Garry Oak Meadow-Early April

Garry Oak Meadow-Early April

In Early April, just a haze of color was visible over the meadow. Walking through it was like stepping on a sponge, soft and very wet after the recent rains. Even the rocks were soft, covered with a plush carpet of moss.

I am chronicling the tremendous variety of botanical riches in this rare and endangered ecosystem near the lower Columbia River in Oregon. Once the Willamette Valley and many places along the Columbia River Corridor were characterized by oak savanna. The dappled shade cast by the oaks creates the perfect environment for a wide variety of prairie and woodland plants…a carpet of wildflowers in spring. Most of these oak meadows have been lost to development. This is one of the few left and we are not sure how long it will remain. For more information go here.

The Camassia meadow in early April. Where rocks emerge from the thin soil, they have a bright lime green covering of moss.
The craggy Garry oak branches were still bare, and although only a few Camassia were in bloom, the buds were quite beautiful, with many shades of blue and purple in a small package. The monkey flowers are starting to bloom along the vernal streams.
In my sketches I record plant form, color, pigments used, and am doing a few dissections for future reference.
I have a ‘hybrid method’ of doing field sketches. I record as much as I can in the field with light pencil drawings, then I continue on the same sheet of paper in my studio. In this graphite drawing of an oak tree, I added much of the shading later. Sometimes, I go over my pencil lines with a 005 Micron pen and .01 Graphik Line Maker in graphite color, strengthening my lines and checking details. If I have permission to collect specimens, I bring a few back to my studio, otherwise I use reference photos. As you see, I enjoy listening to audio books as I work. I keep going back to certain favorites!

With our recent warm weather the wildflowers on the Camassia Bluff have gone from bud to bloom in quick succession. I’ll update you in another post soon.


  1. Angela Cox says

    I love the idea of your hybrid sketches. I will try that as I spend far too long on one thing when I’m out and miss recording as much as I could.

    • It’s working really well for me to get the habit and general size and shape while in the field and fill in fine detail later, otherwise I get too tired and miss some of the plants that I wanted to record. Hope it works for you too!

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