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A celebration of art and science. Entwined: Botany and Art and the Lost Cat Swamp Habitat

This exhibition is a unique collaboration between the John Hay Library, The Brown University Herbarium, the Rhode Island Historical Society and the Rhode Island Wild Plant Society. It is the first public showing of original watercolor paintings by Providence artist Edward Lewis Peckham (1812-1889). They will be shown together with specimens from the Brown University Herbarium.

The Brown University Herbarium includes around 100,000 dried and pressed plant specimens. Herbarium specimens provide a temporal and geographic record of botanical diversity. Their role is increasingly important as rates of habitat destruction increase and climate change precipitates rapid changes to species’ ranges and ecology.

The Rhode Island Historical Society (founded in 1822) is dedicated to honoring, interpreting and sharing Rhode Island’s past to enrich the present and inspire the future. The Rhode Island Wild Plant Society is a nonprofit conservation organization dedicated to the preservation and protection of Rhode Island’s native plants and their habitats.

The featured artist, Edward Lewis Peckham was born in Providence, the son of Thomas and Sarah (Wardwell) Peckham. His father was the Deputy Collector of Customs for the Port of Providence for over 30 years. Edward did not attend college but in the 1830s he studied with local botanists Stephen T. Olney, George Hunt and George Thurber. His finished drawings appeared as early as 1829, and his corpus of over 500 illustrations were, according to botanist Asa Gray at Harvard University, the most perfect representations of New England plants he had ever seen. They are practically photographs, in many cases, of the entire plant, root, stem, leaf and flower. Peckham used pencil, India ink, sepia and watercolors. The Historical Society has an astonishing portfolio of Peckham’s botanical watercolors that are exacting studies of native Rhode Island wildflowers.

Stephen Olney, one of Peckham’s mentors, donated his entire herbarium collection to Brown University, in addition to his library of botanical texts, and funds for an endowed chair of natural history. Olney’s legacy formed the foundation of the Brown Herbarium and his bequest is the reason there is such a rich and important plant collection at Brown. The first professor of Botany at Brown, William Whitman Bailey, was charged with building on Olney’s donation and it was thanks to his effort, together with several other eminent botanists of the time, that the herbarium came into existence.

The exhibit matches some of Edward Peckham’s paintings with herbarium specimens of the same species. The paintings and herbarium specimens all come from the lost Cat Swamp habitat on the East Side of Providence. Freeman Parkway, Elmgrove Avenue and Arlington Street bound this area today. Some of the native species featured include: nodding trillium, marsh marigold, milkweed, sweet pepperbush and ladies tresses orchid among others.

For it’s size, Rhode Island has a relatively diverse flora. It is a meeting point for northern and southern plants. It has arboreal species more common further north in New England and Alleghanian species that extend down the Appalachian Mountains. There are also coastal plain and maritime species that add to our states diversity. It was this mixture, packed into such a small area that Peckham and his botanist friends found so exciting.

Cat Swamp, a local hotspot of botanical diversity, was destroyed following development of the Wayland and Blackstone neighborhoods in the early 1900s. The exhibit showcases the rich history of art and science in Providence and provokes viewers to consider the impacts of urban development on biodiversity. These plants may still exist in Rhode Island but they are almost certainly gone from the East Side. This is an ecological and aesthetic loss to Providence.

The exhibit will particularly appeal to those interested in nature, botany, conservation, local ecology, scientific illustration, as well as anyone interested in understanding the history of art and science in Rhode Island.

Link to Exhibit Website

The John Hay Library is located at 20 Prospect Street in Providence. It is open Monday–Thursday 10 am – 6 pm, Friday 10 am – 5 pm. Closed Saturday & Sunday. Parking is on the street.

 

Special Programs

Opening reception – Thursday, January 10 from 4-6 pm. Refreshments – Free.

Lecture: The History of Botanical Art From Early Times to the Present, presented by Pam Harrington, botanical illustration and horticulturist. January 19 at the John Hay Library. Free. Details

Botanical Illustration Class with Amy Bartlett Wright, professional artist, muralist and natural science illustrator. Saturday, March 16 at the RISD Nature Lab. Free. Preregistration Required. Details

Tour of the Brown Herbarium with Tim Whitfeld, Collections Manager.Friday, March 29, 2019. Free. Preregistration Required. Details

Rhode Island Wild Plant Society Offering Grant

Rhode Island Wild Plant Society Press Release

RHODE ISLAND WILD PLANT SOCIETY OFFERING GRANT
Deadline February 28, 2019

The Rhode Island Wild Plant Society is offering a grant to aid individuals in the study of wild plants and their habitats. To qualify you must be an educator, a member of a Rhode Island botanical or environmental association or a student in a field related to botany or environmental studies.

The grant is for up to $2,000 and includes a one-year membership to RIWPS. The project goal must involve environmental activities or research in any area of study related to wild plants and/or their habitats. These activities may involve such things as installation of gardens, invasive removal, or support for extracurricular activities. The grant can also be used for project materials, to create workshops or courses with a community outreach component. The award is open to Rhode Island residents or non-residents at a Rhode Island educational institution.

For additional information, specific grant requirements, eligibility guidelines and applications, call the RI Wild Plant Society at (401) 789-7497 (voicemail) or email office@riwps.org.

You can also download the information from the website, www.RIWPS.org.  Click here

Applications must be received by February 28, 2019

Send to: RIWPS, P.O. Box 888, North Kingstown, RI 02852 Or
office@riwps.org

The Rhode Island Wild Plant Society is a non-profit conservation organization dedicated to the preservation and protection of Rhode Island’s native plants and their habitats.

