Midway through Whidbey Island is the narrowest section of the island that contains a dry prairie where the Pacific Rim Institute is located on one hundred seventy five acres of maintained native grasses, plants, flowers and trees. The seeds from the plants and trees are meticulously collected by volunteers and workers at the PRI for reseeding on the property.
Last week, I walked the trails that meander through the grass fields to view, photograph and sketch the blooming native plants that are spread throughout the property. One particular rare plant I have been interested in identifying is the blue camas (Camassia quamash), a former sweet flavored food source of the Northwest indigenous peoples. It was in full bloom covering the ochre fields with blotches of purple amongst the colors of other native flowers.

Another rare species is the golden paintbrush (Castillija levisecta), a rare native plant growing only in the Washington state counties of Thurston, Island and San Juan,. The blossoms were just starting to open to full bloom while I was there. It was a thrill to view these rare and endangered species so I recorded them with my camera for future paintings.

There is a seed collecting and planting section within PRI property where several species of plants are growing and blooming. One of those plants is the Blue Flag iris (Iris missouriensis). Olsynium douglasii in the painting is an incorrect label. I spotted the iris blooming in the bulb and seed collection area. During its blooming stage, the flower will be picked to direct all the energy back into the bulb to create a healthy large bulb and then replanted into the fields. I photographed this flower to do a detailed render of it in watercolor rather than spend several hours to do a live painting. My final painting project is not an accurate botanical painting just a fun painting challenge.

2 thoughts on “Pacific Rim Institute native plants

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