Around the same time last year in late March / early April we went for a walk in a woodland near the Delaware River in Pennsylvania. We were on the lookout for spring ephemeral wildflowers, as this is their time of year to shine, and then shortly after, bid us Adieu until next spring. One of my favorite spring ephemerals is Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis). A single leaf and flower emerge from under the leaf litter. The leaf, if injured, bleeds a red-orange juice, hence the name (bloodroot).
We came upon an old tree, upon which beautiful green moss sprawled. The forest floor had been blanketed with bloodroot flowers, but they were just coming up and the flowers were half closed. As we returned to this same spot on our way back, the flowers were on full display. It was the largest population of bloodroot I’ve ever seen and what a show!
Rue-anemone (Thalictrum thalictroides) is a classic spring blooming herbaceous perennial, which is native to the woodlands of eastern North America. In early spring, this delicate looking plant pops up in beautiful patches, as it pokes through decaying leaves from season’s past. It is hard not to notice this gem as one walks in the woods. It later occurred to me that Rue-anemone (Thalictrum thalictroides) is not the only early spring plant that looks the way it does.
In fact, at this point, I believe that the photo I used to paint this plant is actually False Rue Anemone (Isopyrum biternatum) because it tends have white flowers, unlike the typically pinkish sepals of Rue-anemone. Both species are true spring ephemerals as they fade away in the summer. Either way, the delicate beauty of this plant (and it’s lookalike) made its way into my day dreams of early spring wildflowers, during what has been, a cold and icy winter so far. But, I am not complaining. I like it when winter feels like winter in eastern North America.
Here are some photos of the painting process. I used masking fluid to save the whites of the flowers, while I paint over everything else.
Last watercolor painting of 2020. Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum) is one of the first spring ephemeral wildflowers to emerge in eastern North America. The common name, “Trout Lily”, is derived from the mottled leaves, which kind of resemble the patterns on a trout. I often find Trout Lily on mesic (wet) sites.
In this painting, I try to show the viewer a mystic foggy scene with plenty of movement from the flowers as they fade into the background. Winter has barely started, but I already have spring ephemerals on the mind.