Carnivorous plants fascinate me. Not only because of the creepfactor, but because they are wildly beautiful. The colors! The shapes!
Other than admiring photos online, my only exposure to meat-eating plants was an unfortunate incident in elementary school where I was the caretaker of the classroom venus flytrap for a weekend. I tried my best, but by Monday morning it was drooping, and thankful to get back to a happier setting. Let’s just say that I’m not known for my green thumb.
So when I learned about California Carnivores, a whole nursery dedicated to these gorgeous meat-eaters (as seen here on Atlas Obscura) I was eager to visit. This nursery contains the largest collection of carnivorous plants in the world.
Lo and behold…in June 2019, the North Coast Nature Journal Club announced they were hosting a visit!
So on my nature-journaling pal MJ and I packed up a lunch and headed north to Sebastapol to sketch the marvelousness.
[note: post updated to include a 2nd visit in February 2020.]
Pitcher Plan Bonanza – June 2019
On June 9th, we joined the North Coast Nature Journal Club for the Pitcher Plant Bonanza….the peak season of the pitcher plants; it’s the time of year to the amazing species of pitcher plants at their best! With the energetic and enthusiastic Marley Peifer as our guide, we focused on drawing and learning about carnivorous plants in general and Sarracenia pitcher plants in particular. We also practiced composition strategies and tips for nature journaling in information -dense environments.
[Raw capture, observation notes and reference color done on site. Final color and notes completed at home in the studio.]
The dormancy – February 2020
So…you can’t just go once. There is too much to see (and smell!) and the plants change with the seasons. The following winter, I had another opportunity to visit and draw.
This time I really wanted to observe…to dig into the looking and smelling and sensing and observing. So rather than work toward refined visuals, I used the visit to experiment and explore.
This place is so amazing. If you have a chance to visit, do it!
I learned that every part of a pitcher plant has a purpose. I learned that when overwhelmed with a lot to draw, just PICK SOMETHING and start. I learned that 3 hours goes by so quickly when engrossed in amazing plants!
I was surprised by how much attention it took to explore a plant beyond seeing it. Getting close, sniffing, trying to “touch” without actually touching (the plants are fragile and touching is not a good idea.) The more I look the more I see.
Next time I’d like to be more rigorous in my observations. Pick one species and 3-5 specimens and do deep dives to prompt questions. Also, to continue to explore nature journaling beyond what the eye can see.