I don’t have to go very far to find a  salal plant growing.  Our non-landscaped property is covered with the densely growing plant.   The native plant grows wild on 75 percent of our property.  The roots of the salal meander underground through the soft dry decayed acid mulch blending with dirt spreading up to around ten feet from the plant.  Eventually, one of the wriggling roots will seek the sun and a healthy pink root starts to grow a new plant.  No use trying to pull it from the ground if it appears in your flower bed.   Splitting a shoot from the main plant only exacerbates the multiple growth of more roots that turn into plants!  I love the wild thick salal bushes.  It means no weeding, mowing or special care and the plant is a beautiful addition to landscapes with large masses of plants and trees.  The flowers bloom during April and May attracting all species of bees; their wings create a loud buzz as they hover from blossom to blossom.  Then the red to deep purple berries appear soon after blooming to give the birds a pleasant treat.

I enjoy collecting objects that are useful to me, or objects of nature with interesting abstract shapes, color and beauty that had a connection with the environment.   All of these objects I consider great finds when found along my walks, in thrift stores or book stores.  My favorites though are from nature such as the thoroughly rusted soda can that had been thrown from a car landing in the shrub by the road side.  It must have been there for years with all the rust on it.  The side of the can had a jagged open cut where I looked through and spotted an abandoned small hornets’ nest attached to the inside wall of the can!  It is beautiful and it sits on my collection shelf.  No one knows what’s inside the can until I point it out to them; not too many observers are impressed with my find.

Another favorite is the salal leaf after it has gone through its cycle of life; the nutrients are shut off from reaching the leaf causing it to wither and drop from stem to ground.  While on the ground the leaf decays further into a very delicate frame  with only the strong veins  remaining to indicate the former shape of the leaf.   It endures the hardship of the weather changes for a few months and then finally disappears.  If I spot a leaf in this fine delicate state, it gets picked up and brought home to add to my collection of dried decayed leaves in a fiber woven basket.

The four leaves in the above sketch  show the progression of a salal leaf during its early stage to decay.

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10 thoughts on “Salal leaf: New growth to decay

  1. Yes, the cycle of life makes living a beauty, interesting and a necessity. I love how nature is involved in changing every living object; we all need to take time to observe it for inner peace; it heals our soul by taking us on a journey away from the everyday conflicts and stress we endure.

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  2. A lovely and informative post. Your illustrated capitals give this sketch an Etegami (picture letter) feel, as if you are using Japanese signatures.
    I love it when a botanical sketch gives multi-seasonal information. like your fresh and decaying leaves. Not only because nature is cyclic, also it enriched a sketch when it embraces both beauty and decay. The old Dutch masters often showed a decaying or dead item, like ruins, a dead tree, a skull, a post-blooming flower. With that they added a symbolic message of life’s impermanence. And exactly because life is short, we should celebrate its beauty. Don’t postpone looking a leaves, you are telling us; a few simple leaves are worth a beautiful sketch.

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  3. There is great peace in this post, SWI–your flowing words, the lovely sketch, the appreciation for the salal. Your comment on the unappreciated rusty can on your shelf made me smile. Much appreciated.

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