the dainty little flower of the Dwarf Poinciana otherwise known as the Pride of Barbados because it is the national flower of Barbados. Alternatively it is called the fence flower because it grows into a small bushy tree with thorns, so good for effective and pretty fencing! This one is a bright red and yellow variety with an interesting flower structure and long red whiskers. Its Latin name Caesalpinia pulcherrima gives rise to more interesting information as it honours the Italian 16th Century physician and botanist Andrea Cesalpino. He made many important observations about plants and the body but from a botanic point of view it is the two publications, De plantis libri XVI (1583) and his Herbarium 1550-60, one of the oldest herbaria still in existence, for which he is held in high esteem. The first, a herbal was a collection of acute and insightful observations about plants, their structures and their classification. His system of classification was deemed to be the most important until that of Lineus who honoured him thus, Quisquis hic exstiterit primos concedat honores, Casalpine Tibi primaque certa dabit.

Which I think, very roughly translated, means that the honours should go to Casalpine as he was the first. ( apologies to any Latin scholars, you might like to put me right?)
His second 'book' is a herbarium ( a collection of dried specimens)containing 760 plants and now held in the Museo di Storia Naturale di Firenze in Florence. Sadly there is not much visual information on the Internet that is obvious from a quick search, but here is an image from the museum website.



In desperation for something else to paint I have also turned reluctantly to the anthuriums. I don't really like them. I don't know why and there is not much to say about them except that they do have some great leaves..now if it was the leaves I was drawing it would be a different matter, but the flowers? ...well maybe I am missing something.

One of the problems with this assignment is size.. I would love to have taken home one of the huge magnolias or the strelitzias or a stunning double 'angel's trumpet' flower, (at least I could have given myself over to its narcotic scent which might have helped the creative process along a bit) but I am limited to getting 7 flowers onto one A3 sheet...sigh..
Anyway here are 3 preliminary sketches of these flower heads.

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Heliconia Episcopalis Dwarf Poinciana, Anthurium,






2 comments:

VP said...

I love the information/story you put together with each of your plant(s). It's like having your notebook right here in front of me.

Thank you.

sharp green pencil said...

Thanks VP. I started the blog to make notes and sketches in a more ordered way than my normal 5000- pieces-of-scraps-of-paper approach... funnily enough though I still seem to have the paper bits too.. ah well..old habits die hard I guess