Dark Flora

I picked up this beautiful coffee table book the other day: Foraged Flora by Louesa Roebuck and Sarah Lonsdale, floral designer and writer/editor respectively. The photographs were so beautiful, I had to have it, but I hesitated, as apart from those on architecture, I tend to leaf through coffee table books only once or twice so they are extravagant purchases. But this one seemed different: it’s like a farm-to-table book for floral arranging. Think local and seasonal; forage and embellish every day. And it is so beautiful…..so I bought it, and I’ve been looking at it quite a bit. I have a small urban garden which I tend to ignore as soon as September comes around, but there are lots of fluffy white spent flowers out there now, and berries come later, so hopefully this book will help me to take advantage of my natural resources.

Foraged Flora Book

The other reason I keep turning the pages is this book reminds me of some of my favorite Dutch Golden Age still lifes, particularly those by two women: Clara Peeters (c. 1594-1657–who was actually Flemish) and Rachel Ruysch (1664-1750). Ruysch was much more well-known in her day than Peeters’ in hers, but there was a big exhibition of the latter’s works at the Prado a couple of years ago so at least she is getting some recognition hundreds of years after her death. The work of both women is amazing, and you’ll see why I was reminded of it as I glanced at the photographs of Laurie Frankel in Foraged Flora. The first images below are Frankel’s photographs; the next two paintings by Peeters and Ruysch.

Foraged Flora Laurie Frankel

Photograph by Laurie Frankel for Foraged Flora

Foraged Flora Laurie Frankel 2

Photograph by Laurie Frankel for Foraged Flora

Foraged Flowers Clara Peters Prado

Clara Peeters, , Museo del Prado

Ruysch, Rachel, 1664-1750; A Spray of Flowers

Rachel Ruysch, A Spray of Flowers with Insects and Butterflies on a Marble Slab, The Fitzwilliam Museum

I just love the combination of flowers against a dark background—I had to pick up a pillow along with the book! The Dutch paintings generally show special flowers in full bloom; Foraged Fauna follows suit, but its hunter-gatherer-renderers are a bit more adventurous with their materials, which is inspiring.

Foraged Flora garden

Garden October 2018The last rose of 2018 (?) and more plant material in my garden + my new pillow and what remains.

12 responses to “Dark Flora

  • Vyache

    Hi Daseger, how are you? Is the Clara Peeters, Still Life with Flowers grabbed my attention. Is it painted? It looks real.

  • Carol J. Perry

    Glad you treated yourself to this!

  • Laura

    As you say, this seems to combine the practical with the beautiful. I ordered one too because often when out walking in nearby wooded areas and gardens, I sometimes get an impromptu desire to pick things up and take them home, but am still a little clueless about what to do with them! And there are still interesting things around in winter in the Mid-Atlantic–though gotta watch it if you’re foraging in public gardens on the Mall, heh heh …

  • Donnalee

    That is lovely. My complaint on the theme though is that these days ‘foraged’ or ‘wildcrafted’ most often means ‘stolen from someone else’s property or a place that someone thinks is ‘the woods’ and hence fair game to take plants and things from’, and it contributes to a lot of habitat damage and scarcity and endangering of plants, since many don’t know not to pull up whole plants, say, or to only take a little of this or that from something–mindful needs to be the way to go.

    • daseger

      You know, I never thought about that, Donnalee–it’s interesting. Because I live in a small city, most of the gardens are “out back”, and so not accessible, but we do have the Salem Woods from which (I do have to admit), I will clip the odd sprig or two. I really covet the moss there—would like to establish a moss yard in my garden–but I have never taken any!

      • Donnalee

        It has become a big problem, since many younger people especially seem to regard any road verge or anything not staked with PRIVATE signs as ‘the woods’ where anyone can simply take what one wants. They take mushrooms to eat or to sell, plants with medicinal or recreational properties, and there is a big market in ‘foraged’ and ‘wildcrafted’ ingredients. It’s worth knowing about. I think that taking a little something from a public place in a way that will not kill or harm the original plant can be okay, if done with wisdom and thoughtfulness. I take lots of bits of dried-out moss that has fallen from the post office building, since it looks like it’s going to die where it is, and I take all kinds of bits of lichen etc. from branches that have fallen from trees, and I put them on my trees at home–I figure they’ll have a chance there that they don’t have in the middle of a street somewhere.

  • Bonnie Henry

    So, beautiful, Donna. Now I must have this book. The linkage to the women painters was so insightful. Thank you for the inspiration I still have some beautiful hydrangeas….and yes, the last rose of summer.

  • Lisa

    This is all very interesting, especially the works by the two women artists. Want caught my attention was the insect in the Rachel Ruysh still life. The insect, on the white flower(rose?), looks very much like the Oriental Spotted Lantern Fly, which has recently “invaded” parts of Southeast Pennsylvania. It has been claimed that it came into the country on a pallet of stone from the Far East in 2011. Beautiful insect but detrimental to fruit crops.
    I don’t know if that is what Ruysh painted, but it looks very similar; grey wings with black spots. Vermillion spots when the wings are fully open.
    I enjoy your posts very much.

  • Lisa Dziuban

    This is all very interesting. I especially enjoyed the paintings by the two women artists. What caught my attention was the insect in the painting by Rachel Ruysh, the insect on the white rose. It looks very much like the Oriental Spotted Lanternfly that has recently “invaded” southeast Pennsylvania. It is a beautiful insect but detrimental to fruit crops. It is claimed that the insect came in on a pallet of stone from the Far East. I have seen hundreds of them on trees, parking lots, etc. I have no idea if that is the insect painted, but it looks very much like it.
    Thank you for the always insightful posts. I am an old house lover and adore New England.

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