Now that I’m an official nature journalist — official by my own declaration — I’m loving my time outdoors more than ever. I want to draw everything I see, and everything I hear! I also want to learn about the wildflowers, the birds, and the other living creatures.
Our weather is warming up now, but there’s still been a bit of a chill in the air, especially in the early mornings, which is when I like to do my sketching. Late afternoons are lovely, but I’m usually busy with other things then, so I rarely stop to draw. Yesterday I made an exception, and I’m very glad I did.
Earlier in the spring, my husband and I had noticed a very prolific plant — lots of green stalks sticking up everywhere! These plants — we had no idea what they were — lined both edges of our sidewalks. They ran along the walkway in the backyard. They were scattered about here, there, and everywhere, throughout our property and the neighbor’s. They were nothing more than green stalks.
And then, they blossomed! Suddenly our yard was filled with white flowers. Were they wild flowers? Had someone planted them? We didn’t know what they were or precisely where they came from, but I found them quite beautiful.
It is, as you may well know, a Star of Bethlehem. It’s lovely, I think, but surprisingly there a few not-so-lovely facts to know about these pretty little flowers.
First, is it really a flower? Is it one you might want to have growing in your garden? Or is it really a noxious wildflower that you don’t want anywhere around?
The answer is — both. Some people love this flower, and yes, it is a flower, and yes, gardeners do cultivate it. Nurseries do grow and sell Star of Bethlehem plants. Yet there are reasons why you might want to avoid it. This pretty little flower is poisonous, not only to humans, but also to horses, to dogs, and to cats. If you pick the flowers and put them in a vase of water, even the water becomes toxic!
Because of its poisonous quality, many gardeners consider it nothing more than a “noxious weed”. It’s also sometimes referred to as an “escaped” plant. It originated in Europe, but then “escaped” and came to America where it now grows freely, except in the northernmost and southernmost regions.
It is very prolific. It spreads on its own. According to all I’ve read, it’s very hard to get rid of. Personally, I thought it was beautiful. I loved looking at it. I enjoyed sketching it. But now, knowing what I do, would it be best to kill it off?
I’m glad I sketched it last night. This morning, I noticed that all the plants are closed up, not a blossom in sight. Will they open later? I don’t know. I’ll be watching. I did make a quick sketch of the closed up blooms.
Here’s the page I made — you’ll notice the dates!
My interest in these “wildflowers” — that’s how I’m choosing to see them — didn’t end with my journal entry. I had just started a landscape painting with a “spring” theme. It was part of my 100-day landscape painting project. I loved the little white wildflowers so much, I decided to add them in the foreground of my painting.
Now, I could pick this painting to pieces. Poor composition. Lack of a focal point. Boring sky. But why do that? Why not just imaginatively “pick” a few wildflowers?
I had fun dotting in all those “Star of Bethlehem” blooms, even knowing they were poisonous. Nature is amazing, and nature is inspiring. She can be beautiful even when she is deadly.
NOTE: Yes, indeed, the blooms opened again as the morning grew warmer. This brings up another good point in favor of nature journals. A nature journal inspires our curiosity. I naturally want to know more about what I see and draw. I’ve learned a lot already.