The portfolio that follows shows examples of my recent work and includes several pastel drawings depicting native Michigan wildflowers. These drawings of woodland spring ephemerals such as Showy Orchis, Sharp-Lobed Hepatica, Bloodroot, and Bluebead Lily are inspired by my gardener’s curiosity about Michigan wildflowers. Many of our native flowers are rarely seen in populated areas.
Often the showiest and most prevalent “wildflowers” we see are opportunistic introduced species that multiply rapidly and take over our roadsides, woodlands and meadows. They have no native ecological controls and crowd out the species that evolved here. My own and fellow gardener’s endless battles against garlic mustard, dame’s rocket and spotted knapweed have alerted me to the importance of protecting and restoring habitat for native plants as well as the insects and animals that depend upon them.
Native plants are more than decorative or “right” for their climate and location. They are integral members of the local ecology providing food and nesting sites for mammals, birds and insects, filtering rainwater runoff, and helping to stabilize and replenish our soils.
The beautiful songbirds flocking to our backyard feeders feast on seeds that we provide for them, but the native trees and shrubs which host the larvae they feed their young are the crucial living shelters they call home. The sunflower seeds in the feeder are derived from cultivated varieties of Helianthus, native to the United States and Central America.
Helianthus annuus is the source of black oil sunflower seed, the single most recommended bird food attracting a wide variety of native songbirds and a broad range of non-bird wildlife species that know a good thing when it’s available! This is the power of one kind of plant. Building a greater variety of native plants into our gardens and landscapes will provide for more shelter and nesting sites, more diversity in insects to feed their young and richer and more sustainable songbird habitat.