Botanical Rambles

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Across Washington State in Wildflowers

Wildflowers Across Washington poster Artwork by Louise Smith

Do you, or does someone you know, want to learn several of the most beautiful plants in Washington State by sight? During these winter days, a great way to do that is to hang the poster "Wildflowers Across Washington" where you can contemplate it daily.

I have been gazing at "Wildflowers Across Washington" since it was first produced, back in the 1990s. At the time, I was working at the University of Washington Herbarium.

One day, three volunteers with the Washington Native Plant Society met at the long table in the work room of the herbarium in the basement of Hitchcock Hall. They were Mildred Arnot and Grace Patrick, both of whom also volunteered at the herbarium, and Laura Potash, who was then a botanist with the Mt. Baker Snoqualmie National Forest.

Pacific dogwood (Cornus nuttallii) Artwork by Louise M. Smith

Their task was to select the species that botanical artist Louise M. Smith would illustrate on the poster. They sat in deep and thoughtful discussion for some hours about which species the poster should include.

I think they chose wisely and well.

The left side of the poster starts with the pink funnel-shaped flowers of beach morning glory (Convolvulus soldanella), representing the Pacific coast. Our state flower, Pacific rhododendron (Rhododendron macrophyllum) and that bright beacon of forest edges, Pacific dogwood (Cornus nuttallii), come next.

Indian paintbrush (Castilleja hispida) and sedge (Carex spectabilis) Artwork by Louise Smith

The botanical transect of Washington continues eastward, touching on prairie and woodland. Images of Indian paintbrush (Castilleja hispida) and sedge (Carex spectabilis) are followed by forest floor species rattlesnake plantain (Goodyera oblongifolia), twinflower (Linnaea borealis), and Pacific bleeding heart (Dicentra formosa).

We cross the Cascade crest's montane meadows and alpine slopes. Then the golden daisies of balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata), purple spires of lupine, and mariposa lily (Calochortus macrocarpus) represent the sagebrush steppe.

Native insects hover among the flowers, bringing the total number of species illustrated to 38.

Rattlesnake plantain (Goodyera oblongifolia), twinflower (Linnaea borealis), and Pacific bleeding heart (Dicentra formosa) Artwork by Louise M. Smith

At 2 feet by 3 feet, this full-color poster requires an investment of wall space. For people with walls to fill (teachers, new apartment or dorm dwellers, cubicle inhabitants) the complete poster is a welcome sight.

I've recently realized, however, that a clever framer could help me divvy up the pix so that they would more easily fit in the smaller places I have available.

The high-quality paper of the poster frames up well and would make a lovely set of prints.

On sale now, while supplies last, the poster is only $8.00, including tax. You can pick it up at the Washington Native Plant Society office in Seattle, or order it online. Shipping and handling will add $3.00 to your purchase—still quite a bargain!

While we wait for wildflowers to come again outdoors, it's great to have them blooming on our walls.

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