Rich's yard May 2017

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In May Rich invited a small group of friends to see his garden and home, soon to be rented out to a relative, while R&L will relocate to Roseville.  Rich is a native plant aficionado from long ago and I recall being at Native Plant Society sales in Sacramento and Berkeley and many of those plants in his yard are now full-scale. The east Natomas area where Rich lives has amazingly good soil, perhaps the best in the Sacramento area.         

A return trip was needed two weeks later to retake photos of some of the flowers, and to get their Latin or street names.  I also wanted to learn more about Sophie Alstrom Mitchell, who Rich is descended from.  Sophie was an accomplished watercolor painter of California native flowers, long ago.  

note - you can enlarge any part of a picture by left-clicking in and then out again.    

succulent greetings Watsonia lambs' ears bulbine
  dry pond w/fish flannel bush out back  
on the viewing platform native Carpenteria or bush anemone alstromeria love in a mist & canna lily
  love in a mist flower bud canna leaves add great  background color the flowers
  lambs' ears & kitty soap plant flowers (out of focus a bit) misc. w/ shoe
  spice bush Rich      

From my paraphrase of Rich's 1984 edition of Fremontia, A Journal of the California Native Plant Society: 'Sophie Mitchell became one of the finest botanical artists of nineteenth century California. She had a very steady hand for meticulous work and her own way of arranging flowers.  Using fine camel's hair brushes and paper imported from England, she applied transparent watercolor over a base of white paint, a technique that gives a translucent quality to all of her works. Throughout her lifetime she mostly used specially made gray-green paper.'  

Sophie Alstrom Mitchell, Rich's great-grandmother, lived from 1858 to 1940.  She was born in Sweden and a series of fortuitous events brought her to St. Helena, California in 1864, at age six. 

Sophie grew up in the heart of Napa Valley, a simple farming area back then, generations before NV became a world class wine-pilgrimage destination. 

Sophie Mitchell attended Napa Ladies Seminary in the late 1870s, majoring in Art and Botany.  During her 62 year artistic career from 1877 to 1939, she completed more than 150 paintings. 

A different article states that they all exhibit "a remarkable degree of consistency". (Pacific Horticulture,  Vol. 40, no.4, Winter 1979)  Rich has paintings from her early and late periods. 

Sophie's husband James was a very respected Protestant Minister in St. Helena for 43 years.  For half those years, he was also the Minister for Calistoga.  According to the sources, the two of them were 'stalwarts in the community'. 

Sophie at 31 in this picture art & appliances   poppies
  Washington  Lilly    
baby blue eyes (Nemophila) Wyethia sunflower Clarkia Leopard Lilly
  Blazing Star Pine Drop < native Clematis and Mariposa Lily >

The images above are shown in the order taken. 

This visit occurred in strong evening light and later in processing, at first I was reluctant to post the images because of the glare, or, reflections of household appliances in the background.  But this approach would have left few images to post. 

When taking the images, I tried to body-block out the worst glare, or, reflections, and if that was not successful, then later on at home images were cropped to reduce such effects.  But still, some glare & appliance reflections remain, which I came to see as adding a somewhat humorous & homely layer.     

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