THE BOOK / WRITING IN MALIBU
Temporary home in a Tudor with a pool & view of the Pacific.
SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS / HARTFORD & GREENWICH, CT
Mark your calendars! I’ll be speaking at the Hartford Garden Club on October 6, 2015. Topics will include botanic photography, dispersal strategies, wall charts, and more. Thrilled to receive the invitation from Susan Rathgeber, Program Co-Chair & Brie Quimby, President (both of whom own prints from my ‘Dispersal’ project).Autumn is a the perfect season to talk about seed pods. Hope to see you there!
I’ve also just also received an invitation for a speaking engagement in Greenwich, Connecticut. Stay tuned for updates.
Meanwhile, here are a couple specimens photographs that will surely make the slideshow:
Gladwin iris (Iris foetidissima)
Japanese magnolia (Magnolia liliiflora)
Johann’s pine (Pinus johanis)
My slideshow lecture to the Hartford garden club was followed by an afternoon with fancy ladies & finger sandwiches & breezy meadows. Thank you, Nannie Brown!
THE BOOK / RESEARCHING AT HARVARD Harvard University’s Herbaria has an excellent collection of wall charts by authors including Blanche Ames, an illustrator and scholar who colored taxonomic charts for her husband’s courses at Harvard; Alios Pokorny, an Austrian professor whose students included Sigmund Frued, and whose botanic text books were some of the most widely used in Austria & Hungary; Anton Hartinger, Austrian illustrator and botanist who also authored his own series, Hartinger’s Wandtafeln, illustrated by the mycologist G. Beck. Many thanks to Lisa DeCesare, Head of Archives at Harvard Libraries, for her enthusiasm and assistance (Lisa also collects seed pods! I’m excited to package some of my favorite specimens with her thank you card).
Economic Plants of the Metachlamydeae, Blanche Ames
Lisa DeCesare, Head of Archives, unrolling charts in the stacks of the Herbarium Library.
THE BOOK / RESEARCHING IN BERLIN As far as I know, Berlin’s largest collection of wall charts is at the Botanic Garden Museum. Norbert, the head librarian told me that their original collection was destroyed during WWII, and their current collection was acquired when the adjacent college of pharmacy was about to toss them. He has no inventory of the 1,000 charts. No one does. After four hours unrolling these charts, I am now the world’s expert on Berlin Botanic Garden’s collection. And it is a very good collection.
Each chart was still carefully rolled & secured with a small piece of twine, just long enough to tie in a (now dusty) uniform bow. German patience & precision.
Jung, Koch & Quentell were an influential trio whose signature black background and painted illustrations would become iconic. With no written information on the charts themselves, their series was emblematic of the genre. Above: Papaver rhoeas, from their collection ‘Neue Botanische Wandtafeln’.
One of my favorite period artists, A. Peter, included a large Banksia pod in his Proteaceae chart. Below is my photo of the same subject, collected last year at the Berkeley Botanic Garden.
THE BOOK / RESEARCHING IN PRAGUE
Hello everyone, please offer a warm dobrý den & děkuji (trans. hello & thank you) to Milan Skalicky, head of the botany department, who has generously offered me full access to the charts & library archive (as in, I have two desks & two sets of keys).
In my year of proposal research, I hadn’t found many charts produced outside Europe. Thrilling to find a series of charts from Russia, most of which focused on economic grasses. This seems significant.
THE BOOK / ARRIVING IN PRAGUE
After two weeks in London for holiday, I booked a flight to Prague. The Czech University of Life Sciences, Prague has one of the largest collections in Europe, and I’ve been discussing a visit with the head of the botany department since I began the proposal. Thank you, Milan, for the invitation! I suppose the ticket is a birthday gift to myself (today is my birthday). I arrived at the airport (below) w a writer’s birthday glow. Milan has arranged a room campus while I research; perhaps I’ll find a flat in the city in a week or so.
I’ve always been fascinated by the morphology & evolution of parasitic plants. Having encountering the curious orange haze of dodders on many a Southern California expedition, I hoped to include them in the book (most parasites are rooted & only use the host plant to get a leaf up in the world, but dodders’ nutrient absorption is less common, having evolved with a rootless morphology). So, I was especially excited to discover that the dodder genus (Cuscuta) is included the chapter families I’ve drafted.
I LOVE this chart by Dodel & Port because it depicts the vining movement (left), and cellular cross-section of the intrusive mechanism (haustorium) that directly penetrates the host, allowing the parasite to absorb nutrients. Read more about dodders in my book’s Convolvulaceae chapter (a family that includes sweet potato, morning glory, and bindweed).