28" x 24"
Southern Ontario, Canada
My botany teacher, Professor Margaret Heimburger, used to encourage drawing to enhance our powers of observation. In fact, both sketching and choosing the colors revealed some surprises. I was planning to paint all the berries the same brilliant crimson until I noticed some black ones. At first I thought that they were moldy and that it would be no great crime to leave them out. But after squeezing a few of them I was certain that they were ripe not moldy. The berries change from green to orange to crimson to black as they mature. I don’t know what this change of color does for the plant, but it sure makes them interesting to paint.
The brilliant color of the leaves was also surprising. And what a crazy quilt of colors! While the leaves were brilliant red, their major veins held on to their summer green. Green also clung between the veins in wedges and streaks. I’ve never seen leaves like these. The last little bits of chlorophyll seemed to huddle in the corners, reluctant to let go of summer.
As I sketched the big, heart shaped leaves I thought how similar they were to the leaves of Alder trees that I had painted before, although these were clearly not alders. When I consulted my copy of “Shrubs of Ontario” I found that it was in fact a Viburnum with leaves like an Alder (Alnus), thus the botannical name Viburnum Alnifolium. Coincidentally, one of the authors of “Shrubs of Ontario” is Professor Heimburger. I hope that Professor Heimburger would be proud of her student. I hope too that I have captured the fleeting moment when this shrub had multi-colored leaves.
While Virburnum Alnifolium grows from Southern Ontario to Tennessee and Georgia, this patch was at its northernmost outpost, a few hours by car North of Lake Ontario.