A RIWPS baseball style cap!

Take me out to the garden,
Take me out to the woods,
Show me some native plants in a pack
I don’t care if I ever come back
Let me root, root, root
For the native plant team.

RIWPS baseball style cap will be available for purchase at our General Meeting in January.  Cost is $20.00

 

 

A home landscape transformed into a coastal wildlife refuge habitat

Despite two changes in dates due to rain, a full compliment toured the landscape of veteran RIWPS member, Sally Johnson, on September 27.  Sally and her husband Curtis have worked to make their garden serve as a coastal wildlife refuge.

RIWPS Botanizing Walks – A most enjoyable way to learn about native plants!

RIWPS Botanizing Walk at Neutaconkanut Hill Park. On Thursday, October 4, about 16 enthusiastic RIWPS members and friends joined Joe Jamroz, advisory board member for the Neutaconkanut Hill Conservancy, to enjoy spectacular views of Providence at Neutaconkanut Hill Park. Neutaconkanut by the way, means home of squirrels.

Rising nearly 300 feet above Narragansett Bay, this naturally forested park is situated in

Looking for rare species, time well spent

Doug McGrady, veteran RIWPS member and leader of numerous botanical walks and forays cited for his recent discovery of a population of chaff-seed (Schwalbea americana) in his work as a Plant Conservation Volunteer with the New England Wild Flower Society.

RIWPS Fall Plant Sale — And another 600 more native plants in the landscape!

Saturday August 25th was a great day for our public sale at Pawtuxet Village Farmer’s Market in Cranston giving more people opportunity to add native plants to their gardens as cooler weather approaches. And they did come! Not only our members and Cranston area shoppers but also from CT and MA.

Thank you to the volunteers who came to help customers choose plants, set up tables & tents and transported plants and particularly to the Seed Starters East for this sale and outside propagators who are critical to all our sales. The 600 plants sold help to support activities and speakers for RIWPS. Our members look forward to our yearly sales and the wide spring to fall variety of native wildflowers, ferns, shrubs and trees at affordable prices.

We depend heavily on generous volunteers throughout the year to organize these events and invite you to become one of them.Some tasks can be done at home – researching, designing our sale flyers or only require brief time commitment. Other tasks involve working with others year round.

We can use your help whatever your skills or level of knowledge of native plants. In fact volunteering provides opportunities to learn more about the plants and meet other RIWPS members. There are many tasks and we need more people to share the load. Please email plantsales@riwps.org and join an active group of volunteers who work hard to organize these sales. We have already started work on next year’s sale events so contact us to become part of the plant sales group.

2018 is a great year for RIWPS Spring native plant sales!

Our Early Sale in May was held at a new location – Casey Farm in Saunderstown. We were welcomed by the Coastal Growers Farmer’s Market and it was a good collaboration. Seed Starters West sold 90% of the plants they had brought to the sale and earned gross sales of nearly $10,000 – far exceeding last year’s gross sales! Our June sale was held at East Farm in Kingston. Great weather, many volunteers and so many plants! Again we surpassed last year’s gross sales! 

Together the May and June sales sent over 4,500 plants into Rhode Island and surrounging communities. People are looking to be good stewards of the landscape by adding more native plants and our sales are the best place to find a great selection of native flowers, shrubs, trees, ferns, and grasses and at reasonable prices. Our goal is to put as many native plants into the area for our native wildlife. Biodiverse, sustainable landscapes sustain life across the natural web. We include plants for all growing conditions so customers can find a plants suitable for their specific location.

 We offered over 200 different species this year. A few were new to the sale this year – Fragaria virginiana (common strawberry), Asclepias purpurascens (purple milkweed), Rubus odoratus (flowering raspberry), Cirsium discolor (field thistle). As all were well received we will continue to offer them next year. Our Seeds Starters are also working on cultivating additional species for next year.

We are now planning an additional plant sale to be held at the Pawtuxet Village Farmer’s Market in Cranston on Saturday, August 25. We will be highlighting a nice selection of fall bloomers – asters, goldenrods, hibiscus, milkweeds and some shrubs. Great plants to help out our native pollinators as other species are ending their bloom time.

 The foundation of our success is our great volunteers. The members of Seed Starters East work year round in Portsmouth, members of Seed Starters West work several months during late winter and through spring in Exeter and our many member propagators (Dick & Marty Fisher, Carolyn Curtis, John Wilson) – all raising plants to donate to our sales. ‘Thank You’ doesn’t seem enough for all you do. We also have many volunteers who help out at the sales or help transport plants or donate plants which they dig from their yards. Our volunteers are dedicated and generous giving of their time and talents. Their efforts have so far earned nearly $44,000 in gross sales. Proceeds underwrite the work of our Seed Starters as they learn the art and science of cultivating native plants, as well support our botanizing walks, lectures and other educational programs, our outreach through our website, monthy e-news and print publication, WildforaRI, and our annual grants.

 But we always need more volunteers – more people who will help share the many tasks involved in preparing for the sales. You have talent that can support our sales – computer skills, artistic talent, organizational and research interests – all play a part in putting together our great plant sales. Email plantsales@riwps.org to become part of an amazing group of people.

Native Plants Attract Birds, Bees and Curious Neighbors

Anne Raver, RIWPS Board Member with over 30 years of experience writing about landscapes and the environment, describes her experiences with her now three-year-old native garden.