Plants in Paintings – Vincent van Gogh

This was originally published on Native Plants & Wildlife Gardens.

“If one really loves nature, one can find beauty everywhere.”
-Vincent van Gogh

This is the second post in a short series about the importance of plants in the arts. The first post was Plants in Poetry and looked at the various ways plants were used as inspiration, symbolism, morals and as an appreciation of nature. In addition to poetry, plants have been represented a great deal in paintings. We can go into nearly any art museum and find a still life of a bouquet, everyone from Henri Matisse to Pierre Auguste Renoir to Paul Gauguin all spent time painting bouquet’s of flowers settled among indoor props. The landscape painting genre however kept plants in their native surroundings and paid special attention to the types of plants that were there. Of course many artists made…

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Plants in Poetry

This was originally published on Native Plants & Wildlife Gardens.

Plants are beneficial for a lot of reasons such as providing habitat and food for wildlife. However, lest we forget, plants are also important to humans, not just for food and shelter, but for the arts. In the first of a short series of posts I’m going to look at some of the arts in which plants have been an inspiration. The first is poetry, the idea came to me while reading Weeds: In Defense of Nature’s Most Unloved Plants by Richard Mabey, a fascinating book about the most resilient plants (and the subject of another future post). In it he discusses some of these weeds and how many of them have been depicted in poetry and other writings including those of the most famous of all, The Bard of Avon.

Plants as Symbolism

Hamlet, Act IV, Scene V by…

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5 Wildlife Gardening Resources for the Pacific Northwest

This was originally was published on Native Plants & Wildlife Gardens.

Landscaping for Wildlife in the Pacific Northwest

It seems that any time I talk with somebody about landscaping for wildlife or make a book recommendation, this is the first one I mention. There is simply no better book for this region, and in fact this book contains information useful for nearly every region when it comes to wildlife landscaping. There is not a single wasted page in this book and it’s packed full of valuable information including everything from making a pond, choosing the right plants and building bat houses. One aspect of this book which puts it a head above the others is explaining why these design elements are important by explaining plant succession, wildlife populations and structural diversity. It covers…

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What’s in a Name?

This was originally published on Native Plants & Wildlife Gardens.

Just what exactly is in a name of our flora and fauna? Quite a bit as it happens. I’ve long been very interested in the names of things. My first trip outside of the country was to Finland where I bought my first foreign language bird guide. I had a great time looking through the book and learning the Finnish names of the various birds I spotted. Later as I traveled to other countries, I bought bird guides in the local language, in part to look at the names of birds in that country.

Even before my Finland trip though, I learned a lot about local species and their names from the people I was around. What I didn’t understand at the time was that many of those names were regional, or old-fashioned names. I learned many of those names…

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Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens Post:: A Visit to Kew Gardens

This was originally published on Native Plants & Wildlife Gardens.

For anyone with an interest in botany and horticulture, Kew Royal Botanical Gardens in London is like the holy grail. Started in 1759, this garden is now over 250 years old and is full of history, research, conservation, wildlife and a massive collection of plants. The entire garden is now 132 hectares (300 acres) in size, a rather dramatic change from the original 9 acres. It has World Heritage status and contains the worlds most diverse botanical collections. This is where ‘Mad’ King George spent much of his ‘illness’ and the palace, built in 1631 is now open to the public. History can also be found in the gardens where you can step back in time and visit a nosegay garden, which was an apothecary garden or the Queen’s Garden which contains plants exclusively grown in Britain…

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Native Plants & Wildlife Gardens Blog Roundup

Back in May I announced that I was joining the Native Plants & Wildlife Gardens team to contribute a post every month. I have since then written five articles for the blog but unless you follow The Metropolitan Field Guide on Twitter or Facebook you may have missed them. This post is a roundup of those first five posts, and in the future I will post an excerpt and link here when I have a new article on the Native Plants & Wildlife Gardens blog.

Get Thee a Hand Lens!

As a naturalist there are certain pieces of equipment which are necessary; a pair of binoculars, a couple of fields guides,…

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