“Eclogues: Plants on the Trail”
Or: “Those plants you pass by on your way to the top of the
Colorado is blessed with such an abundance of beautiful,
colorful flowers at all elevations, it is often difficult to
really look at any of them in detail, especially when you’re
hiking through lush meadows of extravagant blooms in a bit
of a hurry, trying to make it to the summit of the day’s
appointed peak before the afternoon thunderstorms hit. Even
if you do have time to stop, many of them are in places that
could be damaged by too many trampling feet, places that
recover slowly, if at all. Photographs might capture the
broad array from a distance, but it is in the tiny details
that their variety and glory really shine.
My aim in
presenting this first installment of a longer series of
Colorado wildflowers is to isolate them from their busy
surroundings, to present them almost as portraits from
Vanity Fair as done by Steichen or Avedon: in color, to be
sure, but alone against a stark backdrop, posed and cropped
to display their singularity and drama without competition.
Each of them has evolved to fill a particular niche in the
landscape in a particular way not duplicated by any other
species. They are all unique. Unfortunately, they are
almost all also imperiled, in one way or another. Whether
from changing climactic conditions, habitat loss at the
lower elevations, trampling boots or competition at all
elevations from human-introduced species, any of these could
disappear. It is my hope that, by offering these personal
and idiosyncratic portraits, hikers and climbers will be
inspired to take the time to really look at their
surroundings and work for the preservation of our native
citations refer to the bibliography of Rocky Mountain
wildflower resources below:
Katherine. Wild About Wildflowers. Extreme Botanizing in
Crested Butte, Wildflower Capital of Colorado. Glendale,
AZ: WildKat Publishing, 2006. (Full of fascinating tidbits
of lore and info, phrased quite colorfully.)
James. Rocky Mountain Flora. Golden, CO: Colorado
Mountain Club Press, 2006.
G.K. Guide to Colorado Wildflowers. Volume Two:
Mountains. Englewood, CO, 1995. (This and its companion
Volume One: Plains and Foothills is a good, basic reference
with photos and illustrations, but the paintings are often
so impressionistic as to be wrong and misleading for
Linda, Andy MacKinnon, Jim Pojar. Plants of the Rocky
Mountains. Edmonton, AB, Canada: Lone Pine Publishing,
Don and Stan Tekiela. Wildflowers of Colorado. Field
Guide. Cambridge, MN: Adventure Publications, 2007.
(Succinct, useful info in a small package.)
Jerry. Rocky Mountain Woldflowers. Photos, Descriptions
and Early Explorer Insights. Golden, CO: Fulcrum
Publishing, 2003. (Lots of historical descriptions and
legends, as well as good photographs.)
"Foothills: Castilleja integra", 2009. Colored pencil, 12"x10"
"Alpine Cushion Phlox", 2009.
Colored pencil, 13"x14"
"Shooting Star: Dodecatheon pulchellium", 2009. Colored
pencil, 12"x 10
"Fit for a King: Rhodiola integrifolia", 2009.
Colored pencil, 14" x 10"
"Ecosystem: Yucca harrimaniae", 2009. Colored
"Pasque Flower: Anemone patens hirsutissima", 2009. Colored