Archive for the ‘botany’ Category

Does your busy life cause you to neglect your houseplants?
There are 14 plants in this book just for you!

House Jungle: A Guide to Becoming a Successful Indoor Gardener!
is a cheerful new book containing the type of information a person needs to green up their living space. It is perfect both in content and in size for homeowners, apartment residents, dorm dwellers, and RV enthusiasts whose home is on four wheels.

Written and playfully illustrated by designer Annie Dornan-Smith, House Jungle is a helpful guide for indoor gardeners. Houseplant enthusiasts will learn:

  • The benefits of houseplants
  • How to start an indoor garden
  • How to decorate with houseplants
  • How to care for houseplants
  • Where to buy houseplants
  • How to make more houseplants

Indoor gardeners will also learn about fourteen plants that can tolerate low light and a little bit of neglect. This is a good starter list for anyone who doubts their ability to maintain a thriving indoor garden.

While Dornan-Smith surely had homeowners in mind when writing House Jungle, I think this book is also a good resource for teachers interested in bringing houseplants into the classroom. Written and illustrated like a sketchbook, House Jungle features easy-to-follow text and instruction that promises to keep students engaged with the care of their classroom jungle. Plus its format can spark ideas and conversation about how students can track the growth of their indoor garden and keep a nature/science journal of their own.

Published just last week, House Jungle is available directly from the author (for UK readers) and from your local independent bookstore (for US readers).


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How do you even begin to describe the collection at the Glass Flower Gallery at Harvard University?

When a video leaves you without words, imagine what seeing this collection does to you when you see it in person. I’ll have to get myself to Harvard some day because beginning tomorrow, the collection reopens to the public after undergoing a major renovation.

According to Harvard Staff Writer, Alvin Powell, the Ware Collection of Blaschka Glass Models of Plants at the Harvard Museum of Natural History was created between 1886 and 1936. These delicate, extremely life-like glass models were created for teaching purposes and boy are they good teachers!

Learn more about this collection and watch a wonderful video in Putting the Glass Flowers in new light, an article written by Powell for the Harvard Gazette.

Many thanks to the kind reader who brought attention to the grand reopening of this historic collection.

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The March 2016 issue of Arts and Activities magazine has an article about shading, ribbons and proportions that made me think of the ribbon and basket weave exercise many of us learned from Anne-Marie Evans.

In “Ribbons and Spheres: An Introduction to Still Life”, art teacher Rebecca Tarman writes about an exercise she uses with high school students. Tarman says the purpose of her lesson is to help students:

  • Draw from life
  • Draw only what they see
  • Learn how to sight proportion
  • Learn how to shade

Tarman describes how she accomplishes these goals by using a still-life model made of ribbon, ornaments and a piece of foam board. She explains how she attaches ribbon to foam boards using T-pins and how she uses ornaments of different sizes to teach students how to sight proportion. Her clever and very portable idea made me think that this would be a good exercise for anyone teaching botanical illustration at multiple venues. It is a good way to introduce first-time botanists and first-time artists to how to look at the growth patterns of tendrils, strap-shaped leaves, lianas, and twisting seed pods.

It also made me think:

  • What if the round ornaments on students’ boards were replaced with fruit, leaves, flowers or inflorescences?
  • How many ways could this lesson be used in a botanical drawing workshop?

Take a look at Tarman’s article and share your thoughts. Her article Ribbons and Spheres is available online for free on the Arts and Activities website.

Literature Cited

Tarman, Rebecca. 2016. Ribbons and spheres: An introduction to still life. Arts and Activities. March. Retrieved from http://artsandactivities.com/ribbons-and-spheres.


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TheFruitsWeEat It’s summertime!
Cherries, nectarines, peaches and apricots are in season and now available at local supermarkets and farmers markets.

