“Eclogues:  Plants on the Trail”
Or:  “Those plants you pass by on your way to the top of the Fourteener”

            Because 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 ecosystems.

All citations refer to the bibliography of Rocky Mountain wildflower resources below:

Darrow, 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.)

Ells, James.  Rocky Mountain Flora.  Golden, CO:  Colorado Mountain Club Press, 2006.

Guennel,  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 identification.)

Kershaw, Linda, Andy MacKinnon, Jim Pojar.  Plants of the Rocky Mountains.  Edmonton, AB, Canada:  Lone Pine Publishing, 1998 

Mammoser, Don and Stan Tekiela.  Wildflowers of Colorado.  Field Guide.  Cambridge, MN:  Adventure Publications, 2007.  (Succinct, useful info in a small package.)

Pavia, 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.)


"Six Pack: Aquilegia coerulea", 2008. Colored pencil, 14"x14"

"Alpine Valerian: Valeriana acutiloba", 2009.  Colored pencil, 12"x10"
Sold/Prints Available

"Trunk Show: Pedicularis groenlandica", 2008. Colored pencil, 15"x15"

"Foothills: Castilleja integra", 2009.  Colored pencil, 12"x10"
Sold/Prints Available

"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 pencil, 12"x10"
Sold/Prints Available

"Pasque Flower: Anemone patens hirsutissima", 2009.  Colored pencil, 14"x10"


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