Garden Letters

Seeded handmade paper drawings

Merging my gardening, with drawing, and communication with friends.

A window screen stapled to a canvas frame makes excellent paper

Drawing may be one of the earliest forms of communication.

We can draw a parallel between seed dispersal and language. Between roots and language. Between the movement of people and the variety of plant species we find.

Recently, I’ve become very dedicated to the propagation of native flowering species in order to offer support to various pollinators, which of course evolved together and depend on one another.


I want to reconcile with the land and improve biodiversity.

My own garden resembles a nature preserve amidst manicured lawns. It feels very urgent to me to do this kind of work so that bees and butterflies have a chance at habitat. At the same time, and in combination with parenting, it felt as though I’d abandoned my art practice.

I don't typically do anything to put my garden to bed in the fall, other than save seeds to share with other native plant enthusiasts.

This year I used plant parts to make paper.

I experimented with many combinations and even ground in some standard paper from two sources: "Weeds of Canada" and "Canadian Atlas" I made this paper from the leaves and flowers of the plant Anaphalis margaritacea commonly called Pearly Everlasting.

They evolved in North America and can be found practically continent-wide. Pearly’s flowers can be entirely male OR female on any given plant, which is unusual, and means that we must have both male and female plants present for the seeds to be viable. I will refer to the plant as they/them.

In the shady part of my garden, under my blue spruce they are two feet tall, but in the sunniest area they are four feet tall, thriving in both. They are drought tolerant. They require no maintenance whatsoever.

I think that now we are all aware that the monarch’s survival depends on their host plant, milkweed, but did you know that each species of moth and butterfly depends on a different specific plant as host? To put it another way, their caterpillars will only survive on a certain plant.

In the case of at least two species of painted lady butterflies (Vanessa virginiensis and V. cardui which I’m sure you’d recognize if you saw them) it is with this flowering plant, Pearly Everlasting, that the fate of these butterflies depend.
The plant is endangered in some areas.

Like most native plants, the seeds need cold/moist stratification, a fancy way of saying they need to pass through winter. Specifically, at least 30-60 days of winter for some plants.

I was just thinking that I needed to source an "art blender" when lo! There's a beauty on the sidewalk!


Detail of the underside of the wing of the American Lady butterfly. It depends on the plant Pearly Everlasting which the paper is made from.


But we can rectify their habitat loss one lawn at a time.

The very cool caterpillar of the American Lady butterfly.


I mailed the drawings on pearly everlasting to friends and family. Love letters to them and to the land on which they reside. I asked them to leave my drawing on the ground in the winter and expect native plants to push out of it in the spring.

Wish me luck. I hope that it works and that the seeds are viable and our plants thrive.

Next I'll be making milkweed drawings. Send me your address if you'd like a drawing!


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