Celebrate the fresh fruits of the season with the new book by author and illustrator Gail Gibbons. In this book, Gibbons introduces readers to fruit, how it grows, how fruit are harvested and how fruit arrives at the grocery store. Gibbons also touches upon the nutritious qualities of fruit and includes USDA recommendations for healthful eating.
Written for children ages 4-8, The Fruits We Eat is a balanced blend of themes related to botany, horticulture, gardening, and urban agriculture. Gibbons’ colorful illustrations and landscape scenes introduce readers to:

  • Trees
  • Plants, bushes and vines
  • The morphology of strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, pineapples, watermelon, grapes, apples, pears, cherries, peaches, lemons, and oranges
  • How pineapple plants, banana plants, and grapes grow
  • How fruit is harvested
  • How fruit travels from industrial farms to the grocery store

Gibbons also introduces readers to botanical terminology, as well as nutritional resources in the United States and Canada and includes Web addresses for further study.

If you are a long-time subscriber to ArtPlantae, you may remember reading about other books by Gail Gibbons at the former ArtPlantae Books, namely From Seed to Plant and Apples.
The Fruits We Eat is a colorful and informative introduction to the trees, bushes and vines producing some of our favorite fruit. It is also a nice introduction to the farm-to-store journey our food takes to the local grocer.

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ArtPlantae is an affiliate of IndieBound and a supporter of independent bookstores. A small amount of each online purchase at IndieBound supports ArtPlantae’s InterpretPlants program.

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This summer the Ruskin School of Art will offer short courses in human anatomy, botanical drawing, the foundations of drawing, and a watercolor course about painting landscapes.

Sarah Simblet will teach the courses about human anatomy, botanical drawing and foundation course in drawing. Her courses are based on her books Anatomy for the Artist, Botany for the Artist, and The Drawing Book, respectively.

Here is what’s new at Classes Near You > England:

    Botanical Drawing PosterBotanical Drawing
    August 17-21, 2015

    The course offers a unique opportunity to learn a broad range of essential drawing skills, including the best use of materials and techniques, while immersed in the rich diversity of the plant species that grow in both an historic botanical garden and along the banks and meadows of the nearby river Thames.
    Find out more

    The Drawing Book Poster
    The Drawing Book 2015

    August 10-14, 2015

    Based on Sarah simblet’s internationally renowned book of the same title, this is a practical and inspirational studio course in how to draw and use your imagination. Through classes in the magnificent buildings of the Ruskin School of Art, visits to draw in Oxford museums and collections, illustrated lectures on the history, contemporary practice and diverse role of drawing in our lives, the practical explanation of materials and techniques, and also the making of individual drawing books, this course offers a clear foundation in drawing for the absolute beginner and also refreshment to the more experienced artist.
    Find out more

In Ruskin Short Courses, teaching is delivered through intensive workshops, lectures, demonstrations and group discussions, with time for personal studio work. Participants are not expected to have any prior academic or artistic qualifications, except enthusiasm!

See Ruskin Short Courses for Summer 2015

Oxford University Alumni receive a 10% discount on the course fees.

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Four years ago we learned about The Botany Studio at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. The Studio’s senior artist, Kandis Elliot, was our guest and their poster about fungi had received First Place for Informational Graphics in the eighth annual International Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge 2010 sponsored by the journal Science and the National Science Foundation.

Today the Botany Studio operates a Botany Outreach Store featuring not only their collection of botany posters, but also digital media and selected publications about the plants of Wisconsin.

If you’re looking for posters about plants for your classroom or program, be sure to visit the Botany Studio. You’ll find posters about the following topics:

  • Introduction to Fungi
  • Classification of Fruits
  • Specialization in Flowers
  • Plant Modifications
  • Pollination and Pollinators
  • Carnivorous Plants
  • Plant Colors
  • Life Cycle of Arabidopsis thaliana
  • The Annotated Big Bucky
  • The Tree of Life

These posters would be a great addition to a classroom, lab, or nature center.
Be sure to take a look!

