Wednesday, July 8, 2009

another peony and milkweed

peony leaves (untitled), Coloured Pencil on Stonehenge, 8 1/2" x 9 3/4"
Copyright Teresa Mallen

Well, after looking at all of the peony photos that I took a couple of weeks ago, I couldn't resist doing a quick picture of some peony leaves. I especially liked the leaves near the bottom that seemed to me to look like an open clam. This piece whizzed along and I didn't end up taking any work in progress pictures...oops.

I have finished teaching my Beyond the Basics course and I now have a break during July and August. I have lots of projects I hope to get to this summer - I shall keep you posted.

The Coloured Pencil Society of America's 17th Annual Exhibition opens tomorrow. For a teaser photo of one of the gallery exhibition rooms, click here. Three weeks from today I shall be on a plane heading south to Atlanta in order to attend the CPSA's convention. I am getting excited!

Now for some trivia...did you know that milkweed flowers have a beautiful scent? They do, really! I have some milkweed flowers in a vase in my house and their lovely perfume is filling the air.

I am a fan of weeds. What isn't there to love about milkweed? They have beautiful flowers - which you now know smell wonderful. Also, monarch butterflies need milkweed to survive. The larvae/caterpillars of the monarch feed on milkweed. This is their only food! Monarch butterflies are one of the few insects capable of making transatlantic crossings. They are becoming more common in Bermuda due to increased usage of milkweed as an ornamental plant in flower gardens!

Here are a few of my milkweed photos.

Asclepias, the milkweeds, is a genus named by famed Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus. He named the genus after Asclepius, the Greek god of healing because of the many folk remedies associated with the plants. Here are a few fun facts: The milkweed filaments from the follicles are coated with wax, and have good insulation properties. Tests have shown them to be superior to down feathers. The high dextrose content of the nectar led to milkweed's use as a source of sweetener for Native Americans and voyageurs.

The fibers of some species were used for cordage. Milkweed also contains latex and both Germany and the United States attempted to use it as a natural source for rubber during World War II. Milkweed is a common folk remedy for removing warts. The sap is applied directly to the wart several times daily until the wart falls off. The sap is also used externally as a natural remedy for poison ivy. The plant also contains cardiac glycoside poisons which made it useful for native tribes to use in their arrows. Milkweed is toxic and may cause death when animals consume 1/10 its body weight with any part of the plant. Okay, don't eat the plant!

Who didn't love pulling apart milkweed pods as a kid in order to set loose the seeds? Remember that sticky white sap that covered your hands?

So if you want to encourage Monarch butterflies to visit your garden, why don't you grow some milkweed? You will enjoy the smell of the flowers too! :-)

15 comments:

Pencil Sanity said...

That is a beautiful Peony and thanks for the link to the CPCA.

Teresa Mallen said...

Thank you and your welcome! There is lots to see and read on the CPSA website and on their blog. Enjoy.

Jennifer Rose said...

that Peony is gorgeous, really soft looking :D

huh learn something everyday. I didn't know about the relationship between monarchs and the milkweed :) good to know.

Jeanette said...

Beautiful soft colours in this peony, its lovely.\\The milkweed images are interesting, complex pieces to draw but the seed pods are quite fascinating.

Christine said...

Beautiful addition to your series! Love the colors and pattern! Thanks for the info about Milkweed...definitely will have to keep that in mind next season.

Teresa Mallen said...

Thanks Jennifer Rose. Glad you learned something. Do you have milkweed in Scotland?

Hi Jeanette. Isn't it amazing how beautiful something like a milkweed can be? From the soft colours and wonderful shapes of the blossoms to the mature seed pods - gorgeous!

Hello Christine, thanks for you kind words and ummm you might want to be prepared for some questions from the neighbours if you establish some milkweed plants. They might wonder why you are encouraging a weed to grow! Hopefully they won't see those seeds setting sail into their yards in the fall! :-) Just tell them about the Monarchs!!

Vic said...

Love the peony Teresa, the colours are wonderfully soft and muted.

Jennifer Rose said...

yeah I've seen milkweed around, if not tho its something that looks a lot like it :)

Jennie Norris said...

That just gave me a flashback - I grew up in Massachusetts and I do remember pulling apart milkweeds when I was a kid - and they were sticky. I had forgotten. There are no milkweeds in Arizona.

They are so beautiful, and so is your new "peony leaves". Such delicate color transitions. Thanks for the memories!!

Laure Ferlita said...

Lovely peony leaves, and just love the milkweed shots!

Happy travel wishes to you on your trip to Atlanta!

Christine said...

Teresa, I don't know if you care to receive these, but I have an award for you on my blog. ;o)

Teresa Mallen said...

Hi Vic! Thanks.

Jennifer Rose - go have a sniff, oh but maybe yours are past the flower stage?!

Jennie - thank you for taking the time to comment. As for the memories, you are welcome! No milkweed in Arizona - oh dear. I shall think of you this fall and I shall pull apart a pod just for you!! :-)

Hi Laure - thank you and I appreciate your happy travel wishes. I shall do my best to assist the US economy - well a girl has to eat and shop doesn't she?

Christine - hello and thank you! I shall pop on over...

Reflections From Life Art Blog said...

Beautiful peony! Look forward to meeting you in Atlanta!! Just a couple of weeks away now!!!! Woohoo!

Paula Pertile said...

Beautiful!
I don't have milkweed. snif. Now I feel deprived...

Teresa Mallen said...

Hi Nancy, I look forward to meeting you too! Okay, now how do we find each other? Are we just going by blog photos here? :-)

Hi Paula, oh dear someone else with no milkweed. I shall think of you as I breathe in their fragrance. Yet I am sure you have all sort of botanical wonders that we don't here. There, feel better? :-)