More about the Botany Studio

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ScienceWithPlants Science with Plants is a collection of hands-on activities about the structure and function of plants. The interdisciplinary activities in this book were created for children ages 8-12 and are a nice blend of art, math, ecology, gardening and of course, botany. You won’t need fancy supplies to complete these activities. Most of the items you’ll need are common household items. The major themes of Science with Plants are outlined below.

Here is a brief overview of what you’ll find in this 24-page book:

    Art Activity: Keep a Nature Diary
    Supplies Needed: Beans, lentils, rice, a glass jar, bean seeds
    Concepts Addressed: Seed morphology, how to conduct an investigation, germination, phototropism (a plant’s growth response to light), gravitropism (a plant’s growth response to gravity)
    Also See: A Seed is Sleepy

    Growing Plants

    Art Activity: Create a growth chart for nature diary
    Supplies Needed: Bean plants
    Other Subjects: Math, measuring
    Concepts Addressed: Seedling morphology, plant structure and function, plant needs, data collection
    Also See: Drawings reveal children’s conceptual knowledge of plant structure and function

    Plants and Water

    Art Activity: Entry into nature diary
    Supplies Needed: Celery, ink, any potted plant, a plastic bag, small 2” plants, a large bottle (I think one of those clear plastic containers used for mixed nuts or jelly beans from warehouse stores would work well.)
    Concepts Addressed: Water conduction, plant tissues, transpiration, introduction to the water cycle

    Plants Use Light

    Art Activity: Leaf Print
    Supplies Needed: House plants, foil, paper, crayons
    Concepts Addressed: Phototropism, photosynthesis, leaf shapes, plant identification
    Also See:
    Comic book about photosynthesis
    The chemistry of plants


    Art Activity: Entry into nature diary
    Supplies Needed: Roses, common flowering plants (e.g., tulip, daffodil, iris), magnifying glass (or try a magnifying glass app)
    Concepts Addressed: Flower morphology, plant-pollinator relationships, pollination


    Art Activity: Observing Trees
    Supplies Needed: Tree(s) in the yard or neighborhood
    Concepts Addressed: Tree growth, tree canopies, deciduous vs. evergreen
    Also See: Why Would Anyone Cut a Tree Down?

    New Plants from Old Plants

    Art Activity: Entry into nature diary
    Supplies Needed: Onions, amaryllis, carrot tops, beet tops
    Concepts Addressed: Bulb morphology, forcing bulbs, vegetative propagation
    Also See: How to create a themed plant display

    Seed Dispersal

    Art Activity: Entry into nature diary
    Supplies Needed: Dirt, plastic bag, assorted examples of seeds and fruit types
    Concept Addressed: Seed dispersal
    Also See: Seed pod project by Anna Laurent

    Plants & Soil

    Art Activity: Entry into nature diary
    Supplies Needed: Soil, a clear glass (or plastic) jar, water, leaf litter, a plastic bag
    Concepts Addressed: Soil, decomposition
    Also See: A Log’s Life and the work of scientific illustrator, Robin Brickman

    Useful Plants

    Art Activity: Entry into nature diary
    Supplies Needed: Assorted plant material from the panty and refrigerator, cotton balls, newspaper
    Concepts Addressed: Recycling, economic botany
    Also See: Colorful Edibles

Author Helen Edom does a wonderful job of filling this book with practical learning experiences and clear instruction. She closes her book with a section titled, Notes for Parents and Teachers, in which she provides additional information to help parents and teachers answer questions that may come up during the activities.

Science with Plants is a nice addition to any home or classroom library and will provide hours of fun and thoughtful observation.

Available from your local independent bookstore. ($5.99)

ArtPlantae is an affiliate of IndieBound and a supporter of independent bookstores. It receives a small portion of each online purchase made through IndieBound. Thank you for your show of support for independent bookstores and ArtPlantae. Proceeds benefit the InterpretPlants program.

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